11 account planning best practices to win more business

Posted May 7, 2024

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By Serena Miller

Editor, Sales Best Practices at Outreach

In a perfect world, we’d all know our prospect and customers’ business inside and out, make strategic recommendations on the fly, and sell with confidence the moment we step into our first meeting. But it takes work — namely, research and planning — to arrive there. 

So, how do you balance strategic account planning with all the other tasks on your to-do list? As sales teams selling to other sales teams, we know the struggle all too well — so we’ve rounded up our top tips. Keep reading for our top 11 account planning strategies to foster close customer relationships , overcome common obstacles, and build more effective account plans. 

11 account planning best practices: Tips for building successful account plans across your team

account planning best practices equip team with tools for success

1. Take a customer-centric approach

A common pitfall in account planning is an overly inward focus — prioritizing what your organization wants to sell over what your buyer truly needs. This approach often misses critical nuances in the prospect’s or existing customer's business landscape.

Start by deeply understanding your buyers’ business environment and their unique challenges. Engage regularly with key stakeholders to gather insights and stay informed about any changes in their business, and don’t be afraid to pivot. Consider major events like recent mergers and acquisitions, or shifts in strategic direction, which can dramatically affect their needs and the value they could get from your relationship.

2. Collaborate cross-functionally

True account planning is a team sport. It should involve a mix of voices and perspectives, not just from those on the sales floor but also from business development reps, solution consultants, customer success managers, and even executive sponsors. At Outreach, our go-to-market teams collaborate directly in the same platform they use to source their own pipeline and organize their book of business.

“ My AE and I are truly partners together in the way that we present our account team. We’re aligned on what we’re going to present and how to respond to the feedback we get, so we're in line every step of the way. ”

A successful account planning strategy encourages teams to take a unified approach to target accounts. Together, these cross-functional groups offer a more holistic view into the account’s goals, needs, and challenges. 

3. Research the account to find the best ways to engage

One of the best ways to initiate an account-based selling (ABS) strategy is to start with a list of your ideal target accounts. Using that list, sales and marketing teams can create customized engagement plans for each account. Consider tactics like personalized emails , targeted ads, and other strategies designed to engage the customer and drive conversions. Additionally, sales teams should monitor buyer interactions, identify trends in their industry, and adjust their outreach strategies as needed to make sure they’re sending the right kind of message, to the right buyers, at the right time. 

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4. Encourage incremental growth

Successful growth account planning hinges on customer improvement — a key driver of a customer's perception of success. Instead of adopting a “set it and forget it” mentality, which focuses on short-term objectives, a strong account plan should be dynamic and forward-looking, emphasizing long-term success. 

Many traditional plans tend to be overly focused on the seller and their sales stages. Shifting the focus to your prospect or customer's perspective allows for more meaningful engagement. To do this well, continue to revisit the plan to make sure it is built to meet and anticipate their evolving needs.

By focusing on how to progressively improve your buyers’ workflows , account plans transform into strategic tools that deliver incremental benefits and foster a deeper, more productive relationship.

5. Evaluate your KPIs 

Align with your buyer on specific, quantifiable, and achievable sales goals when creating your account plans. Key performance indicators (KPIs) give you something to track and show your prospects and customers you’re committed to their success. Some common account planning KPIs include:

  • Customer retention rate / churn rate
  • Email response rate
  • Call response rate
  • Customer referral total
  • Upsell, cross-sell, and contract extension revenue

Since some KPIs may not differ much from sales teams at your own company, try to think beyond these standard metrics. Measure buyer sentiment and set goals for up-skilling and training other account managers and sales teams to have enough foundational knowledge to uncover new opportunities.

Optimizing your sales funnel? Start here.

Tap into the metrics that stand between you and your revenue goals. Get our checklist of basic and advanced KPIs that best-in-class sales organizations use to measure success. Use these slides as the framework to anchor your sales team meetings, training sessions, strategic planning, forecast calls, or executive briefings.

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6. Consider your sales qualification techniques

Embedding sales qualification techniques like MEDDPICC into daily activities is key. This method focuses on mapping the buyer’s main challenges, the metrics that matter to their business, and the right internal champions. By making account planning a routine part of your sales qualification process, reps know to identify these key details — and what information they can leverage to keep the deal moving forward. 

“ Create a groundswell for folks who have potential influence on your key buying persona. The right champions have a reputation internally who can go shake trees and start to build even more champions. ”

7. Leverage multi-threading in your account management strategy

Another common mistake in account planning is focusing only on one key person. Successful teams start by mapping out all important stakeholders , understanding their influence, and figuring out the best way to engage each of them. This strategy ensures that the sales team targets the right prospects and becomes well-known within the buyer’s organization. 

For example, subject matter experts can talk to buyers who need more tactical or technical information about your solutions, while AEs can focus their attention on pitching leaders who need to understand the overall value. Senior leaders should reach out to their counterparts at the top, paving the way for strategic conversations in the C-suite. This method not only makes your efforts more efficient but also aligns your team’s actions with the buyer’s needs.

When more than one contact is engaged, deals are 37% more likely to close

Sales cycles are getting longer, and more voices need to be heard before any contracts are signed. You already know multithreading is a great practice, but cross-department threading could be your strategic advantage.

8. Conduct a competitor analysis

Creating a competitive analysis adds structure to conversations about a client’s direct competitors. Your customers will be interested to learn about their competitors’ strategies and performance. In fact, some companies have whole departments dedicated to competitive intelligence. Having a sense of the industry landscape allows you to find innovative ways to help your accounts gain a competitive edge.

The “Five Forces” competitive analysis model is a great place to start. It helps you assess your client’s business in terms of competitive rivalry, supplier power, threat of new entry, substitution threat, and buyer power. When you understand their competitive advantages (or disadvantages) in each category, you can help your clients position themselves against competitors in terms of products, services, or go-to-market motions.

For example, if your client’s company specializes in in-product surveys, and you know your client’s biggest competitor doesn’t have this functionality, they now have the opportunity to highlight the features their competitors don’t have in future marketing campaigns.

Where sales leaders go wrong in 1:1 meetings

One-on-one meetings between sales managers and reps can build trust and help reps achieve their full potential. But without structure or true visibility into deals, these meetings can be a waste of time for everyone. Here’s how Outreach sales managers make sure they’re driving productive coaching conversations. 

9. Use sales’ account plans in coaching

Rather than treating them as static documents created during annual planning sessions, managers should actively use these account plans to coach their reps on ways to advance deals, penetrate deeper into key accounts, and build expansion opportunities. Here are some strategies for effectively integrating account plans into the sales coaching process:

  • Regular updates: Treat account plans as living documents; pull them up before and during every meeting and ensure they are updated regularly.
  • Strategic focus: Shift coaching sessions from a simple review of past activities to a larger conversation around a customer’s pain points and how to help.
  • Evidence-based coaching: Base coaching on concrete data and metrics documented in your account plans.
  • Reward proactivity: Encourage and reward AEs for sharing difficult information about accounts early and asking for help to prevent customer escalations, churn, or contraction. 

10. Bring account plans into your team’s workflow

For account plans to be effective, they need to be a central part of your team’s workflow — not just a one-time note-taking exercise. Within Outreach, account plans are built into the tools reps use every day . But regardless of the technology your team uses, it helps to keep your plans easily accessible and layered with context about the relationship and previous communication. That way, these key account details are easily transferred to new owners as teams change or transition. 

