B2B sales is a complex business. It requires a lot of planning and strategizing, especially if you’re trying to establish long-term relationships with your customers. Having a general strategy in place is excellent, but more is needed. Despite the uncertainty of post-Covid times, 85% of B2B marketing leaders believe their strategies will produce positive results in 2023. This is because of account planning.
What’s An Account Plan?
An account plan is a strategic document that outlines a plan of action to build and maintain relationships with your most important accounts.
There has been much discussion regarding which among customer retention and customer acquisition is more important for business. While both are important, it has been shown that a 5% increase in customer retention leads to a more than 25% increase in profits.
The reason behind this is pretty much intuitive. It takes a significant amount of marketing to get new clients to come on board. Meanwhile, existing clients already have an established relationship with your business. Existing clients will also be more comfortable buying from you, while new clients would prefer to dip their feet first to test the water.
Why Do I Need One?
Account planning is a process to help you identify and prioritize your sales targets. It’s all about focusing on the most important accounts that are likely to have the biggest impact on your quarterly growth.
Every client has their own set of requirements and challenges. To retain these clients, it is important that your sales strategy is personalized to them. If you don’t go the extra mile to show your clients that you care, someone else will. Soon enough, your biggest client will be someone else’s biggest client.
Account planning also entails distributing responsibilities and assigning specific roles to individuals and departments within your company. If there is no confusion regarding who is responsible for what and which department takes over the process at a certain point, the entire sales process will run much more smoothly.
Step 1: Identify The Accounts That Need A Detailed Plan
It’s important to note that not all accounts need a detailed account planning strategy. The B2B account planning process starts with identifying which accounts do. There are some key things that need to be taken into consideration while deciding which accounts need custom strategies.
The first thing to consider is the revenue potential of that account. Think about how much revenue you expect to generate by servicing that account. If the answer is a significant amount, then it should be a priority for your business to hold on to that account and come up with a plan to retain/acquire them.
Then you should focus on whether or not your company is a good fit for their account. To decide this, you need a general idea of their needs. If you can’t solve their problems effectively, then the partnership won’t last long anyway. And there is no point in trying to acquire their account.
Step 2: Do Your Research
The next step is to do some initial research on the account. You want to know who you’re dealing with, and you can do this by looking at their website, press releases, and social media accounts. You should also check out their competitors to see what you are up against.
The more detail you can go into in your research, the better. Go through their financial record and business model to identify the key challenges that they face. You should also try to identify the stakeholders in their buyer’s journey. If you can understand their personality and establish contact with them, you get a better understanding of how to approach your pitch.
Step 3: Come Up With A Plan of Action
Once you have identified the challenges that the client you wish to retain/acquire faces, You need to come up with a plan to solve them. Clients today are more interested in partners than vendors. Companies that will help them solve their problems instead of just selling them products.
When you are coming up with your plan, you need to showcase what separates you from other companies offering them solutions. You need to make sure that you have a set of end goals that will help you measure your success. The goals you set need to be realistic. Also, keep in mind that your plans are detailed but to the point.
After your plan is prepared, you need your team to have a good understanding of it. Nearly 36% of companies that have not had expected results with account planning blame the lack of cooperation between various departments within the company. You need to clarify everyone’s role, so it doesn’t become an issue for you.
Remember that the key idea behind account planning is adapting to changing variables. This is an idea that needs to be applied to your business model as a whole. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of all B2B interactions will take place through online channels.
While you come up with plans to manage your key accounts, remember to future-proof your business, so that those plans don’t become obsolete by the time they are implemented.