Mastering the Annual Planning Process

Revenue Teams Need a Clear Roadmap for the Coming Year

Ah, summertime.  At most B2B companies, that means more staff vacation days, (slightly) fewer e-mails and meetings, and slower client activities as those companies experience the same phenomena.

But be warned:  Winter is coming.  Or at least Fall is coming.  And for most businesses, that means the start of a process that is both frantic and necessary.  It’s the Annual Planning Process for next year.  In the roughly 16 weeks between Labor Day and Christmas, it’s imperative that your revenue teams and those that support them come together to craft a clear and articulate roadmap for the coming year.  

While 16 weeks might sound like sufficient time, think about the other things going on.  For most B2B companies, Q4 is the busiest sales and renewal quarter of the year.  Client interaction is also highest, since the same planning and year-end activities are going on with them as well.  And don’t forget that the Corporate Finance team needs to know the goals you have for next year so that they can set the budget.  Suddenly, those 16 weeks can seem more like 5 or 6.

In the roughly 16 weeks between Labor Day and Christmas, it’s imperative that your revenue teams and those that support them come together to craft a clear and articulate roadmap for the coming year

Now that your blood pressure and heart rate are elevated, be comforted by the fact that we still have weeks to go before the planning process really gears up.  There are steps you can – and should – take now that will make the annual planning process easier to manage AND more likely to result in a plan that will meaningfully improve revenue growth nest year.  Here are 4 ideas:

Plan for Planning

Now is the time to gather the data and insights that you will need to point your annual plan towards the best opportunities for growth.  A great way to do that is to perform a “Revenue Operations Health Check”.  Identify the areas across all your revenue functions that are performing well and those that are struggling.  Your plan for next year can then focus on optimizing the former and improving the latter.

Keep the Band Together

Attrition in your critical revenue functions can be the difference between revenue growth and revenue decline.  Statistically, Q4 is the slowest month for attrition in sales and marketing, but Q1 is the most active.  Assess you team’s level of engagement now to what is frustrating them.  You can then incorporate elements in your plan that will get them excited for the coming year and keep them off the phone with recruiters.

Take Back Your Stack

The average B2B technology company uses over20 different tools and applications across their primary revenue functions.  After the cost of personnel, it’s often the 2nd leading element in your cost of sales.  In addition, few (if any) of these tools are fully leveraged by the people they are meant to help.  Now is the time to audit these tools for usage and for usefulness in growing revenue.  

The Best SKO Ever

This may seem tactical, but Sales Kickoff events have been known to make or break a company’s sales year.  Done well, your revenue-generating teams start the year motivated and equipped to succeed.  Done haphazardly (or not at all), and the new year is just another year where they start at zero and have a huge mountain to climb.  SKO is where the plan you build comes to life, but you can’t wait until Thanksgiving to start planning it.  Pull a team together now, and coordinate their activities with the annual planning process.

At TechCXO, our Revenue Growth team has led or participated in HUNDREDS of annual revenue planning processes.  We have the expertise and tools to help you get ready for the most successful – and least stressful – annual planning season ever.

Bert Harkins
Bert HarkinsPARTNER – REVENUE GROWTH; INTERIM AND FRACTIONAL CRO, CSO; HEAD OF REVENUE OPERATIONS