The Art of Account Planning
Happy New Year!
Comp plans issued, territories in hand. The race for pipeline generation begins....
That race should begin and end with pipeline generation reconciliation plans and, of course, the infamous strategic account planning process.
The 'Why' of Account Planning
Account planning is vitally important in every enterprise sales organisation.
However, they are often created and viewed as a one-off exercise done in the first few months of every year to satisfy management and operational leaders. This misses the revenue benefits of a proper strategic Account Plan.
Put simply, account planning is a fundamental part of our job in sales to:
- Create Pipeline
- Close Revenue
- Demonstrate Control
With the 1st of January behind us, we urgently turn our attention to number 1: Create Pipeline.
Good news! That’s what account plans are for.
Strategic Account Planning is just account based Pipeline Generation (PG) when you think about it. Without account plans - how do we know who to target?
It's part of the every day, every week cadence for sales people who are consistently generating opportunity. Once created it should be tweaked throughout the year to optimise your PG activities.
Key aspects of account planning are:
- Who are all of the accounts in my territory?
- Who should I prioritise?
- Why are chosen accounts worth my time?
- What are the pains my client is experiencing?
- Who are the people I should campaign into?
- What are my next steps?
Now whip out your MEDDIC / MEDDPICC guides and sales playbooks…See anything familiar??
- Worth your time = Metrics (M)
- Known Customer Pains = Identified Pain (I)
- Who to call on in the account = Champion (C)
- Next steps - PG Plan
Account Plans are for Life - Not Just for (Post) Christmas
We've mentioned before, the best quota carriers – those who achieve their numbers, quarter in & quarter out - are pipeline generation machines. Account Planning is just one other weapon in their armoury.
These star revenue generators use account plans as living, breathing documents. They use it all year round and review it at every opportunity to maximise revenue.
Reading this fresh, you might ask 'why do we need to spell this out'?
Unfortunately, account plans can be incredibly onerous, sales hygiene heavy & templated for internal use only.
This discourages regular use of the documents and the insights gathered as part of the account planning process are ignored - which is criminal really given the painstaking time and energy required to put these together.
INSPIR’EM ACCOUNT PLANNING TIPS
So, how do we make the process easier, more customer focused and reusable to maximise our opportunities in our larger accounts?
Good news, help is at hand!
Working with some of the strategic accounts here at inspir’em, we have developed a new course: Strategic Account Planning with MEDDIC - a one day course.
This course will equip you with all of the tools you need to create a useful, actionable account plan that will take you through from January to year end.
In the meantime, here are some of our top tips on getting the most out of this planning time of the year:
- Use MEDDIC ⇒ Nothing new here!
Account Planning should utilise MEDDIC/MEDDPICC and are, in essence, about the process of discovery. This activity perfectly aligns to any sales process.
Originate, and create a qualified pipeline by focusing your Account Planning reporting on Metrics (M), Identified Pain (I) and Champion (C).
- Be Customer Ready, Action & Tweak
The best account planning processes allow for the planning to be created in a customer ready form. We need to use the information in the field, in live customer situations, to qualify and validate what we think we know.
We can’t plan for ever, and plans will never be perfect. We need to plan, execute, discover and tweak the account plans and keep repeating throughout the year.
As you discover more, your hypothesis and plans will get better. You will adapt to the new insights gained.
To ease the burden of creating two documents: an external, customer ready document, and an internal document for reporting purposes within your CRM, ensure all your reporting is in customer ready form.
- Create an Account Planning Cadence
Account Plans need to be created, renewed, tweaked, revised & so on.
Schedule regular intervals throughout the year to perform this task & collaborate with your BDRs, Pre-Sales managers & leaders.
Engage people to foster new ideas to develop the account.
Everyone is busy, we get it. But without a plan, how can you be sure what people are working on?
Account Plans done well save time in the end.
Save Time. Optimise Account Planning
Over the next few blogs, we will summarise some additional ideas to optimise the account planning process.
However, just taking some of the advice that we've mentioned in this blog will help alleviate some of the pressure from the early stages of account planning at the beginning of the year.
You will then be able to focus on execution best practice and deliver strong pipeline growth in your strategic accounts.
If you are interested in new ideas, inspir'em sales meeting exercises and lesson plans are available to continue the development of your teams.
Contact us today to boost your sales and see your revenue grow.
For more tips on applying MEDDIC in the real world, join our community at inspir'em today.