“I Love It When A Plan Comes Together”


We tend to wander when we don’t have a destination.

The topic is Sales Account Planning.  Not the most thrilling subject – until your account plan starts bearing fruit!  Then you feel like a genious who’s master plan is coming together.  In the words of Hannibal from The A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together!”

And yet, it seems to me that Account Planning is a threatened species in today’s business world.  What might be some driving factors?

  1. Today, the buyer is a co-owner of the cycle.  The Seller not longer controls information.  The Buyer controls and equal share.  So, how can the seller propose to pre-determine where he or she will sell their next deal?  Hint:  the ones who carefully choose their targets still can!
  2. It’s risky today to call your shots, and people are more risk-averse in this economy than ever.  It is much safer to chase the next RFP that comes through email than to aim and fire where everyone knows you’re shooting.  Hint:  It’s worth the risk.  You will miss some, but you’ll hit more by aiming than by blind shotgun blasts into the dark.
  3.  It’s a lot of work.  Once you lay out an org chart and determine “I’m going to map this in the next quarter,”  you have a lot of work to do.  Who’s got the time?  Hint:  Hard work is goo for you – and – social media and network accelerators like LinkedIn can make this relationship mapping go exponentially faster than it used to!
  4. It takes too much time.  If I take a few hours to write a plan, I’m not in the field selling!  Hint:  a few hours invested in this activity will help you avoid many hours of wasted time chasing bad business like RFPs, hunting in the wrong vertical markets, etc.  Focus your work on the 20% of your effort that pays 80% of your bills. 
  5. It’s too formal.  “We just do things more ad-hoc around here.”  Hint:  Good, then you be safe and ad-hoc in there, and I’ll get more business out here!

If you decide to see the wisdom and start account planning, remember that your plan should be a living document.  It should  predict as best it can the context of your prospect or client, but evovle over time.  “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” — Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard von Moltke.  Meaning, your plan is going to change!

Whatever form your account plans take, you need to be doing this.  There is no better way to create your future in sales.

What do you think about account planning?  How do you do it in your organization?  More on this topic in future posts.

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