Rule 22: Upgrade Your Account Management

Account review sessions can be formal or informal sessions involving managers, the account rep or team, technical management and any other key individuals participating in the analysis and strategy development of an ongoing account, typically a major account. They may last an hour, a half day or even a full day for very complex situations. At IBM these sessions were often grueling with intense preparation. Nevertheless they were critical to successfully navigating and directing resources in a complex sales situation.

Today many opportunities lend themselves to strategic review, or at least best practice selling efforts. In Rule 21 we reviewed an informal “snapshot” review tool called the 360o Account Snapshot to manually review deals. Companies are now moving toward dynamic interactive tools that recreate the Strategic Account Plan while guiding one along the sales process for all key sales opportunities.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s there were Miller-Heiman’s Strategic Selling Blue Sheets, comprehensive planning documents for managing accounts. There also were Solution Selling documents, Target Account Selling (TAS) planning documents, and a host of other planning sheets that helped guide the process of effective account planning. All of these were variations on a theme including areas for detailing as follows:

• Account Profile
• Opportunity Profile
• People Profile
• Competitive Profile

The one constant with strategic account planning documents is that salespeople hate to fill these out, whether on paper or simply electronic versions baked in the CRM. They complain that these are too long, too detailed, too repetitive with what’s in the CRM notes, etc., etc.

Fortunately a new day is here and companies are now moving toward dynamic interactive tools that create the Strategic Account Plan as the account manager moves through an automated “Playbook.” These Playbooks extend beyond the CRM opportunity record and now become the interface for all aspects of the sales cycle. As the rep is guided through the process, the Playbook captures the data and produces a summary “deal plan” or strategic account plan. The benefit of these new tools is that they drive optimized behavior while allowing manager and account team to reconvene over the issues and details derived and develop a comprehensive strategic plan without preparation pain and repetitive activities.

There are many new tools that snap onto existing CRM products that provide automation to improve and direct sales best practices for key sales opportunities. Get current and up-to-date with the new technology that upgrades how salespeople manage accounts and organizations maintain consistent sales behavior and quality.

How well do you manage your key accounts and opportunities?