Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Account planning as an ongoing process

When I joined an elite field enablement team at Oracle almost fifteen years ago, we formalized a facilitated account planning process, both for enterprise and key accounts. However, when sales leadership and corporate program management requested that account plans be submitted and tracked on a quarterly basis, we pushed back hard.

Some considered account planning as an opportunity to inventory opportunities. Others viewed it as a way of checking in on the account team, without getting too involved. A successful completion of the process would result in a planning document being filed in a drawer somewhere.

Few thought of it as a co-creation and alignment process, one that is a nearly continuous mix of discovery, conversation, hypothesis building/testing, and value creation.

With formally trained facilitators, good supporting material (corporate backgrounder, footprint and SOW analysis, comps, etc.), the buy-in from an increasing number of sales teams, and a value selling mindset, we won over the skeptics. We demonstrated that an effective, ongoing account planning process drives deeper customer engagement, more customer intimacy, higher revenues and profitability and higher lifetime customer value.

We had the people and process part sorted. But...we were struggling with the documentation, the capture of tribal knowledge and the management of action items for the teams. PowerPoint just didn't cut it, nor did Revegy.

When Ulrik Monberg
encountered similar challenges in account planning processes, he founded ARPEDIO to provide an advanced account planning/account-based selling platform.

Recently Ulrik
, CEO of ARPEDIO and I spent some time on the Thoughts on Selling podcast discussing account planning and account-based selling best practices. The ARPEDIO team then published an article based on our conversation. The first is an easy and interesting listen; the second is a useful written discussion of the key topics.

What are you doing to ensure the effectiveness of your account planning activities?

If you'd like help ensuring success this year please reach out for an initial conversation.







Tuesday, January 9, 2024

244 Selling days left in 2024

Savvy sales leaders understand the rhythm of selling in a calendar year...in the first quarter (after territories and quotas are communicated to the field), sales people should be researching and prioritizing their accounts and planning their engagements.

In the second quarter opportunities should be developed, discovery conducted and value established. For larger accounts, account planning should be planned and held (with the customer's active participation. Your customers do attend your account planning sessions, right?)

In the third opportunities should be de-risked and customer commitments nailed down. Account planning should be continued. Executive briefings should be planned and hosted.

And...in the fourth quarter, deals should be closed.

There's only three challenges with this approach.

First, that's a lot of "shoulds."

With a formal structure in place, at the field level, and effective process facilitation, these important activities will happen, with effectiveness and impact.

Second, customers don't subscribe to the sales calendar...they have their own rhythm of business, whether their fiscal year ends in June, they have a fourth quarter freeze, or they simply have needs that aren't calendar bound.

Third, sales teams have a constant inflow and outflow of talent that requires retraining, new enablement and learning facilitation.

How much of this are you leaving to chance? Are you counting on a manager named Should to ensure the success of your team through the course of the year?

How did that work out for you last year?

What are you doing to ensure that these actions actually happen, with expediency and effectiveness?

If you'd like help ensuring success this year please reach out for an initial conversation.