5 Steps To A Successful Account Plan

Writing or developing an effective account plan is essential if you want to deliver the right results in sales. However many people get confused and over complicate the matter. Having worked in Sales for 16 years, I have written my fair share of account plans and certainly reviewed many (good and bad). What I have learned over that time is that the steps for a good sales plan are essentially the same whatever business you may be in. As Nelson Mandela said

Vision without action is just a dream

Action without Vision is just wasting team

Action with vision can change the world

If you follow my 5 key steps to building a sales plan, then you may not change the world but you will definitely improve your chances of success.

1. Be specific about your objectives

When looking at an account it is critical for you to have a set a clear overall objective for that account. What is it that you are actually trying to achieve. Typically look at a timescale of a year but for a more holistic picture look over 3 years so that your actions do not become too short term. Keep this objective in mind through your activities to ensure that everything you do drives this objective.

2. Focus on decisions

The next step is to analyze the objective / s and break them down into the decisions required from your customers in order for your objective to be met. There will typically be several decisions to be made and you need to clearly understand what these are if you want to be successful in utilizing the right time and resources to effect these decisions positively in your favor.

3. Analyze the Decision Making Unit

Once you know what decisions are critical to the success of your objective / s you need to understand which customers are involved in that process. The Decision making unit for that decision are the people you need to focus on in your sales process to ensure that those decisions are effected positively in your favor.

4. Vision into action

A promise is nothing until delivered and up until now it's all been theory and planning, it is now critical to act on the information you have collected and develop a sound action plan from what we've learned. For each of the decisions you now need to develop an action plan which will enable you to push that decision in your favor and hence get 1 step closer to achieving your objectives. Eg

Objective: to increase market share share in account by X% over the next year

Decision 1: Customer must agree to stock our product in the first instance

Decision 2: Customer must agree to start using the product in preference to product A

Action Plan (for Decision 1), will then be actions relating to understanding how to get your product stocked and then physically getting it stocked.

Remember the action plan must be

  • Driving the overall objective
  • Focused on the decisions
  • Only focused around the individuals in the decision making unit

Make sure your actions are all Specific. Measurable. Achievable Realistic. Timed & Trackable (ie SMART)

5. Breathe life into the plan

Try and ensure this is a living breathing plan which drives your business, not something that just gets done for reviews. To help with this make sure you have a system, be that excel or online that supports your planning process and lets you update your plan as necessary.