The View from the Top: Strategic Account Planning, Part 2
This week, we will delve even deeper into the world of strategic account planning. As discussed in Part 1, we are trying to look farther out than the next few months or even the next year to have a long term plan for the next 24 to 36 months. The topic of this blog is the value of a strong relationship strategy to expand, retain, and serve large accounts.
As it pertains to relationships, most Account Planning exercises have salespeople spending a lot of time building out organizational charts, which is important. But we find that you need to go beyond the org chart to get real value from the exercise.
Once you have a good picture of the organization, take a critical look at each person. What is the strength of each relationship? Who do you have access to? Who is a supporter of your company? Who supports the competition? What is their role in the decision process? How much influence do they have?
Based on answers to these questions, you need to build a strategy for each person. What is your plan to turn these relationships into key influencers for you inside the account and how will you turn key supporters into a mentors? How will you neutralize someone that supports the competition?
We often see people stop with the organizational chart without taking these next steps. But it’s important to look at it with bifocal vision (an eye to the short-term and the long-term) to think about what you want to accomplish, and then decide who will be responsible for making it happen. Assign action steps and due dates. Who will provide insights and the rigor to follow through and execute on your relationship strategy?
The best organizations have discipline and accountability around implementing their plan. They also have a process for updating and adjusting the plan, then communicating that to others. It shouldn’t be an exercise that’s just done once, but the chart should be revisited constantly while members of the sales team hold each other accountable to make real progress. This is how you will identify gaps and strengthen your ability to influence opportunities, which is the most important part of strategic account planning.
In summary, don’t just build the org chart. Companies that are great at growing and retaining their customers create a strategy for each individual. And they build a cadence and structure of accountability to make sure the strategy gets implemented.
In part three of our series, we will focus on how to bring together Account Strategy and Relational Strategy to develop a world-class Account Based Marketing (ABM) Program. Stay tuned!