What’s The Purpose Of Account Planning?


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We talk a lot about account planning, particularly if our “territory” is one or a few large accounts.  Generally, we wrap a lot of nice words around the reasons we do account planning:

Develop deep and trusted relationships in the account.  Create a customer for life, through providing great, ongoing customer experiences.  Grow the account.  Become a strategic partner. Build additional business…..

The list can go on.  All are important, but sometimes, I tend to be a little more crass.

I believe it’s my God-given right to 100% share of the account!

That means it’s my job to find all the opportunities I can compete for, or where we can help the customer.  I have to find those opportunities and earn them by creating great value with those individuals in the account.

So a key purpose of the account plan is that it’s a structured prospecting plan.  Our account planning has to focus on finding new opportunities within the account.

Let’s say we have a $10M account, and we want to drive 10% growth, year over year.  That means we have to find $1M of business in the account. We may get some of it through upgrades with those we are currently doing business with in the account.  But we probably won’t achieve all the growth we need to achieve by relying on upgrades and cross sell to our current customers.

We have to find new customers and new opportunities, so we have to have a prospecting plan within the account?

What are the other parts of the organization we should be working with?  Who else might have the problems that we can solve?  How can we leverage referrals from our current customers within the account?

Prospecting within the account is no different than prospecting within the territory–except the account may be our territory.  We have to know how many prospects we have to contact to find and qualify a deal.  We have to know the average deal size and our win rate, and our cycle time to develop a healthy pipeline for our account.  If it takes 5 prospects to find a single opportunity, our win rate is 50% and our average deal size is $100K.

To make our $1 M in growth in the account, we have to close 10 deals, with 20 deals for a healthy pipeline (assuming sales cycle of 12 months or less), and we have reach 100 new prospects in our account to find and qualify those 20 opportunities.

So our account plan becomes a very focused prospecting plan.  We know we have to prospect and engage those 100 new people in the account.  How do we find those, how do we leverage existing relationships, how do we engage those new people in meaningful and relevant ways…..

If you want to be truly important and strategic to your customers, you have to have a goal of 100% share of the account (or approaching that).  You won’t get that by farming and nurturing your current business in the account, you have to prospect and hunt.

Does your account plan have a strong prospecting plan that you can measure your attainment against?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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