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8 Essential Features of Effective Account Planning Tools

Growing existing accounts requires account management tools that capture critical information, align with customer priorities, and deliver consistent value.

This is because sales professionals must first select the right customers, analyze their needs, draft an action plan, collaborate with the customer, and rise to the level of a trusted advisor to effectively execute an account growth strategy.

With so many elements in play, sales professionals need a way to bring structure to the process. For this reason, sales teams need strong account planning tools and prosperous account strategy training to ensure the tools are put to good use.

Here, we look at the eight critical components of an effective account planning tool.

1. Industry Analysis

Examine external industry issues that may impact the customer. Industry trends reveal the customer’s motivation for change, whether it’s market changes, resource issues, competitive forces, or the regulatory environment. Isolate which of these areas is most pressing for the customer.

2. Customer Relationship Analysis

Document your history with the customer and avenues for expansion like untapped business units and new divisions. This assessment should include a review of customer revenues and a summary of the “white space” identified in the account so that you can see areas in which you can add value.

3. Customer Strategy Map

Review the customer’s strategy to determine which of their objectives and initiatives connect with the solution’s capabilities. List the customer’s goals, challenges, and culture. Determine where you can provide the most value within the context of the customer’s plans.

4. Stakeholder Assessment

Categorize the stakeholders by their role, level of influence, and alignment with the solution. Take an inventory of your strengths and vulnerabilities. Clarify your key objective, whether it’s to strengthen the relationship, neutralize the competition, or increase the solution’s perceived value.

account planning tools - stakeholder analysis

5. Competitive Assessment

Review your competitive position from the customer’s perspective. Develop ways to articulate your unique value. Determine how you will align with the customer to meet their needs in a way that outperforms the competition.

6. Running Questions List

Questions will emerge throughout the planning process. Keep an ongoing list of these inquiries and the steps needed to answer them. One important question can reveal information that drives the sale to closing.

7. Strategy Development

The information from the steps listed above must coalesce into a strategy. To do so, create a detailed list of specific goals and objectives that account for your solution’s capabilities. The drafted strategy must include potential opportunities, stakeholder relationships, and service needs.

8. Action Plan

Identify actions to reduce uncertainty, leverage strengths, facilitate consensus, remove or reduce vulnerabilities, and drive momentum to the sale. Determine which team members will take ownership in executing these steps. List potential obstacles and how to respond.

If the sales professional is going to guide the customer to the sale, they must know every turn along the way. Planning helps anticipate those turns. The key is to become intentional with every step of the process.

About The Author: richardsonsalestraining
Richardson is a global sales training and performance improvement company. Our goal is to transform every buyer experience by empowering sellers with critical skills so they can create value to buyers and drive meaningful conversations. Our methodology combines a market proven sales and coaching curriculum with an innovative and customizable approach to learning that ensures your sales teams learn, master, and apply those behaviors where and when it matters most — in front of your customers. It’s our job to anticipate change in your industry so that your sales team can focus on fostering long-term relationships, becoming indispensable partners for their buyers.

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