Get from Good to Great: Strategic Account Planning

Your strategic account planning process can make or break your success. In a recent webinar, Robert Muñoz, SiriusDecisions’ Research Director of Sales Operations Strategies and Anne Kimsey, Revegy’s VP of Product Management discussed the critical ingredients of an effective account plans and ways to bring your account plans to life to drive results.

In this post, we’ll share their insights into account planning best practices and discuss ways to ensure your account planning program delivers measurable value.

What is Strategic Account Planning?

Before we dive into account planning best practices, we wanted to introduce a share definition of account planning to ensure that we’re all on the same page. In the webinar, Muñoz did a great job defining account planning. He said that account planning is:

  1. A structured, repeatable methodology for analyzing an account or set of assigned accounts, developing a deeper understanding and identifying opportunities
  2. A success plan for the sales rep that aligns their assigned account(s), their quota and their commission plan
  3. A process by which plans are developed, reviewed and updated regularly

The Key Issues with Strategic Account Planning

Many sales organizations stray away from this definition when operationalizing their account plans. Even though many sales organizations invest in account planning methodologies and templates, they fail to operationalize the program so they can measure and sustain the planning program’s success.

Long-term value requires coordination and collaboration between sales, marketing and all other relevant channels, yet often times, it takes a backseat to short-term objectives, resulting in a lack of coordinated plans for sustained retention and growth.

High-performing companies leverage the following 8 strategic account planning components to be more effective.

8 Elements to Elevate Your Strategic Account Plan from Good to Great

Organizational alignment

Organization alignment is one of the critical ingredients to a successful strategic account plan. You must have commitment to an account planning ecosystem with executive engagement and collaboration, cooperation and communication with marketing, channels, partners and other functional groups. Consistent, measurable business goals must be shared between functions to drive account acquisition, growth and retention.

Planning methodology

It’s critical to have a repeatable set of role-based methodologies, with multiple learning modalities and a change management process.

Methodologies can be internally developed or leverage 3rd party resources. There are multiple plan types based on sales roles, and they should be tailored to suite your business model. A few of the multiple learning modalities can include written guides, workbooks, eLearning, workshops or coaching.

Planning Components

Minimum set of plan components to result in an executable plan. Plan components will vary by plan type.

Planning Process

This is the process of creating, reviewing and approving the account or territory plan. It is important to have a defined purpose, key participates, and a known outcome for each step.

Sales Management Process

It’s important to integrate the planning process into quarterly reviews and updates. First line managers must be enabled to review and coach on the quality of account plans and the execution of the action plan.

Metrics and Reporting

Clearly defined measures and reporting cadence are a must. You need to be able to track results in terms of short-term activity, mid-term pipeline growth and long-term revenue growth by adapting core sales metrics to the program.

Infrastructure

Account plans should be integrated into a SFA. This allows sales teams to minimize double data entry and have a single instance for all global account activity. Account team members are then able to view and update common account information across regional or organizational boundaries. Further, executive and management dashboards and reports include global account metrics, providing a holistic view of the account. This allows sales teams to reinforce the methodology.

Implement and Sustain

Sales teams should leverage technology to enable the program to be part of the daily work flow of the rep and manger with highlighted metrics (i.e. value drivers, health indicators, and risk markers)

Technology to Operationalize Strategic Account Plans

It’s critical to use purpose-built technology that enables efficient, integrated and strategic account planning execution and collaboration. This will allow you to actually operationalize your strategic account planning process and maximize results.

Revegy is one account planning solution that allows sales teams to bring this to life. With Revegy, you can create living account plans that adapt to changing customer needs, evolving relationships and unexpected events. It provides planning that gets everyone on the same page and guides execution. You can show anyone, at any time, exactly what’s going on in key accounts and see the way to win.

Additional Strategic Account Planning Resources:

eBook: The Field Guide to Account Based Sales Enablement

eBook: Account Planning Template

Research Brief: Strategic Account Planning Segmentation