One of our CRO clients, knew she had a major problem, as she was heading into her new fiscal year. She understood relying solely on new business to generate revenue can be challenging for her sales organization, much less any B2B sales team. Tighter budgets, longer sales cycles, and more decision-makers make it crucial for businesses to shift their focus towards effective account planning.
By identifying and targeting her potential sales opportunities within existing accounts, her salespeople can deepen relationships, maximize revenue, improve customer satisfaction, and boost customer retention. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of account planning and discuss how sales organizations can supercharge their success by implementing a robust account planning strategy.
The Power of Account Planning:
According to a study by the Account Planning Book of Evidence, account planning has shown impressive results for sales organizations. An overwhelming 74 percent of respondents reported a better win rate, while 59 percent saw more won deals than lost deals when utilizing account planning. Another survey by Altify revealed that 72 percent of participants believed that account planning increased their understanding of their clients' business. These statistics highlight the significant impact account planning can have on sales success.
Benefits of Account Planning:
1. Maximize revenue: By leveraging existing relationships and identifying upselling and cross-selling opportunities, account planning helps maximize revenue potential within current accounts.
2. Improve customer satisfaction: Account planning prioritizes the customers you already have, demonstrating a commitment to their success. This focus on customer satisfaction leads to increased loyalty and repeat business.
3. Boost customer retention: By proactively staying engaged with existing accounts, sales teams can anticipate changes, address challenges, and nurture relationships, leading to higher customer retention rates.
4. Provide a roadmap for account growth: Account planning enables sales professionals to develop a strategic roadmap for account growth, ensuring long-term success and sustainable business relationships.
Overcoming Account Planning Challenges:
While account planning offers numerous benefits, it does come with its own set of challenges. Sales teams need to address these challenges to fully embrace the account planning process:
1. Team buy-in: Shifting from a "new business hunting" mindset to a focus on account development and nurturing requires a shift in attitude and skill set. Sellers must understand the long-term rewards and value of account planning to fully buy into the process.
2. Time management: Prioritizing time and resources can be challenging, especially with larger accounts. Developing formal account plans for top accounts and finding the right balance between tasks is crucial for success.
3. Customer willingness to share: Building strong relationships and trust with key contacts within the client's organization is essential for effective account planning. Salespeople rely on their contacts and advocates to gather valuable information and insights.
Components of an Account Planning Strategy:
Implementing a comprehensive account planning strategy involves several key components:
1. Key contacts: Understanding each person's role, influence, and relationship within the account is crucial. Sellers must establish and maintain strong relationships to leverage new opportunities.
2. Account needs/goals: By aligning the account's current challenges with their long-term goals, sales professionals can provide tailored solutions that address their specific needs.
3. Competitive threats: Knowing the account's competition, their buying habits, and satisfaction levels is vital. This information helps sales teams position their offerings effectively and differentiate themselves from competitors.
4. Alignment: Recognizing the account's growth potential, including additional departments or affiliates, allows salespeople to allocate resources and time effectively for long-term success.
5. Plan of action: Developing a strategic plan of action that outlines specific steps, timelines, and responsibilities ensures accountability and guides the account planning process.
Effective account planning is essential for sales organizations aiming to thrive and grow. By prioritizing existing accounts, sales professionals can unlock a wealth of opportunities, maximize revenue, improve customer satisfaction, and boost retention rates. Overcoming challenges such as team buy-in, time management, and customer engagement requires a shift in mindset and a commitment to building strong relationships. By implementing a comprehensive account planning strategy that focuses on key contacts, account needs, competitive threats, and alignment, sales organizations can supercharge their success and achieve sustainable growth in an ever-changing marketplace.
M. Allen's Detailed Account Plan Audit Checklist:
Over a decade of performing these, I'm sharing the key aspects that I have my clients, stakeholders and team focus on thinking through and documenting:
1. Account Profile:
- Does the account profile provide a comprehensive overview of the customer's business, industry, and key stakeholders?
- Is the account profile regularly updated with the latest information and insights?
- Does the account profile include the account's goals, challenges, and growth potential?
2. Relationship Mapping:
- Are key contacts within the account identified and their roles and influence clearly documented?
- Is there a clear understanding of the relationships and connections between different individuals within the account?
- Are there established relationships with key decision-makers, influencers, and advocates?
3. Account Goals and Objectives:
- Are the account's short-term and long-term goals clearly defined?
- Are the objectives aligned with the customer's expectations and needs?
- Is there a plan in place to track the progress toward achieving these goals?
4. SWOT Analysis:
- Has a comprehensive SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis been conducted for the account?
- Are the account's strengths and weaknesses identified, and strategies developed to leverage strengths and mitigate weaknesses?
- Have potential opportunities for growth and potential threats been identified and addressed?
5. Competitive Landscape:
- Is there a thorough understanding of the competitors operating within the account's industry?
- Have the account's competitive advantages and points of differentiation been identified and highlighted?
- Are there strategies in place to counteract competitive threats and position the account effectively?
6. Account Engagement and Touch-points:
- Are the account's historical interactions and touchpoints documented and analyzed?
- Is there a plan in place to proactively engage with the account at various stages of the customer journey?
- Are there strategies to ensure consistent and meaningful communication with key contacts?
7. Revenue Generation Opportunities:
- Have potential upselling, cross-selling, and expansion opportunities within the account been identified?
- Are there strategies in place to capitalize on these opportunities and drive revenue growth?
- Is there a clear understanding of the customer's buying cycle and decision-making process?
