Your strategic account planning process is integral to optimizing revenue in your largest accounts. In an interview we conducted with SiriusDecisions’ Research Director of Sales Operations Strategies, Robert Muñoz, he shared the critical ingredients of effective account plans and how to drive results through living account plans.
What is Strategic Account Planning?
Before we dive into account planning best practices, let’s all get on the same page about account planning. Muñoz defines account planning as:
- A structured, repeatable methodology for analyzing an account or set of assigned accounts, developing a deeper understanding of them, and identifying opportunities
- A success plan for the sales rep that aligns their assigned account(s), their quota, and their commission plan
- 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, 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
1. Organizational alignment
Organization alignment is one of the critical ingredients of a successful strategic account plan. You must have a 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.
2. 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 suit your business model. A few of the multiple learning modalities can include written guides, workbooks, eLearning, workshops or coaching.
3. Planning Components
The minimum set of plan components to result in an executable plan. Plan components will vary by plan type.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Account plans should be integrated into an 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.
8. Implement and Sustain
Sales teams should leverage technology to enable the program to be part of the daily workflow of the rep and manager 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: Account Planning Template
Research Brief: Strategic Account Planning Segmentation