11. Equip teams with tools for success

Ensure that every team member has access to up-to-date data and a shared space for collaboration. Reinforce that process daily, in team meetings, before sales calls, and in manager 1-1s. This centralized hub is where information should flow freely, allowing cross-functional team members to understand their roles and align their efforts.

“ Most organizations treat account plans as an information repository. Making them really little to no value for account managers, and it gets treated like another administrative tasks. ”

Gartner®, Create a Reliable Account Planning Strategy to Drive Growth, March 2, 2023. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of  Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

To encourage adoption, consider setting incentives that reward collaborative success. That could be as simple as sharing strategic account planning best practice examples from top performers, or awarding regular bonuses to cross-functional teams that closed especially complex or challenging opportunities.

Top 3 challenges of account planning

While simple in theory, establishing a partnership with your clients takes time. Let’s take a look at a few challenges you might encounter in the process and practical solutions for overcoming those hurdles.

Learning unfamiliar industries

While you might have a broad understanding of a specific vertical, it is essential to learn the nuances, unique terms, and competitive landscape, too. Read up on reports and articles from industry analysts to get a more comprehensive understanding of your client’s business. This due diligence will give you context for the types of problems your clients might face and help you avoid industry-specific issues in the future.

Finding the right stakeholders

Finding the right person inside a company can feel like finding a needle in a stack of needles. Not everyone has the bandwidth to talk to you, and even those who do may not even be involved in the decision-making processes. Ensure your client contacts are willing and able to work with you to achieve their overall goals. The right stakeholders are key to getting required information or metrics, the approval of sales and marketing initiatives, and more.

Understanding your clients’ accounts

According to Gartner, only 34% of chief sales officers are satisfied or very satisfied with cross-functional collaboration on key accounts. ⁱ

Sales leaders must intentionally create a culture that supports cross-functional cooperation. That means bringing data to cross-functional teams, encouraging teams to share information proactively, including difficult news like risks or issues, and knowing how to drive change from those cross-functional teams. 

How to overcome account planning challenges, according to sales leaders

The central theme of our advice is simple: focus on your buyers first. 

“ Remember that buyers are just people. They want to get promoted, do a good job, and make sure their job isn’t at risk. ”

Understanding these motivations allows you to tailor your approach in a way that aligns with your prospects’ and customers’ goals. You’re not just selling; you’re building relationships.

Recognize that you also bring unique insights that your buyers may not possess. Embrace the role of a trusted advisor by leveraging your expertise confidently. This means stepping up, showcasing your strengths, and confidently leading your clients through new challenges. Remember: they're looking to you to guide them.

“ You’re the expert. You're teaching our customers something they don't know, and you get to step into that trusted advisor role by being excellent at what you already do. ”

Ready to kickstart your account planning journey?

Remember: traditional, blast-from-the-hip prospecting methods simply won't cut it in today's competitive market. Personalized engagement is table stakes, and reps must find the right ways to break through the noise.

That’s where Outreach comes in. Our platform helps you leverage deal insights to align with your buyers, sell with confidence, and advance more deals to the next stage. With Outreach, every member of the go-to-market team can view account activity, understand the buying committee, and collaborate with stakeholders on how to best penetrate the account — simplifying the complexities around account-based selling and account management.

There's more to explore

To see more of what Outreach can do, take a quick product tour of our account planning and management workflows. Or, for a more personalized consultation, request a demo to chat with our sales team. 

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Account planning FAQ

What is account planning?

Account planning refers to strategies that build and strengthen relationships with buyers to create long-term success. It’s a vital piece of an account-based sales process . When done well, account planning resembles a partnership between an organization and its clients rather than a simple transactional relationship. Typically, account planning requires extensive background research on a B2B customer’s industry, their business challenges, competitors, and sales and revenue data early in the relationship — or when finding opportunities for expansion.

Why is account planning important?

Account planning is important because it creates close partnerships with buyers, accelerates deal velocity, improves retention rates, and creates expansion opportunities, ultimately yielding more revenue throughout those clients’ lifetimes. But account planning doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term investment.

While focusing on acquiring new business is tempting, don't underestimate your current customer base. Many companies set their account planning strategy according to the “80/20 rule,” based on the belief that 80% of future profits come from 20% of existing clients . Why? The probability of upselling an existing client is far higher than landing a new prospect.

Strategic account planning equips you to develop relationships with your buyers — prospects and current customers alike. Not only does it reveal buyer objectives that may not be obvious, but it also drives you to familiarize yourself with their industry, competitor landscape, and open opportunities on the horizon.

With this foundation, you and the client can better quantify account success, hit those sales KPIs, and build a communication line between internal and external stakeholders. In the end, developing this level of trust with your current and future clients encourages them to think of you whenever they want to pursue a new sales initiative.

What are the three phases of account planning? 

To create an effective account planning strategy, follow these steps:

  • Identify your key accounts: Begin by determining which accounts are most valuable to your business. These are usually accounts that promise the highest potential for growth, have strategic importance, or contribute significantly to your revenue.  
  • Conduct thorough research on each account: Once key accounts are identified, conduct in-depth research to understand each account's business, challenges, competitors, and market position. Also, look into any previous interactions between the account and your company. 
  • Develop customized strategies for each account: Using what you’ve learned, define clear objectives for this account. Document the steps to achieve these goals, key milestones, necessary resources, and potential risks. The strategies must be adaptable, with regular reviews to ensure they remain relevant as account needs evolve.

ⁱGartner, Create a Reliable Account Planning Strategy to Drive Growth, March 2, 2023.

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Strategic Account Planning: All You Need to Know

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What is Strategic Account Planning?

Strategic account planning is more than just a buzzword in the business world. It is a structured approach that allows companies to align their goals and objectives with the needs and expectations of their key accounts. By understanding and implementing strategic account planning, businesses can drive long-term success, foster strong customer relationships, and stay ahead of the competition.

At its core, strategic account planning involves a deep understanding of the customer’s business, industry, and challenges. It goes beyond transactional interactions and focuses on building strategic partnerships that are mutually beneficial for both parties involved. By investing time and effort into understanding the customer’s needs, businesses can develop tailored solutions, provide exceptional value, and become trusted advisors to their key accounts.

One of the key benefits of strategic account planning is the ability to retain and grow existing customer relationships. By understanding the customer’s unique challenges and objectives, businesses can proactively identify new opportunities for collaboration and growth. This not only helps in retaining the customer but also enables businesses to increase their share of wallet and drive revenue growth.

Benefits of Strategic Account Planning:

  • Improved customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Increased revenue and profitability
  • Enhanced cross-selling and upselling opportunities
  • Stronger alignment of business goals and objectives
  • Greater visibility into customer needs and expectations

However, it is important to note that strategic account planning is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each customer and industry will have unique requirements and dynamics. Therefore, businesses must invest in the time and resources required to truly understand their key accounts and develop customized account plans.

Key Elements of Strategic Account Planning

Element Description
Account Evaluating the current state of the account, including strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
Goal Setting Defining specific and measurable objectives that align with the customer’s needs and the business’s strategic priorities.
Strategy Development Creating a roadmap of actionable strategies and initiatives to achieve the defined goals and objectives.
Nurturing and strengthening the relationship with key stakeholders through and value delivery.
Performance Monitoring Tracking and measuring the success of the account plan against to ensure continuous improvement and accountability.

By understanding strategic account planning and its implications, businesses can unlock the full potential of their key accounts and establish themselves as trusted partners in their industry.

