Sales and marketing teams are under constant pressure to meet revenue goals, but it’s getting harder than ever to engage buyers in today’s rapidly evolving B2B landscape. Despite 85% of sellers claiming that having the right data saves them time and increases efficiency, many are spending a substantial portion of their day conducting research to understand their customers and prospects. In fact, it takes at least 2 hours (128 minutes) for sales to research each prospect before contacting them, according to a recent study. It’s no surprise sellers need as much help as possible to ease some of the pressure. That’s where a strategic account plan comes in.
The strategic account plan is a tool that helps salespeople be better positioned to take on new accounts and forge stronger relationships with existing ones. The plan contains critical information about the prospect that every sales rep should know before even thinking about making the initial phone call. Capturing this information in a concise, structured way helps the salesperson focus on what is important about the account and how it aligns with your company’s offering. Having a plan can help you go one step further, give you the edge over a competitor, or deliver the crucial piece of data that can close the deal. Simply put, the strategic account plan is the blueprint of the sale.
Creating a strategic account plan is not an easy exercise. It can’t be done in the hour before a meeting, but the benefits from creating one clearly outweigh the effort to produce it. Just be sure to keep these do’s and don’ts in mind before getting started:
- Gather as much information as possible
- Have a deadline. It will create a sense of urgency and priority
- Be realistic. Fudging the numbers won’t help when the time to sell comes
- Have an open mind about the action items. Try to escape the “we’ve always done it this way” approach
- Rely mostly on facts. Gut feelings can be tricky
- Celebrate your wins
- Don’t start on the night before the deadline. You won’t be able to create a quality outcome
- Don’t do all the research yourself. You’ll just waste more money than if you buy a report. This is why business intelligence companies exist
- Don’t set too many objectives. You won’t be able to satisfy all of them
- Don’t avoid a section of the plan because it looks hard to do
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Want more tips to build a strategic account plan that will help move you closer to making a deal? Download our definitive guide to crafting a killer strategic account plan.