As mentioned before, Account Planning is a critical part of the selling process to be able to:
- Understand your clients’ objectives and priorities.
- Understand your positioning with your clients – your competitive positioning and the value you give to them.
- Proactively identify areas of growth for your clients.
- Identify innovative and big opportunities to help your clients achieve their objectives.
- Set account growth strategies by creating and executing specific action plans.
The first step of effective Account Planning is to target the right clients. We don’t usually have enough capacity to pursue all potential clients. If we go after the “wrong” ones, our success rate (win rate/close ratio) will dramatically decrease.
Targeting the right client is based on the following proven disciplined approach to target selection. Basically, we should categorize our clients according to:
- Tier 1: existing top clients who we can influence and with whom we have a trusted relationship. We can aspire to obtain a high percentage of our net revenue from them. Our business development will principally be invested in these clients.
- Tier 2: sustained sales activity with these clients and with whom we can possibly originate new areas of growth.
- Opportunistic: clients with limited or no sales activity. These clients have an “opportunistic antenna” and are not to be targeted.
Targeting the right client means to target Tier-1 and/or Tier-2 clients.
We should develop Account Plans for Tier 1 clients and Tier-2 clients.
Account Planning consists of 4 different activities as described below:
- Gaining client insight: understanding your client’s facts and business imperatives.
- Defining account strategy: financial growth strategy, big opportunities, our positioning and share of the wallet compared to competitors, and our positioning on the power map.
- Defining action plans: to improve relationships, to beat competitors and to create, identify and win big opportunities.
- Living the plan: carry out action plans, conduct regular team calls or visits, track progress against the plan and implement subsequent plan improvements if necessary.
You can find more information on this here
The concept behind Win Themes is very similar to that of the “elevator pitch”. According to Wikipedia, “an elevator pitch, elevator speech or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a process, product, service, organization, or event and its value proposition. The name ‘elevator pitch’ reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes …… If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will either continue after the elevator ride, or end in the exchange of business cards or a scheduled meeting”.
So it’s clear then, Win themes are the key messages to win. Use the examples below for inspiration, but make sure you include the specifics of your solution considering the key aspects of Win Themes described below:
- They should be in line with the buyer values (if not, they will have no interest for the client). For example, if the client has not shown any special interest in the price (a little strange, although sometimes the client wants to pay a premium), we shouldn’t emphasize our commercial discount (in fact, if we do this, it could have a negative effect).
- They should differentiate us from those of our competitors.
- They should be tangible and include objective evidence.
- Win themes should be tested by asking “So what”? If this question cannot be answered with ““which means that <some buyer value>…”, it can be concluded that the win theme has no impact.
49 Win Themes for All Occasions
- <Our company> proved to be an innovative and reliable business partner for <Client’s name>
- We are where you are. And we speak your language.
- You know us. We know you. We are successfully working together in….
- We understand your business.
- We have been aiming for mutual success.
- We are living compatible cultures.
- We have been delivering against our promises; no matter what.
- We are a strong and reliable partner, who is able to deal with its specific requirements.
- <Your Company> is glad having the chance again to prove our willingness to invest in our partnership.
- We propose a very senior and experienced team to collaborate with <Client’s name> experts.
- We propose a senior team experienced with work in <something> combined with deep understanding of <Client’s industry>.
- Our team provides the relevant experience.
- All teams have dedicated roles contributing to project success.
- We will closely work together and jointly deliver a successful…
- Effective and capable customer support service.
- Allows team to focus on <Client’s name> needs not ‘recreating the wheel’.
- We will work collaboratively with <Client’s name> to ensure smooth project delivery.
- We will utilize a senior, experienced team for leadership and subject matter expertise.
- We Have the Right People Ready to Go.
- We’ve mobilized “the right team” with extensive <Name of the Solution> delivery experience for <Client’s name>.
EXPERIENCE & ASSETS
- We are working with companies in your customers’ industries or even with your customers.
- <Your Company> has deep experience in a large number of relevant comparable projects.
- We have a proven history of providing customer-focused, high quality, end-to-end services to our Clients.
- Our robust methodology will help reduce the overall risk while delivering a fast and proven solution.
- We will provide customers with the best deployment experience.
- “Out-of-the box” solutions, already in use by thousands of people, including our employees.
- We have significant experience in <Client’s industry> having worked with most of the top companies in <Geography>.
- <Your Company> has developed thought leadership material based on our intimate knowledge of…
- During the engagement <Your Company> will leverage assets and thought leadership specific.
- <Your Company> provides a differentiated solution.
- Following our Approach ensures quality and business impact.
- <Your Company> has deep & global expertise in all components of <the project> across a range of industries.
- <Your Company>’s differentiated assets, specialized skills and global capabilities are enabling outcomes no other company can deliver.
- End-to-End Integrated Support, leveraging the full spectrum of our global operations and expertise.
- <Your Company> is uniquely qualified to deliver end-to-end support throughout the journey.
- We will drive <something> based on our deep knowledge of the local market.
- <Your Company> can leverage its extensive global network of clients, resources and assets to provide ….
- We will work with you to determine the approach and are flexible to change the order of activities and tasks should this be required.
- Our deep experience in <Client’s industry> in <countries> and globally will help minimize risk.
- <Your Company> has hands-on experience of developing relevant solutions in this space.
- We Know <Client’s name> Business and Requirements.
- <Your Company> is the right teammate for <Client’s name> on this important initiative.
- We Will Leverage our Experience to Deliver Business Results.
- We understand the key risks to this program and have thought through the actions for success.
- <Your Company> has the necessary experience and expertise to implement a winning solution for <Project name>: We’ve been doing this a long time, we have a lot of experienced people and we have a lot of reusable assets
- Our Solution was designed with <Client’s name>’ unique situation at front of mind.
- Speed to market is key – our proposed solution will be deployed within <number of> weeks.
- <Your Company> is the right choice to help <Client’s name> with this step on your <Name of the project> journey.
- Based on our experiences in similar projects, our expertise in the XYZ industry and the ABC market, and the fact that we are able to provide a strong and senior team to you, we are convinced to be able to support you efficiently and ….
You can find more information on this here
What do sales people typically do?
Long-term relationships are key for us to become a trusted advisor and increase our sales performance. However, the majority of sales people do not build trusted relationships with their clients. They only centre upon social relationships without showing a true interest in the client beyond the mere business transaction.
This approach MUST change if we wish to be successful in today’s business scenarios.
Why is building long-term relationships so important?
Well, the only way to have strong and loyal clients is by building good, long-term relationships with them, which in turn provide better business results. These relationships are also important because they enable us to:
- Avoid short-sighted sales and transactions.
- Build long-term thinking.
- Become a trusted advisor.
- Create ideas and originate big opportunities.
- Classify opportunities better.
- Create successful winning strategies.
- Shape the deal to bid and win.
- Create and shape the next opportunity.
How can we achieve this kind of relationship?
The building of long-term relationships is a recurrent and iterative process that consists of:
- Holding meetings, and
You can find more information on this here