Processes of Strategic Account Planning

Strategic account planning involves several key processes aimed at building value-driven relationships with key customers. Implementing these processes effectively can significantly contribute to long-term development and revenue maximization. Let’s delve into these essential processes:

Current Position

Understanding the current position of the account is crucial. This includes analyzing account information such as revenue, profitability, product/service usage, geographic spread, and strategic initiatives. By leveraging publicly available data and asking relevant questions, such as the client’s future goals and potential obstacles, account managers can gain valuable insights into the client’s financial standing and organizational structure.

Voice of Customer (VOC)

Listening to the voice of the customer is paramount in strategic account planning. Engaging in meaningful discussions with clients helps uncover their challenges, concerns, and pain points. This insight is invaluable for tailoring products/services to meet client needs, driving customer loyalty, and increasing sales. Unlike publicly available data, VOC requires proactive communication and relationship-building efforts.

Relationship Management

Effective relationship management is essential for success in strategic account planning. This involves understanding the different types of relationships with clients and creating organization charts to identify key contacts, their roles, and their level of influence within the client organization. By mapping relationships and understanding the dynamics within the client’s organization, account managers can tailor their strategies and efforts accordingly.

ARPEDIO’s Relationship Mapping & Org Chart Software, natively in Salesforce

Key Components of Strategic Account Planning

When it comes to strategic account planning, certain key components are crucial for achieving success. These components form the foundation of an effective account planning process. Let’s explore the essential elements that businesses should consider:

1. Understanding Customer Needs

One of the key components of strategic account planning is gaining a deep understanding of customer needs. By conducting thorough research and analysis , businesses can identify their customers’ pain points, challenges, and goals. This knowledge enables them to tailor their strategies and solutions to meet those specific needs.

2. Setting Clear Objectives

To drive success in account planning , it’s important for businesses to set clear objectives. These objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). By defining clear goals, businesses can align their efforts and track progress effectively.

3. Developing Effective Strategies

An effective account plan requires the development of well-thought-out strategies. These strategies should outline how businesses will address customer needs and achieve their objectives. It’s essential to consider factors such as value proposition, competitive advantage, and differentiation when developing these strategies.

Conducting Account Research and Analysis

In order to develop an effective strategic account plan, businesses need to conduct thorough account research and analysis. This crucial step provides valuable insights into the customers’ business environment, challenges, and goals, allowing businesses to tailor their strategies and offerings accordingly.

Account research involves gathering data and information about the customer’s industry, market trends, competition, and customer preferences. This can be done through market research reports, industry publications, customer interviews, and online surveys. By leveraging these sources, businesses can gain a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s unique needs and pain points.

Once the account research is complete, businesses can perform a detailed analysis of the gathered information. This analysis helps identify patterns, trends, and areas of opportunity that can shape the strategic account plan. It provides a solid foundation for making data-driven decisions and developing tailored strategies for customer engagement and growth.

Techniques and Tools for Account Research and Analysis

There are several techniques and tools available to aid businesses in conducting account research and analysis. These include:

  • SWOT analysis : A strategic tool that helps identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with the customer’s business.
  • Competitor analysis: Evaluating the customer’s direct and indirect competitors to understand their positioning, offerings, and market share.
  • Customer segmentation: Dividing the customer base into distinct segments based on demographic, geographic, psychographic, or behavioral factors to better understand their unique needs.
  • Financial analysis: Assessing the customer’s financial health, including revenue, profitability, and liquidity ratios, to gauge their stability and growth potential.
  • Technology platforms: Utilizing customer relationship management (CRM) systems, data analytics tools, and social listening platforms to gather and analyze customer data effectively.

By employing these techniques and tools, businesses can uncover valuable insights and trends that drive informed decision-making and allow for the development of targeted strategies. With a well-rounded understanding of their customers and the market, businesses can position themselves as trusted advisors and add significant value to their strategic account relationships.

Developing a Strategic Account Plan

Developing a comprehensive strategic account plan is essential for businesses looking to drive long-term success and build strong customer relationships. In this section, we will guide you through the process of creating an effective account plan that aligns with your business objectives and meets the needs of your key stakeholders.

Identifying Key Stakeholders

One of the first steps in developing a strategic account plan is identifying the key stakeholders involved in the account. These stakeholders may include decision-makers, influencers, and end-users within the customer organization. By understanding their roles and responsibilities, you can tailor your account plan to address their specific needs and objectives.

Defining Value Propositions

To create a successful account plan, it’s crucial to define compelling value propositions that differentiate your offerings from competitors and address the unique challenges faced by the customer. By clearly articulating the value your products or services bring to the table, you can effectively communicate the benefits and outcomes that customers can expect.

Creating Actionable Goals and Initiatives

A strategic account plan should outline actionable goals and initiatives that align with both your business objectives and the customer’s goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). By breaking these goals down into initiatives, you can map out the steps required to achieve them and assign responsibilities to team members.

By following these steps and incorporating them into your strategic account plan, you can create a roadmap for success and establish a strong foundation for long-term growth. In the next section, we will explore strategies for effective communication and relationship building in strategic account planning.

Effective Communication and Relationship Building

Effective communication and relationship building are crucial components of successful strategic account planning. Building strong relationships with key accounts helps businesses establish trust, foster loyalty, and drive long-term growth. In this section, we will explore strategies for fostering strong relationships with key accounts and ensuring effective communication throughout the account planning process.

Fostering Strong Relationships

Building strong relationships with key accounts is about creating a connection based on trust, mutual understanding, and shared goals. Here are some strategies to foster strong relationships:

  • Invest time in getting to know your key accounts. Listen actively to their needs, challenges, and objectives. This will help you tailor your approach and provide personalized solutions.
  • Communicate regularly with your key accounts and be proactive in addressing their concerns. Show genuine interest in their success and offer support wherever needed.
  • Deliver on your promises and exceed expectations. Consistently deliver value and demonstrate your commitment to the success of your key accounts.
  • Collaborate with key accounts on joint initiatives and projects. This not only strengthens the relationship but also creates opportunities for mutual growth.

Ensuring Effective Communication

Effective communication is the foundation of successful account planning. It ensures that all stakeholders are aligned, goals are clear, and expectations are managed. Here are some strategies for effective communication:

  • Establish clear channels of communication with your key accounts. Regularly check in, provide updates, and be responsive to any inquiries or requests.
  • Listen actively to understand your key accounts’ needs and objectives fully. Ask relevant questions and seek clarification to ensure clear communication.
  • Communicate strategically, tailoring your messages to resonate with each key account’s unique needs and preferences.
  • Utilize a combination of communication methods, including face-to-face meetings, phone calls, emails, and video conferencing, to maintain a strong connection with your key accounts.

By prioritizing effective communication and relationship building, businesses can establish strong partnerships with key accounts, lay the foundation for long-term success, and unlock collaborative opportunities.

Aligning Sales and Marketing Efforts

Effective strategic account planning requires a seamless collaboration between the sales and marketing departments. Aligning sales and marketing efforts ensures a coordinated approach that maximizes customer relationships and drives business growth.

By integrating sales and marketing strategies, companies can create a unified front that delivers consistent messaging and a personalized customer experience. Sales teams can provide valuable insights to the marketing department, enabling them to develop targeted campaigns that resonate with key accounts. Likewise, marketing teams can equip sales teams with the necessary tools and resources to effectively communicate the value proposition to customers.

This alignment also helps to eliminate any disconnect between sales and marketing, fostering a stronger partnership and reducing internal conflicts. Sales and marketing teams are united in their shared goals and objectives, leading to improved communication, streamlined processes, and better overall outcomes.

