There has never been a salesperson who woke up in the morning and thought, “Hey, I can’t wait to plan my accounts!”
After all, most individuals in sales want to close deals, not plan for accounts. However, account planning in sales is critical to long-term success. Account planning tools can guarantee account growth, increase financial clarity, and open new revenue lines.
There are many reasons why account planning is such a critical exercise for sales. Here are six of the most important.
Account planning in sales means you have an accurate and up-to-date understanding of your key decision-makers. In some accounts, that may be one person, while larger accounts may require an entire team to close a deal.
In this instance, account planning — particularly account planning informed by advanced analytics or artificial intelligence — can help you find the right individuals for sales decisions and then keep track of these key stakeholders. This information could include company priorities, public input on the companies, or any social media posts. You can use this data to draw insights and advance your understanding of these individuals. Then, use that information to build a better relationship and sell your products or services to these clients.
Account planning tools should help you understand the products and services your customer may be interested in. By engaging in comprehensive account planning, you can get a holistic view of a customer and the potential to upsell or cross-sell opportunities. This process allows you to achieve pipeline acceleration without bringing in new customers.
Remember that account planning offers a comprehensive view of your customer and your organization’s information on a customer. Therefore, your business should engage in account planning in sales with various departments, including customer success, finance, and RevOps. Account planning tools can pull together the various departments’ data and place that data into a standardized plan. As such, you can use a single data source to develop a broad-based view of your customer, finding new opportunities to increase sales.
Different account planning templates in the same company invite chaos. If other team members use different formats, you create a system that collects different pieces of information. Such a process makes it challenging to develop a holistic view of your accounts. It also makes apples-to-apples comparisons or advanced analytics impossible.
Account planning tools must be standard to be effective. This standardization means you can acquire the same information for different accounts to create a system in which staff turnover is not fatal. Standardized data collection lets you determine the effectiveness of marketing efforts across your system, ensuring that all team members understand how account plans work.
Account planning tools should give your entire business more data to make informed business decisions. This enhanced information allows for a better understanding of your customers’ actions and where increased white space opportunities may exist.
While account planning tools can point you to these opportunities, they can also leave you hanging. This is because some tools require you to conduct independent research. Solutions like Next Quarter can give you scores, metrics, or insight derived from artificial intelligence, helping you become better equipped to understand long-term account goals.
Beyond finding financial opportunities with a customer, account planning in sales also means understanding your customer’s business goals. This enhanced awareness may help you identify upsell opportunities and learn how to adjust marketing language, revenue estimates, or billing practices. If done correctly, account planning will help you identify where your customer sees their business going. Are they looking to expand their local footprint? Grow across the state? Retire and sell in the next five years?
Once you understand their goals, you can work with your entire operation on how to adjust your business strategy. Standardized account plans can help determine if strategy adjustments are necessary for a single customer or your entire operation.
Account planning is often about more than one account. It would be best to have account plans in a standard, accessible, easy-to-read format to ensure your business sees customer needs at the macro level. This insight lets you notice when customers’ needs change so that you can adjust your marketing or sales strategy. Doing so gives you a leg-up on marketing strategy, resource development, and new product lines.
Furthermore, account planning can break down pre-existing silos within your organization to move beyond the sales team and bring in revenue, customer success, finance, and more. Practical account planning tools can ensure account growth by breaking down the barriers between various company departments. This ensures your team uses the same data when making business-wide and sales decisions.
Account planning has many benefits for better understanding your customers, creating a standard process, and increasing your bottom line. When done right, account planning in sales lets you extrapolate and share data and achieve real revenue growth.
Next Quarter offers a single source of truth, breaking down traditional silos between your sales, revenue, and financial teams. Native to Salesforce and trusted by many Fortune 500 companies, Next Quarter is the first AI-based account planning tool that improves forecast models on average by more than 97%.
Ready to take the next step? Reach out to our sales team to book a demo and learn more about how Next Quarter can help your business grow.