Account Planning

Account Planning Best Practices

Posted On
April 5, 2023
Resource Type
Account Planning
account-based selling strategies

Account Planning Best Practices

Sales account planning is a critical aspect of any business that seeks to manage its customers effectively and generate more revenue.

An action plan that outlines the sales account planning process is crucial for any company that wants to succeed. Mostly in growing and closing large enterprise accounts. The goal of sales account planning is to develop a customized selling approach that maximizes each customer’s potential and builds strong relationships. Here are some account planning best practices and a tool that can help you build and execute these plans. 

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Getting Started

To start the sales account planning process, an organization must begin by conducting thorough research and analysis of its customers.

This should include insights on things like a general overview of the company. Meaning objectives they’re trying to solve, a white space analysis, and an accurate relationship map.

This analysis should focus on the customer’s needs, preferences, and buying behavior. The key to success in sales account planning is to understand the customer’s goals and objectives and align them with the company’s products or services. This can be achieved by developing a key account plan template that outlines the strategies and tactics for each customer.

The sales team can commence plan execution once they have developed the key account plan template. This includes identifying the decision-makers and influencers within the account, engaging with them regularly, and building strong relationships.

The purpose of creating a template is to scale future account plans that are necessary. Always seize the opportunity to templatize and scale.

Sales

The sales team should work closely with account managers to ensure that the account plan is aligned with the customer’s needs and priorities. Additionally, the sales team should provide valuable insights and feedback that can be used to improve the account plan’s effectiveness.

One best practice for sales account planning is to recognize the process is flexible and adaptable to changes in the market or customer needs. Prepare the sales team to make adjustments to the account plan as needed to ensure its continued relevance and effectiveness. Additionally, the sales team should regularly review the account plan’s performance to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments.

Another best practice for sales account planning is to foster strong collaboration. Communication between the sales team, account managers, and other stakeholders should be a priority. This can be achieved by holding regular meetings, sharing insights and feedback, and working together to develop effective strategies and tactics.

Sales account planning is a critical aspect of any business that seeks to manage its customers effectively. By following best practices and developing a key account plan template, organizations can create a customized approach that aligns with each customer’s goals and objectives. With a flexible and adaptable process and a collaborative approach to execution, businesses can achieve success in their sales account planning efforts.

Example Objectives of Account Planning

  • Closing a large account with many moving parts
  • Up or cross-selling current customers
  • Identifying divisions in large accounts for expansion
  • Ensuring customers have high adoption of your product
  • Identifying 3-6 key people to engage and getting them on to a relationship map

Always tie your account plans to objectives. By developing a comprehensive sales strategy, businesses can gain a competitive advantage and build long-term relationships with their clients.

Key account planning is a critical component of strategic account management. It involves analyzing and understanding a business’s key accounts to develop a customized plan that maximizes the account’s potential. A key account plan should outline the customer’s needs, preferences, and business goals. This plan should also identify any potential risks or challenges associated with the account.

Examples of Account Risks

  • Minimal or reduced communication with your champion
  • Lower adoption of your product
  • Industry disruption/Economic downturn
  • Key stakeholders leaving the business

To develop an effective key account plan, businesses must gather as much information as possible about their clients. This includes understanding their product or service offerings, their target audience, and their competitive landscape. By gaining a deep understanding of their client’s businesses, businesses can tailor their sales strategies to meet their client’s unique needs and priorities. The process of building out an account map is a foundational piece, which we’ll dive into.

Key account management also involves building strong relationships with clients. This can be achieved in several ways. Exceptional customer service, delivering high-quality products or services, and anticipating the client’s needs all help. By focusing on building long-term relationships with clients, businesses can establish themselves as trusted partners and grow their partnerships over time.

Account planning is an essential tool for businesses seeking to succeed in today’s highly competitive market. By developing a comprehensive sales strategy and key account plan, businesses can manage their clients effectively. By focusing on building strong relationships with clients and providing exceptional customer service, businesses can establish themselves as trusted partners and increase their revenue over time.

The Account

In account planning, an account refers to a customer or prospect that a business is targeting. Businesses can prioritize their resources by categorizing accounts based on their importance or potential revenue.

If my customer base is large and varied in employee count, I’ll be tiering my accounts.

Tiering accounts is important because it helps my team understand which accounts are top priorities. It would make no sense for me to put maximum effort into a smaller account with low upsell potential. When I tier my accounts, leadership also has a better understanding of our most lucrative customers. It’s a jumping-off point when beginning to account plan.

To effectively account plan, you must truly understand that said account. What do they sell? Who do they help? What specific problems do I solve for this account? Why are they, my customer? Build out a SWOT analysis of your top accounts. Identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each top-tier account.

There are various types of accounts, including strategic accounts, key accounts, and target accounts. Strategic accounts (or tier 1) are the most critical accounts for a business. They should require a high level of attention, investment, and resources. Tier 2 accounts are also important. They just may not have the same level of potential as tier 1 strategic accounts. Target accounts are prospects that a business is trying to convert into customers.

