CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Study indicated that:
- The top 20% of customers produce 64% of revenue.
- 80% of sales leaders rated key account planning mission-critical or very important.
- Having account plans in the CRM are most effective.
Ed Bronder, Business Development Manager of a Medical Technology company said that having an account planning tool in Salesforce.com “makes Salesforce a usable tool for salespeople… that I can build and manage my plan in.”
Sales teams that are involved in complex selling, in a competitive environment (versus a hyper-growth environment) and that sell a significant dollar value are most likely to benefit from good account planning.
How account planning helps you make your numbers- a Sales Management perspective:
If you want to make more money, you need to look at how you are harvesting the opportunities within your key accounts and across your sales territories! Research shows that World Class Sales Organizations performed 25% better on key sales metrics by using sales planning methods like these:
- Using specific criteria to define a strategic account
- Having a method for deciding on opportunities to pursue
- Allocating the right resources to pursue large deals
- Being highly effective at advancing opportunities
- Leveraging the best practices of top performers
Think back on an important change effort that you were involved in; implementing a new direction, system or process. Though some changes go smoothly, most change efforts experience resistance. Why is it an uphill battle? One reason is that we’re biologically wired to resist change. The human body is designed to be homeostatic – stable and balanced. When change occurs, our body makes every effort to restore its original state. The human brain forms neurological patterns that inform our behaviors. The path of least resistance (both neurologically and psychologically) is to continue our current behavior. Another reason is that old habits die hard. Most people prefer to do things “the way we’ve always done them.” With a reasonable effort, however, you can forge a new path… and with it, achieve new results. People react differently to change. Some are open to it; even thrive on it. Others are more risk-averse and resist change. Typically, the people who drive change are more visionary. They can see the benefit of taking a new course. Visionaries need to realize that, even though they see the potential positive impact of a change, it may not be so obvious to others. To be effective, visionaries must sell their vision and the need for change… and have to work harder at maintaining the momentum than they expect! When considering change, our thought process is very similar to how we make a buying decision. We work through a similar set of questions:
- Are we motivated to solve this problem?
- Is this the right solution?
- Is it worth the effort or cost?
- How do we succeed?
Check out the 12 Habits of Extremely Likable People. How many of these do you exhibit regularly? As I reflect on the people who I have really enjoyed working with, they have had many of these characteristics. Sales and management has become so much more collaborative over the past 20 years. It is even more important in complex sales. You must successfully interact with so many people... in the customer account, working with partners and with your internal resources and executives. If you are a manager today, you must inspire people and earn their respect. Being likable certainly can be a key to success in that area. One executive I have worked with has always been able to ramp up his team in any new role he has taken on. Why? Because he has a long Rolodex of people he has worked with in the past. Whenever he calls any of us up asking if we want to work with him in his new role, we are happy to jump on board. Why? Because he has these characteristics! Share your stories of likable people.
Today, the big focuses on having insight into your customers’ issues and how you uniquely solve them to drive your sales efforts. This is what the “Challenger Sale” model (by the Corporate Executive Board) is all about.
Likewise, if you focus on strategic accounts, you need insight into how well your team is working with these accounts in order to optimize your results. Having a scorecard enables you to carefully evaluate your key account strategies and use of sales enablement resources to ensure you are getting maximum return on your sales efforts. Keep in mind that there is a huge cost of chasing the wrong deal and wasting valuable resources that could have been used elsewhere. Also, good account planning ensures that your team is driving their sales efforts by insight into the customer’s situation- with the support of key players in the account.
We have developed a scorecard designed to help you do this. It is called the Strategic Account Management Scorecard. It measures a sales organization’s effectiveness compared to Best Practices in six critical categories:
1. Establish a process.
Determine how you will establish and monitor the progress of territory plans each quarter. A clear set of action steps helps each member of the team understand what’s expected as the quarter unfolds. This includes having territory managers:
create and update territory plans
and review the plans at the regional and then national levels.
Support, marketing, and other functions should be included in review sessions as appropriate. In addition, you need to include steps to maintain continuity from quarter to quarter, such as working on territory, account, and opportunity plans that take longer than one quarter to implement.
For more details on the implementation of the process across the quarter, see our Manager's Checklist for Territory Planning.
- See the article on Selling Power Blog.
Success in selling to your most important accounts requires a team approach. Whether you classify customers as “strategic, major, key, target, or focus,” your probability of success in meeting your goals with an account will increase substantially when you assemble a team of supporting resources to supplement the work of the Account Manager. The Account Manager and a supporting cast of sales, technical specialists, and other internal and external resources working together will result in the greatest return from your relationship with your important customers. The customer’s cross-functional decision teams will find value from this approach too, as the “right” resources are applied to addressing all business issues related to a purchase from all impacted groups.