As a Key Account Manager, you have a leadership responsibility. You are the leader of a cross-functional sales team.
While account plans are OFTEN created ONLY for the sake of compliance, account planning is a process you, as a leader, use to:
1. Engage and involve everyone who touches the customer – on-site consultants, S.E., customer support, etc.
2. Empower every member of the cross-functional team with direction and knowledge.
Why Dedicate Time to Key Account Planning?
The Key Account Planning Process:
- Crystallizes Your Thinking: 80% of the value is not the resulting document, but the thought process you go through.
- Compels Action: Once you have all the information in one organized place, the right action becomes apparent
- Reduces Vulnerability: Planning helps you think a few moves ahead and keeps you from being blind-sided by your competition.
- Empowers Your Team: A major goal of planning is an effective and repeatable process for a collaborative selling effort.
- Relationship vs. Transaction: Key account management requires that you balance short-term pursuit of opportunities with a long-range investment in the relationship. For example, you may set up a meeting between one of your executives and a client executive, with no current sales opportunity involved. Since it is easy to become 100% focused on the short-term transaction, planning keeps you thinking and acting for the long-term too.
Putting it to the Test
A large global software company did a one-year key account management program for half the salespeople.
Those who did not use the process sold, on the average, $200,000 that fiscal year.
Those who did key account planning averaged $700,000 in sales.
A Key Account Planning Process has Three Components
1. Designate top tier accounts. You can only do this for your top 20% accounts.
2. Don’t do planning in vacuum. Involve the customer. Involve everyone on your team who touches the customer. Don’t make it up.
3. Mobilize all of the company’s resources, across all functions and at all levels. Build executive to executive relationships between your customer’s key leaders and your key leaders in sales, product management, R&D and other functional areas.
As a Key Account Manager, you are the leader of a cross-functional sales team.
When in charge, take charge.
Learn to get started by downloading the template for a Key Account Plan.