When I joined an elite field enablement team at Oracle almost fifteen years ago, we formalized a facilitated account planning process, both for enterprise and key accounts. However, when sales leadership and corporate program management requested that account plans be submitted and tracked on a quarterly basis, we pushed back hard.
Some considered account planning as an opportunity to inventory opportunities. Others viewed it as a way of checking in on the account team, without getting too involved. A successful completion of the process would result in a planning document being filed in a drawer somewhere.
Few thought of it as a co-creation and alignment process, one that is a nearly continuous mix of discovery, conversation, hypothesis building/testing, and value creation.
With formally trained facilitators, good supporting material (corporate backgrounder, footprint and SOW analysis, comps, etc.), the buy-in from an increasing number of sales teams, and a value selling mindset, we won over the skeptics. We demonstrated that an effective, ongoing account planning process drives deeper customer engagement, more customer intimacy, higher revenues and profitability and higher lifetime customer value.
We had the people and process part sorted. But…we were struggling with the documentation, the capture of tribal knowledge and the management of action items for the teams. PowerPoint just didn’t cut it, nor did Revegy.
Recently Ulrik, CEO of ARPEDIO and I spent some time on the Thoughts on Selling podcast discussing account planning and account-based selling best practices. The ARPEDIO team then published an article based on our conversation. The first is an easy and interesting listen; the second is a useful written discussion of the key topics.
What are you doing to ensure the effectiveness of your account planning activities?
If you’d like help ensuring success this year please reach out for an initial conversation.