The Account Plan

Once an account is tiered, teams can begin to account plan. By developing a comprehensive account plan based on account objectives, companies create a roadmap to success that will help them achieve their objectives and provide value to their clients.

The best account plans are those tailored to the specific needs of the client. This requires gathering as much information as possible about the client, their industry, and their competitors. Companies can develop a strategy that meets the client’s unique needs and priorities by gaining a deep understanding of their business.

A strategic account plan template can be a useful tool for businesses looking to develop a successful account plan quickly. My team will look at past account plans, identify what was successful about the said plan, and add it to our template. The team moves quicker when they have the groundwork for a process in place. In this case, that process is account planning.

Account Planning Template

An account planning template is a pre-designed document that businesses can use to develop their account plans. Templates are useful because they provide a structure and format for the account plan. They make it easier to develop a process that is comprehensive and aligned with the business’s goals and objectives. Various types of account planning templates are available, including customizable ones that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a business.

The template offers a framework for the plan, outlining the key elements that the plan should include. The template should fit the specific needs of the client.

Successful account planning requires a focus on value. Companies must be able to demonstrate the value that they bring to the client’s business. Achieve this by providing exceptional customer service, delivering high-quality products or services, and anticipating the client’s needs. By focusing on providing value to the client, businesses can build long-lasting relationship that is based on trust and mutual success.

Strategic Account Planning

It could be argued that all account planning is strategic. I define strategic account planning as a specialized type of account plan that is typically more comprehensive and requires more company work than usual. Strategic account planning involves a deeper level of analysis and research to identify the customer’s business strategy and objectives.

This is more relevant if you’re pursuing a massive company, like Amazon or Walmart.

The plan should outline how the business can align its products and services with the customer’s goals and objectives to achieve a mutually beneficial partnership.

To execute the plan effectively, the sales team, account managers, and other stakeholders must collaborate at a high level for strategic account planning.

By developing a comprehensive account plan strategy and utilizing a strategic account plan template, businesses can create a roadmap to success that will help them achieve their objectives and provide value to their clients. By focusing on providing value and building strong relationships with clients, businesses can establish themselves as trusted partners and increase their revenue over time.

sales and marketing

Account Planning Process

The account planning process is one of the critical ingredients to a healthy sales org. The process involves a series of steps that require careful planning, research, and analysis to develop key account plans that meet the client’s unique needs and priorities.

The first step to account planning in sales is research and analysis. This stage involves gathering as much information as possible about the client’s business, including their key business initiatives, challenges, and opportunities. Use the information gathered during this stage to develop a detailed account profile that will aid sales teams in comprehending the client’s needs and priorities.

Once the account profile has been developed, the next stage in the account planning process is strategy development. During this stage, sales teams will work to develop a sales strategy that is tailored to the client’s needs and objectives. The strategy will typically include a set of key account plans that are designed to address the client’s specific needs and challenges.

The execution of the account plan is the final stage of the account planning process. This stage involves working with the client to implement the key account plans and drive the sale forward. To ensure effective execution and meeting all milestones, the sales teams will work closely with the client.

Account Planning Best Practices

Account Planning and CRM

To support the account planning process, many organizations utilize CRM tools like Salesforce. These tools can help sales teams streamline their account planning process, making it easier to manage accounts and drive sales growth. When you store all your data in a single source of truth, sellers can access and leverage it easier. Additionally, Salesforce automation tools can help sales teams track and manage the deal pipeline, providing real-time insights into the status of each deal.

The account planning process is a critical component of the sales process that helps businesses close larger deals more quickly. By following a structured approach that includes research and analysis, account profiling, strategy development, and plan execution, sales teams can develop key account plans that meet the client’s unique needs and priorities. With the right tools and processes in place, sales teams can maximize the effectiveness of their account planning process and achieve their sales objectives. 

Sales teams play a critical role in account planning by identifying potential customers, developing relationships, and closing deals. Ensure alignment of the account plan with the customer’s needs and priorities by having the sales teams work closely with account managers. Moreover, the sales teams can offer valuable insights and feedback to improve the effectiveness of the account plan.

decision-makers

 

Account Planning Terms

Strategic Account Management

This is the process of identifying your most lucrative and high-growth accounts and building a customized strategy to retain and grow the customer over time.

Customer churn

These are customers who decide to stop doing business with you after your contract is finished.

Strategic Account Mapping

This is the process of mapping out which accounts are most important to your long-term goals, what attributes these accounts have, and then mapping out the key stakeholders within those accounts that your team will need to engage over time to retain and grow your footprint in that customer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Account Planning?

Answer:

Strategic account management is an essential aspect of any business that seeks to succeed in today’s highly competitive market. A sales account plan is a selling method companies use to manage their clients effectively. Efficiency looks different from business to business. That means different strategies will cover different objectives. A strategic account planning process that is followed by different functions within a GTM function will drive a consistent output.

What is Account Planning?

