Making an account strategy might seem like a demanding undertaking, especially given all the prior information that is necessary. Five crucial actions that have been shown to lead to a successful, efficient account plan have been outlined below.
- Deep-Dive Background and Client Information
Great account managers stand out because of their in-depth understanding of a customer’s company strategy, sales goals, and overall objective. You must ask questions that encourage consumers to open up without coming across as interrogative in order to create a successful account strategy. The finest inquiries are those that are open-ended and show that you have a thorough grasp of the client’s business. Here are a few illustrations you may use to kick off the account planning process during an initial discovery call:
- What is the opinion of your business in your sector?
- What constraints—internal or external—prevent your success?
- Would you be able to describe what success looks like for your division and your firm overall?
- What would you say about the culture of your business? What, in your opinion, needs to be improved?
- I recently came across [article or announcement] on site. Could you elaborate on this [goal, product launch, etc.]?
- Who in your company would be the best for me to speak with regarding [certain task/question]?
Customers will feel more at ease discussing their current efforts, KPIs, target markets, and areas where they are falling short of their goals with you if they can tell you are knowledgeable with the ins and outs of your business. This knowledge sheds light on how you may contribute both now and in the future.
Additionally take into account your ideal audience of clients. By creating buyer personas and customer journey maps, you’ll be able to better understand the various consumer groups and their demands.
List all the stakeholders you have ties with, making note of their involvement and individual requirements and desires, before beginning to construct a customer strategy map. When you’ve noted any existing connections, start thinking about other pertinent departments that you haven’t yet interacted with. Find out what use cases most appeal to them and what job titles may help you get momentum in those fields. These underutilized company areas are sometimes referred to as “white space,” which denotes that value addition is possible.
- Analyze your competition.
Conversations concerning a client’s immediate rivals get structure when a competitive analysis is created. Your clients will be curious to learn about the tactics and results of their rivals, notwithstanding how distant they may seem toward other businesses in their industry. At some businesses, competitive intelligence even has its own divisions. Having a grasp of the industry environment helps you to identify inventive solutions to help your customers acquire a competitive edge.
Starting with the “Five Forces” competitive analysis methodology is highly recommended. It aids in your ability to evaluate your client’s company in terms of buyer power, threat of new entry, threat of substitution, and supplier power. Understanding their competitive advantages (or drawbacks) in each area can assist you place your client’s business against rivals in terms of goods, services, or marketing strategies.
For instance, if your client’s business specializes in in-product surveys and you are aware that their main rival lacks this functionality, your customer now has the chance to emphasize the aspects their rivals lack in upcoming marketing efforts.
- Create success-oriented KPIs
Have measurable, definite, and attainable sales targets for your account strategy. Key performance indicators (KPIs) provide you a measure to monitor and demonstrate to your client that you care about their progress. Many typical KPIs for account planning include:
Customer turnover rate vs. retention rate
- Rate of email response
- Rate of call response
- Total strategic email
- Total strategic call
- Total customer referrals
- Revenue from cross-selling, upselling, and contract extensions
Try to go outside of these conventional measurements because certain KPIs can be similar to those used by the sales teams at your own organization. Determine the level of customer satisfaction and establish objectives for upskilling and educating other account managers and sales teams so they have the fundamental knowledge necessary to identify new prospects.
- Make a plan for your account.
It’s time to develop your strategy now that the competitive landscape, competitive analysis, and KPIs have been done. Account strategies should have a specific goal that can be achieved in a reasonable length of time. Example: 5% more people should join up for email newsletters.
Next, make a list of comparable tasks with explicit completion dates that have been delegated to internal team members, the customer, and outside vendors. Don’t forget to incorporate information about your client’s rivals and the advantage they hold in your next plan. These action items have to be based on the results of your prior conversations and advance the objectives of your customer.
Keep track of your successes to keep on top of your KPIs. Maintaining the focus of your customer stakeholders is crucial in B2B sales. At this point, you must demonstrate how your strategy advances the goals of your customer while continuing to deliver top-notch support for the existing products. To keep your account plan front of mind, store this plan in a location that is easily accessible and provide updates.
- Review the outcomes
Planning accounts is a continuous activity. Clients’ objectives will vary as a result of the ongoing change in industries. One account plan ends, and another starts. But first, take some time to debrief before moving on to the next plan. Meet with your customer to go through the plan’s accomplishments and failings; what worked well and what may be improved for the following plan?
You should also include your original KPIs at this point. Be sure to draw attention to the areas in the meeting where your account strategy shined. Turn the less-than-stellar KPIs into the next tasks to be accomplished with the new account strategy.
It’s crucial to provide the consumer a chance to express their genuine ideas as well. The next account plan’s purpose should be clear to the customer, who should also give any requested adjustments and talk about any new initiatives that could influence future plans. Any issues with the product or service should be brought up with the appropriate teams and supported by specific examples.
Ask yourself what else you can do to improve the connection once you’ve gone through this review process a few times. Use a data-based strategy here. Review your KPIs by account and industry, and take into consideration:
- What gaps exist in your workflow?
- What specifics about your clients do you not know?
- How much of the blank space you discovered in your preliminary study is still there, and how can you fill it?
- Can you collaborate with members of the customer success, marketing, or product teams as well as other members of the sales team to achieve your objective?