Unlocking the Growth Potential in Your Strategic Accounts
Effective account planning is essential to growing the organization’s strategic accounts, which typically comprise most of the organization’s revenue and growth potential. However, many sales and operations teams have lost the purpose and impact of account planning and have fallen into a rote process of filling out forms and creating slides, becoming jaded by the perfunctory procedures of the past.
Account planning can become an exercise in management and administration that ends up in a file until next year when the account team realizes they didn’t accomplish what they set out to do. But impactful account planning can make the difference between a sales team having sporadic performance and a sales team getting consistently great performance and reaching a higher level of aspiration with the business.
What’s Aspirational Account Planning?
Over years of working with strategic account teams, SalesGlobe developed the Aspirational Account Planning method to help teams understand the customer story, define aspirations, become better customer problem-solvers, and dramatically increase sales results.
Aspirational Account Planning is a living process that begins with a strong foundational methodology, team engagement, and ongoing points of accountability and adjustment to exceed your account growth goals. The objective is to give you a consistent approach to dramatically increase revenue by changing the way your team thinks and solves customer problems with an emphasis on:
- Uncovering Unknown Opportunities. Understanding the account’s story and creating a solution vision for the account to uncover previously unknown opportunities.
- Thinking Bigger and Changing the Paradigm. Setting aspirational goals for the account over the next three to five years to change and expand the way the team thinks and how the customer thinks about your organization.
- Creating a Goal Build and Pursuit Pipeline. Building the potential opportunity pipeline for the account that far exceeds the goals for the account by creating an opportunity pipeline of 2x to 3x the goal. This provides the team with a head-start on proactive pursuits rather than “figuring it out” during the year.
- Building Accountability. Creating transparency and accountability for the account team to follow the plan and get results.
- Getting to the C-Level. Working at the appropriate executive levels to engage in vision and co-creating a long-term, aspirational plan to generate value for the customer.
Aspirational Account Planning:
- Is not a plan structure.
- Is not history, projected forward.
- Is not just a tool.
Aspirational Account Planning is a way of thinking:
- Big with the customer.
- Big about what you want for your future.
- To change the customer’s paradigm and how they regard your organization.
- With actions and a plan that will get your team there.
Aspirational Account Planning is about changing the way your team thinks and solves problems with the customer and differentiating your team from competitors.
With Aspirational Account Planning, we work in an iterative process to understand the customer’s needs and the story of their organization and each major decision-maker. We set common future aspirations with the customer and a plan for how we can provide value beyond what they previously considered. The goal is to increase growth by becoming better problem-solvers for the customer, raising the level of how the customer regards us, and creating and partnering on a common strategy.
Customer-Iterative Methodology to Understand Needs and Gaps, Determine Aspirations, and Create a Common Strategy
The C-Suite Playbook for Getting Access to and Staying Relevant
Elevating to the right level can be important to understand broader opportunities and co-create the aspiration for the customer. The C-Suite Playbook applies best practices for getting access to and being relevant at the C-Suite through team learning and live CXO simulation sessions with real C-level executives.
Some of the important team development areas with the C-Suite Playbook cover questions that include:
- Who is the C-Suite?
- What Are Your Challenges Working with the C-Suite?
- What Are the Executives’ Decision-Making Styles?
- Who is the Company?
- What’s the Company Culture?
- How Should You Plan?
- How Can You Get Access to the C-Suite?
- How Can You Be Impactful?
- How Can You Have an Effective Sales Discovery Conversation?
- How Can You Stay Relevant and In the Circle?
- How Can You Build the Relationship?
Mastering the Discovery Conversation
The Sales Discovery Conversation Method within Aspirational Account Planning enables the team to establish credibility, organize complexity, demonstrate competency, co-create the steps to a vision, and establish action with the customer.
It’s a method the team can master to have more consistently effective discovery and solution-development meetings to become a trusted problem-solver for the customer.
A Few Examples
A manufacturing company struggled with its account team to get them beyond simply protecting the business and renegotiating contracts at the procurement level. We used Aspirational Account Planning with the team to work on the organization’s largest accounts to establish relationships with higher level decision makers and identify their aspirations around broader topics such as sustainability and profitability. Having these more strategic conversations allowed the account team to set higher-level goals for themselves and move beyond contract-protection to pursuing bigger objectives with the customer.
A multi-line sporting goods distributor to the high school and middle school education market used a sales team of over one thousand former athletic coaches. Most focused on only their specific sports and had transactional relationships with accounts, leading to slowing growth and low average account penetration. Working with sales managers and the coach sales reps, we used Aspirational Account Planning to teach them to understand the stories and goals of each buyer across all sports in their accounts. By coming back to those buyers with a sharp understanding of their goals, and a vision of how the sales team could help them, the organization immediately started finding and closing new opportunities they were previously unaware of, dramatically increasing account penetration.
A multinational technology organization wanted to get beyond basic services and products for its technology customers and move to higher value engineering and software development services. We used Aspirational Account Planning with their strategic accounts (e.g., Google, Cisco, HP) to identify opportunities to create more aspirational offers through direct services and partnering with frenemy competitors (e.g., The Big Four Consulting Firms). The sales team gathered insight on customer goals, set extreme five-year aspirations with the customer, and changed customer perceptions of the organization leading to expanded opportunities and increased revenue for higher value engineering and software development services.
Aspirational Account Planning is developed with the account team in a series of workshops, customer insight, strategy development, and coaching support. It’s a living process that evolves as the team and the customer partner on the plan and produce results.
SalesGlobe can work with your sales organization to understand your customers, segments, and goals. We can help you design and implement an effective Aspirational Account Planning process in your organization that engages the team and customer and gets results.
Founder and Managing Partner at SalesGlobe
“We help companies solve tough sales challenges to connect their sales strategies to the bottom line.”