Account Planning Software for Salesforce
As sales professionals, getting key accounts that repeatedly buy from you is one of the most important things to sustain your company. However, you can’t do it without a plan in mind. That’s where account planning comes in.
Read on to see how People.ai can help you land more recurring business through account planning software solutions!
What Is Account Planning Software?
Account planning is the act of creating an account plan. Sales managers usually create account plans to win and retain key accounts, driving repeat business from new or existing customers. In addition to boosting repeat purchases from customers, sales professionals and account teams can also use account plans to customize future campaigns according to the customer’s needs.
Some key benefits of good B2B account planning include:
- Improve customer retention and loyalty, increasing the likelihood of long-term partnerships and additional sales
- Reduce the cost of customer acquisition by retaining existing customers instead of having to convert new ones
- Focus your marketing resources on accounts that are more likely to buy from you
- Get continuous information about a customer’s needs and priorities to gain actionable insights for your growth strategy
Account planning software helps sales leaders achieve these benefits by creating an account plan from existing templates. More than that, account planning software should be able to:
- Translate your key account’s big picture objective and the complex B2B sales process into actionable tasks for your team
- Keep an eye on budget, time spent, and resources through a tracking dashboard
- Create an easily digestible visualization of what you’ve done for your key accounts
- Improve transparency in your team — everyone can see what they’re doing and how it contributes
Account Planning in Salesforce
One of the foremost sales tech platforms, Salesforce streamlines the account planning process by connecting your accounts and data with People.ai.
Combining People.ai’s data with the customer relationship management (CRM) software platform can help you see your customer’s spending habits and calculate how much revenue you can potentially earn by marketing to this customer.
Salesforce also gives you a list of the company’s key people, so you can formulate a contact plan for your sales teams. Knowing who to approach in the company ensures your messages will reach the right stakeholders.
Account plans and optimal account management are essential in fostering strong B2B relationships. Account management nurtures the relationships between the sales organization and the buyers, enabling you to retain business and find new opportunities.
In contrast to sales reps who close short-term or one-time deals, an account manager or executive is a long-term ally and liaison between the customer and your company. Some key responsibilities of an account manager include:
- Expand the business relationship by cross-selling and upselling
- Bridge gaps between the customer and your company
- Ensure customer satisfaction so they renew contracts and buy more products or services
How To Develop an Account Planning Strategy
Great account management and sales success hinge on putting customer satisfaction above all else. But before you create an account plan, you need to create an account planning strategy.
Here are some tips to ensure your account planning process goes as smoothly as possible:
Know Your Customers
Knowing your customers is the first thing all account planners should do. A good account planner should know their account like the back of their hand, which means going in-depth and looking into data like revenue, growth, and top business initiatives.
Some questions an account planner needs to be able to answer about organizations are:
- What kind of problems does the company face?
- What is the company’s primary objective?
- Which business units is the company most concerned with?
- What do key business processes look like?
- Are there any untapped business units that you can sell to?
Identify and Prioritize Your Accounts’ Needs
It’s not enough that you know what your account’s needs, you also need to know how much they want them. From your research, create a priority scale and rank your account’s needs from what they want the most to what they want the least. This helps you come up with new offers and cross-sell the right products to the account.
Map Out Key Relationships
Building good B2B relationships means you need to focus on the humans behind the company. It’s your job to know the key people in the organization — not just by creating and referring to an org chart but by learning their names, roles, and who they’re connected to. Knowing which person handles what part of the business helps you approach the best person for sales opportunities.
Important Steps to Account Planning
With a strategy in hand, you can create the account plan. Here’s how to start and finish an effective account planning initiative in eight simple steps:
- Define your accounts: Start your account planning initiative by creating a document containing each account’s profile, buying habits, and other relevant information.
- Forecast your potential annual revenue: Before committing to the account, calculate how much money you stand to gain from retaining this account as well as the likelihood that they’ll stay business partners with your company.
