Account planning is a critical sales strategy for businesses to adopt in 2023, delivering significant benefits such as increased revenue, satisfied customers, and a more efficient sales team.
But what exactly is account planning, and why is it so important?
Account planning is a unique approach that views the concept of "closed-won" as an oxymoron, recognizing that the initial sale is only the first step towards accessing greater opportunities.
This mindset shift means that the ultimate goal is not to "close" opportunities but to open doors and capitalize on existing relationships to drive revenue growth.
Our comprehensive guide delves into the importance of account planning, its definition, and the necessary mindset shift for any sales organization looking to succeed in retaining revenue in key accounts.
With this guide, your sales team will be well-equipped to thrive in 2023 and beyond.
What is Sales Account Planning?
In simple words, sales account planning is the process of laying out all primary key aspects of a potential customer or key accounts.
Sales account planning is a process that involves analyzing and identifying the needs of your customers to develop a personalized strategy that aligns with their specific requirements.
Essentially, it is a proactive approach to sales that allows you to build strong, long-term relationships with your clients and ultimately drive revenue growth.
To create an effective sales account plan, you need to take a deep dive into your customer's businesses, understand their pain points and goals, and figure out how your products or services can address their needs. This involves conducting thorough research and analysis, leveraging your existing relationships, and collaborating closely with your internal teams to develop a customized strategy.
Effective sales account planning involves several key strategies.
One of the most important is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the customer's business, industry, and goals. This includes identifying key stakeholders, understanding their decision-making process, and developing a deep understanding of their pain points and challenges.
A solid sales account plan can help you to build credibility, gain the trust of your clients, and ultimately close more deals and emerge as a leader in your competitive landscape.
However, it's important to note that sales account planning is an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring and adjustment.
Now that we've established what account planning is, let's understand why key account planning is important for sales and key account managers to win more deals.
Why is Sales Account Planning Important?
Account planning can be mutually advantageous for everyone involved when planned well (customer and seller, both).
Strong customer relationships and retaining customer loyalty are clearly paramount to keeping any business stable and helping them expand. Here are a few reasons why sales account planning is important -
1. Build Stronger Customer Relationships
By taking the time to understand your customer's business, pain points, and goals, you can build stronger relationships based on trust, respect, and mutual understanding.
- By understanding the account's business and needs, businesses can tailor their offerings and services to meet those needs more effectively
- This can lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as a lower risk of churn or defection to competitors
- It can also help businesses build stronger relationships with their customers, leading to increased trust and a greater likelihood of future business opportunities
- By focusing on long-term customer success rather than just short-term sales, businesses can build a reputation as trusted and reliable partners, further enhancing customer loyalty and retention.
2. Provides Insights into Market Trends and Competition
Account planning allows you to develop a personalized approach to sales, which can differentiate you from competitors and increase the chances of success.
- By regularly reviewing and analyzing account data, businesses can uncover trends or patterns that may indicate new needs or opportunities for growth
- This can lead to the development of new products or services that meet customer needs and differentiate the business from competitors
- It can also help businesses identify potential risks or challenges within the account, allowing them to proactively address them and minimize any negative impact
- By staying ahead of changing customer needs and preferences, businesses can position themselves as strategic partners rather than just vendors, leading to stronger and more profitable relationships with their key accounts.
3. Sets Clear Goals and Objectives to Prioritize Resources and Efforts
By having a comprehensive understanding of your customer's business, you can set clear goals and objectives to add value and increase revenue.
Setting clear goals and objectives is critical for effective account planning. Here's why:
- It helps prioritize resources and focus efforts on the most promising opportunities
- This can improve efficiency and reduce wasted time and resources
- It provides a framework for measuring progress and success
- It helps ensure alignment between sales teams and other departments
- It can also help identify potential roadblocks and challenges, allowing teams to proactively address them
4. Improve Customer Retention
By regularly reviewing and adjusting your account plan, you can ensure that you're always aligned with your customer's evolving needs and goals, which can improve customer retention and satisfaction.
5. Improve Win Rates and Sales Efficiency
Account planning enables you to focus your efforts on the most promising opportunities, which can increase sales efficiency, reduce wasted time and resources, and ultimately improve win rates.
