How Useful Is Your Account Planning?
Does your organization have a client account planning process? If so, let me ask you some questions about it:
- How effective is it at helping you to maintain and grow your client relationships?
- Is it widely used by your organization?
- Is it considered an important process for client development? Or a “check the boxes” exercise you do to satisfy someone in leadership?
- Is it client-centric or product-centric? (e.g., does your account planning process start from the client’s agenda and work back towards your products and services, or does it start with your products and services and what you think you can sell to the client?)
- Do you do joint account planning with your clients by collaboratively involving them in the process?
- Is the emphasis on forms and templates or on deep, reflective strategizing about how you can grow the relationship?
- Does the process draw in key stakeholders (e.g., account managment, subject matter experts,product experts, business development, delivery, etc.) from your organization?
- Does it equally emphasize products and relationships? In other words, does it focus not just on client needs and possible solutions but also on the key executive relationships that need to be developed?
Unfortunately, in many organizations the account planning process tends to be budget-driven and product-centric. The goal becomes creating a plan to satisfy the process, not developing a tightly-knit team with a sense of purpose, motivation, and ownership of clear action steps that will lead to a breakthrough relationship.
What’s most important is the quality of your thinking and the follow up you commit to, as opposed to an extensive, written plan that—frankly—may just end up sitting in a file somewhere.
How’s your account planning process? What works? What needs to be improved?