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Finance calendar    Oct 29, 2015

Getting Annual Sales & Marketing Planning Right

Now is the time to build your Sales & Marketing plan for 2016. Check out this list of things to cover and questions to ask when approaching your 2016 plan.

How does planning come about for you each year? Most use the beginning of Q3 to reflect on what’s worked and what hasn’t, or host corporate planning retreats; others come to the realization that they need to get their butts in gear…now! Either way, now is the time to build your Sales and Marketing plan for 2016.

In case you missed this post from last year on Sales & Marketing planning, Kelly Ford provided great perspectives, insights and tools for successful planning that are still more than relevant today.

This year, we provide even more insight based on what we learned from Edison’s Sales & Marketing Roundtable discussion held last week in NYC.  And, while our portfolio companies have varied approaches to planning, there are consistent themes. Following are a list of things to cover and questions to ask yourself when approaching your 2016 plan:

Generally Speaking:

  • Everyone in the organization must first understand corporate goals.
  • Kickoff annual planning with offsite or onsite planning sessions.
  • Ensure that Sales & Marketing work together. (Keyword: Together)
  • Include all groups (Product, Finance, Operations, etc…) in the planning process to ensure shared accountability for achieving targets. 
  • Approach 2016 planning from a top down and bottom up methodology to ensure goals are not too aggressive or conservative.
  • Develop achievable (yet aggressive) sales targets based on previous results and KPI trends.
  • Ensure Sales & Marketing take on a performance oriented approach….and make it a companywide initiative, not just Sales & Marketing.
  • Motivate Sales and Marketing teams by creating shared accountability for targets. Teams must align around strategic initiatives supporting growth strategies.

Don’t boil the ocean—Make sure strategy can be executed.

Execution is the key to growth and success…Don’t boil the ocean. When asking yourself the following five questions, keep that in mind.

  1. Is there opportunity to expand into new verticals?
  2. Is the value prop really working?
  3. Is this the time to reorganize the sales team—territory, vertical, hybrid?
  4. Where is the funnel clogged? Is it a Marketing or Sales issue? (Unqualified to qualified leads, or qualified leads to closed deals?)
  5. Where is the biggest opportunity – hunting or farming?

If you are not aligned, you will fail…miserably.

Last point here: If the whole company wants to succeed, you must be aligned. So simple, but not so simple…we know. Alignment is the single most important thing--Don’t be a hamster in a wheel.

  • Make sure Marketing and Sales teams are truly a team and aligned on goals, strategies, compensation and execution (Cannot stress that enough….the funnel is shared.)
  • Don’t forget to include the Product team in planning.
  • Create ‘Taskforces’ to tackle key initiatives. Empower those you feel have the drive…They’ll feel it’s an honor.
  • Compensation plans should reflect shared Sales and Marketing goals.
  • Sales assumptions must be based in reality, and all functions must understand how they were developed—ASP, churn, upsell %, deals per month, etc.

Bottom line: Planning and budgeting can quickly become a nightmare if the team isn’t aligned from top to bottom and across functional areas. Download the annual planning template here, and don’t forget to keep it simple. 

Check out the list of 7 B2B Sales & Marketing Blogs We Love for further insights on Sales & Marketing.


Gregg focuses on investments in Healthcare IT and Enterprise software, specifically within the data and analytics, patient engagement, and marketing technology sectors. He brings over 20 years of experience investing in and operating growth stage companies. Gregg also advises Edison portfolio executives on leadership, strategy, and operational efficiency.