For years, doing account plans a couple times a year worked well for enterprise sales teams. Usually, a sales director or manager would manually piece together some customer information, last quarter’s sales figures, and a handful of other reports to create a plan for major customer accounts and share it with the rest of the team.
It was fine. Until it wasn’t. As customers’ businesses turned digital, they became more dynamic. They evolved too rapidly — experienced too many changes each quarter and throughout the year — for sales teams to rely on static account plans that quickly become outdated and could cause them to miss out on high-value opportunities.
Now, that lack of agility (and lack of insight that caused it) has been amplified by orders of magnitude. The eruption of the coronavirus global health crisis has created so much change so quickly that sales leaders across industries and geographies are recognizing how important it is to modernize their account planning, forecasting, and sales strategy development.
Here are our top six ways to adapt to a topsy-turvy business environment and using live, digital account plans in Salesforce to do it.
Go virtual with customer meetings
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, account managers and sales executives can’t meet their clients face-to-face. Business travel has come to a screeching halt and many clients may still opt for virtual meetings well after travel restrictions have been lifted.
Digital and live account plans help sales teams track the potential impact of market changes to customers’ businesses and proactively address those needs without having to wait for a quarterly or annual customer meeting.
Make Salesforce the center of your universe
Salesforce is the most popular CRM tool in the world, but too few teams use it to the fullest extent. Beyond just keeping to-do lists and running basic pipeline reports, Salesforce is a potential treasure trove of customer intelligence and actionable insight that can help you quickly pivot to capture new revenue opportunities faster and before your competitors. Keeping account plans within Salesforce is key to unlocking the value of your data — as well as improving the adoption of your CRM to get everyone working the same way and boosting your ROI.
Let sales managers manage
Sales managers are busy and don’t necessarily have time to manually update account plans for every customer every time there’s a shift in the business. Live account plans make it easier for sales managers to collaborate with sales executives on account-specific strategies. They can document and update account strategies remotely, on the fly, and make the most of their limited time. They can also provide real-time visibility into the health of each individual account while also giving them an understanding of what’s happening to their overall portfolio.
Engage the whole sales team — and others
In the past, sales teams could meet regularly in the office to engage the wider account team to keep everyone up to date with important client information. But this is no longer practical in today’s remote work environment.
Account teams need a new way to remain in sync and offer clients or prospects a seamless customer experience. Live and digital account plans delivered within Salesforce provide individual sales team members with easy, direct access to critical, updated information about their accounts and allow them to collaborate with the finance team (who’ll help you with forecasting and revenue projections) to ensure they are aligned with the client’s objectives.
The sheer volume of customer data Salesforce contains opens a number of opportunities for deeper, more meaningful analytics especially when marrying Opportunity data with Account Plan data. Applying AI-powered analytics tools to your existing customer data can help you:
- Prioritize interactions with customers up for renewal
- Identify and improve underperforming lines of business
- Uncover white space opportunities and creating a recommendation engine for upselling within existing accounts
- Run what-if scenarios to chart the quickest path to retention and net new revenue
Live digital account plans will automatically update as data is refreshed or enriched, giving sales reps and managers instant, reliable access to current information they can use to formulate new sales pitches and plans of attack.
Eliminate knowledge gaps and missed opportunities
Effective salespeople develop deep relationships with their customers. But when a sales team member departs the organization, most customer intelligence — client’s organizational knowledge, political landscape, key relationships, and budget owner decision criteria — typically goes with them.
Live digital account plans help teams keep customer intelligence and institutional knowledge in-house. Real-time auto-updates and easy anytime, anywhere access for all authorized users make sure that account data and institutional knowledge fully intact to eliminate knowledge gaps and to help new account owners hit the ground running when they take over for a colleague who’s left the company. Vital tools like relationship maps — a visual representation of key stakeholders including decision-makers, influencers, and blockers — help teams identify potential sales obstacles and tailor their communications strategies specifically to targeted members of the purchasing team instead of having to start over from scratch and risk losing precious selling time.
The business world is changing virtually overnight. Old methods for managing account plans and sales strategies are no longer able to support the near real-time needs of the modern enterprise — especially amid a global pandemic.
Download our eBook “Everything You Know About Account Planning is Wrong” on our Account Plan Navigator page to learn more about how transitioning to digital account plans can help your team improve productivity, strengthen customer relationships, and increase revenues even during a crisis.