Furthermore, aligning sales and marketing efforts allows businesses to leverage customer data and insights across both departments. This integrated approach enables a deeper understanding of customer needs, preferences, and behaviors, empowering sales and marketing teams to create more targeted and personalized strategies that drive results.

Ultimately, aligning sales and marketing efforts in strategic account planning enhances customer engagement, accelerates the sales cycle, and improves overall business performance.

Benefits of Aligning Sales and Marketing Efforts

The alignment of sales and marketing efforts offers numerous benefits for businesses:

  • Improved lead generation: By working together, sales and marketing teams can generate high-quality leads through targeted campaigns and strategies.
  • Enhanced customer experience: Consistent messaging and personalized interactions contribute to a positive customer experience, fostering loyalty and long-term relationships.
  • Higher conversion rates: The synergy between sales and marketing ensures a smoother sales process, leading to higher conversion rates and increased revenue.
  • Maximized ROI: Integrated sales and marketing efforts optimize resource allocation and minimize wasteful spending, resulting in a higher return on investment.
Benefits Impact
Improved lead generation Increase in the number of qualified leads
Enhanced customer experience Higher customer satisfaction and retention rates
Higher conversion rates Increase in the percentage of closed deals
Maximized ROI Optimized resource allocation and cost savings

Proactive Account Management and Growth

Proactive account management is an integral part of achieving long-term success in business. By actively engaging with accounts and continuously delivering value, companies can foster strong relationships, drive customer satisfaction, and identify growth opportunities. In this section, we will explore key insights and strategies for effective account management and achieving sustainable growth.

Delivering Exceptional Customer Service

One of the foundations of proactive account management is delivering exceptional customer service. By going above and beyond to meet customer needs, companies can solidify their position as trusted partners. This involves:

  • Anticipating customer needs: Understanding the unique requirements of each account and proactively identifying opportunities to provide value.
  • Ensuring clear communication: Maintaining open lines of communication with accounts, actively listening to their feedback, and addressing any concerns in a timely manner.
  • Providing personalized support: Tailoring solutions and support to meet the specific goals and challenges faced by each account.

Identifying Growth Opportunities

Proactive account management also involves identifying and capitalizing on growth opportunities. By analyzing account data and market trends, businesses can uncover potential areas for expansion. This includes:

  • Understanding customer goals: Gaining a deep understanding of each account’s strategic objectives and aligning efforts to support their growth initiatives.
  • Monitoring industry trends: Keeping a pulse on market developments, emerging technologies, and evolving customer needs to identify new opportunities for value creation.
  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams: Engaging with sales, marketing, and product teams to leverage synergies and develop innovative solutions that drive customer satisfaction and business growth.

Utilizing Account Management Tools

Effective proactive account management often involves leveraging technology and tools to streamline processes and enhance productivity. By implementing the right account management software , businesses can:

  • Track and manage account activities: Gain visibility into account interactions, progress, and potential risks, enabling better decision-making and proactive problem-solving.
  • Automate tasks: Reduce manual administrative work, allowing account managers to focus on building relationships and delivering value.
  • Generate actionable insights: Analyze data and generate reports to identify trends, measure account performance, and uncover opportunities for improvement.

To effectively implement proactive account management strategies, it’s crucial to leverage data-driven insights, nurture strong customer relationships, and continuously adapt and innovate. By prioritizing proactive account management and embracing a growth mindset, businesses can drive sustainable success for themselves and their valued customers.

Key Performance Metrics and Measurement

Measuring and tracking the success of strategic account planning is crucial. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of their account plans and make data-driven decisions, businesses need to monitor key performance metrics. These metrics provide valuable insights into the outcomes of their strategic initiatives and help identify areas for improvement.

Key Performance Metrics for Strategic Account Planning

When measuring the performance of strategic account plans, businesses should focus on several key metrics:

MetricDescription
Customer Retention RateThe percentage of customers who continue to do business with the company over a specific period of time. It indicates the effectiveness of the account plan in building long-term customer relationships.
Revenue GrowthThe rate at which the company’s revenue from strategic accounts is increasing. This metric demonstrates the impact of the account plan on business growth and profitability.
Customer Satisfaction ScoreA measurement of customer satisfaction based on feedback and surveys. It reflects the level of customer loyalty and the success of the account plan in meeting customer expectations.
Opportunity Win RateThe percentage of sales opportunities that result in a successful sale. This metric indicates the effectiveness of the account plan in converting opportunities into revenue.
Account PenetrationThe depth of the business relationship within a strategic account. It measures the extent to which the company has expanded its product/service offerings within the account.

By regularly monitoring these performance metrics, businesses can assess the impact of their strategic account plans and make informed decisions to optimize their efforts. It is important to establish baseline measurements, set realistic targets, and consistently track progress to ensure continuous improvement and success.

With the right data and insights, businesses can identify areas for improvement, make informed adjustments to their strategies, and drive meaningful results through strategic account planning.

Overcoming Challenges in Strategic Account Planning

Strategic account planning is a crucial process for businesses to ensure long-term success and maintain strong customer relationships. However, it is not without its challenges. In this section, we will explore some common obstacles that businesses may encounter during strategic account planning and provide strategies and solutions for overcoming them.

Lack of Alignment and Communication

One of the key challenges in strategic account planning is the lack of alignment and communication between different departments within an organization. Sales, marketing, and customer service teams need to work cohesively to develop and execute account plans effectively. By fostering open lines of communication and implementing cross-functional collaboration, businesses can overcome this challenge and ensure everyone is working towards a common goal.

Changing Customer Needs

As customer preferences and requirements evolve, businesses must adapt their account plans to meet these changing needs. This can be a challenge, especially when organizations are not proactive in gathering customer feedback and monitoring market trends. By staying abreast of industry changes and regularly engaging with customers, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and continuously update their account plans to align with shifting customer needs.

In strategic account planning, identifying and building relationships with key stakeholders is crucial. However, it can be challenging to determine who the key decision-makers are within a customer organization. Conducting thorough research and leveraging existing relationships can help businesses overcome this hurdle and ensure they are engaging with the right individuals who have the authority to make purchasing decisions.

Managing Multiple Accounts

For businesses managing multiple key accounts, prioritization and resource allocation can become a challenge. It is essential to allocate resources effectively to ensure each account receives the necessary attention and support. By leveraging account management tools and establishing clear guidelines for prioritization, businesses can overcome this challenge and effectively manage multiple accounts.

Measuring Success

Measuring the success of strategic account planning can be difficult without defined metrics and performance indicators. Businesses need to establish clear goals and track relevant metrics to assess the effectiveness of their account plans. By leveraging data analytics and setting measurable objectives, businesses can overcome this challenge and make informed decisions to continuously improve their account planning process.

Overcoming challenges in strategic account planning is essential for businesses to achieve their goals and maintain successful customer relationships. By addressing the common obstacles discussed in this section and implementing the provided strategies, businesses can navigate the complexities of strategic account planning and drive long-term success.

In conclusion, this article has highlighted the essential elements and strategies required for successful strategic account planning. By adopting these practices and continuously refining the account plan, businesses can unlock their full potential, drive long-term success, and foster strong customer relationships.

Strategic account planning is a critical approach that enables businesses to understand and meet the unique needs of their most important customers. By taking the time to research and analyze each account, organizations can develop tailored strategies that address specific challenges and opportunities.

