Thursday, 15 June
Today's Topic
Strategic Account Planning

Skill

So much of the seller’s life is spent running and dashing from here to there, but you must spend the days before a new quarter slowing down to understand the strategic issues of your top accounts.

With Q2 soon coming to a close, odds are you’ll be doing account reviews with your manager at the end of this month. And because account planning deserves quiet contemplation over a few separate work sessions, you should start now.

Account planning is the formal quarterly appraisal of your key accounts, yielding specific and necessary selling activities. It includes objective judgments about what is needed – strategies and tactics – to move your accounts faster through the sales cycle. To appraise each account accurately, you will use relevant and insightful data from your CRM and anything else from your finance department. More importantly, you’ll be using your brain.

Q2 is closing soon, so there will be a re-set on several selling metrics: commissions will be paid, quotas will click back to start, and all other quantitative score-keeping will return to zero. Hopefully, it was a good quarter for you, and even though you’re wrapping up Q2, it’s time to plan for Q3.

Quarterly strategic reviews and previews aim to slow down and elevate beyond your tactical moves. You need to focus a spotlight on the strategic needs of your key accounts. Strategic account planning is your chance to pull back up to a macro view and better understand where things stand with your top accounts and, thus, where you need to focus.

Data is the foundation of doing good work; you need good and true data that will empower your analysis. At the minimum, assess account spending levels against quotas because that’s the ultimate scorecard. Also, you’ll want to determine the obstacles that emerged during Q2 – this will require your focus and your company’s support in Q3.

The next crucial piece of data is the examination of buyer personnel: are the KDMs who yield decision power still in power? (Are they helping you?) Who has emerged as new actors and representatives on the buy side? How long has it been since you met with those who yield the power? (And, how can sales management help you gain access to those higher-ups on the buy side?) Now is the right time to analyze the extent of your relationship equity with each and include your sales meeting strategy for the next 90 days of selling.

Do

Top sellers are comfortable with the gaps exposed during account review planning. They know their chances for success are based on addressing the strategic issues that exist per account.

Begin – or continue – your Q3 strategic account work by ensuring your A and B accounts fit firmly in their buckets. It sounds simple, but your manager will only care about the accounts with the highest probability of closing in the next 90 days. And that’s what you should care most about too.

Next, is the opportunity size correct…the dollars. Do you have the proper dollar amounts plugged into the A accounts for Q3? Getting the money right for your account previews means you’ll need to recontact your buyers over the coming days and re-qualifying them.

Sure, there’s much more to do, but you’ll sail with the wind once you nail the As, Bs, and the money.

For obvious reasons, strategic account analysis work focuses on the accounts that have the highest probability of spending money in the near future. The TOP 10% are who they are because they understand what time means with all outstanding opportunities; they constantly qualify their buyers on when the money might flow. Once you have your A accounts set, you can move to the next phase of your strategic appraisal.

The foundational elements of account reviews focus on revenue, people, and strategic issues. Your report needs to include all revenue history in addition to a projection for the next 90 days. (Don’t forget to report on a per-brand or division basis.) The people category is always tricky because it often exposes deficiencies in your sales meeting efforts. Yes, it’s hard to get senior and strategic buyers to open their doors for you, but you must be brave and take stock of your success in getting to KDMs in Q2. Again, these are issues your Sales Manager can and should help with.

Strategic issues are primarily based on the obstacles that have either grown or emerged in the last quarter. For the TOP 10%, this is where eyes start to twinkle because they love and are charged by trying to solve problems. The bigger, the better. When talking about obstacles that are preventing you from breaking or growing the business, be sure to be specific and thoughtful. A general and cliche diagnosis will undoubtedly cause your manager to push on you. And regarding that Sales Manager of yours, be prepared when s/he asks, "What specifically do you need from me and the org?" Answering that one with "I dunno" is a reasonably good-sized admission that you’re unprepared. Ugh. You got this.

Tomorrow - June 20

"Buyer, I object to your stupid objection."

Today - June 19

Didn't we JUST have a weekly sales meeting last week???

Read More

June 18

Q2 account reviews that make your mgr smile.

Read More

June 17

Whadya mean, you're not killing it right now?

Read More

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Will Durant

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