- It helps sales teams better understand the customer's needs and preferences
- This can help them position solutions more effectively and increase their chances of winning the business
- It also helps identify potential objections or concerns, allowing teams to address them proactively
- By focusing on their key accounts, sales teams can build stronger relationships and create a more personalized sales experience for the customer
- This can lead to increased trust and confidence in the business, which can ultimately result in more closed deals
6. Differentiate Yourself from Competitors
By developing a personalized account plan and a competitive intelligence program, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and position yourself as a trusted advisor to your customers.
Tailoring solutions to meet specific customer needs creates a competitive advantage. Here's why:
- Customers are more likely to choose a solution that meets their unique requirements
- Tailored solutions show that the business values the customer's needs and is invested in their success
- This can lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat business
- It can also help differentiate the business from competitors who offer one-size-fits-all solutions
7. Drive Revenue Growth
Ultimately, account planning can help you to drive revenue growth by increasing customer satisfaction, loyalty, and sales success.
One of the primary reasons why account planning is important is that it enables businesses to maximize revenue from their key accounts. These accounts are typically those that generate a significant portion of the business's revenue, and as such, they represent a critical source of ongoing income.
Taking a structured and disciplined approach to account planning, businesses can identify new opportunities within these key accounts and develop tailored solutions that meet their specific needs.
This can include identifying opportunities for upselling or cross-selling, developing new products or services that meet the account's unique requirements, or creating customized pricing or payment plans.
How to Build a Sales Account Planning Template: Step-by-Step Guide to Win More Deals
Consider these seven steps to build an account planning template to help your team win more deals and supercharge your revenue engine this year -
#1 Account Overview
An effective account overview sets the foundation for a successful sales account plan. By understanding the account's current situation, goals, and challenges, you can tailor your approach to meet their specific needs and build a relationship based on trust and mutual understanding.
It's important to keep this step strategic and actionable by focusing on the key information that will inform your sales approach, without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.
By following these steps, you can set yourself up for success and achieve your sales goals for the account -
- Start by gathering basic information about the account, including the name of the company, the size of the company, and the industry.
- Research the account's current sales performance, including revenue and growth rates, to understand its current situation.
- Identify the key decision-makers and stakeholders within the organization who you will be interacting with.
- Understand the company's mission, values, and goals to ensure that your approach is aligned with its objectives.
- Analyze the account's buying history to identify any trends or patterns that can inform your sales approach.
- Consider any potential challenges or obstacles that may need to be addressed, such as budget constraints or competitive pressures.
- Use all of this information to create a high-level account plan that outlines your approach to engaging with the customer.
#2 Analyze the Key Account in Question
Follow these steps to help your team identify opportunities to provide value and differentiate yourself from the competition, ultimately driving revenue growth for your organization.
- Research the account's business needs, challenges, and pain points. What are their goals and objectives?
- Understand their buying process and decision-making criteria. Who is involved in the decision-making process, and what factors influence their decisions?
- Identify any potential roadblocks or objections that could prevent the account from making a purchase.
- Consider the account's budget and how it may impact their purchasing decisions.
- Look for opportunities to provide value and differentiate yourself from the competition.
- Analyze the account's current use of your products or services, if applicable, to identify potential areas for growth or expansion.
- Use this information to develop a targeted sales approach that addresses the account's specific needs and challenges.
Analyzing the account is a critical step in creating a successful sales account plan.
By understanding the account's business needs and challenges, you can tailor your sales approach to meet their specific needs and build a relationship based on trust and mutual understanding.
#3 Understand the Competitive Landscape
Understanding the competitive landscape is crucial to developing a successful sales account plan.
With the help of a competitive analysis study, your team can easily identify the competition's strategies and tactics, you can identify potential areas of weakness, and develop a sales approach that highlights your unique strengths and differentiates you from the competition.
- Identify the account's direct and indirect competitors, as well as any emerging players in the market.
- Analyze the competition's product offerings, pricing strategies, and sales and marketing tactics to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
- Evaluate how the competition is positioning itself in the market and what messaging they are using to appeal to customers with an appropriate competitive analysis study that covers direct and indirect competitors in the market.
