What is an account plan and why is it necessary? An account plan is a compilation of relationship plans for the key executives of that account. See, an account is a group of individual senior executives and influential people that work for that company or institution. Simplistically an account is the people. This means the account plan is made up of relationship plans for the profit-center leader and his or her staff of how you and each of them will continues working together for the benefit of each other.
It’s necessary because with out these individual relationship plans you may get someplace, but it may not be where you’d like to be. Therefore, plan where you’d like to be and you’re more likely to get there than by leaving it to chance. Plan with the other person and your odds increase tremendously.
These plans will eventually lead to a series of actions and dates that will be your roadmap for managing this account. More accurately, it will be your roadmap of managing the individuals that are the account. However, this is not a one time event. People move, conditions change, problems occur. That’s why regular interactions to review and update plans are critical – 3 months, 6 months, …, you and your executive should decide and commit.
Create your relationship plan – on paper – together. Outline where you’ve been and where you both hope to be. Discuss each others’ expectations? You want more information, more referrals and more business. Who knows what your executive wants, unless you ask. Determine the actions and resources required for your expectations to happen and to make your two companies stick together. Decide who’s going to do what and by what dates. Keep it simple yet formal. Again, this is not something you do by yourself or with your internal team. The clients’ executives must put this together with you.
Make the interactions fun. Bring in new people and use different venues. This is the time for entertainment and dinners. Keep it alive, yet professional. Review progress on the actions. Revamp them if necessary. Create new actions. Conjure up programs and initiatives. Review programs that are not yielding returns and terminate them.
These plans may sound tedious, but these are actions you casually do already. Besides, it will give you a reason to get together and make those discussions meaningful to both of you. What’s different than your casual get-togethers is the number of executives that need to be covered, and their active participation in building the expectations and actions. So that you are not overwhelmed, assign members of your company individual executives as their responsibility.
Here’s why this is important. If you heard from your main contact that the company was switching to your competitor, what would you do? You’d probably do everything possible to get to higher level executives to see what actions you could take to prevent your loss of his or her business. Right? So instead of waiting for this catastrophe, be proactive and prevent it from happening. Remember, your competitors are constantly knocking and it’s easier to come from behind than stay on top.
So start building you individual relationship plans. Keep it simple. Make it fun. Do it with lots of their executives, and update it regularly. Otherwise your relationships will weaken and eventually disintegrate.
Action Ideas without Documentation
Good ideas are discussed casually when you meet. No effort is made to build a written plan together to cement these ideas and expectations. Everyone gets busy, and before long, nothing is done. Sellers hasn’t heard anything and assumes it’s not a big deal.
Lost of Credibility and Lost of Potential Business
Unfortunately, the key executives’ remember. Your assumptions of the relationship may be different than his/hers. As job conditions change, you’re left out and your familiarity usually dwindles. You lose association with the new environment. You assume you’re still in sync, where in reality you’re out of the loop.
Score: 4=Always; 3=Most Times; 2=Usually; 1=Sometimes; 0=Never.
1. Do you build action plans to stay professionally connected with senior people in your accounts? ____
2. Do you follow-up your discussions and agreements with something in writing? ____
3. Do you ask your best customers what will make their professional lives better as it relates to your industry? ____
4. Do you state your expectation of more business from him/her? ____
Scoring: Add: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = ??
10 or more is good; Less than 10 suggests you build plans with your clients’ executives
And now I invite you to learn more.
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