- Find key contacts and create relationship maps: Next, identify decision makers and stakeholders in the account’s organization. This helps you send messages to the people who can actually make buying decisions.
- Identify their needs: Ask about the business’ pressures, business objectives, and business strategy.
- Find a solution: Identify a product or service that can solve a pain point, and tailor your pitch to show how it can alleviate problems.
- Evaluate the market: Take a look at the market landscape (especially at your competitors’ sales strategy) to see what they’re doing differently. This shows how you stack up against the other players.
- Outline buyer concerns: If your account has reservations about buying your product, take note of them and formulate effective responses addressing their concerns.
- Address concerns and close the deal: Use data to illustrate a winning scenario for your account, addressing both pain points and hesitations. If you’ve convinced them, close the deal!
Account Planning Best Practices
If you’re new to account planning activities, expect that there’s going to be a learning curve. It’s okay to not grasp everything right away, but you can set yourself up for success by following these account planning best practices:
Define a Cadence
A good account plan has a tangible timeframe. Best practices say that your account plan should cover at least three to four times the span of your sales cycle. So, if you’re making an account plan for a company that typically closes deals in three months, make an account plan that covers an entire year.
Plan Your Handovers
People tend to be resistant to change, so you may face some opposition when you transition strategic accounts from regular buyers to strategic partners. That’s why you need to plan the transition between your sales team to your key account managers and frame it as a good thing for the customers.
Play up the benefits, such as increased support and more personalized service, so strategic customers buy into the new partnership scheme faster.
Choose the Right Strategic Account Manager
The right strategic account manager is the key to an account’s success. Choose a person who has strong analytical skills and is personable enough to charm current customers. A strategic account manager that is a people person will ensure that you have more than just a transactional relationship with key accounts.
In addition to these skills, the account manager should also know the ins and outs of your strategic account’s business.
How To Select the Best Account Planning Software
With all the choices on the market today, it can be hard to choose the best account planning software. Here are some tips to find the right one for you:
- Define what features you need in the account planning software.
- Compare prices between all the options on the market.
- Ask about post-sales support and product updates.
- Check if the product comes with sales executive training or online tutorials.
Account Planning Templates
Creating a new account plan for every new account takes a lot of time and effort. Fortunately, you can make an account planning template — this speeds up the process, so your sales reps can get to the real revenue-driving work as soon as possible.
A good strategic account plan template includes these sections:
- A business overview that identifies the account’s key statistics, strategy, and target market
- The account’s projects and key initiatives
- A detailed list of your contact points and records of previous business contacts
- A bird’s eye view of where your company is adding value to the account’s business
- An analysis of other players in the current competitive landscape
- Identified sales opportunities and risks
- An action plan on how to win and/or retain this account
Best Account Planning Software for Salesforce
There are a lot of moving parts to successful account planning. Thankfully, People.ai can help! With our account planning solution, users can breeze through account planning and get straight to building strong account relationships in no time.
People.ai’s account planning tool also comes with other useful modules, such as:
- Account scorecards to measure prospect health
- White space analysis to spot untapped opportunities
- Mutual plan creator to keep you and the account on the same page
Account planning is essential to customer success because a good account plan means it’s easier to foster a productive relationship with your key account. People.ai’s account planning software leverages Salesforce data to help you map critical customer details, identify key business initiatives, and formulate more effective account plans.
Improve your account planning and forge better customer relations today! Contact People.ai to discover how our software can help your business.
Account Planning Software FAQs
Why is account planning important?
Account planning is important because it helps account managers build better relationships with strategic accounts. Better account relationships usually result in more business and increased revenue.
What tools do I need for account planning?
The tools you need for account planning are Salesforce and People.ai. Manual input takes a lot of time and is prone to error. With these tools, you can create better account plans, faster.
Why does account planning matter?
Account planning creates happy customers, and happy customers are returning customers. Improving customer relationships is one way to ensure that accounts will return for more business in the future.