Strategic account planning is a customer-centric approach to identifying priority accounts, capturing and analysing critical information, and developing a strategy to expand and grow existing customer relationships. This approach is crucial, given that it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one, according to Bain. In fact, increasing customer retention by just five percent increases profits by 25 to 95 percent.
This strategy seeks to improve business results by analysing key information about the customer, industry, stakeholders, and competitive landscape. Sales professionals find the “white space” in the customer’s account. That is, they identify and create opportunities by positioning solutions that align with the customer’s goals, challenges, and initiatives.
Why Strategic Account Planning Matters
Strategic account planning works because it addresses the level of complexity and competition that’s increasingly common in sales today. These are the five reasons why strategic account planning is vital to the modern sales professional:
- Close Faster
- Reduce Acquisition Costs
- Retain Priority Relationships
- Focus on the Best Accounts
- Learn About Customers
To explore this list in greater detail download the white paper: Growing Into the White Space with Strategic Account Planning here.
The Guiding Principles Behind Strategic Account Planning
When mapping a hike, some calculate the mileage “as the crow flies.” That is, the mileage doesn’t represent the additional distance of summiting and descending the peaks and valleys in between the start and end points.
Nothing about strategic account development is “as the crow flies.” The sales professional must traverse every contour of the landscape. Their journey must map every inch of elevation. This level of preparation puts them on solid footing to reach their destination. It primes them for the hard yards.
The key is to become more intentional about the approach to selling. These five guiding principles shape the strategic account planning:
- Select the Right Customers
- Analyse Then Act
- Create Alignment and Value
- Collaborate With The Customer
- Execute And Update
Learn more about the guiding principles of strategic account planning here.
Putting Strategic Account Planning into Practice
Mapping a route to the closing means hitting numerous mile markers. While there may be many paths to success, the strategic account planner chooses only one. Developing an honest assessment of the target customers is essential. Doing so saves time, resources, and effort later. Strategic account planning requires:
- Defining which customers are your strategic accounts and evaluating ongoing fit; looking at both quantitative and qualitative factors
- Keeping up to date on what’s happening in your customer’s industry in order to understand customer drivers better and to identify insights
- Understanding the customer’s strategy, goals, objectives, and issues and aligning your objectives with the customer’s objectives
- Evaluating and strengthening relationships with key stakeholders Assessing the customer’s perceptions of your strengths and vulnerabilities and their perceptions of key competitors
- Identifying opportunities to create value Developing and executing a plan to achieve your objectives.
Contact us to learn more about how Richardson’s new Prosperous Account Strategy blended learning program and tools can help your sales organisations expand into strategic customer accounts.
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