Furthermore, by focusing on effective communication and relationship building, businesses can strengthen collaborations with key accounts, enhance customer loyalty, and drive mutually beneficial growth. Regularly reviewing and evaluating key performance metrics can provide insights into the effectiveness of account plans and guide future decision-making.

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Account Management: Build powerful account plans in Salesforce

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30 minutes can change your business

Free Account Planning and Management Templates

By Joe Weller | May 9, 2023

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This article includes the top free account planning and management templates for account managers, client-facing project managers, salespeople, and account executives. Use these templates to improve client relationships and build partnerships.

On this page, you'll find a strategic account plan presentation template and a sales account plan template with space for capturing key account details. Download an account mapping template featuring an org chart, and a key account management action plan template with sample copy. You’ll also learn about key account planning elements and how to do it , along with tips on using an account planning and management template .

Simple Account Plan Template

Example Simple Account Plan Template

Download a Sample Simple Account Plan Template for  Excel | PowerPoint | Microsoft Word

Download a Blank Simple Account Plan Template for  Excel | PowerPoint | Microsoft Word  

This customizable, one-page simple account plan template can help everyone on your team understand their needs, so you can establish and strengthen a long-term relationship with them. The sample template comes with text already filled in to help you proactively create a customer account plan. Start by entering the client’s primary goal and the key team members (e.g., management, decision makers). You can then create a plan of action for managing the account, including identifying any blockers, next steps, and the owner for each component of your account plan.

Strategic Account Plan Presentation Template

Strategic Account Plan Presentation Template

Download a Strategic Account Presentation Plan Template for  PowerPoint | Google Slides  

Solidify your client-account planning and management with this dynamic strategic account plan template. Enter details of your client’s key priorities, initiatives, and people so that any team member can become apprised of the client’s goals and active players at a glance. The template also includes space to specify the client’s annual account targets and revenue streams, as well as your action plan (specific actions, assignees, and due dates) — all to ensure that you strengthen your client relationship and have a solid account plan and client-management strategy in place.

Sales Account Plan Template

Sales Account Plan Template

Download a Sales Account Plan Template for  Excel | PowerPoint | Microsoft Word  

Ensure that you proactively meet — and even exceed — your sales-account management and planning goals with this comprehensive sales account plan template. Use the template to document prospective and existing clients’ decision-making processes and other important details. Enter account-overview details (e.g., account revenue, industry, relationship strength), account objectives, account solutions, and your account action plan. This template is the perfect solution for capturing important details about prospective or existing customers and for creating a dynamic strategy to help them succeed, so you can develop and retain a strong partnership with them.

Account Mapping Template

Example Account Mapping Template

Download a Sample Account Mapping Template for  Excel | Microsoft Word | PowerPoint  

Download a Blank Account Mapping Template for  Excel | Microsoft Word | PowerPoint   

Use this account mapping template to identify a client’s key players, so that you and your team are readily aware of the client’s hierarchy, who makes purchasing decisions, and more. Download the customizable sample account mapping template with example content to get an idea of what to include for each role. Once complete, the template provides insight for account managers, salespeople, and account executives for the roles of each individual within the client’s organization. By understanding the roles in your client’s organization, you can make more informed decisions and facilitate a more effective strategy and long-term relationship.

Key Account Management Action Plan Template

Example Key Account Management Action Plan Template

Download a Sample Key Account Management Action Plan Template for  Excel | Microsoft Word | PowerPoint

Download a Blank Key Account Management Action Plan Template for  Excel | Microsoft Word | PowerPoint  

A successful key account management action plan serves as an easy-to-follow map that accurately charts a customer’s current state, their goals, and how to help them achieve a mutually beneficial association. This template is available in two versions: blank and with sample text to guide you through the key account management action plan process. Easily capture your key clients’ details, individuals’ roles on the project, management objectives, clients’ preferred communication styles, and actionable steps to foster and strengthen the partnership.

What Is a Key Account Plan? 

A key account plan is a strategic document that outlines your objectives and strategies for your most important customers. Sales and account management teams use a key account plan to provide a coordinated approach to growing client partnerships. 

A key account plan typically includes details of your client's business, such as challenges they face, their value proposition, services they provide, and the actions and resources needed to achieve their goals. The primary aim of a key account plan is to ensure that your organization provides a coordinated, consistent, and focused approach to your most valuable clients.  It also helps you effectively allocate resources, and track client-relationship progress over time.

Elements of Key Account Plan

The elements of a key account plan might vary, depending on your business. A key account plan typically includes information about the client, their needs, their buying behavior, and the steps you’ll take to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction. 

The goal of a key account plan is to maximize the value of the relationship for both your company and your most vital customers for optimal key account management (KAM). Typically, a project manager will complete the key account plan document.

The seven main elements of a key account plan typically include: 

  • Client Profile: Detailed information on the key account, including company background, main decision makers, and relevant client information. 
  • Situation Analysis: An assessment of the current state of the relationship with the key account, including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) and competitive analyses. You can use a SWOT analysis template to determine these details.
  • Goals and Objectives: Clear, measurable, and time-bound goals and objectives for the key account relationship. These are both important to cover, but goals and objectives are different and require distinct approaches.
  • Strategies and Tactics: Determine how you’ll achieve the goals and objectives, including specific strategies and tactics for improving the relationship and growing the business. 
  • Action Plan: A detailed plan of action, including specific activities, milestones, and deadlines for implementing these strategies. 
  • Resource Allocation: A plan for allocating resources, including personnel and budget, to support the implementation of your key account plan. 
  • Performance Monitoring and Evaluation: A plan for monitoring and evaluating the progress of the key account relationship regularly and adjusting  as needed.

Steps in the Process of Key Account Planning

A well-designed key account plan includes information about your client's current and future needs, their strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities available to you. It provides a clear plan for how you will meet their needs and grow the relationship. 

The following are the fundamental steps in the key-account-planning process: 

  • Identify Key Accounts Identify the key accounts that are critical to the success of the business. This might include customers who generate the most revenue or have the most potential for growth. 
  • Gather Information About Key Accounts Gather as much information as possible about each key account, including their needs, pain points, buying habits, decision-making processes, and main stakeholders. 
  • Analyze Key Account Data Once you’ve gathered information about each key account, analyze the data to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of each relationship.
  • Develop an Account Plan Develop a comprehensive account plan for each key account. This plan should include specific strategies and tactics for growing the relationship, meeting customer needs, and maximizing value.
  • Implement the Account Plan Work closely with the key account to execute on specific tactics, such as building stronger relationships with key stakeholders and tracking progress to ensure the plan is achieving its goals.
  • Review and Adjust the Plan Regularly review your key account plan and make adjustments as needed based on changes in the customer's needs, market conditions, or other factors that may impact the relationship.

For more help with client planning and management, check out our collection of free client management and tracking templates , and our tips and best practices for mastering client management .

How to Use an Account Planning Template 

Use an account planning template to develop a detailed analysis of your account's current challenges and to identify revenue opportunities. Gather information about your goals for the key account, main stakeholders, and steps to execute.

1. Download and Name the Simple Account Plan Template for Microsoft

Download and open the Simple Account Plan Template in Microsoft Word. Save and rename the document locally.

2. Enter Basic Details About the Plan

  • Click the Date box and enter the date you’re creating the plan.
  • Click the Created By box and enter the name of the person responsible for the plan. 
  • Click the Version box and enter the plan’s version.
  • Click the Goal box and enter the goals for the account.

basic details simple account plan

3. Complete the Account Plan Team Section

  • For each account planning team member, double-click the team member’s NAME section. 
  • When the NAME field opens, enter a name for that team member. 
  • In the Title field, enter a title for the particular team member. 

account plan team simple account plan

  • Click the corresponding image icon. Right-click and highlight Change Picture , and click the location ( From a File, From Stock Images, From Online Sources, or From Icons )  of the person’s image. 

