Milind Katti

November 29, 2021

Sales Playbooks for Key Account Management – Everything You Need to Know

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All salespeople dream of rolling out strategies that run high on the ‘leads’ factor. But sales is not just about sustainable leads – it is about engaging with your audience and translating the brand’s offerings into tangible solutions to convert them into ideal customers.

But how can you do that effectively without resorting to trial-and-error for every customer?

This is where a sales playbook comes in.

A sales playbook is a how-to guide that puts the correct strategy and tools at salespeople’s fingertips to maneuver every sales cycle stage skillfully. It walks your sales personnel through commonly-encountered scenarios, including prospecting and nurturing leads, when to sell what product or service, dealing with different types of audiences, and more.

If understanding what a sales playbook comprises can be a head-scratcher at times, what with its many elements, knowing how to make it work for Key Accounts is doubly tough. Nevertheless, employing a playbook polished by their sales experts unsurprisingly gives companies an edge.

However, rote observance of processes that may have gone out of date can stall, if not seriously impede, this growth. Unfortunately, even as fledgling digital applications gained traction within most business departments in the 2000s, many companies failed to leverage technologies to their full extent for sales.

Adapting Sales Playbooks for the Digital Selling Age

Two recent phenomena have turned this attitude on its head. First, ubiquitous digital interactions — that have reshaped the customer journey and, subsequently, the sales process.

Second, the onset of the pandemic and the massive shift to remote work, which has forced sales personnel to navigate their business relationships online and, often, individually.

This makes the sales process a bit tricky, especially when you consider the high customer expectations most key account leads harbor. Today, every employee reflects the company, and salespeople more so, for being the company’s first representatives. A consistent and uniform approach while mostly working separately can be difficult to accomplish if mishandled.

This is where the digitization of processes can help. If incorporated smartly and appropriately, it can help companies capture and retain strategic accounts. For example, DemandFarm’s Org Chart digitizes an organization’s existing internal hierarchy, relationships, influence, and decision power (read more on this in the next section).

All this and more deliver the following key benefits:

  • Ease of Transfer: It is important for sales reps to have a connected view of data, and digitization enables the entire sales pipeline to be transparent to all team members. This means that if a salesperson is unable to entertain their prospective key client, anyone else from the team can take over with ease.
  • Analytics Management: With every piece of information online, monitoring performance indicators, generating reports, and analyzing customer data to improve pitch and process is effortless.
  • Better Process Efficiency: Complex internal processes increase the burden on sales reps. Digitization can mitigate this by facilitating sales teams to use less time and effort and fewer resources to do the same work, equipping them with more efficient processes.

While the advantages of digitizing your sales playbook to manage your key accounts are clear, is it possible to do so without disrupting operations?

Cue in sales tools for the digital world.

Role of Digital Tools to Make This Easy

To circumvent possible rejection of your transformed sales playbook, you must ensure two things before zeroing in on any tool.

  • Understand the needs of your business: With more than a thousand vendors in the sales tech arena, there is no dearth of tools. However, it is important to understand which of these tools is ideal for your business requirements lest your investment goes to waste.
  • Involve Your Team: Before deciding on the tool, talk to your team members about the issues they face and invite suggestions for possible solutions. Your sales team needs to be comfortable with your chosen tool to employ it efficiently.

Components of an Ideal Sales Playbook in KAM

Now that you’ve got a good idea of what to do before selecting your ideal tool, let’s go over the types of sales tools available to you for key account management.

Sales Intelligence

Sales intelligence involves analyzing data and using it to create insightful reports and estimate future performance. Whether it be sales performance reports or productivity logs or analytics on strategic account behavior, sales intelligence, as a function, takes charge of all data extraction and scrutinization.

Relationship Intelligence is a crucial part of any Sales Intelligence process as it helps to map all the relationships and interactions among the teams of customers, both current and potential. It indicates the nature of each entity’s connections and influence on others.

