Beginner’s Guide to Sales and Revenue Planning


RevOps breathes life into the customer lifecycle via better data and tech. Here's how sales and revenue planning fits into the RevOps umbrella.

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Supriya Jain
September 2, 2022

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Beginner’s Guide to Sales and Revenue Planning


For any business, the sales team is one of the most critical drivers of growth.

They push the product, fetch revenue, and develop a strong network. It is also important to note that a company’s growth is the unified result of all teams: the product team, the customer success team, the marketing team, the operations team, and others. 

While one department focuses on building a robust product, yet another one works on customer retention, and so on. Even when all of these departments focus on building and strengthening the brand, they often remain as siloed as ever. This often leads to: 

  • Internal Communication barriers
  • Lack of collaboration to achieve unified goals
  • Data inefficiencies
  • Inability to recognize revenue streams

In modern times, with the evolution of sales and revenue planning, companies have realized that cross-functional alignment and breaking down inter-departmental barriers are critical for the overall functioning of the company. Not only does it help in developing a better growth strategy, but also in driving unified customer experiences. 

What is Sales Planning? 

Sales planning refers to the flexible strategy that the sales team develops to achieve the sales goals for a specific time period. This strategy includes the activities, target market, budget, resources, market positioning, and steps that the teams will follow to achieve the goals. Robust sales planning can help businesses assess their previous growth, annual recurring revenue, and overall future financial health. 

Sales planning is slightly different from a sales plan. A sales plan is often developed by the sales leader once or twice a year. Whereas, sales planning is an ongoing process in which the sales leader continues to evaluate the sales plan all year round to stay flexible and be in a better position to align with the changing market scenario. 

As a company transitions from static sales plans to complex sales planning, leaders are able to view the process as an advanced set of adaptable tactics that can be deployed to best suit the needs of an organization.

What is Revenue Planning? 

While sales planning helps an organization determine possible cash flows and profitability, revenue planning revolves around the actual money that is going to flow into the company’s account. Through revenue planning, organizations are able to plan their expenditure and investments for a certain period of time. 

Sales numbers directly impact the revenue, which is further reflected in the cash flow statement, income statement, and other financial statements. 

What is the difference between Sales Planning and Revenue Planning?

Sales and revenue, often used interchangeably, are two different functions in any organization.

Sales planning focuses on improving sales performance, studying KPIs, territory mapping, tech management, and enabling sales representatives to make more sales. 

Revenue planning, on the other hand, focuses on the entire customer journey and maps marketing, sales, operations, and customer success teams, in order to improve the customer experience.

It plays on operational efficiency through service and all the customer-facing departments to ensure that revenue continues to grow. 

Focus Areas for Sales Planning

  • Defining the vision and strategy for the sales team by taking into account the sales forecast, sales methodology, resources, territory, and sales coverage model
  • Designing and modeling the optimal sales tech stack to including sales automation, CRM management, and communications
  • Ensuring that sales reps have all the competitive and industry knowledge they need to convert sales, such as product training, sales training, contracts and agreements, and market intelligence
  • Continuously working on eliminating the pain points of the sales team while also studying the performance indicators and finding ways to improve sales. 

Focus Areas for Revenue Planning

  • Focuses on improving the customer experience by enabling customer-facing teams with all the knowledge and support they need
  • Improving overall operational efficiencies in the organization by hiring, training, and skill management. 
  • Taking into account data analysis in terms of customer insights and behavior
  • Giving data the utmost importance from the market standpoint as well as understanding changing industry scenarios and analyzing trends

Benefits of Sales and Revenue Planning 

Over the past few years, companies have realized that sales and revenue planning need to work in tandem to ensure sustainable business growth.

Despite this realization, executives still announce the sales and growth expectations for the year and leave it to the department heads to figure out the best ways to achieve the numbers. 

No matter how great teams are, each follows their own approach to achieve the goals, which often leads to mixed results, an inconsistent process, and less-than-optimal performance.

In light of these complications, the benefits of sales and revenue planning are as follows: 

  • Better Future Plans: By developing robust sales and revenue plans, CXOs are able to craft better strategies for the future of the organization.
  • Accurately assessing business needs: With changing industry trends and customer preferences, it is essential for businesses to arm themselves with better technology, training, and knowledge. Planning helps businesses recognize these needs and find ways to plug the gaps. It also helps businesses tap into the available headcount and deploy them more efficiently. 
  • Risk Mitigation: With proper planning, business leaders are able to recognize loopholes and risks that may significantly hinder their growth. 
  • Lower Inventory: By ascertaining the sales and revenue projections, businesses can optimize their inventory. They can produce goods and invest in services per the forecasted numbers. By doing this, they can reduce their inventory and may require less working capital. 
  • Accountability: When plans are developed through cross-functional collaboration, it helps each individual team member recognize their roles and responsibilities, which further increases accountability. This helps in more clarity and less confusion. 