Account Plan add a team member

  • Select the image and click the Insert button.

4. Enter the Details for Each Action Step in the Project Account Action Plan

  • Fill in the Action Step field. 
  • In the Responsible field, enter the name(s) of the internal stakeholder(s) responsible for the step. 
  • In the Description field, provide a brief description for each action step in your account plan. 
  • In the Status field, provide the current status (e.g., Accepted, Declined ) for each step. 
  • In the Outside Shareholders field, enter the names of the customer’s or client’s personnel who are responsible for that step. 
  • In the Notes / Constraints field, enter any relevant notes. 

account plan project account action plan

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Key Account Management: The Ultimate Guide

Aja Frost

Published: February 28, 2023

A key account is one of your company's most valuable customers. These customers demonstrate value in a few ways:

key account manager meeting with a client

  • They represent a disproportionate percentage of revenue,
  • they refer new prospects to your company, and
  • they give your business credibility in their industry.

However, "value" is subjective, and your organization needs a strict way to define and execute key account management.

Free Access: Strategic Account Planning Template

In this comprehensive guide to key account management, you'll learn:

  • What Key Account Management is
  • The Role of a Key Account Manager (Including a Job Description Template)
  • Key Account Management Strategy (Including a Free Template)

How to Identify Key Accounts

Key account management best practices, what is key account management.

Key account management is a business strategy where an organization provides personnel and resources to valuable clients in order to develop a mutually beneficial relationship. The goal of key account management is to sustain or grow profits from these large accounts.

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Free Account Management Template

A strategic template for your account-based marketing, sales, and management.

  • Key Business Initiatives
  • Account Competitor Analysis
  • Sales Opportunities, Targets & Risks

Download Free

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Businesses that use key account management strategy reap great sales volume and long-lasting strategic relationships. Not to mention, they have a better opportunity to grow revenue from these accounts through upselling and cross-selling .

However, professional services firm BTS points out , key account programs can lead to increased costs and lower margins. That's the inevitable outcome of giving a customer greater resources and often your best discounts.

But don't be discouraged, the key to successful key account management is in the longevity of the clients, not the profit margins. Their tenure with your businesses (and the money that comes from it) more than makes up for the discounts here and there. This strategy is a perfect example of the Pareto Principle where 20% of the inputs bring in 80% of the results.

The benefits of key account management are only realized when you have the right staff in place. Let's look at the role of the key account manager and how they interact with the rest of the team.

Key Account Manager

A key account manager (KAM) is responsible for being a representative of the business to its most valuable clients. KAMs manage the key account, build strong relationships with the client, identify challenges or opportunities, and find ways to maintain success within the account.

Not only do KAMs find ways to address the client's challenges and opportunities, but they also create and present reports about the client's progress to key stakeholders.

Key Account Management Skills

  • Get to know the customer.
  • Cross-functional collaboration to benefit the customer.
  • Effective leadership of the key account team.
  • Coordination and planning of activities for complex accounts.
  • Strong business acumen.
  • Ability to use analytical skills to support a variety of clients.
  • Clear written and verbal communication skills.

Some companies assign their reps as key account managers to one or two customers. This setup isn’t ideal because selling and account management require different mindsets, skills, and objectives. Unless your team is prohibitively small, separate the sales and account manager roles.

A key account manager is focused on becoming critical to her customer's operations — not winning a deal.

Here are several unique skills critical to a key account manager's success:

1. Get to know the customer.

A key account manager must have an intimate, sophisticated understanding of her account's strategy, market position, finances, products, and organizational structure. Then, they’ll use this knowledge to make business cases showing how price changes, customization, and add-ons will add value.

2. Cross-functional collaboration to benefit the customer.

Key accounts don't usually buy off-the-shelf: They want a custom blend of products and services tailored to their needs. With that in mind, it's crucial a KAM can work across the organization to develop these offerings.

3. Effective leadership of the key account team.

A KAM needs leadership abilities to guide her team members (which might include a salesperson, marketer, technical support, implementation, and/or onboarding specialist).

4. Coordination and planning of activities for complex accounts.

Key account programs have a lot of moving parts. To be successful, KAMs should be capable of planning short-term and long-term plays, carrying them out, analyzing the outcomes, and applying those takeaways to their future strategies.

5. Strong business acumen.

A KAM should develop dynamic business acumen — an understanding of how a company makes money — to tell how its customers make money or keep tabs on any business changes.

With this knowledge, they'll be able to solidify their position as a trusted resource and advisor for their clients.

6. Ability to use analytical skills to support a variety of clients.

In addition to having business acumen, key account managers should have an analytical mindset. Their analytic skills will help them create and present business cases. They need to be able to think quickly and apply their knowledge to various clients and markets and be confident when presenting the information.

7. Clear written and verbal communication skills.

Key account managers are responsible for keeping clients and other stakeholders updated about any issues. Sometimes, these account managers are required to make oral presentations. As such, they need to be able to write and speak clearly.

Key Account Manager Job Description

Use this Key Account Manager job description to find and attract the most qualified candidates.

Key Account Manager Job Description

Key Account Manager vs. Account Manager

It's important to note, though, that key account managers differ from account managers. Account managers manage non-key clients that bring in less revenue or may not be an ideal product fit. Key account managers focus on only the most valuable clients of a business.

The relationship between account managers and key account managers is not hierarchical as account managers do not report to KAMs, but KAMs may sit in more senior-level roles on the same team or an adjacent team.

The Difference Between Key Account Management and Selling

Key account management and selling are very different. While a salesperson focuses on the short term — by necessity — a key account manager (KAM) prioritizes the future.

Sales reps also zero in on specific opportunities, while KAMs have broader goals, including collaborating with the customer on mutually beneficial projects, helping the customer meet their objectives, and making sure the customer is getting the necessary support.

If you're hiring a key account manager for the first time, one of the first duties they perform may be selecting the key accounts that they'll serve. There are many factors to consider when carrying out this task, but below, we get you started with some of the most common criteria.

SBI recommends choosing three to five selection criteria when identifying key accounts. This limitation allows your new KAM to focus on business need and impact.

Here is a list of 10 to choose from when identifying key accounts for your business:

  • Product Fit: The size of the target market that this client has access to who would use the product or service your company sells.
  • Average Transaction Size: The amount of money the account spends with your business, on average.
  • Revenue Potential: The amount of money the account could spend with your business in the future.
  • Purchasing Process: The process by which the client purchases your product. ie: Do they purchase with just one decision maker? Is there a group who decides what to purchase? How long does payment processing take?
  • Partner History & Potential: Are they currently or were they formerly a partner with your company? Do they have the potential to be a partner in the future?
  • Customer Tenure: The amount of time the account has been a client of your business.
  • Solvency: The account's financial ability to pay their debts.
  • Existing Relationships: The relationships the account has with other businesses that could potentially become your clients.
  • Cultural Fit: Alignment between the way in which the account treats their own customers, and staff as well as your staff.
  • Geographic Alignment: If applicable, the physical proximity to your business's headquarters or service centers.

Out of context, these metrics won't lead to a great list of key accounts. You'll want to develop a formula that weighs each criterion based on importance to your organization. Then, calculate how much potential there is to expand each account.

