The dreaded subject of account planning needs an overhaul. It is looked upon as an administrative task that has very little value for the account team, and generally, not regarded as one of the most important exercises an account team can perform. That is a huge problem!
First – let’s change the name. It should be referred to as BUSINESS PLANNING. Imagine trying to lead an organization without a plan. That would be a ridiculous notion. A well-crafted business plan is a living document that outlines how an organization will achieve its mission. It encompasses metrics, resources, strategy, and tactics. It is reviewed frequently to address changes in the market and capitalize on opportunities to avoid potential liabilities. It is proactive and sufficiently specific to prevent confusion. An account plan is exactly the same!
The average account is estimated to have approximately 15-20% penetration which leaves a staggering 80-85% opportunity for growth.
We also need to address the role of the Account Lead. Congratulations! You have been promoted to the position of Account CEO. This is yours to lead.
The first mission is to understand your account. While this seems elementary, you would be surprised to learn how many account leaders cannot articulate their accounts’ driving initiatives. It is an easy issue to resolve. If you are managing a publicly traded account, your first tactic is to read the letter to the shareholders contained in the annual report. There you will find the three to four strategic items the company is committed to achieving.
Your second mission is to gather your team and members of your support organization to creatively discuss ideas and approaches you can bring to your client that enables, accelerates, accomplishes, or supports all or a select few of the client’s strategic areas of focus.
Your third mission is to target the key executives that are key to politically support your efforts. It is highly likely you will not have existing relationships. This is where you must begin the relationship mapping exercise.
At this point, you may have realized this approach is wildly different from the approach most organizations and teams use. The reason being is that this process is focused on the client and NOT simply based on your need for increased sales and revenue. It is deliberately outlined in this manner to “flip” the conventional approach’s emphasis. It must be focused on the client.
There is a secondary tactical approach that can help you drive transactional business as well. Think of it in this manner – where will your revenue come from in the next 12 months?
- What EXISTING places can you sell EXISTING products or services?
- What NEW places can you sell EXISTING products or services?
- What EXISTING places can you sell NEW products or services?
- What NEW places can you sell NEW products or services?
The business planning approach to account leadership should include BOTH of these approaches to your account. The first is designed to place you into the role of developing key relationships. This is where you are concerned with helping your client achieve their committed initiatives. The second is designed to proactively generate a tactical pipeline of opportunities you can tie to quarterly revenue objectives.
A significant benefit from the dual approach is you will create important relationships at all levels of the client organization. It is recommended you assign relationship responsibility to each member of your team – this includes sponsoring executives or members of your executive team, where warranted.
Lastly, the business planning for your account must have an initial 90-day execution plan. This incorporates both strategic and tactic efforts. It must have accountability in the form of who, what, and when. Your job as Account CEO means you have to have monthly or bi-monthly reviews with your immediate and extended team. Your ability to govern the plan is the difference between success and failure.
THIS is the time to begin the process – if you have already completed the exercise, review it to see what you might have missed after reading this article. The year 2023 will arrive in just a few short weeks. Get your immediate and extended team members focused and get your business rolling!
Schedule an hour meeting with your team to outline the business plan and approach. You may choose to create assignments to ensure everyone has an active role. Commit to a scheduled discussion timeframe to review progress and capture changes until the plan is complete. Make sure you have an agreed 90-day implementation plan.