In every business there are customers and prospects of strategic importance.
These are the customers that generate a disproportionate share of revenue and profits. They are the prospects who will become the income stars of the future.
These customers and prospects need proactive management. That doesn’t just happen by chance. It requires robust account plans to set targets, define actions and track outcomes.
But there’s no Account Planning tab in Salesforce. So here’s how to create a key account planning tool that enables these strategic accounts to undergo the proactive planning and management that’s warranted.
Essential Account Planning Features
To be effective, the account planning tool must:
- Identify the strategic customers and prospect accounts.
- Track revenue against target for each strategic account.
- Define the account management strategy, business development initiatives and actions planned for each account segment.
- Identify the risks and threats in achieving the targets, manage competitors and specify support required from colleagues.
- Enable the need for corrective action to be identified.
Key Account Plans in Salesforce
First you need a custom object, related to the Account. In our example we’ve called it Key Account Plan but it can be called Business Plan, Account Development Plan or any other term that is relevant to your business.
For each strategic Account, the Account Owner creates an Key Account Plan for each period of time. That period of time might be monthly, quarterly or annually depending on your business.
Here are some examples of fields you might create on the Key Account Plan. Again, other fields might be relevant in your business.
- From Date. The start date of the period of time to which the Account Plan relates. Typically this will be the first day of the month, quarter or year.
- To Date. The last date of the time period. The last day of the quarter for example.
- Sales Target. The sales revenue that is targeted for this account for the given time period.
- Objectives. The account management objectives for the period of this account plan.
- SWOT Analysis. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in achieving the Revenue Target.
- Stakeholder Management Plan. The approach the Account Owner will take to achieving the Sales Target.
- Support Required. The internal resources that will be required to achieve the Sales Target
- Sales Achieved. The value of Closed Won opportunities.
- Sales Pipeline. The total value of Pipeline opportunities.
- Weighted Pipeline. The Pipeline opportunities multiplied by the Probability.
- Total Expected Revenue. The value of Closed Won opportunities plus the Weighted Amount of pipeline opportunities.
Actions planned to achieve the objectives are attached to the Account Plan using the standard Open Activities and Activity History sections.
In the example below I’ve deliberately left the fields in the Strategy section empty in order to display the Account Plan in a single screenshot.
The Key Account Plan records the approach the Account Owner is taking to achieve the sales target. In many businesses, the Account Owner updates the Account Plan midway through the period based on expected under or over performance of the revenue target.
And of course all Activities that relate to achievement of the Account Plan are recorded under the Open Activities and Activity History section of the page layout.
The KPI section summarises the value of Closed Won and Open opportunities for this account, for the duration of the Key Account Plan.
The in-line chart gives a graphical view of how revenue on the account compares with the Sales Target. This pulls directly from the metrics that measure Closed Won Opportunities and Weighted Pipeline against the Revenue Target. This clearly shows whether the sales target for the Account in this Quarter will be met.
Measure Sales Performance Versus Target
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Link Opportunities the Key Account Plan
Each time an Opportunity is created or edited, a code based trigger links the Opportunity to the relevant Account Plan.
The same piece of code then ‘rolls up’ the value of all the Opportunities that are linked to the Account Plan. It’s this function that enables the performance against target – based on both Closed and Pipeline Opportunities – to be calculated.
The same approach can also be used if you import orders into salesforce. Create a trigger that automatically links each order to the Key Account Plan
Get in touch with us if you’d like help creating or deploying this trigger.
Management reporting on Key Account Plans
Let’s look at a management report on sales performance against Key Account Plans for multiple accounts. It shows the:
- Sales target.
- Sales achieved thus far for the target period.
- Weighted pipeline value.
- Total forecast sales, and
- Forecast variance against target.
The dashboard chart and underlying report enable managers to quickly see that two accounts are forecast to be below the Sales Target for this quarter (the purple bar on the chart). The report also shows that overall the business is forecast to be above target for its strategic accounts for this quarter (the green shaded number on in the bottom right of the report).
This powerful information means that executives and Account Owners can identify the remedial action they need to take to achieve sales targets. For those accounts that are forecast to be above target, review the Key Account Plan to determine what additional steps can be taken to increase revenue further. And for added impact, combine strategic account planning with activity reporting on key accounts to measure and track value-adding activities on these essential customers and prospects.
Key Account Planning is a crucial aspect in the management strategic accounts. Without it, account activity becomes piecemeal, ad hoc and reactive.
We’ve demonstrated here the approach to account planning that many of our own customers (and we ourselves!) use every day. It creates simple, measurable plans that can be shared across the team, and gives the visibility of necessary to identify when remedial action is required.
If you’d like a customized demonstration of how key account planning can work in your specific business then simply get in touch to arrange a short web demo.
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