Relationship Mapping is important for any Sales Intelligence process because:

  • It helps to gain insights into the relationship, no matter whether it be in terms of age, tenure, seniority, or any other factor.
  • It is useful when trying to understand the growth rate of an organization, which can be achieved by examining the number and nature of relationships in the company.
  • It is integral to any sales process, especially in business-to-business (B2B) companies. This is because the company’s growth is usually dependent on the growth of its relationships and how its team locks down key deals.

Sales Enablement

As the name suggests, sales enablement empowers salespersons with the resources they need to prospect, close, and nurture leads. This is facilitated by analyzing the data from the marketing, content, and sales departments and drawing on it to align the three cycles, consequently enabling sales personnel to close deals.

Benefits of Sales Enablement include:

  • Salespersons can effectively capture key accounts by streamlining communication between departments and providing resources like content and information.
  • The sales team can be better prepared and equipped for upcoming meetings and presentations.
  • Advanced analytics helps companies to understand the current state of their sales cycle, allowing them to identify areas of improvement and highlight the highest-value opportunities.
  • Sales playbooks are an effective way of organizing both your sales enablement and relationship intelligence data into one place.

You can read more about sales enablement here.

Sales Acceleration

Sales acceleration aims to speed up the sales process by streamlining systems, automating administrative tasks, and creating meaningful engagement across the sales operation.

Considering that nurtured leads make larger purchases than non-nurtured leads, you can employ strategic sales acceleration techniques that identify the best methods for prospecting and capturing a particular lead by shortening the sales cycle and increasing key account conversions.

Benefits of Sales Acceleration include:

  • Increase in close rates and increase in revenue per sale due to a shortened sales cycle.
  • Ability to continue marketing and selling at all stages of the relationship and beyond, leading to longer relationships and higher customer lifetime value.
  • Reduced cost of sales due to increased ease in capturing new leads and nurturing existing relationships.
  • Improved productivity and ROI of the sales team due to increased focus and prioritization of activities that lead to higher conversions.

You can read more about Sales Acceleration here.

Account Management

The most important part of a sales playbook is the Account Management section. This allows you to record your conversations and interactions with each lead, as well as, track all interactions that you have with your team.

With a clearly defined system in place, the account managers can easily manage their accounts and remain up-to-date with the latest progress. They can also assess their performance and make a better plan in terms of their future actions, leading to better account penetration.

In this way, they can develop and maintain client relationships after the sales have taken place, focusing on engaging and growing each account. Key accounts understandably require the salesperson to expend more effort on each point of contact than usual, which may translate to low performance in the long run.

In this regard, the right Sales Playbook can significantly alleviate the sales team’s burden by taking over data visualization and analysis, communication between the client and the salesperson, and building customer profiles, amongst other things.

You can read more about Account Management here.

Digitize Your Sales Playbook with DemandFarm

The sales industry is gradually adopting some of today’s most exhilarating digital sales tools, and those who fail to incorporate modern technology will undoubtedly fall behind. In a sector with a painfully clear need and potential for improved efficiency, it is critical that sales managers and teams be aware of, strategize for, and effectively actualize at least some of the aforementioned tools revolutionizing sales today.

Prospecting and retaining your key accounts is not wizardry. It all comes down to identifying and acting on the causes behind attrition. Lucky for you, DemandFarm products arm sales teams with the solutions to penetrate key accounts and forge sustainable relationships with relevant points of contact. Get in touch with DemandFarm’s Product Expert here to see it in action!

Ready to discuss your Account Management Needs?

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About the Author

Milind Katti

CEO & Co-Founder, DemandFarm

Milind is CEO & Co-Founder of DemandFarm. Having practiced and evolved the ‘account farming’ principle for over a decade he established DemandFarm and is passionate about delivering the best B2B key account management tool to serve the needs of key account managers. Milind also serves on the Board of LeadEnrich & is a Strategic Adviser.

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