You can use a key account scoring matrix to identify your key accounts across these criteria. Simply evaluate each account based on the criteria you select and assign them a score from 1 to 10 in each category. The accounts with the highest scores will be your key accounts.

While it's tempting to label many customers as "key accounts" at once to alter your company’s trajectory significantly, it’s better to be conservative. You can't tell a key account they've been demoted, but you can tell a traditional buyer you're promoting them.

In addition, you don't want to overcommit yourself. Starting a KAM program requires organization-wide change, support from the C-suite, hiring and training employees, and implementing new processes. Starting small allows you to focus your efforts.

Key Account Management Strategy

  • Set objectives.
  • Deliver exceptional products and services.
  • Measure account growth outcomes.
  • Anticipate future account needs.

You've got a short list of your key accounts, and you've hired the right folks to be key account managers. Now, it's time to execute the strategy. But how do you do that?

This four-step process will guide you through a key account management strategy.

1. Set objectives.

Before you can share the great news with your customers that they're being promoted to key account status, you need to level-set expectations internally and externally. The way to do that is by setting key account management objectives.

This process works just like it would for any other strategy. Using the why, how, what objective-setting framework , you can get to the root motivation of having a key account management strategy and come out the other side with measurable results.

2. Deliver exceptional products and services.

Next, you've got to act on the objectives you've set by outlining how you'll deliver on those promises.

Whether you're selling physical products like clothing and accessories, or a pioneer of a new software-as-a-service, you want to have a sure way to deliver those products to your key accounts consistently.

Your key account manager is responsible for ensuring this happens and that the account is delighted every single time. This means they'll need to work closely with sales, service, and operations teams to get everyone on the same page for the key account.

It could also be worthwhile to set up key account-specific processes and procedures so that the client knows what to expect and your team knows how to deliver.

3. Measure account growth outcomes.

Over time, the end goal of a key account management strategy is to grow the account in terms of revenue and client-business relationship. This should be straightforward to measure because you can use the metrics that correlate to the criteria you used to select the key accounts in the first place.

For more quantitative criteria, like product-market fit, you can look at adoption or usage rate within the account to determine how useful your product or service is to the client.

4. Anticipate future account needs.

The strategy doesn't end with measurement, though. The final step is to bring it full circle by anticipating the future needs of the key account. If they're purchasing more units than they did before, there may not be any more opportunities for volume growth, but it's possible that the average transaction size has room to increase.

Or there may be an opportunity to have the key account beta test a new product or offering that would align closely with their target market.

The takeaway here is to keep the account engaged, even beyond monetary transactions. Remember, key account management is all about building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships, so be sure to think outside of the invoice when looking for ways to strengthen the relationship.

Key Account Management Plan Template

key account management plan template

Download Your Free Template Here

Is Key Account Management the Right Strategy for Your Business?

Despite the potential benefits of key account management to your bottom line, it's not a good fit for every organization.

Consider the following points before you go all-in on a key account strategy.

1. How transactional your current sales process is.

If your sales cycle is relatively short and your sales reps have minimal interactions with prospects, key account management probably isn't the right choice. Key accounts require consultative selling techniques — and it will be hard to teach your salespeople to adopt entirely new processes for just a few clients.

2. If your product has upsell and cross-sell potential.

There's little point in continuing a relationship with the customer after the sale if they're not going to buy more. (Obviously, you still want to provide excellent customer service and support to promote word-of-mouth marketing and high retention rates.)

3. Your ability to 'land and expand.’

The above rule has an exception: If you can get your foot in the door of the prospect's company and then grow the account by selling to other departments, offices, subsidiaries, etc., a key account strategy may be a good investment.

4. The competitive landscape you're facing.

A key account program can serve as a competitive advantage. For example, imagine your customer has narrowed down their choice of vendor to you and one another company. If you can promise to make them a key account — and your competition can't do the same — you're likely to win the deal.

5. Company capacity and resources.

Successful key account management depends on company-wide support, executive buy-in, and a dedicated key account team. You'll also need enough runway for an investment that might take 12, 24, or 36 months to recoup.

According to RAIN Group , the most significant difference between high-performing companies and everyone else is an effective account planning tool.

A key account plan helps you identify the most significant possibilities for growth, potential roadblocks, threats from the competition, and more.

You can tailor an existing framework to your own needs or create a customized plan.

Whatever option you take, your account plan should include:

  • Your relationships within the account
  • The customer's current business plan, objectives, and financial health
  • Your targets for the account
  • Your strategy for hitting those targets

Let's delve into each of those in more detail.

Relationships

Map out every customer stakeholder . This information will help you figure out which relationships you need to build and maintain — as well as anyone who could potentially derail your plans.

Note each person's title, role in the decision-making process, how much contact you've had within them, and how "friendly" they are.

Customer's Business

To provide value to the account and find mutually beneficial opportunities, you need an in-depth, sophisticated understanding of their business.

Stay up-to-date on their key business goals, financial health, and current initiatives. You should also regularly run a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, external Opportunities, external Threats) analysis.

Account Goals

This section should cover how much this account is currently worth, which opportunities you've lost, won, where you see potential revenue growth and your projected value for those opportunities.

It should also outline your short-, mid-term, and long-term goals and the owner of each. For example, maybe your sales engineering team is responsible for getting a meeting with the CTO by January. A less immediate goal might be getting 60% of a new department using the free version of your tool. Your ultimate objective is to transform the entire department into paying users.

Account Strategy

This section is arguably the most important. It takes your goals (in other words, your account wishlist) and breaks down the actions you need to take to reach them.

Use the same structure you used for your objectives: Short-term, mid-term, and long-term.

To give you an idea, the key steps you'll take for your January meeting with the CTO might be:

  • Strengthen relationship with VP of Engineering
  • Develop compelling value proposition for meeting with CTO
  • Ask VP to request a meeting with CTO on your behalf

The more specific and actionable these actions are, the better. Strategic account management involves juggling several initiatives, priorities, and campaigns at one time. Without clear direction, your team will go off in a thousand directions. Plus, you can continuously adapt your strategy down the line if something changes.

Wondering how to get the optimal results? Follow these best practices.

  • Select the right accounts.
  • Build a dedicated team.
  • Consistently measure account performance.
  • Invest in the right tools.

1. Select the right accounts.

A winning strategy hinges on being selective. Make sure you pick the right key accounts and apply the same criteria to each one.

Regularly review your key accounts to verify they still require additional time, energy, and resources. If they perform as expected to justify the resource allocation, then continue on. However, if for some reason they are underperforming or the account no longer feels like a good use of additional resources, you may want to consider scaling back.

Additionally, keep track of non-key accounts. For example, if a customer is about to experience significant growth, they may qualify as a strategic account. Courting them now will earn you their loyalty before any other company in the space.

Periodically assess your selection criteria. Are your current key accounts generating as much ROI as you anticipated? If not, it could be a sign you're using the wrong measures.

2. Build a dedicated team.

Even the best KAMs can’t get the job done alone. Ideally, the KAM role is not performed by someone who has sales rep duties on their plate simultaneously.

Each account manager should have a cross-functional support team to support the proper execution of deliverables related to the client’s account. These teams should include a range of skills, disciplines, and expertise to serve your clients well.

If possible, name an executive sponsor to each account. They can play a significant role in getting the necessary resources, connecting with the C-suite at the target account, and providing high-level guidance.

