The Six Critical Ingredients for the Best Account Plan Ever

Are your account plans helping your teams meet their quotas or are they missing the mark?

Without comprehensive, well thought out account plans, companies are missing out on major revenue opportunities and risk losing some of their largest clients.

Leading sales organizations at companies like JDA Software and more applied a visual approach to their account planning process and immediately uncovered expansion and new pipeline opportunities that were previously hidden.

In this blog series, you will learn how to build the key elements for your best account plan ever. With the “best account plan”, you can:

  • Grow existing customers: Blackline doubled key account revenue in under 6 quarters
  • Uncover untapped opportunities: 75% of Oracles largest revenue deals closed with account plans
  • Increase forecast visibility: JDA increased forecast horizon from 3 months to 3 years

1) Figure Out Who Matters with Relationship Maps

A good strategic account program requires a clear understanding of the customer’s internal structure, personnel and decision-making process, including the buying centers with responsibility for initiatives and budgets. While typical CRM tools help keep track of contacts (and their roles) within an account or opportunity, much more information is needed to successfully identify revenue potential in your key accounts or move through a deal.

In today’s complex sales environment it is critical that sales is able to identify, connect and access the key stakeholders and decision makers that ultimately influence and control the strategic relationships, budget and purchasing process. But it’s not just about reporting structures’ — it’s about the politics and who influences whom throughout the organization.

Visualizing this information with a relationship map, representing friends, foes, and third-party influencers, is critical to helping your team identify gaps in relationships and build quality relationship development plans. With this, you can figure out who matters and the routes to power.

2) Uncover New Opportunities with White Space Maps

According to SiriusDecisions, a global B2B research firm focused on sales strategy, a critical component of a great account plan is charting the product landscape in the account by listing the closed, active and potential opportunities for each buying center, and then grouping opportunities by product or service categories.

You should also assess the current state of other suppliers or installed solutions, the competitive landscape, near-term buying plans and long-term needs. A white space map enables this by helping your sales organization visualize the footprint of your solutions, including where your products and your competitor’s products are being used.

You can now quickly assess your strength in the account versus your competition and reveals new, cross-sell, and up-sell opportunities.

3) Gain Revenue Predictability and Long-Term Forecast Visibility with a Revenue Snapshot

Having a clear picture of past, present and future opportunities and revenue is where the “rubber meets the road” in key account planning. Having a visual opportunity summary analysis illustrates the revenue status for an account based on current, closed and identified potential as it relates to annual goals and hypothetical value.

This piece is critical to successful account planning because it provides a basis for true revenue predictability and long-term forecast visibility. Companies like JDA Software and ACI Worldwide were able to dramatically increase their forecast visibility by focusing on their most profitable, strategic customers who account for a majority of their overall revenue, and therefore become a stronger measure and guide for growing the bottom line.

As a best practice, this revenue snapshot is a requirement in every key account plan.

4) Align Your Approach to Your Customer’s Goals with Strategy Maps

By understanding and mapping out your client’s goals, challenges, and departmental initiatives, you can easily identify and position potential expansion opportunities based on what is top of mind for their key decision makers.

A key account strategy map facilitates the collaboration internally with your team, and externally with your customers to help you gain insight into their strategies, and show how you can directly help them achieve their overarching business objectives.

Additionally, an effective strategy map lets you align your solutions and the value they provide to the customer’s business strategy and challenges. This empowers reps and account managers to pinpoint and focus on the initiatives that are likely to receive funding and lead to sales opportunities.

5) Assess the Health of Your Most Profitable Relationships with Customer Scorecards

How are you measuring the strength of your relationships with key accounts? With a customer scorecard, you can determine specific focus areas within the account by mapping buying centers by revenue potential and the quality of the relationship.

Sales leadership and senior executives can easily monitor the status of key accounts to identify which accounts might be at risk and which accounts might be ripe for further growth.

Based on this information, certain customers can be prioritized vs. others and specific action plans put in place to target areas where improvement is needed. For both management and account teams, an effective scorecard delivers the insight into which high-value accounts to focus on, and where to focus within those accounts.

6) Keep Up Momentum with an Action Plan

SiriusDecisions notes that goals and actions mark the transition of the planning process to executable tactics and activities, and must align with other functional groups involved in the account planning and management process.

Many organizations think that they can capture actions and monitor account activity through a CRM, but this model can actually hold back sales because it is more focused on task completion than goal attainment.

A strategic action plan effectively aligns activities to a defined set of goals and objectives which address key areas such as revenue, relationship, and customer success.

Related Relationship Map and Account Planning Resources