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Trick or Treat: 2023 Sales Planning is Starting Now

By Tyler Huguley | September 28, 2022 | 3 Comments

SalesSales Strategy and Leadership

It’s fitting that Halloween is in Q4 when most companies are ramping up planning for the next year.  Will it be a trick or treat?

After three years of uncertainty where some thrived from accelerating trends and others were decimated, planning for 2023 is upon us.  Next year is expected to be another trick with inflation, supply chain struggles and a recession being the goons, ghosts, and goblins we know we will have to fend off.  Hopefully, we don’t get spooked by adding more uncertainty to an already volatile economy.  Now is the time for CSOs to check the key sales design components.

Over the past three years, every role in sales has felt strain from tricks and treats.  Chief Sales Officers made tough decisions on headcount, strategy, and priorities. Sales Managers became zombies suffering through the “Great Resignation”, open territories, and uncertainty, zapping their team’s motivation.  Sellers were pulled into a haunted vortex changing roles, territories, and shifting from in-person to virtual to hybrid.  Consequently, key go-to-market considerations went unchecked.  Maybe even disregarded to make budget.  So, if you want to avoid being slimmed, check each of the following:

  1. Beginning scenario planning now for your sales strategy
  2. Updating customer segmentation and tiering
  3. Identifying and revising sale roles
  4. Revisiting sale deployment and sizing
  5. Double-checking territories and books of business

Scenario Plan for 2023

Notice I didn’t say, “set your 2023 sales strategy.”  Three years in the corn maze has taught CSOs the best practice is to scenario plan. Have iterations with varying recession impacts or zombie invasions.  Incorporate hypotheticals that materially change strategies.  Document controllable and uncontrollable scenario outcomes.  Lastly, determine metrics you’ll track and that’ll initiate critical decisions.

Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can find more information in  Foundational Scenario Planning for Sales Leaders

Segmentation & Tiering

For your next segmentation exercise use elements of firmographic, behavioral, needs-based, and opportunity/fit schemes rather than picking just one.  Use a scoring model as your Halloween campfire to bring these approaches together like the four layers of  s’mores.  For tiering consider the 4-Box method.  This measure both the potential for each customer but also the importance to your organization and serves as a playbook for each.

Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can find more information at:

Sales Roles & Responsibilities

The past three years has wreaked havoc on sales roles.  Many sellers stepped into temporary positions to seize opportunity while others shifted to new focuses as opportunity disappeared.  Many sellers shifted to virtual selling, though many job descriptions still focus on in-person interactions with customers.  Be sure to ask HR and Sales Strategy to review and update them as needed.

Sales Deployment & Sizing

Sellers wore their transformer costumers as they shifted from in-person to virtual to hybrid.  During the shift to virtual and hybrid, they likely increasing their capacity. Market opportunity increased dramatically for some and disappeared like a ghost for others.  How will inflation or a recession impact current market opportunity and the number of sellers you need?  Maybe it is time to launch SDR roles, focus on retention with CSMs or shift headcount to key accounts.

Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can find more information in  Sales Analytics to Improve Sales Force Design and Deployment

Territories & Books of Business

Virtual and hybrid roles also have made you territories and books of business a haunted house.  For organizations that are primarily virtual sellers, geographic territories are no longer needed.  Moving to a book of business based on tiers, channels or customer type will drive greater results.  In hybrid sales organizations, geography still plays a role, but territories and number of accounts can likely increase given additional capacity.

Use the above exercises to reassure sellers there are plans in place. Involve sales management in scenario planning, deployment planning, role updates, and customer needs. Far too often sales management is told “what” to do, but buy-in comes from them knowing “why”.

Which trick has you the most concerned?

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  • Thank You so much for sharing this helpful content. Thanks a lot!

  • Very Helpful information shared, Thank you so much.