My last post about why (most) people hate account planning brought this response from the Chief Marketing Officer of a well-known, global professional services firm:
If I had to choose one marketing tactic with which to have a singular focus it would be account planning/account management.
We are in a business that involves complex, technical solutions and is driven by relationships and client references. I don’t believe true client-centric selling can be achieved without a deep, collaborative, cross-Line of Business understanding of the client’s business, which is at the heart of account planning. With a comprehensive understanding of the clients issues, internal workings, and philosophy about solving issues that are the results of acct. planning, we gain the best market knowledge and can target the marketing strategies that offer the highest ROI. I believe the salespeople/consultants/companies who are not working a formal account planning process, including supporting performance measures, are seriously under achieving revenue potential and at a competitive disadvantage. (emphasis mine)
I don’t know if our CMO friend knows how rare this perspective is. Much of the time, account planning is an exercise. Salespeople prepare (grudgingly), other participants show up unprepared (and yes, grudgingly), and most of the time the salesperson is the only one to leave with action items at the end of the meeting.
So maybe another reason (most) people hate account planning is that it’s often seen as a performance of a solo artist (the salesperson/lead consultant) rather than a chance for key representatives to learn critical information about their key customers/markets and to act in concert as a result.
What would that look like?