Sales Trends to Keep Up with in 2021: Advanced Sales Forecasting, Connected Sales Planning and Performance Management

January 26, 2021 | 3 minute read
Michelle Brusyo
Director, Product Management, Oracle Sales
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Despite the unprecedented changes and challenges of the last year, it was still business as usual in some ways for some companies out there. Mid-way through 2020, a World at Work survey on sales compensation found that 30% of companies estimated over half their sales organization would hit quota for 2020. But compared to 2019, twice the number of companies, 39% vs. 19%, said that less than 25% of their sales team will reach quota.

The challenges of 2020 forced many teams to take a hard look at their current process for quota planning and management. Could they continue to move fast enough or pinpoint what and how to adjust?

To get a solid handle on this unique challenge, our customers have increasingly turned to enterprise planning management technology, specifically Sales Planning and Performance Management. The system connects to both the CRM for pipeline data and the ERP for financial actuals, with built-in best practice methodologies for planning and analyzing territories and quotas. 

Predictive planning capabilities help businesses get a true sense of performance and what to expect. Users can run what-if scenarios by territory, account, and channel, and analyze market changes such as seasonality or crisis situations like COVID. 

Forecasting has always been an interesting challenge 

Different parts of the business need sales forecasts for different reasons, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. 

Sales management uses a forecast to keep their teams accountable. Will they make their number? How are their reps doing? What’s changed since last week, last month, or last quarter? Finance relies on a forecast to make business decisions – to understand exactly how the business is performing and what adjustments need to be made. And individual sellers fall somewhere in the middle. They need to stay accountable regarding their targets and understand the real financial situation they can expect regarding earnings. 

Fortunately, there are options, some of which are going to do a good job for sales, like pipeline reporting and using spreadsheets for analysis. Even better, though, simplified forecasting from Oracle Sales helps leaders make adjustments on top of the pipeline in real time. Both are sales rep- and manager-facing options that meet the typical requirements for these teams. 

For finance, advanced forecasting fits the bill and is what many businesses are looking at in 2021. Advanced forecasting makes it easy for the business to achieve a more realistic forecast and make predictions based on both pipeline data and financial actuals. 

This is especially important right now because it’s never been riskier to depend on CRM pipeline data for accurate forecasting. We saw how hard it was in 2020 for businesses to make planning decisions, such as quota adjustments. 

This year, it will likely be a while before sales leadership can confidently understand what market recovery will look like, which purchasing budgets will dry up, and what’s still on the table. While pipeline can be an inaccurate source on its own, when combined with historical actuals – even just very recent bookings – a business can start to triangulate around a realistic forecast and get some predictability. 

They can then begin to act on this information more confidently and plan for how to redistribute resources or shift business models – all based on real data and AI-derived predictions. 

Learn more about the Sales Planning Cloud’s advanced forecasting capabilities and how it can help you identify evolving trends and take effective action sooner than later. 

Michelle Brusyo

Director, Product Management, Oracle Sales

As GTM Strategist for the Oracle Sales portfolio, Michelle Brusyo leads a team focused on the trends, challenges, opportunities, and innovations that drive one of the most crucial roles in business – sales.

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