Account planning is an essential element of modern sales strategy. With proper execution, it can increase deal size by 14%, enhance win rates by up to 59%, and reduce time to close by 26%. However, you can't realize these benefits if your team treats account planning as just another box to check. Let's demystify the elements that distinguish a great account plan from a less effective one.
Sales executives and account managers must understand their customers' challenges, goals, and value drivers to grow key accounts. By targeting these accounts with strategic planning, they shift from selling products to solving problems, becoming a trusted partner instead of just another vendor.
What is Account Planning?
Account planning in B2B sales involves understanding a customer's key initiatives, problems, and challenges. By identifying these elements, the goal is to provide value that not only helps the customer achieve their objectives but also builds a long-term relationship between buyer and seller.
The Process in a Nutshell
- Summarize your account’s products and strategy
- Understand your account’s priorities and key business initiatives
- Map their organizational chart and key players
- Analyze your account’s competition
- Outline the buying process and milestones
- Establish a strategy for growing your relationship with your buyer
- Identify sales opportunities, targets, and risks
- Create an action plan
- Review your plan with your customer
What Makes a Great Account Plan?
Excellent account plans:
- Well Researched: The best account plans build a holistic view of opportunities, the market landscape, customer behaviors, and competitor strategies.
- Aligned with Buyer Needs: It resonates with the key value drivers of the account's business, ensuring that the plan supports overall business objectives.
- Data-Driven: Leveraging data to uncover needs and opportunities results in targeted and relevant strategies.
- Risk Aware: Good account planning acknowledges uncertainties and risks, devising strategies to navigate them.
- Actionable: Providing clear directives on engagement, messaging, and value delivery throughout the journey creates a roadmap for success.
Bad Account Plans:
- Lack of Research: Skipping account research and relying only on what you already know about your accounts misses crucial opportunities to identify new avenues for growth.
- Generic: Less effective account plans miss the nuances and complexities of individual accounts, leading to bland and ineffective strategies, not targeted to your key ICPs.
- Lacks Data: Without the right data to understand prospects' needs, a bad plan often stumbles in the dark.
- Ignores Risks: Account plans that ignore risks and challenges will leave the team unprepared to deal with unexpected objections.
- Not Actionable: An account plan without actionable insights fails to translate strategy into real-world results.
Account planning is not a one-size-fits-all process, but Aomni can help simplify it.
Aomni's AI agent, tailored to understand your product's unique value proposition, collaborates with you to define targeted ICPs, qualify prospects, and conduct in-depth strategic research. It turns all of that into a structured account plan so you can spend less time searching for information and more time selling.