ABM Fast Track: Part 3 – Build a Roadmap for Closing Deals with Account Plans

In post #1 of our ABM Fast Track series, we covered the key roles and responsibilities for your ABM team.

In post #2, we covered how to allocate your time and resources across your accounts with account entitlements.

In post #3, we will cover an effective strategy to deepen your understanding and drive more business within your target accounts using account plans.

Sales reps are usually held responsible for the account plan. However, in ABM, it’s critically important that you get marketing involved early and often. Sales will still own the account plan, but marketing will provide important information and intelligence to help deepen relationships, close deals and expand accounts.

If you want to see the account plan template that we use at Engagio, you can download it here:

account planning template

Working as a Team to Build Your Roadmap

When sales and marketing work together to develop and maintain the account plan, you’ll be able to:

  • Create a more effective and efficient process for account planning – marketing has access to different tools and technology than sales. Those tools allow ABM teams to monitor the web for relevant insights that enable sales to connect with prospects intelligently.
  • Strengthen the relationship – with more applicable and up-to-date information, reps can deliver a more relevant and valuable message to key stakeholders. When each interaction with your rep provides value, they will be much more willing to set aside part of their busy schedule to meet with you.
  • Prioritize your team’s time better – one frequent complaint from every rep evolved around not knowing how to prioritize their time. Which accounts should I spend my limited time on right now? When you have a team to help support the gathering and monitoring of information, the wisdom of your team will guide you on where you should be spending your time.
  • Maximize the opportunity within the account – when selling enterprise deals, there’s ample opportunity to “land and expand.” Whether that means upselling or cross-selling, the first deal that you do is rarely the only possible deal you can do.

All of these points boil down to managing and maximizing the flow of information.

If you don’t have a centralized location for important information about your key accounts, you’ll be wasting time and cycles.

Underlying Elements of Effective Account Plans

At a high level, successful account planning involves a constant focus on methods and processes for maximizing revenue from new and existing accounts by providing value to the customer.

In his book Account Planning in Salesforce, Donal Daly offers out three basic themes or phases for an account plan:

  • Research for insight into customers, competitors and companies.
  • 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.

Your company’s most valuable assets are your enterprise accounts. You must maintain account plans if you want to deliver insights, velocity and impact with your target accounts.

The Process of Creating and Updating Account Plans

In a recent blog post, we covered the essential elements of an account plan. This includes:

  • Executive Summary
  • General Overview
  • Financial Snapshot
  • Customer Value Scorecard
  • Embedded Information Technology Architectures
  • Current and Planned Projects
  • Sales Opportunity Pipeline and Forecast
  • Contract Information
  • Relevant Account Insights
  • Org Map and Relationship Map
  • Whitespace
  • Voice of the Customer
  • Strategic Relationship Assessment
  • Partner Analysis
  • Deal Status and Close Plan

Get a copy of Engagio’s Account Planning Template.

However, what’s just as important, if not more important, than the elements of your account plan is your process for filling in the account plan. After all, it’s not the account plan itself that will close deals – it’s the journey of discovering insights and delivering value to the prospect. The account plan is simply the most effective way to accomplish that goal.

Here are some of the best practices for establishing a process when tackling your account plan.

  1. Focus on delivering value, not closing the deal – when you’re focused on closing the deal, you’re focused on you and your goals. But the only way that you close a $1M deal is by offering $1M or more in value.
  2. Focus on building the relationship, not closing the deal – when you’re focused on creating value, you’ll naturally be simultaneously building the relationship. In enterprise sales, the relationship is the most valuable asset because the goal is not to buy from you once, but rather again and again.
  3. Integrate knowledge of the account – to maximize velocity and productivity in ABM, everyone on your team must be working from the same and most current information. If your entire team doesn’t have access to the valuable information you’ve been working to cultivate, you’ll be wasting time, energy and money.
  4. Maintain a consistent 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.
  5. Measure, measure, 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.

Once again, in the spirit of getting your ABM up and running fast, we’ve created this Account Planning Template.

view the template

This is what we use at Engagio, but your account plan could (and probably should) look a little different. Make sure this maps to your business objectives and serves to help you deliver value to your customers.

Stay tuned for ABM Fast Track #4 as we dive even deeper into getting your ABM program off to a fast start with our ABM Campaign checklist. It covers the steps that we follow to start all of our ABM campaigns.


ABM Fast Track: Part 4 – A Must-Save Checklist For Your Best ABM Campaigns

Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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