You’re saying it wrong.
Whether you call it Account Planning, Key Account Management, or Strategic Account Planning, there is a simpler term that’s been around for ages: customer service.
Don’t get distracted by the many available account planning tools (Altify, Revegy, Demand Farm, Prolifiq, or even ForecastEra’s Account Plan Navigator, which we happen to think is the best).
Account planning starts with your lead’s need first, second, and always.
Your primary sales goal shouldn’t be to sell to them, but to help them achieve their goals (hopefully, but maybe not always, with your products).
In the early days, account planning templates were an Excel sheet or a PowerPoint that helped sales reps and leaders figure out what to do next.
To paraphrase a famous ad, we’ve come a long way, baby.
Real-time account planning: There’s a reason we exchanged maps for GPS
While static documentation may help sales reps, it makes it difficult for decision makers and sales leaders to plot their sales pipeline and standardize information distribution across the enterprise.
When you’re managing 25+ sales people on Salesforce, asking your sales team to update spreadsheets or slide shows to detail their progress is a waste of their talent and your time.
It would be like asking your rideshare driver to snail mail you a drawing of where they are. They might be able to do it, but it’s a waste of everybody’s time and energy.
If you’re using Salesforce, you don’t have to ask your sales team to do this busy work. The data is already there. All you need to get your sales team to the promised land is a map.
Here’s the BIG secret: you already have the map.
You’re leaving money on the table: The secret value of account planning
The Pareto principle states that “80% of value comes from 20% of inputs.”
This statistic applies to your customer accounts as well, with top customers’ additional orders typically making up the larger chunk of revenue for most organizations.
Unfortunately most businesses focus on developing their products, not their customers.
Research from Gartner shows that, “only 28% of sales leaders say that account management channels regularly meet cross-selling and account growth targets.”
The problem isn’t that your sales team isn’t selling, it’s that they’re selling too much to new and existing clients.
Great salespeople listen more than they talk.
That’s the secret to account planning best practices. It is codified active listening for salespeople.
Even better, account planning tools like ForecastEra Account Plan Navigator, actually automate active listening so that your global sales team can listen to all their leads at scale.
The problems with key account management today
A lot of people get this next part wrong.
A Gartner’s survey of 750 B2B customer stakeholders found that “while high levels of customer service do, in fact, increase the likelihood of customer retention, they have no statistical or meaningful impact on growth.”
So, given a choice between service-oriented activities and growth, an account manager may want to put their energy toward growth, like chasing down new leads.
While the hunt for new leads is exciting, you are six times more likely to sell to a current customer than a new one.
You need to anticipate their pain points before your customers are hurt by them. With account planning software you can see how your current customers or leads are affected by industry trends. If a customer just got a promotion, they may need help in their new role. Sales staff must be proactive, not reactive.
Such an attentive approach helps retention and sets the stage for future growth.
ForecastEra helps sales teams create more value with existing customers and discover new opportunities with our insights-driven account planning suite – the Account Plan Navigator. It is a fully customizable product that lets you tailor your plan, and features AI-based real-time insights to help you anticipate your customers’ needs before they do.
Our Account Plan Analytics is built upon years of expertise, machine learning for your specific organization, and a robust algorithm that is designed to provide the best account planning experience to sales professionals.
We also offer fully immersive tutorials for our customers to maximize the Account Planning Suite’s potential.
Contact us today, and we’ll be more than happy to demo the app for you.