If a customer is responsible for the bulk of your company’s revenue and profits, it doesn’t matter if they are a “good” customer or a “bad” customer. High-profile accounts inarguably become your most important customers because they generate a disproportionate part of your income. Regardless of the size or difficulty, organizations need a way to land and maintain these deals.
Enter strategic account planning. Having a plan helps you prepare for future accounts while providing you with a comprehensive look into current customers. With a scalable account plan, sales and marketing can quickly shift their course of action while staying aligned.
Robust account planning establishes targets, defines actions, and tracks outcomes. By planning with value in mind, detailed account plans can increase deal size. Not only does better discovery drive better ROI, it drives team alignment.
Developing a plan without the right tools and course of action is difficult. And unfortunately, there’s no “Account Planning” tab in Salesforce. That’s why it’s up to organizations to create a key account planning strategy. To help, here are three essential Salesforce best practices for account planning:
Before you begin, it’s important to outline goals and pain points specific to accounts. Establishing parameters and priorities as well as aligning on specific activities helps set you up for success. This includes the following:
- Aligning teams with key objectives
- Prioritizing activities and tasks that move the needle
- Understanding the influence and impact of all stakeholders
- Accounting for the complexities of the digital world
- Gauging the landscape of the sales environment
Ultimately, it’s important to be aware of the account’s potential, including revenue predictions, account history, and any goals your customer hopes to achieve. Set revenue goals and consider secondary objectives such as retention, business initiatives, and expansion.
Outlining challenges and answering questions both allows for a better understanding of account needs and engages executives, product teams, marketing teams, and extended sales teams around goals and objectives.
Create a Strategy
For each strategic account, it’s important to create a plan for an established period of time and track revenue against target. You will need to define the strategy, business development initiatives, and actions planned around each account or segment. Begin by assessing and consolidating all details you have into your CRM, including transactions, orders, and opportunities.
At this point, it’s important to shift the focus from research to action. Breaking down account strategies into tactics, tasks, and action items can help you mobilize your plan. Salesforce best practices include coordinating your plan around your CRM to help you merge data, create a unified view of your customers, and outline any opportunities and roadblocks.
Additionally, performing a SWOT analysis—which outlines strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—can help your team identify internal and external factors that impact your ability to achieve a goal. This analysis provides a snapshot of the overall state of your accounts and can help you fortify the customer against risks outlined in the step above. It also helps identify your most successful customers to better understand the makeup of target accounts.
Leverage the Right Tools
Without a centralized way to manage your plan, the effectiveness of your organization’s account planning is at risk. Using the right tools and technology is a requirement for success. Rather than rely on manual processes such as spreadsheets and email, technology must be flexible, cloud-based, and mobile.
Configuring or customizing Salesforce is expensive and not a core competency of most internal IT teams. Instead, the best technology strengthens key account plan execution by unlocking the value of a company's CRM. The best tools enable teams to build key account sales plans that win by synchronizing data to ensure visibility. These native-built platforms help coordinate data around standard account, contact, and opportunity objects while also leveraging reporting capabilities to monitor activity across key accounts.
Prolifiq helps sales teams by providing a cloud-based platform that enforces accountability and provides visibility into account planning progress. By leveraging Salesforce best practices, Prolifiq empowers sales reps to coordinate around key account strategies. This enables reps to be more effective and efficient in managing client relationships—which ultimately drives revenue and growth.