In every business, there are customers and prospects for whom you need to create Account Plans. These are the customers that already generate a disproportionate share of revenue and profits. And, they are the prospects who will become the income stars of the future....
In every business, there are customers and prospects for whom you need to create Account Plans.
These are the customers that already generate a disproportionate share of revenue and profits. And, they are the prospects who will become the income stars of the future.
Either way, account planning is central to driving business development forward in a profitable, sustainable, and mutually beneficial way.
Unfortunately, there’s no Account Plan tab in Salesforce.
That’s why, in this article, I’ll explain exactly how to create a compelling account planning template in Salesforce.
However, you might be wondering:
How do I get account planning up and running in Salesforce in my company?
You have a choice. Build it yourself, using the screenshots and description in this article.
Or, purchase the GSP Key Account Planning app that we’ve already built. (Here’s the page on our website; we don’t sell this app through the AppExchange).
Let’s dive in.
Critical Account Planning Features
Here’s what any account planning tool must do:
- Help the team define the strategic customers and prospects in Salesforce.
- Measure sales revenue and income versus the target for each customer.
- Describe the account management strategy, business development initiatives, action plan, and challenges for valuable customers and prospects.
- Spotlight risks and threats likely to impact the success of the Account Plan.
- Help the team quickly identify when corrective or remedial action is needed.
With that in mind, let’s see how not to do it.
Avoid This Common Mistake
Here’s what I recommend you DON’t do with Account Plans in Salesforce:
In this example, there are fields on customer records in Salesforce that hold the plan details.
However, there’s no time associated with the plan (e.g., 2020). So, what do you do next year?
Answer: overwrite the plan from the previous year. Unfortunately, all the valuable information that you entered previously is then lost.
You probably don’t want that.
Key Account Plans in Salesforce
Instead, here’s what I recommend:
We use a custom object that relates the Account. In our example, we call it a Key Account Plan. However, you can call it Business Plan, Account Development Plan, or any other term that is relevant to your business.
For each vital customer or prospect, create a Key Account Plan. The plan will typically be a quarter, half-year, or full year.
Here are some examples of fields you might create.
Account Plan Fields
These are the fields we include in our pre-built app. You can create others – or hide some of these fields if you wish.
Objectives. The vital things you must achieve with this customer or prospect during the year.
SWOT Analysis. The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to successfully achieving your objectives.
Stakeholder Management Plan. Identifies the critical people at the customer and describes how you will manage and develop those relationships.
Support Required. People often overlook this. This field describes the internal resources you need.
Short Term Plan. The steps you will take over the next 2 to 4 weeks.
Of course, you update the fields throughout, as relationships develop, and new opportunities and threats emerge.
Effective account planning for vital customers
Visit the App Page to arrange a free web meeting.
Account Plan Metrics
It’s not enough to record how we will work to develop the customer or prospect.
We also need to record success.
These are the KPI fields we use in our app:
Sales Target. The value of won opportunities in the period. In some businesses, this needs to reflect the amount of scheduled revenue.
Won Revenue. The value of closed-won opportunities. Again, in other companies, this can be the value of scheduled revenue in the year.
Pipeline. The value of pipeline opportunities due to close during the Account Plan. Or, the amount of scheduled revenue due to land in the period.
Weighted Pipeline. The pipeline opportunities multiplied by the probability.
Total Expected Revenue. The value of closed-won opportunities plus the weighted pipeline.
Forecast Target Variance. The difference between the Sales Target and Total Expected Revenue.
Opportunities automatically link to the Account Plan based on the Closed Date. Whenever an opportunity is updated, the metrics automatically adjust.
Percentage performance on each KPI is on the right.
The in-line chart shows how revenue compares to the target.
The light blue column is the target; dark blue is closed-won; light green is the weighted target, and the dark green indicates Forecast Target Variance.
The result is immediate visibility of whether pipeline coverage is big enough to hit the target for this customer.
How Opportunities Link To 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 value of all linked opportunities rolls up to the plan.
You can use the same approach if you bring invoices or import orders into Salesforce. We have code pre-built that can seamlessly link these records to the relevant plan.
Get in touch with us if you’d like to find out more.
Contact Roles on Account Plans
In this example, we have listed three people as playing a role in the Account Plan.
These are the people you must influence in a positive way to maximize the success of your business development effort.
In our app, you can easily add more people to this list.
This action is a valuable step. We have to think through the network of contacts at each customer to link the right people to the plan.
Often, it’s at this stage, that we realize that we are missing essential relationships. That means we need to locate and build new relationships with other significant players.
Partner Roles on Account Plans
Sometimes, other companies play an essential role in the success of your Account Plan.
For example, in the building industry, firms of surveyors, architects, engineers, and other companies impact your ability to win deals.
In your industry, there may be other external companies heavily involved.
Record these relationships using Partner Roles on the Account Plan.
The Partner Roles Assignment button allows you to add new companies to the plan.
(If your plan is not influenced by other companies, simply remove this section from the page layout).
Reports and Dashboards for Key Account Plans
Here’s some example of the Salesforce reports and dashboards available on Account Plans.
Account Plan Performance
This dashboard chart means we can quickly understand our performance across all strategic customers.
We can easily see that seven customers are below their revenue targets. Pipeline coverage and won deals are not yet big enough for these customers.
It’s time to double-down on each and figure out how we can drive revenue forward.
The authoritative information in the dashboard chart means that executives and Account Owners can identify the remedial action needed to achieve sales targets.
Likewise, for those customers forecast to be above target, determine what extra steps are possible to increase revenue further.
For added impact, combine strategic account planning with activity reporting on crucial accounts. This tracking is a powerful way to measure and value-adding actions on these essential customers and prospects.
Strategic Customers With/Without Account Plans
This dashboard chart shows the critical customers on which planning is still to take place.
If customers are valuable enough to be classified as ‘strategic,’ then there should be a plan for maintaining and developing that relationship.
In your business, you probably want the same information by Account Owner and territory.
Account planning is crucial in building and extending the relationship with valuable customers and prospects.
Without it, day-to-day actions and communication occur in a vacuum rather than being guided by overall goals and objectives.
The Account Plan template described here is used by many of our customers. The approach produces simple, measurable, and effective plans, shareable across the team.
Arrange a web demo
To see how account planning can work in your business, then get in touch. We’ll arrange a web meeting with you.
In the meantime, visit our Account Plan page to see more information on our pre-built app.
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