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7 Things You Need To Know About Strategic Account Planning

David Bowman Org charts Organizational structure Strategic account planning

Strategic account planning isn't just about closing a deal. It's about understanding your target account's strategies, key initiatives, priorities, your relationships, and their organizational structure. Here are a few tips to build an effective strategic account plan:

1) Choose the right accounts. What is your methodology for selecting your strategic accounts? Are you targeting a specific industry? A specific geography? Where have you had successes in the past? And why? What outward factors were present when you made a sale to your existing strategic accounts? Is there anything repeatable here?

2) Use common language. Do you refer to your customers as 'customers', 'clients', or 'accounts'? What do you call your account plans? Are they referred to as 'strategic account plans', 'customer roadmaps', 'account development plans', or 'target account plans'? A successful account plan starts with common language internally.

3) Understand your customer. Do you know what's driving your customer's strategies, initiatives and programs? Ask questions and seek to verify with your customer. Have you built an org chart? Do you keep it fresh?

4) Build an internal team. Your team might include a technical consultant, an executive sponsor, and an industry expert. Make sure the team is committed. Do they have 'skin in the game'? Do they have financial incentives or bonuses tied to the overall success of the account? Also, the customer needs to be part of your team. Is there a customer contact who has a vested interest in making you successful? Will they make internal political gains if you're successful?

5) Find your trusted advisor. A key component to any long term sustained success managing and growing a key account is to have trusted advisor. Someone inside the account who looks at you as a trusted partner and not just a vendor. Your advisor wins if you win.

6) Communicate your value. If you've helped your customer cut millions of dollars in expenses or recognize new sales revenues, show senior management the value you're delivering to the business. You might just be named a strategic supplier to the business, land yourself a multi year contract, and make it a lot more difficult for your competitors to do business in the account.

7) Update quarterly. Make sure you keep updating your strategic account plan and adjusting as necessary. Keep your strategic account plan document open every day and make weekly changes to it as organizational structure changes occur. It's a living breathing document.

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