How To: Revenue Planning

To drive unified goals, it is important that teams follow a collaborative approach to develop a well-aligned revenue planning process.

The revenue planning process is as follows: 

  • Cross-Functional Alignment: Determine the overall goals of the organization and establish departmental strategies to achieve the goals. Ascertain time-based sales and revenue goals to make the plan flexible. 
  • A detailed production plan: Align the sales and revenue plans for the organization with cross-functional departments and develop a go-to-market and route-to-market production plan. 
  • Execution: Ascertain the resources, risks, and dependencies of the plan over different elements like budget, technology, data, expected changes, etc. This will help in plugging the gaps as much as possible and ensuring that dependencies are minimal. 

How To: Sales Planning

It is enticing for sales leaders to revel in the success of the Q3 and Q4 quarter and annual numbers, but it is important that they plan for the new year’s targets and sales forecast well in advance. This helps businesses lead with confidence and be realistic about their future.

The sales planning process is as follows: 

  • Align resources to the forecast: Ascertain the required resources, assumptions, and risks while developing the sales plan. It is also important to align the budget to achieve the desired goals. 
  • Cross-functional Collaboration: Work with sales, marketing, and customer success teams to develop the sales pipeline and sales capacity needs
  • Integrate data insights with the sales production plan: Leverage market, product, and sales data insights to set precise targets and activities for higher productivity and better performance. 

What is RevOps? 

RevOps is a revolutionary methodology as well as a business ideology that combines the efforts of people and the technology to understand and serve the customer better. It integrates sales planning and revenue planning with data insights and better processes to generate higher productivity and efficiency. 

Often, RevOps is treated as a technology stack that is made of three components: marketing, sales, and service, that have traditionally worked in silos. RevOps uses technology and data integrity plugs to unify the departments that lead to a more fruitful customer journey and experience. 

Frequently asked questions include, “How do I upgrade my CRM?” or “How do I redesign the existing systems and processes?”. RevOps doesn’t just work on upgrading or changing the systems.

Rather, RevOps helps address issues such as, “What do I do after I upgrade the system?” or “What do I do after redesigning the existing systems and processes?”. It doesn’t just work on the pain points of the journey. Instead, it improves the overall lifecycle. 

What is the difference between RevOps and Sales Ops?

Sales Ops helps in strengthening the sales processes in the organization and works with sales representatives to ensure high productivity and better sales numbers. Sales Ops professionals also help deploy relevant technology stacks that enable sales reps to close deals. The RevOps tech stack may have tools such as CRMs, cloud calling, knowledge hubs, and compensation management systems. 

Sales Ops teams are responsible for the following functions: 

  • Sales Forecasting
  • Sales Technology Management
  • Sales Training 
  • Sales Enablement
  • Performance Management
  • Cross-functional collaboration 

RevOps, on the other hand, integrates sales, marketing, customer success, and operations functions to improve overall business functions and drive growth. RevOps fuels revenue growth by working on every step of the customer buying journey, breaking departmental silos, and bringing about accountability.

RevOps teams are responsible for the following functions: 

  • Aligning all relevant departments with revenue growth expectations 
  • Technology enablement 
  • Developing a data-driven process
  • Improving operations at micro and macro levels

How to pick the best sales and revenue planning software for your company

With uncertainty looming in the corporate world due to COVID-19, geo-political instability, and changing demands of the customers, it has become important for businesses to utilize their resources in the most optimal manner and set realistic goals. 

According to research by Forrester, the number of interactions during a purchase process has increased from 17 in 2019 to 27 in 2021. It was also found that over 60% of buying journeys involve more than 4 people. 

To drive higher productivity and performance, it is pertinent to leverage data. Insights-driven planning helps in:

  • Recognizing target segments with more precision
  • Ascertaining the right buying groups in each segment
  • Finding opportunities to deliver an exceptional buying journey for the customer

Choosing an optimal tech stack for sales and revenue teams is critical for the growth of the company. A good business planning platform will help with the following: 

Enabling you to spend more time devising strategy: A business planning platform like Pigment helps in quickly syncing data from multiple sources and presents you with clean data each time. By doing this, you spend less time collating data and more time developing the strategy, forecasting, and planning. 

Analysing accurate data: Pigment connects business use cases across the organization in real-time, resulting in a multi-dimensional platform. It also enables the user to develop models using fewer formulae, resulting in fewer errors.  

Flexible Modeling: Since it is commonplace for companies to revisit their plans throughout the year, models need more flexibility than ever. With Pigment, leaders can revise forecasts, sales quotas, and capacity numbers easily. 

Breaking cross-departmental barriers: Since Pigment is scalable across the organization, it enables departments to work towards shared goals. With Pigment, you can collaborate in real time and also make changes based on new goals and assumptions. 

Visuals in a jiffy: Pigment enables you to visualize your plans through beautiful graphs and charts. It also allows you to run “What-if” scenarios on the fly

To revolutionize your sales and revenue planning, learn how Pigment can transform all your Revenue team use cases.

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