Account planning sessions are "sacred" events to me.
Never mind the staff cost of $20-$50K just for the sales team to show up and participate. Never mind the "interruption" to their normal responsibilities. Never mind the hours of research, planning and prep to ensure a great outcome.
It's the potential impact. We can substantively affect the outcome of a client's business when we conduct the proper research and planning. For a finserv account, perhaps it means that their customers will get loans rated faster and more accurately. For a manufacturing company, perhaps it means that we can help boost their production quality. And for a life sciences company, perhaps it means finding a cure for a disease more quickly.
Oh, and the team stands to benefit financially - making their numbers, receiving their commissions, going to Club.
When facilitating an account planning session, I always include three components:
- A CPR -- a statement of the Context, Purposes and expected/desired Results (which we co-develop at the beginning of the session
- A value selling mindset
- And finally and perhaps most importantly, the action plan
Without the action plan, people leave the session thinking "that was great", now back to work. And everything learned, discussed and decided is quickly forgotten.
With a good detailed action plan, people leave the session with a strong understanding of their roles, responsibilities, next steps and expectations (Change Management 101).
Yet, even a good action plan does not guarantee success. Success requires ownership and follow up. I've facilitated three hundred or so account planning sessions over the years, and I always charge the sales manager or sales leadership with owning that follow up - ensuring that the commitments people make are actually completed.
But, to be honest, I still haven't cracked the code on this. That follow up just doesn't always happen.
How do you ensure follow up to account planning sessions? To the promises made by your sales people?