“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” Tom Landry, NFL football coach.

Strategic Account Management and Planning is a concept large corporations use to zero in on decision makers at high-profile companies with whom the organization is interested in doing business. This process of planning and managing key accounts enables companies to build strong, productive ties to their most valuable targets/clients.

Strategic Account Managers: This approach requires a sales team to transform into strategic account managers. Salespeople typically need additional training to acquire the skills they need to successfully manage accounts. Strategic account managers must be visible, have senior level leadership abilities, and be able to direct the company’s response to selling or service delivery opportunities. These situations require Strategic Account Managers to sell both internally to these cross-functional teams and externally to senior-level clients.

Senior-level buyers have a different perspective to the buying process than lower level contacts. Your Strategic Account Managers must build credibility and understand executive issues and values to be able to sell to senior-level contacts.

Strategic Account Planning: Questions to consider when determining if an account should be considered a strategic account:

    • What are the keys to getting in the game?


  • What is the potential for doing busienss with this buyer?



  • Are we equipped to handle this level of selling?



  • What will it take to get us there?


Strategic accounts are targeted as follows:

    • Size of company


  • Demand for your type of product across multiple lines of business



  • Large global footprint



  • Financially healthy



  • Executive sponsorship


Each Strategic Account Manager must evaluate each account’s long-term revenue potential, as well as strategic importance. This way, you can invest the right level of resources to serve them profitably.

Each account plan requires a significant amount of homework including:

    • Research background and overall strategy


  • Identify key business issues



  • Research overall company direction



  • Build and know the org chart



  • Determine opportunities to make executive-level contacts and touch points at every decision-making level with each department within the buyer’s organization for which your products or services are a fit



  • Understand how your value proposition provides a perfect fit for their business



  • Determine high level tasks and activities



  • Track progress – how many opportunities in the pipeline



  • Measure progress against plan goals – how many real sales and in what timeframe


Account Plans contain the overall objectives such as revenue targets, account goals, and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT) analysis. Strategic Account Managers must define how they plan to achieve their revenue targets and allocate them appropriately by division/department for each account. Account plans should:

    • Define goals and qualitative objectives for each account


  • Align account goals and compensation with corporate objectives



  • Identify critical success factors for reaching goals



  • Outline the value proposition required to meet the customers’ needs


Strategic Account Management and Planning is not just for the big guys. Even the smallest company will benefit from strategies for finding and servicing key accounts. Take the time to plan for the big game, and you will see your efforts pay off on the bottom line.

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Business Coach, Author, Artist & CEO
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