How can you Write a Sales Plan to Penetrate and Grow a Strategic Account?
In order to gain the insights you need to create a winning strategic account plan, you must ask the right questions. Use this checklist as a guide. Use your plan in your strategic account reviews and to manage your account team.
1. Analyze your Target Account’s Business
Start with what is going on in your account’s business.
- What are the key trends in their industry?
- Who are their top prospects and customers?
- What are the top issues facing their customers?
- What are the critical trends in the geography?
- What is reflected in their financial reports and news about them?
2. Understand what is Driving the Account
You must understand their objectives and challenges.
- What are their strategic initiatives?
- What are the characteristics of their high-payoff customers/prospects?
- Are there verticals that they are winning in more than others? Why?
- What “pain” or business issues do they solve?
- What is their competitive position?
- What is their purchase history and decision-making process?
3. Clarify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)
Conduct a SWOT analysis that examines how you can help this account.
- What Strengths can they benefit from? For example, a unique business model or capabilities.
- Which Weaknesses do you need to respond to? This includes the strengths of competitive and alternative solutions.
- Which Opportunities in the marketplace will you take advantage of… and help them take advantage of? How do you uniquely meet their compelling needs?
- What Threats in your selling environment will you defend against? Consider competitive moves, changes in technology, industry and regulatory standards.
4. Determine your Selling Approach
Consolidate the above insights the critical strategies and actions necessary to succeed.
- How do you help them accomplish their strategic objectives?
- What is your unique selling (value) proposition?
- Based on your SWOT, what are the critical few strategies to win in the account?
- What type of opportunities will you concentrate on?
- How can you leverage your differentiators? (Sales approach can be a differentiator.)
- What is your strategy to leverage current successes?
5. Engage the Resources you Need
Enroll the people and gather the knowledge you need.
- Which internal resources have the skills/connections you need?
- Who inside the account can help you win?
- Are there external resources that can support you (partners, people “in the know”)?
- What additional product/industry information do you need? What sources can provide it?
- How could you improve your selling and account management skills?
6. Create and Work your Plan
Use your strategic account plan as a guide to proactively produce your intended results.
- What are the high-leverage actions?
- Which resources are needed for each task?
- What are the due dates and key milestones?
- Do you take action and update the plan on a regular basis?
- Are you engaging your management, internal and partner resources?
If you don’t plan your work, you can’t work your plan. Winging it is the best way to lose a big opportunity you could have won!
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