Strategic account plan is all about thinking hard and making decisions that have a long-term impact. You don’t make strategic decisions every day. The data and information available to make these decisions are often limited. It’s the ability of the person to use his/her experience, knowledge and judgment that determines better decisions. This is very complex and person dependent. I believe the right framework could reduce the complexity and help in arriving at better decisions and faster.
Management thinkers over the decades have given us certain frameworks to make this strategic thinking easier. Prominent examples that come to my mind are Porter’s Five Forces model & Maslow’s Need Hierarchy. If you observe carefully these frameworks do not give us answers, but help us ask right questions.
Key Account Planning & Management also requires strategic account plan and thinking. Key Account Management Software helps you in the process of winning by strategizing ideas, but at least once a year we need to look beyond dollar numbers, relationships, and activities to think about our Key Accounts. I set out to look for frameworks to facilitate this thinking. What I liked most was from the book “Key Account Management-The definitive guide” by Malcolm McDonald & Diana Woodburn.
Here are some of the frameworks I would like to use:
We would like our engagement with key accounts to be at strategic level. How do I assess the level of engagement? The level of engagement can be Tactical, Cooperative, Interdependent or Strategic. Ask yourself a set of questions about the key account to know where is the Key Account today. A little math with right weight to each question and a corresponding answer can tell us the level of engagement.
Only knowing the level of engagement is not enough to start taking actions. It must be matched with the account attractiveness and our strength of the relationship in that account. That leads us to next framework.
- Strategic: Invest mind-share and ensure profitability
- Star: Invest time and money. Need not be profitable yet.
- Status: Maintain the status quo.
- Streamline: Manage for profitability.
Do you know any other frameworks that could help analyzing the key accounts? I would love to know. Because at DemandFarm, we are on a mission to make strategic account planning and management easier and effective.