- Consider any potential threats or challenges that the competition may pose to your sales efforts, such as lower pricing or stronger brand recognition.
- Look for ways to differentiate yourself from the competition and communicate your unique value proposition, such as through superior customer service, more innovative products, or stronger relationships with key decision-makers.
- Identify any potential opportunities for collaboration or partnership with the account's competitors, such as through co-marketing or co-selling initiatives.
#4 Set Goals and KPIs
Communicating your goals and KPIs with the account can help you build trust and accountability and work together towards a shared vision of success. It's important to keep this step strategic and actionable by focusing on the most important goals and KPIs that will drive revenue growth and create value for the account.
- Define clear and measurable goals for the account, such as revenue targets or customer acquisition goals.
- Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you track progress toward your goals, such as sales conversion rates or average deal size.
- Set specific, realistic, and achievable targets that align with the account's business needs and objectives.
- Ensure that your goals and KPIs are time-bound so that you can track progress over a specific period of time and adjust your sales approach as needed.
- Communicate your goals and KPIs with the account, so that they are aware of the expectations and can work with you to achieve them.
Setting clear and measurable goals is critical to the success of any sales account plan. By defining specific targets and KPIs, you can track progress toward your goals and adjust your sales approach as needed to stay on track.
#5 Develop an Action Plan
Identifying specific tactics and activities can ensure that your team is aligned and focused on achieving your goals and KPIs.
By assigning specific tasks and responsibilities to team members and regularly reviewing and updating your action plan, you can stay agile and responsive to changes in the market and the account's needs.
- Based on your analysis of the account and its competitive landscape, develop a clear and actionable sales strategy that is tailored to the account's unique needs and objectives.
- Identify specific tactics and activities that will help you achieve your goals and KPIs, such as targeted outreach campaigns or product demonstrations.
- Assign specific tasks and responsibilities to individual team members, and establish timelines and deadlines for completing each task.
- Regularly review and update your action plan as needed, based on feedback from the account, changes in the competitive landscape, or shifts in the account's needs and priorities.
#6 Align with your Team
Creating alignment among your cross-functional team is important to the success of a sales account plan.
Fostering a collaborative and supportive team environment to ensure that everyone is working towards a shared vision of success. It's important to communicate the goals, KPIs, and action plan clearly and regularly, and to celebrate successes and milestones along the way.
- Bring together the cross-functional team members who will be responsible for executing the sales account plan.
- Clearly communicate the goals, KPIs, and action plan to the team, and ensure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.
- Foster a collaborative and supportive team environment that encourages open communication, feedback, and continuous improvement.
- Regularly review progress towards your goals and KPIs with the team, and celebrate successes and milestones along the way.
- Provide ongoing training and development opportunities for team members to help them grow and develop their skills. Leverage features such as sales coaching from your CRM or, sales intelligence software to double down the efforts and improve their win rates.
#7 Develop a Sales Strategy
Developing a strong sales strategy is essential to the success of any sales account plan. Understand the account's unique needs and competitive landscape to tailor your approach to maximize your chances of success with key account plans and key business initiatives.
- Based on your analysis of the account and its competitive landscape, develop a clear and concise sales strategy that aligns with the account's goals and objectives.
- Identify the key value propositions and unique selling points that differentiate your offerings from those of your competitors, and use them to craft a compelling sales pitch.
- Create a structured approach to lead generation and qualification, ensuring that you are targeting the right prospects and providing them with relevant and valuable information at each stage of the sales funnel.
- Leverage a range of channels and tactics to engage with prospects and customers, such as email, social media, and in-person meetings.
- Continuously measure and analyze the results of your sales efforts, and adjust your strategy as needed based on feedback from the account and the market.
In conclusion, creating a solid sales account plan is the key to success in the world of sales.
At Salesken, we know how important it is to have a strong sales plan in place, and we're here to help. Our proven account plan template for 2023 is designed to help you streamline your sales process, close more deals, and exceed your targets.
Whether you're a seasoned sales professional or just starting out, our template can help you take your sales game to the next level.
But don't just take our word for it. Book a demo with us today and see for yourself how Salesken can help you transform your sales process and achieve success!