Question: Has your Sales Organisation formally defined a process for sales managers to conduct internal Key Account planning with a defined agenda to assist sales executives in retaining and growing accounts – and are regular meetings held between your sales managers and sales executives to track outcomes?
According to our research at ThinkSales Global, only 34% of Sales Organisations have formally defined a process for sales managers to conduct internal Key Account planning with a defined agenda to assist sales executives in retaining and growing accounts.
In addition, 29% of companies rate their confidence as Outstanding in the outcomes of current sales managers’ internal Key Account planning meetings with sales executives to retain and grow accounts.
The ‘Check-in’ and ‘Check Up’ Problem
As a process, Account Management is designed to maximise the long-term value of customers to an organisation.
Unfortunately, many sales executives and their managers fail to treat Account Management strategically, opting instead for superficial visits to customers to ‘check-in’ and ‘check up’ – leaving accounts vulnerable to more astute competitors.
The value of Account Management Planning
- Account Management Planning is relevant when there are opportunities with certain customers to build long-term relationships that lead to repeat business.
- It requires a framework for discussions with sales executives, with the express goal of creating a prioritised list of outcomes and expectations for enhancing strategic account relationships, revenues and profit margins with Key Accounts.
Remember: not all accounts are created equal. The purpose of Account Planning is to assess and evaluate the potential of all accounts, then prioritise those that offer the greatest opportunity and plan the strategy you will pursue to realise that value.
4 Steps to building long-term relationships with high-value customers
1. Assess your global portfolio of accounts
- Which accounts best match your Ideal Customer Profile?
- And which of those offer the potential to become high revenue generators?
- Narrow your focus to prioritise a limited key-accounts list to resist the temptation of having your sales executives ‘chase anything that moves.’
2. Assess your customer’s business needs
- If you understand your customer’s long-range strategy and short-term objectives, you can align your products and services with their most pressing needs.
- You can also look for innovative ways to proactively assist them, without them needing to come to you.
- This in turn means you can secure a long-term relationship by becoming a valuable resource to their organisation, and that you can appropriately upsell and cross-sell to them.
3. Align your company’s needs with the needs of your customer
- Great Account Management strategies consider both sides of the relationship in order to find strategic alignment between what you need to get out of the relationship, and what your client needs to get out of the relationship.
4. Develop a plan
- This simply outlines the required tasks that your organisation needs to perform in order to be of strategic value to your customers.
- It should be spearheaded by the sales exec, and it should include anyone within the organisation who plays some role in achieving your goals for the account.
Account management planning template
To get the most out of Key Account planning, your sales team (including managers and sales executives), should answer the following questions:
- What are our customer’s strategic imperatives?
- How can we support them to accomplish these initiatives?
- What are our objectives with this account?
- What is required from our side to reach these objectives?
- Have we identified key players in the decision-making process?
- Are they all on board in respect of us or are there some that we need to win over?
- How can we create width and depth in relationships in this account?
- What are our key milestones in the next month, quarter, year or longer?
- Who internally from our organisation must be involved?
- What do they need to deliver and by when?
Assess the health of your sales organisation
Formally defining a process for sales managers to conduct internal Key Account planning and then regularly holding meetings with sales executives to track outcomes are two of 322 measures of a world-class Sales Organisation.
How does your Sales Organisation stack up? Find out by taking the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales Assessment™.
This first-of-its-kind 360-degree gap analysis report enables your Sales Leadership team to assess its strengths and detect weaknesses and impediments to revenue growth across the five pillars of a high performing sales organisation:
- Competitive Strategy
- Customer Engagement
- Sales Talent
- Sales Management
- Sales Enablement
Click here for more information on the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales Assessment™