Answer:

Strategic account management is an essential aspect of any business that seeks to succeed in today’s highly competitive market. A sales account plan is a selling method companies use to manage their clients effectively. Efficiency looks different from business to business. That means different strategies will cover different objectives. A strategic account planning process that is followed by different functions within a GTM function will drive a consistent output.

What Should be Included in Account Planning?

Answer:

Account profile: A detailed analysis of the account that includes information about the customer’s needs, challenges, and business goals. This analysis should also identify the key decision-makers and influencers within the account.

Sales account plan: Create a customized plan that outlines the specific strategies and tactics for managing the account effectively. This plan should include details on the budget, resources, and timelines required to execute the plan.

Account planning strategy: A sales strategy that is tailored to the client’s needs and objectives. Design a set of key account plans that address the client’s specific needs and challenges as part of this strategy.

Best practices: A set of best practices that can help guide the account planning process. These best practices should be based on industry standards. They include tactics such as effective communication, relationship-building, and ongoing account management.

Value proposition: Outline a clear and compelling value proposition that describes the benefits of the product or service being offered. Tailor the value proposition to the specific needs and objectives of the client.

By including these essential components in their account planning process, businesses can develop effective strategies that help them build strong relationships with their clients, drive sales growth, and achieve their business objectives.

Key Stakeholders: Whether it be sales leaders, key account managers, heads of operations, marketing, or other personas your group typically works within a sales cycle or partnership, document and understand how you can help these people champion your company. What are their strategic initiatives? What is the account strategy to engage their direct reports? One of the biggest challenges of account planning that we see within the space is a lack of understanding “who is who” within the sales organization or other groups. .

Question: What are the Three Phases of Account Planning?

Answer:

The account planning process typically involves three phases, each of which is critical to developing the best account plan for your company. These phases include:

Research and Competitor Analysis: The first step in the account planning process is to gather and analyze data about the account, the customer, and the market. This phase involves researching the customer’s needs and preferences, identifying key business initiatives, and assessing the competition. By gathering this information, businesses can identify the most significant opportunities for growth and develop an effective account plan that addresses these needs.

Strategy Development: In this phase, businesses can develop a sales strategy that is tailored to the specific needs and objectives of the client. This phase involves identifying the key account management resources needed to execute the plan, developing a timeline and budget for the plan, and outlining the specific strategies and tactics that will be used to manage the account effectively. Best practice tips for this phase include regularly updating the plan to reflect changes in the market and ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned with the plan’s goals and objectives.

Plan Execution: The final phase of the account planning process is plan execution. This phase involves implementing the strategies and tactics outlined in the account plan, monitoring progress, and making adjustments as needed. For this phase, it is a best practice to regularly communicate with the client to ensure their satisfaction with the execution of the plan. Then set measurable goals and KPIs, and involve all stakeholders in the execution process to ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals.

Question: What Makes a Good Account Plan?

Answer:

Successful approaches that help achieve maximum sales all have a few things in common. Every B2B sales team must have a process for managing relationships with customers to drive account growth. A sales account plan should provide a complete overview of the customer’s business, including its goals, challenges, and revenue potential. It should also identify any problems or concerns that the customer may have and outline the steps required to address them.

To create a good account plan, many companies start by using a strategic account planning template as a guide. This template should include key sections, such as an executive summary, a business overview, a customer profile, an analysis of the customer’s problems and opportunities, and a sales strategy for achieving the customer’s goals.

When developing an account plan, it’s important to focus on the customer’s needs and goals. Tailor the plan to address the customer’s specific challenges and opportunities.

This approach requires businesses to conduct thorough research and analysis. Identify the customer’s pain points and develop an effective strategy for addressing them.

Another critical factor that makes a good account plan is the involvement of key account management resources. These resources include the account team, which should include representatives from different departments, such as sales, marketing, and customer service. The involvement of these resources ensures that the account plan is comprehensive. Consider all aspects of the customer relationship.

Finally, a good account plan should include clear, measurable objectives that align with the customer’s goals. These objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Following these best practice tips can help businesses develop effective account plans that maximize opportunities and achieve success. This is how you can achieve account planning best practices.

Question: What are the Steps in Account Planning?

Answer:

Account planning is a process that involves various steps to develop effective sales account plans. The steps in account planning can vary. It depends on the organization’s specific needs, but here is a general outline of the process:

Gather Information: This step involves collecting data about the customer, including their business overview, revenue potential, and any problems they are facing. Market research, surveys, or talking to the client gathers this information.

Identify Opportunities: Once you have the information about the customer, the next step is to identify the opportunities for growth and expansion. This involves analyzing their needs and pain points. Develop a strategic account planning guide that outlines how you can help them achieve their goals. Typically, your most profitable accounts are a good place to find more room for growth.

Develop Sales Account Plans: I take the next step of developing a sales account plan that is customized to the customer’s specific needs. This includes outlining the objectives, strategies, and tactics to achieve the desired outcomes.

 

Posted On
April 5, 2023
Resource Type
Account Planning