May 4, 2023 2 Min Read
Create An Account Strategy
Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, once said, “I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” This statement rings particularly true for account managers and teams today, where having a well-defined account strategy is crucial for success. An account strategy is a plan of action for achieving specific business objectives with customers, and it is a roadmap for account teams to follow. However, Coach Rebecca Parry sees a trap that account managers fall into when building an Account Strategy. They consider it only from their point of view. This can lead to blind spots or strategies that are unrealistic. In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide to creating an effective account strategy by incorporating a customer perspective.
Define Your Objectives
Having clear objectives is essential for developing an effective account strategy. Your objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-defined. The more precise your objectives are, the easier it will be to measure progress and ensure that you are on track. It is important to consider these goals from the customer’s perspective.
- Are your goals consistent with their goals?
- Are your goals reasonable given the customer industry growth?
- Is it in the customer’s best interest for them to allocate that “share of wallet” to your company?
- How can you provide unique value that aligns with their goals AND sets you apart from your competitors?
- How can you support the personal goals of the decision maker?
Research The Customer
To build a strong foundation for your account strategy, you must research your customers, create a stakeholder map, and build a deep understanding of their needs. Researching your customers and building insights into their pain points and preferences will give you a better understanding of what will motivate them to buy. A stakeholder map is a visual representation of the decision-making process within a customer organization. The combination of these two efforts will help you create a stakeholder-specific action plan for your strategy. For each stakeholder, you should ask yourself:
- What goals are they being measured on?
- What are the unique pain points in their role?
- What is their buying process, as opposed to your selling process?
Clarify Your Unique Value Position
According to Coach Rebecca Parry, your Unique Value Position (UVP) is what sets you apart from your competitors. It is the one thing that your customers cannot get from anyone else – or sometimes it’s a combination of factors that sets you apart and offers the most value. Marketing organizations generally provide core value propositions, but it is up to you to translate that value proposition to specific customers and to identify the unique competitive advantage for that customer. Challenge yourself in this process by asking:
- How would your customer describe what you do?
- What does your customer see as our UVP?
- What value are they getting from our UVP and can it be expanded so they derive even greater value?
- How can you provide innovation? For example, do they have a pain point that’s not currently addressed that you can solve?
Conduct A Customer-specific Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats Analysis
This analysis is a common strategy tool that generates an evaluation of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is also relevant for sellers, as it combines both the strengths and weaknesses of your position with your customer, but also your position relative to competitors and outside forces that might impact on your ability to win their business.
This information can also be extremely useful when a new decision maker comes into the account. They may have existing relationships which are a threat. Being able to articulate your value alongside your competitors strengths and weaknesses sets you up as a trusted advisor which is the strongest relationship to have with your customer. To create an effective analysis, it is important to describe your competitive position as your customer would, not as you see it. Ask yourself:
- Who does my customer think my primary competitor is?
- How do they see my offering in comparison to the competition?
- What relationships do they have with the competition?
- What opportunities do they see and what blind spots do they have?
Create A Plan Of Action
Creating a detailed plan of action is crucial for bringing your strategy to life. The plan of action should prioritize your objectives, assign responsibilities, and set timelines. This will spell out what needs to be done, by whom and by when, and it will allow you to build in checkpoints to determine whether your strategy is effective. But try to look at that plan from your Customer’s vantage point as well by considering:
- What is the time horizon your customer is operating on?
- Who in your organization would your customer want to work with?
- What is the customer’s capacity to provide input where and when needed?
Creating an effective sales account strategy is critical for success. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can develop a well-defined account strategy that will help you achieve your business objectives. But don’t execute these steps in a vacuum from your Customer – injecting their perspective into every step will improve the likelihood of success. You might also want to consider two versions of your strategy – one to be used internally and one to be shared with your customer. In this way you are working together to achieve mutually beneficial goals as part of a true partnership and from my personal experience this is the best possible outcome. If you need help creating an account strategy or want an objective review, reach out to a TaskHuman coach for guidance and support.
Book your session with Rebecca Parry or another TaskHuman sales coach today!