Make Data-Driven Business Decisions with Account Planning Tools

Looking for a fast, reliable way to develop plans for your strategic account clients and move them quickly through your sales pipeline? Do you need planning tools to bring all your departments together and create account plans that can improve customer relationships?

Check out Next Quarter’s suite of free account planning tools that you can access from our Account Growth module. These account planning tools enable you to find the best solutions for strategic account clients, retain them as customers, and grow the revenue you generate. 

What are account planning tools?

Account planning tools are cloud-based software solutions that analyze data to generate plans for building client revenue, reducing risk, and increasing market share.

Good account-planning solutions generate analyses that show sales teams multiple views of their client organizations. These help them understand the strategic account client’s business goals, market position, opportunities, and risks. By understanding the client, sales teams can develop best-suited plans to meet their needs. 

Here’s the thing: These tools are only effective if you have up-to-date and robust data. Updating this data constantly can’t be done by humans, as this wastes time and effort. By incorporating technological tools and AI-guided platforms, you can make your data more accurate and your account plans more robust. 

What tools do I need for account planning?

You need tools that give you an overview of the strategic account client and a plan to move forward. 

For example, Next Quarter’s Account Growth-generated overview provides a short bio of the client. It identifies their line of business and marketplace position, their size and customer base, their geographic location, and any challenges they face under current market conditions. This overview identifies the client’s organizational structure and financials, which help identify revenue sources within the client’s organization. This information helps sales teams identify key stakeholders and sales influence paths.

This process requires solutions that uncover upsell and cross-sell opportunities. When executed correctly, these tools should help you make additional sales and provide better products and services to clients.  

Where can I find these tools?

The best sources for strategic account planning tools are companies offering AI-based analytical products and solutions. Next Quarter offers this solution in its Account Growth module. The module’s integrated system covers all aspects of strategic account planning.

The platform provides easy access, and the tools are simple to use. They give valuable strategic account and market data in real-time. The deep insights and quick turnaround obtained through the Account Growth module help you retain strategic account clients and increase sales. In addition, Account Growth can help you manage the entire account planning process. Use of Account Growth is not just meant to help you land accounts and help you with existing customers. Using this tool, you can close deals faster and identify opportunities to better serve your clients by expanding your lineup of goods and services.

Do I need account planning tools?

Robust, responsive, data-driven tools are essential to the account planning process. Populated with customer relationship management (CRM) information and external data, account-planning tools can quickly access crucial information. If you use the correct account planning process, you never even have to leave your CRM, and you can gain data and insights your CRM has to offer. This easy access enables you to integrate planning tools with your CRM, giving you vastly improved access data needed for your key accounts.

Account planning becomes the framework for delivering appropriate services to strategic account clients and retaining them as customers. Forbes found that increasing customer retention by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Finding new customers is critical, but you must concentrate your account planning process on key accounts that you have already landed. Doing so will help you crush your quota and increase your bottom line. 

Furthermore, the account planning process provides a framework for your service offerings to your clients. Using them allows you to focus on client needs and deliver tailored solutions.

Why do I need tools for strategic account planning?

Real-time tools that provide information on strategic accounts are vital to your success and the success of your strategic account management. Cross-platform tools that integrate data across departmental silos are easier to use and yield faster results. They enable rapid-response decisions with detailed analyses in visual forms.

This visual insight is crucial to key account planning and developing an account planning strategy. It enables members of your team access to the same data, thus ensuring that your business shares crucial information across all departments. Tools that can help shift data across lines are your lifeline for staying in business and building your revenue and market share.

What tools are essential for strategic account planning?

Essential tools identify key stakeholders, relationships, and unrecognized opportunities. Successful account planning requires you to display this information in graphs, charts, and other visual mediums. This information can be easily understood and shared, helping sales teams and strategic account client stakeholders make decisions.

The Next Quarter Platform provides a consolidated platform of essential tools that:

  • Assess current offerings and analyze your spending on strategic account clients. With AI-enabled insight, you can identify white space within key accounts and create an action plan that allows you to expand your sales opportunities. 
  • Identify key relationships between and among strategic accounts based on their rapidly shifting organizational needs. If there are changing relationships, all business departments should have access to that information and be able to build a relationship map that can better inform who critical decision-makers are. 
  • Identify influencers within an organization who may support, promote, or block sales proposals.
  • Evaluate the success of sales methodologies using any number of customizable sales methodologies. Appropriately created sales tools will enable your business to use customizable methods that can easily integrate within your CRM and any other sales system. 
  • Update critical account information with AI-based market intelligence. This data includes items as simple as monitoring for contact information changes or insights as oriented as the impact that supply-chain challenges may have on your business and ability to deliver goods to your clients. 
  • Score the strategic, operational, and commercial risks of strategic account organizations, then make data-informed decisions about how to proceed. 
  • Guide sales through actionable plans that assign tasks to representatives and monitor outcomes based on realized revenue and cost reductions.
  • Generate competitive assessments that compare your offerings to competitors, then determine how to position your business better to close a sale. 
  • Conduct scenario planning to obtain account insights, including CSAT (customer satisfaction), open and closed sales opportunities, strategic account client challenges, and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analyses.
  • Assess your alignment with buying centers, or decision-making units, to identify the service products they have implemented under your guidance and where your offerings fit.

How do I select the right solution?

Next Quarter’s Account Growth displays an intuitive tool menu that makes it easy to select the right tool at the right time. Tools and their specific purposes include:

  • Dynamic Relationship Map: Displays the client’s organizational charts, identifies decision makers among account personnel and develops influence paths. Identifying key stakeholders and their roles is essential to know whom to target in communications and planning strategies.
  • Opportunity Influence Paths: Displays a communication matrix that the sales team can use to identify and target key strategic account influencers for upselling and cross-selling.
  • Whitespace Analysis: Uncovers opportunities in the account for additional sales and revenue. It displays gaps between the strategic account and helps your business determine a client’s service offerings and the products and services they need.
  • Account Overview: Displays charts and graphs of the client’s revenue projections, risk relationship scores, goals, and actions. You and your sales team can then analyze this information to determine how your business can fulfill its needs. 
  • Curated News Feeds: Creates customized news feeds that relate to the client and the client’s reported activities. You can use this information in sales calls to identify how to fulfill the client’s needs. 
  • Account Plan Portfolio Analytics: Displays analytical charts that depict total pipeline amounts, the number of accounts, the number of relationship managers, and the number of countries the sales teams operate in. This information can be crucial in guiding the success of your sales team.

Where can I download a free account planning template or free account planning examples?

Next Quarter offers a step-by-step, free account planning template that you can download here: