If you are a key account manager, I understand what you go through every year during the account planning process. You want the key account planning simplified.
Jacob is responsible for building the strategy and executing the plan to achieve annual targets. Bridging the gap between planning and execution is a challenge, always. The even bigger pain point is getting started on and building the plan itself. He is required to spot the real opportunities for value creation and growth across the length and breadth of his Key Accounts.
All this tends to become very overwhelming. Typically, this situation reaches a crescendo towards the end of the year when key account managers end up spending a month or two, preparing account plans for the next year. This is thanks to complex methodologies and visually appealing PPT templates that most of the times make the simple; complex.
I am dumbstruck. I strongly believe that key account planning can be simple, and exciting.
I encourage all key account managers to peruse the following checklist. DemandFarm has done its best to simplify. You will find this simplicity also reflected in the Account Planner. Do give it a shot when you are logged into your Salesforce or MS Dynamics instance.
Key Account Planning Checklist
Account managers simply jump into the key account planning process. Investing time and focus to understand the current state of key accounts is a valuable intervention capable of giving the key accounts much-needed direction. Knowing win/loss areas, active opportunities, the orientation of the contacts in the accounts, and the accounts’ market position with respect to the competition are valuable markers to establish the As-Is.
Identify whitespace opportunities
Once the as-is is done, key account managers have a clear sense of where the current growth opportunities lie. Juxtaposing those opportunities with competition and mapping them with internal capabilities opens up the ‘whitespace’. Simple.
Align the sales process to the buying process
B2B buying has changed. CEB had a data point which said, “57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier.” On similar lines, SiriusDecisions says, “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.”
Therefore, Strategic account management has to build strategies that proactively seek out opportunities. Getting an account landscape which identifies buying centers in the account and the ability to map them with internal products/solutions can align sales to the buying process.
Align the Plan to the annual account targets
Account targets count. At the end of the year, it is the only thing that counts. Ironically, during account planning and execution there emerges a tendency to do more. This often distracts the account managers from the targets. Account planning and execution-only have to ensure strict adherence to strategies and initiatives that are directly linked to account targets. Nothing else matters. Not even a Metallica concert.
Use a real-time tool
The problem of making account plans in a PPT is this – it is passive and remains passive through the life of the account plan. It is only seldom that the KAMs revisit the PPTs to align their align and adjust their annual account plans. And it isn’t that the KAMs don’t want to. Updating account plans becomes an operational problem in an ever-changing environment. Dynamic, responsive and real-time updating account planning tools like the ‘Account Planner’ can support account managers by saving them from operational gruntwork.
How would you rate the key account planning process in your organization? Simple or complex? What initiatives have you taken to simplify? What worked? What did not? What technology tools were leveraged to simplify and improve the process?