This post is part 3 of a 5-part series on Customer Revenue Optimization and our Smart Account Planning process based on the Rootit® platform. Read the rest of the series.
Gartner defines account planning as “the process of mapping out important details about a new prospect or existing customer, including information about their decision-making process, the companies you're competing with to close them and the overall strategy to win them over, retain and grow them.” This definition clearly shows the importance of account planning, as it forms the basis to win new customers ánd retain & grow existing customers. That is why nowadays account planning forms an integral part of the sales process in almost every mature company. However, only few succeed in really reaping the benefits. Why so?
While sales teams should be supported by - and benefit most from - account planning, it is often the complete opposite: sales teams perceive the process as burdensome, time-wasting and useless. Rootit’s® smart account planning process alters this perception by tackling 3 root causes, hereby enabling your revenue teams to fully unlock the power of account planning.
1. Ad-hoc processes spreading feelings of futility among your salespeople
In many sales organizations, account planning is an isolated, ad-hoc and inefficient task for the sales team:
Before the start of the new business year, an account plan is drafted for the upcoming year. In most cases, this plan is created from scratch or by taking a copy from last year. The result is an account plan which is merely a description of the status quo combined with a revenue or volume growth target. Upon completion, the plan is documented and too often, this is the final step until next year, when the exercise is repeated.
Organizations who succeed in making an account plan actionable face a new challenge. During the year, there is little to no follow-up on the objectives and actions formulated in the account plan. Valuable customer insights are only captured ad-hoc (if at all) and are not used in a structured way to adapt and improve the account plan.
This ad-hoc process is often the result of management teams which focus on short term results and underestimate the importance of continuously reviewing, learning from, and planning future actions with customers. Without a process that encourages people to continuously act on the planned customer approach and to reflect on areas for improvement, it is impossible for salespeople to reap the benefits that account plans were designed for.
Rootit’s® account planning process counters these problems by creating a continuous account planning cycle where information is constantly re-used, shared and enriched to allow your sales teams to sell better with less effort.
2. Financially driven and disconnected from sales
In most sales companies a very strong link exists between the account plan and the budget. This link shifts the focus of account planning from the desired action-based sales approach to a descriptive and volume-based financial exercise. This one-sided focus on finance does not only disrupt the balance within the multifunctional revenue team that customer revenue optimization seeks to find, but it also demotivates the sales team, and hampers them from using the account planning tool effectively. Sales organizations should strive to re-establish the sales- and customer centric sphere that account planning is intended to have.
With Rootit® we believe that account ownership should remain with your sales teams. That doesn’t mean numbers are not important! Our tool is built around an account, but stimulates cross-functional collaboration for the entire revenue team, from finance to R&D. No confusing nor conflicting sales or marketing views, but one version of the truth, an account view.
3. Additional administrative work limiting sales time
A third roadblock impeding the desired sales engagement in the account planning cycle is the admin (perception) that currently exists among salespeople. The non-integrated tooling and technology used are major drivers causing this. A large portion of administrative burden can be abolished by switching from a static account plan to an action-based and sales-centric approach, while at the same time limiting the required sales input to the crux of the matter. Technology should support its users instead of creating more work. Rootit® was developed by critically challenging the key input that is needed. Our solution is designed to integrate, interlink, automate and prefill where possible. By doing so, we do not only change the perception of your sales team on account planning, but also manage their valuable time efficiently.
Re-engaging your sales team to profit from account planning will require structural changes throughout the organization. It requires a top-down redesign exercise of the account planning process, in combination with a bottom-up mindset shift from your sales teams, and by extension the revenue team, who are the key players in the account planning cycle. With Rootit® we promise to provide you with a proven process and tool to support you in this process.
Coming up next
In the next post, we will continue to the next phases in the Smart-account planning process: the “Act & Review phase”. Stay tuned!
About the authors
Roel Vermeulen is managing partner at Chronion. He designed and implemented true profitability models for B2B and B2C companies all over the world. He supported multiple commercial organizations to realize higher profitable growth while increasing customer satisfaction levels.
Abel Vanacker is a business analyst at Chronion. He also operates in a supporting role for Rootit.
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