Sales Account Planning 101 by Barry MacKechnie

By March 8, 2010Financing

Is your sales process structured in a way that ensures that you retain and gain large clients? If not, you should consider developing a sales account plan to focus your sales team on profitable clients, products and services. Developing and executing a sales account plan can bring significant revenue rewards. To develop your process, follow these nine steps:

Identify your sales channels, divisions, and types: Review your past two years of sales, sorting by areas and distinct sales group.  Distinct sales groups could include:

  • Product line or product category
  • Geographic sales area or sales region or country
  • Customer type such as commercial, government, retail, etc.
  • Divisions such as manufactured goods, distributed goods, etc.

Identify the top 20 to 25 percent of your current clients for each channel: Sort each distinct sales groups by total sales and identify your top clients in terms of profit margin and revenue.

Create a sales account plan for each large client: Create a unique sales account plan for each of your top clients, based on their sales history. A basic plan should:

  • Identify the sales team responsible for your client.
  • Show historical sales information for that client.
  • Estimate next year’s revenues for that client.
  • Identify business development opportunities within the client.
  • Create strategies to preserve current sales and generate new revenue from the client.
  • Detail the steps and timing of your plan to realize the revenue goals for that client.

Identify target clients that you want to win in the current year: Every business needs to add new clients to thrive.  Create a profile for your ideal client.  Identify target clients for each sales area that you want to win in the current year.

Create sales account plans for each target client: After you identify target clients, create a sales account plan for each of them. A new business sales account plan should:

  • Identify the sales team responsible for the targeted client.
  • Estimate historical purchasing the target client makes from your competitors.
  • Call the client’s purchasing department.
  • Find out how they make buying decisions.
  • Find out who makes the buying decisions and who influences the buying decisions.
  • Create a “buying decision” organization chart of the target client.

Identify any sales opportunities by asking the target client if you can do it cheaper, better or faster, etc. Detail the steps and timing of your planned actions. Coordinate your sales efforts with your marketing department and website team to maximize your presentation.

Calculate your sales goals: One of the final tests of your sales plan is to add up all of the revenues from your current client and target client sales account plans.  Do the collective sales account plan goals meet your sales goals?  If yes, then you can execute the plans.  If not, then review the plans again and make revisions to your strategies to get more sales or revise the sales goals to match the account plans.

Execute the sales account plans: Review your plan weekly and confirm that your team is completing the action items on a timely basis and getting the expected results.

Revise your compensation programs to match your sales account plans:Many companies start a sales account planning process to correct antiquated incentive compensation systems.  Think about resetting your incentive, bonus or commission programs to coincide with team and/or individual achievements.

Mitigate the single point of failure in your plan: A good sales account plan is a well thought out strategy that is client-focused and creative. Some of the most successful sales account plans involve discussions and planning sessions with the client and also brainstorming with your staff by presenting questions such as “What would you do to steal your client if they belonged to your competitor?”

Sales account planning requires time, dedication and focus. But the rewards are increased market share, revenue and profits.

Barry MacKechnie, Founder and Owner of MacKechnie Consulting, Inc and has been advising CEOs and providing executive level services to clients and organizations for over 40 years. To see a sample account plan template, click here. You can contact Barry at barry@ceo-services.com