Account Plans: Get The Competitive Advantage in ABM [ + Our Template]
You can’t build a house without a blueprint. You can’t win the Super Bowl without a playbook. And you can’t do ABM without account plans.
In ABM, the process of aligning your organization to create a personalized, relevant and unique buyer experience is a tall order. It takes pinpoint execution and a well thought out strategy.
However, most companies getting started with ABM have rarely done account plans before. It used to be reserved for true enterprise deals selling to multinational and global accounts. As technology has lowered the bar for companies to sell enterprise deals, those companies must also embrace best practices to close larger deals effectively.
What is an account plan?
An account plan is a living, breathing document that guides you a blueprint on how to close the account. It’s comprised of valuable information about the target account that everyone on your sales team needs to know. It’s a selling tool that helps you get crucial insights, build relationships and better position yourself to close the deal.
Think of an account plan as an encyclopedia of your target account.
By working your account plan every day, you will get to know your target account better than your competition, thus giving you a huge advantage.
Who is responsible for the account plan?
The sales department is the main keeper of the account plan. After all, they are the ones living in it day in and day out.
Marketing is the next key piece of the puzzle. They are crucial for aligning the target account’s needs with the company’s business objectives. Given their advanced technology stack, they are also the ones best able to provide insights via social listening, new monitoring, and other intelligence gathering tools.
Lastly, you must get sign-off and support from higher management. They will have the best pulse of the current state of affairs and a keen intuition for making sure the approach is the right one.
What should be part of your account plan?
An account plan template is going to be different for every business, but there are core aspects that you’ll want to include. Here are some of those important aspects that you’ll want to consider when putting together your account plan.
Executive Summary: A one-page summary of your position within the account and the plan to drive growth within the account. This includes:
- Current Status
- Key Value Proposition specific to that account
- Deal Summary
General Overview: Key business and industry details you need to know to give you proper background on the account. This includes demographics, firmographics and engagement data.
Financial Snapshot: key financial and revenue information about the account, including issues, challenges, drivers, initiatives from the annual report, news articles or other relevant documents.
Customer Value Scorecard: A scorecard to help your team quickly identify where to focus time, energy and resources to build customer value at the account.
Embedded Information Technology Architectures: All of the current vendors that your target account uses to get a full picture of their technology landscape.
Current and Planned Projects: Break down any projects currently in progress or may be planned in the near term that may assist or hinder forecasted Sales Opportunities.
Sales Opportunity Pipeline and Forecast: All past, present, and potential future opportunities at the account, including current contracts that are out.
Contract Information: All policies for all affected locations around the globe.
Relevant Account Insights: Any success stories, testimonials, or case studies that you need to know about and reference with your target account.
Org Map and Relationship Map: A map of all key people with whom you need to navigate and build relationships within the account, and diagram the relationships, including the politics of the account.
Whitespace: A diagram mapping your current solution footprint – identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and see where your competition is entrenched.
Voice of the Customer: Questions to ask your target account(and their answers) to build the relationship, navigate the account, and win the deal.
Strategic Relationship Assessment: The target account’s relationships with other third parties, including technology, business, financial, consulting, auditor, market research, and other significant influential parties.
Partner Analysis: An analysis which of the above partners will be in a position to help you in the account. This section is intended to reflect the perspectives of the partners, not your own.
Deal Status and Close Plan: List the Activities, Tasks, and Events that need to occur to meet the above Objectives. 30-day, 60-day, 90- day plan. Complete each Objective below with as much detail as possible.
Finding a balanced account plan for your team
Wow, that was a lot!
Chances are, if you’re not doing 7+ figure deals, you don’t need every single one of those categories. You must find what makes the most sense for you and your business. The last thing that you want is to have your team wasting their time filling in account plans and uncovering insights they’ll never use.
If you’re taking a tiered approach to ABM to targeting your accounts, you can have different account plans for each tier. It’s the same exact concept. Tier 1 accounts require more personalization and attention, therefore your account plans should be more in depth. Tier 2 accounts require less personalization and attention, therefore, you can develop lite account plans. Depending on your business and how many tier 3 accounts you have, you may be able to even get away with skipping account plans.
Take a look at the account planning template that we use at Engagio. Feel free to download it, then tweak and modify from there.
Information and insights are at a premium when you’re doing ABM. But what good is new insights if the rest of your team doesn’t have them? They could be acting on old and inaccurate data.
One great way to overcome this is to establish weekly or bi-weekly account scrums. These 15-minute stand-up meetings are a great way to update your team, keep communication flowing, and get support when needed from your teammates. The scrum will answer the questions: What did you accomplish since your last scrum? What is standing in your way? What will you be working on in the next week (or 2-week) sprint?
Account reviews are another essential facet of your account planning success. Reviewing your account plans with sales leadership is key in holding reps accountable, improving the process and getting you closer to closing the deal. Some organizations opt to integrate this into their Quarterly Business Reviews since much of the information for the two will overlap.
When doing your account reviews, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Have clear objective – What are the key objectives you need to close the deal? If you don’t have this, you’re not thinking strategically, and the review becomes an update meeting.
- Come prepared – the biggest waste of time during review is ill preparation. Come knowing the critical issues and be ready to talk about them.
- It’s a dialogue – it’s not a data dump, and it’s not the manager peppering the rep with questions. Use plenty of Why, What and How questions.
- End with action – you should leave the review with updated objectives and a clear plan to execute against them. They key outcome is to make process in moving the deal forward.
As I hope you can see, account planning is essential for ABM success. If it doesn’t come naturally to you and your team, don’t worry, Start with our Account Planning Template. As you get the hang of it, you can begin to modify it and fit it to your business.
Start now, and work that account planning muscle!