Account Planning Tips from Donal Daly, CEO of Altify (Formerly the TAS Group)

Donal Daly is the CEO of Altify (Formerly the TAS Group) and Author of Best-seller Account Planning in Salesforce. With expertise in enterprise software applications, artificial intelligence, and sales methodology, he transforms how progressive organizations sell.

We asked Donal some common questions about account planning for successful Account Based Everything:

What is an account plan?

When I think about account planning, I like to think of my account as a marketplace that I want to lead. Thinking of it this way gives me cause to pause – and think about where in the market I should focus, and which segments I should avoid. The plan is about building long-term business relationships in a complex marketplace that enable you to create, develop, pursue, and win business that delivers mutual value for you and your customer.

Why is an account plan so important?

Account planning helps you maximize the return you get from an existing key account, a new strategic account, or a group of named accounts in your territory. I’m sure you know that acquired business from an existing customer is six times more pro table than pursuing new customers. But, did you also know that you’re seven times more likely to win business from an existing customer than you are when trying to capture that new logo?

What are the key elements of a good account plan?

To be successful at account planning, you always need to be thinking about how to maximize revenue from your existing accounts by bringing value to your customer.

In my book Account Planning in Salesforce, I set out three basic themes or phases for an account plan:

Research for Insight into Customer, Competitor and Company.

Integrate for Velocity by using four primary sources: existing CRM data, account team knowledge, information shared by the customer and supplementary data from research resources like Data.com.

Focus for Impact, prioritizing your plan units to maximize mutual value and target the opportunities where you can uniquely and competitively deliver.

How do account plans get created and updated?

Here are 10 best practices you should think about as you look to how your existing customers can contribute to your revenue goals for the coming year (with a focus on Salesforce users).

  1. Research – ABM is really all about research, research, and research. Slow down your natural inclination to pursue the deal now. Account planning is a long-term play.
  2. Customer Focus – Your role is to create value for the customer, not just to communicate information about your company or your solutions.
  3. Integrate – Integrate data, knowledge and information to achieve velocity.
  4. Target – Select which business units in an account are in your ‘sweet spot,’ where you can uniquely and competitively deliver true value.
  5. Map People and Influence – Business issues are always owned by people. It’s important to understand the political landscape in the organization.
  6. Align to Business Strategy – Align your account planning efforts with the customer’s Goals, Pressures, Initiatives and Obstacles.
  7. Build Trust – Trust is the foundation on which you create, develop, pursue, and win business that delivers mutual value for you and your customer. Promise what you can deliver, and deliver on what you promise.
  8. Analyze White Space – Once you understand the people and their business problems you can identify areas of opportunity – the white space in the account – where your solutions can add value to the customer.
  9. Maintain Cadence – Account Planning should not be an annual event. It is not about reporting what you know; it is about discovering what you don’t know, and then acting to uncover the missing information to inform your subsequent activity, and should be integrated into your overall business cadence.
  10. Measure – How do you know if your account plan is working? You need to be able to measure that the plan is complete, and we recommend automating this measure. You also need to create a scorecard to assess whether the objectives you set for the plan – the target revenue, the pipeline goal, the penetration of the strategically important business units in the account, etc. – are all on track.

To learn more about Donal Daly, follow him on LinkedIn.

To learn more about the steps and considerations required for successful account selection, plus more interviews with experts like Donal, download The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing.

What works in your account planning strategy?

Jon Miller
Jon Miller
Jon Miller is CEO and founder of Engagio. Previously, Jon was the VP Marketing and Co-Founder of Marketo. He is a speaker and writer about marketing best practices, and is the author of multiple Definitive Guides including Marketing Automation, Engaging Email Marketing, and Marketing Metrics & Analytics. Jon has a passion for helping marketers everywhere, and is on the Board of Scripted and is an advisor to Optimizely and Newscred. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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