8. Account Risk Assessment:
- Have potential risks and challenges specific to the account been identified?
- Is there a plan to mitigate these risks and address any potential issues proactively?
- Are contingency plans in place to minimize the impact of unforeseen circumstances?
9. Collaboration and Coordination:
- Is there effective collaboration and coordination among different departments involved in servicing the account?
- Are responsibilities clearly defined, and is there a communication plan to ensure alignment?
- Are regular meetings held to review progress, address challenges, and identify areas for improvement?
10. Measurement and Review:
- Are there clear metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the success of the account plan?
- Is there a regular review process in place to assess the effectiveness of the account plan and make necessary adjustments?
- Are feedback and insights from key stakeholders and customers incorporated into the account planning process?
By following this detailed account plan audit checklist, sales organizations can ensure that their account plans are comprehensive, strategic, and aligned with customer needs. Regularly reviewing and updating the account plan based on the checklist will help drive success, foster strong customer relationships, and maximize revenue opportunities within existing accounts.
Ten Innovative Plays for Up-selling and Cross-Selling: Now let's discuss and share key plays to use with your targeted accounts. Virtual Plays: 1. Virtual Product Demos: Conduct interactive virtual demos to showcase the additional features and benefits of your products or services, specifically highlighting how they can address the customer's pain points and drive value. 2. Personalized Webinars: Host customized webinars tailored to the account's unique needs. Use these sessions to educate customers on how your additional offerings can complement their existing solutions and help them achieve their goals. 3. Virtual Workshops: Organize virtual workshops or training sessions that focus on advanced features or applications of your products. This provides an opportunity to upsell by demonstrating how the customer can get even more value from their initial purchase. 4. Case Studies and Success Stories: Share virtual case studies and success stories that highlight how other customers have successfully leveraged your upsell or cross-sell offerings to achieve their desired outcomes. This helps build credibility and demonstrates the potential benefits to the account. 5. Virtual Account Reviews: Schedule virtual account reviews to assess the customer's current usage and uncover areas where additional products or services can add value. Use data analytics and customer insights to identify specific upsell or cross-sell opportunities. In-person Plays: 1. On-site Solution Demonstrations: Arrange in-person visits to the customer's location to provide hands-on demonstrations of your upsell or cross-sell offerings. This allows the customer to experience the added value firsthand. 2. Executive Briefings: Conduct face-to-face executive briefings with key decision-makers to discuss the account's future goals and strategic initiatives. Use this opportunity to position your additional offerings as solutions that align with their business objectives. 3. User Group Meetings: Organize in-person user group meetings, where customers can network with peers and share best practices. Integrate sessions that showcase the benefits and success stories of upselling and cross-selling within the user community. 4. Solution Workshops: Host interactive workshops tailored to the account's specific needs, with a focus on how your additional products or services can enhance their existing solutions. Provide hands-on exercises to demonstrate the value of these offerings. 5. Relationship Building Events: Plan face-to-face events, such as dinners or networking sessions, to foster stronger relationships with key contacts within the account. Use these opportunities to discuss potential upsell or cross-sell opportunities in a relaxed setting. Direct Mail Plays (Selling into the C-suite): 1. Personalized Direct Mail Packages: Create personalized direct mail packages that highlight the value of your upsell or cross-sell offerings. Include case studies, testimonials, and relevant industry insights to capture the attention of C-suite executives. 2. Thought Leadership Content: Develop thought-provoking content, such as whitepapers or executive guides, that position your additional offerings as innovative solutions to the challenges faced by C-suite executives. Send these materials via direct mail to capture their interest. 3. Executive Roundtable Invitations: Send exclusive invitations to C-suite executives to join executive roundtable discussions focused on industry trends and challenges. Use these events to showcase the benefits of your upsell or cross-sell offerings. 4. Personalized Video Messages: Create personalized videos that address the specific pain points and objectives of C-suite executives. Use direct mail to deliver USB drives or QR codes that lead them to the video content. 5. VIP Access to Events: Offer VIP access to industry events, conferences, or exclusive networking opportunities to C-suite executives as an incentive for exploring your upsell or cross-sell offerings. Send personalized invitations via direct mail to make a lasting impression. Plays for BPO, Tech, and Process Automation Services: 1. Process Optimization Workshops: Conduct workshops that focus on process optimization and automation, showcasing how your services can enhance operational efficiency and reduce costs. Provide real-world examples and case studies to highlight the potential benefits. 2. ROI Analysis: Offer a comprehensive ROI analysis that quantifies the potential cost savings and productivity gains achievable through your services. Present this analysis to decision-makers to position the upsell or cross-sell as a strategic investment. 3. Pilot Programs: Propose pilot programs that allow the customer to test the benefits of your services on a small scale before committing to a larger implementation. Highlight success stories from similar organizations to build confidence in the value of the upsell or cross-sell offering. 4. Integration Consulting: Provide consulting services focused on integrating your services with the customer's existing systems and processes. Demonstrate how this integration can streamline operations and enhance overall performance. 5. Continuous Improvement Initiatives: Develop ongoing continuous improvement initiatives that demonstrate your commitment to helping the customer optimize their processes. Use data analytics and performance metrics to identify opportunities for upselling or cross-selling your services. These innovative plays across virtual, in-person, and direct mail channels offer a range of strategies to position up-selling and cross-selling opportunities effectively. Customizing these plays to fit the specific needs and preferences of your target accounts will help drive successful revenue growth and deepen customer relationships.
Interested in going deeper into this topic? If so, my contact information is below: