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The Ultimate Guide on Sales and Operations Planning
Looking for an ultimate guide on Sales and Operations planning? You’re in the right place.
In this piece, we’ll figure out what sales and operations planning entail, the critical methods of the process, and how to ensure your company performs at its best in sales and operations planning.
We're here to answer all these questions and more. Let’s get started.
What’s Sales And Operations Planning?
Sales and operations planning is a process that helps companies to make sales and marketing more efficient, effective, and predictable.
It is a "holistic approach" to managing the entire sales process, from lead generation to customer service after the sale.
The main goal of sales and operations planning is to align all of an organization's efforts to optimize performance. It aims to help companies identify new markets and opportunities and manage costs more effectively.
Sales and operations planning can be divided into THREE significant phases:
This phase involves forecasting demand for products or services based on market research, competitor analysis, and other factors. The result of this analysis will form the basis of future operations.
For example, if you are running out of stock because customers are buying too much of one product or too little of another product, then it's likely that your forecast was inaccurate.
So you need to adjust your sales forecast based on actual demand. As a result, you will avoid running out of stock or having excess one lying around storage, costing money daily.
Next, a company will use the forecasts from their forecasting stage to plan what to buy and when to buy it. This includes:
- Deciding which suppliers they should use (if any).
- How much inventory to keep on hand.
- Types of products or services should be produced or provided at each production stage.
Finally, once you've decided what products or services you'll offer your customers (and when), you need people who can execute those plans.
For example, it can be working with suppliers who provide materials required for production. Or hiring new employees who will perform specific tasks within your organization.
The Main Approaches Used In Sales Operations Planning
There are two main approaches you can use: top-down planning and bottom-up planning:
This approach focuses on a specific sales prediction, which can be based on historical data (e.g., past trends).
The method works well if you have a stable market environment and predictable demand for products or services.
However, it’s less valuable if there’s uncertainty around future sales volumes, such as during economic downturns or periods of economic uncertainty (such as Brexit).
This approach is needed when your company is experiencing unpredictable manufacturing timetables.
Bottom-up planning helps you to forecast demand and determine inventory levels based on what you know about your customers’ demands.
The approach involves a detailed review of actual sales figures and the creation of sales forecasts for each item you sell. You can then use these forecasts to plan production and determine how much inventory you need to keep.
Best S & OP Practices For New Salespeople
Here's the thing: It can be intimidating if you're a beginner at sales.
The idea of cold calling and making sales presentations can be extremely overwhelming.
But if you take the time to learn the basics, you'll find that sales are much more manageable.
In this section, we talk about how you can master sales in regards to S & OP.
Determine Your Core Performance Metrics
Before you go out there and start making calls, you must know your goal precisely.
No matter what industry you're in or what product or service you're selling, there should always be one or two metrics that determine whether your efforts are successful or not. These will be your core performance metrics (CPM).
For example, if your CPM is conversion rate — meaning how many people who visit your site make a purchase — then every time someone visits your site but doesn't buy anything, it counts as a failure.
On the other hand, every time someone visits your website but does buy something counts as success (even if they don't buy again later).
Define Your Sales Process
The sales process is the roadmap you use to determine which products and services to sell, who your customers are, when to sell them, and where to sell them.
If your sales process isn't defined, it's difficult for you and your team members to know how to sell. You'll wonder if you're doing things right or if something needs to be changed.
If you can answer these questions for yourself and your team members, you know exactly what needs to be done for the sale.
Who: Who is your customer? How do they prefer being communicated with? What do they want from a solution? What problem are they trying to solve?
What: What product or service will solve their problem? What price point is appropriate? What is the value proposition of this product or service? How will this benefit them?
When: When should we communicate with our customers? When should we follow up with them? When would be the best time for them to purchase our product or service? When should we show up at their office or event location?
Where: Where can we find our customers? Where do they spend time online (social media networks)? Where can we reach them via email/phone/text messaging?
Use Automation To Save Time And Money
Automation is a great way to help you save time, money, and sanity.
Many tools available will allow you to automate parts of your marketing funnel so that you can focus more on the important stuff — like selling more products.
For example, if you’re using a cold calling software like Myphoner, you can set up automated capturing of leads from your lead generation efforts to quickly and easily start the sales process when new leads drip into your pipeline.
Involve Other Departments
It's no secret that sales success is tied to the performance of other departments in your organization, such as marketing and customer service.
Some companies now have dedicated teams that work with sales on strategy and tactics. Here are some examples of how these teams can help:
Marketing should be involved in creating demand for your product or service. This can include events, social media campaigns, and advertising.
Marketing should also be interested in educating customers about using your product or service and providing support for those who may need it after purchasing from your company.
Customer service should be involved in providing support for any questions that customers have about using your product or service, as well as handling complaints from customers who are unsatisfied with your product/service.
This could include helping customers transition between products or services if they are unhappy with their current choice.
For example, a customer may find that particular software isn't working out for them and would like to switch over to a different kind of software that works better for them but doesn't want to lose all the data they've entered in the current software program.
Challenges Facing Sales and Operations Planning
The primary challenge facing S&OP is getting buy-in from leadership — that's because the manager who sees a need for S&OP might need to convince financial decision-makers that the benefits of S&OP outweigh any expenses.
This can be difficult, as it's often easier to see problems than solutions, and many managers are reluctant to spend money on something they don't know will work (which is reasonable).
If you're in this position and feeling stuck on how best to convince your boss or coworkers that S&OP is worth it, we've got some tips!
1. Show them how it works
The first step in convincing your boss about S&OP is proving it works. After all, if it doesn't do anything for the company, why would they care? So show them how S&OP works in real life: demonstrate how it solves problems they know or how much time it saves when trying to make decisions quickly.
2. Make it clear how S&OP will help your company thrive
It's not enough for you — or anyone else — to know why S&OP is essential: They need to understand how this tool will help their business thrive in the long run.
You can do this by using data-driven examples that show how S&OP has helped other companies succeed (and how those same results can be achievable in your organization)
Sales and Operations Planning is a vital process that helps you plan for the future of your business.
It allows you to prioritize new opportunities and identify problems before they become real issues.
You can also use it as an opportunity to improve customer service by understanding customer demand. We hope this guide has helped you understand why sales operations planning is essential in business today!
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