3. Consistently measure account performance.

What gets measured gets done, so staying on top of account performance is critical for success. Set a cadence for internal account reviews. Depending on the team size, account’s value, and the relationship’s dynamic, these might be weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

Consistently measure the account's engagement and loyalty. Both should trend upward. From here, you should also schedule recurring check-ins with the client to get their feedback, address any issues, and find areas for improvement.

4. Invest in the right tools.

Having the right tools in place can make the job of a KAM a lot easier and more effective. For example, use a CRM to keep track of your communication with the account stakeholders, give everyone on the account team visibility into what's happening, and minimize duplication of effort across the team.

If you are having a hard time getting responses to your emails, implementing an email tracking and notification tool can help. This type of tool will let you know precisely when your recipients open your emails and click any links.

Use LinkedIn (either the free version or LinkedIn Navigator ) to monitor changes in your account's market and industry, strategic shifts, hiring and firing decisions, and more.

Eliminate back-and-forth emails about meeting scheduling by using a meetings tool to make the process seamless for the attendees.

You can also try investing in a video platform such as Loom so you can create personalized videos for prospecting and relationship-building.

Grow Your Business With a Key Account Management Strategy

A well-planned, comprehensive key account management strategy won't just keep your best customers satisfied — it will also provide opportunities to grow the relationship exponentially. As a result, your retention rates and bottom line will both benefit.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Powerful and easy-to-use sales software that drives productivity, enables customer connection, and supports growing sales orgs

Kapta

The Fundamental Guide to Account Planning

Key account management is as much a science as it is an art. Create a consistent approach to how you build background information on critical clients, develop a sales approach, and build a relationship based on proactive management and support. 

Without an overhanging, strategic framework, it's hard to develop a playbook of tactics that protect your brand reputation and cultivate long-term business relationships — let alone train your team on how to do the same thing. In this ultimate guide to account planning, you'll learn more about:

  • How to create key account and sales account plans
  • Best practices for strategic account planning
  • The growing role of automation and technology in key account planning and management
  • How to find the right key account management software for your organization

Table of Contents

What is a Key Account Plan?

The 4-Step Guide to Creating a Sales Account Plan

The role of automation in strategic account planning, do's and don'ts when creating a key account plan template, why modern businesses are changing their account planning methods, 5 steps to more proactive key account planning, are you utilizing strategic account mapping successfully, how crm integration is changing the strategic account planning process, 5 things to look for in a strategic account planning software, what is a key account plan.

A key account plan is your methodical strategy for ensuring your key client has an enjoyable customer experience throughout the life of the account. It's your roadmap for reaching out to the client to grow the relationship, tracking their deliverables, renewing contracts, or securing more orders. 

In most businesses , approximately 20% of your accounts are responsible for 80% of your business. These high-volume accounts make up your key accounts, though clients with influential ties in your industry can also be key accounts. 

Every business has its own unique approach to crafting key account plans that position its brand favorably and ensure that the relationship is providing value both for the client and the organization.

A key account plan often has these essential elements:

  • An overview of the account's business, pain points, and contacts within the client organization
  • Long-term objectives for both the client and the sales team
  • Action items stretching from day one with the key account to fulfilling and resetting the long-term objectives
  • A change management process for assessing the key account over time so the account manager can recognize if they are succeeding with the account or if they need to take additional steps to cultivate or save the relationship

Learn more about what a key account plan is and how it can help grow your revenue here .

Creating a sales account plan is a critical part of ensuring a new client — whether they're a key account or a new business — doesn't fall through the cracks or have a substandard experience.

Create a standard operating procedure you and your account management team can use to consistently create sales account plans for each new account. We recommend following these four steps:

1. Divide the Accounts

Your business will have multiple different types of accounts based on their recurring revenue, strategic value, size, potential, and other factors. Categorize your accounts into key accounts, strategic accounts, and other divisions so you can develop specialized teams devoted to the different types.

2. Assess Their Needs

For each account, take a deep look at their overarching goals, their short-term goals, the opportunity for upsells, and other ways the account manager can satisfy their needs while growing the account.

3. Create the Sales Account Plan

Develop a sales plan of step-by-step actions the account manager can perform to both grow the account relationship and satisfy current orders.

4. Implement the Plan

Now that there is a fleshed-out plan with supporting details and rationales, it's time for the AM to take the first step.

Read our in-depth guide to creating sales account plans to get started.

Businesses are turning to automation for a lot of their revenue and administrative functions. After all, newly developed AI and machine-learning systems can quickly enter, analyze, and compile data. 

Integrations and increasingly sophisticated connections between different business tools can copy data from one platform to another with far fewer errors or manhours than manual systems. As a general rule, automation is making businesses more efficient , faster, and more client-ready.

However, automation and artificial intelligence aren't tools for replacing humans. Instead, they're ways to allow humans to focus on creative or critical thinking-based tasks that manual data entry often interfered with.

In account management, for example, clients still want human interaction and personal attention to ensure their needs are being sufficiently (and proactively!) met. Account managers can use automation to quickly fill data into CRMs and account management software platforms, generate reports that capture trends and insight, and manage repetitive tasks.

In turn, AMs can spend their time developing strategies for each client, focusing on building relationships, and resolving unique challenges and one-offs that automated systems simply can't handle.

Learn more about where automation does and doesn't fit into strategic account management .

Earlier, we discussed the value of creating key account plans. Having a repeatable process can guide your team and new account managers in the future so they can quickly and consistently create sales account plans that meet your business's standards. Another tool for guaranteeing consistent quality and key account management practices is to develop a key account plan template.  

This simple tool will provide a starting point for account managers so they can organize their information and hit the ground running with a time-tested management approach. Key account management software with customized templates can make the approach even easier.

You and your team can develop a gallery of template styles to fit each account type or have different drag and drop elements so KAMs can record their thoughts and account-critical details.

This blend of consistency and personalization allows your team to make each plan their own while still making the plans universal enough for team leads and new AMs to easily understand the documents. 

Key account plan templates should include these standard blocks:

  • A simple overview section with business details, contact information, and a brief summary of the relationship.
  • A robust objectives section where the account manager can identify short-term and long-term client needs, pain points that the client has experienced before or with other services providers, and their own expectations for service.
  • An area for competitive analysis and risk analysis so account managers can strategize on best practices for retaining the account and ensuring your organization is more appealing than competitors.
  • A timeline of actionable tasks so AMs can create a to-do list that doesn't rush the client or let them feel ignored.

Read more about the best practices for developing key account plan templates here .

Developing your current clients into key accounts and focusing on recurring business is more predictable and more profitable than chasing after new clients. As a result, more and more organizations are focusing on customer service and account-based relationships to wow clients and ensure a longer-lasting relationship that benefits both sides.

This is a significant change in how businesses are handling their account management, but it's not the only change.

Organizations are also prioritizing technology and strategy development. This includes creating resources for remote work and communications, investing in key account management software with in-depth data and templates for account management, and focusing on collaborative tools that connect all branches of the revenue team. This results in a less siloed, more relationship-driven workplace.

Learn more about how and why modern businesses are changing with technological advances and shifts in account management mindsets here .

Reactive account management is about solving problems, but that still means problems have to occur — and that's bad for business. Instead, more businesses are focusing on proactive key account planning to anticipate changing client needs and resolving problems before they reach the client or become a substantive problem.

This creates a smoother, more positive client experience. Five of the most important steps for incorporating this practice include:

1. Be an Ally

Instead of simply fulfilling sales and attempting to upsell clients at regular intervals, create a long-term success plan with your client. Discuss what their needs are year after year and what their expectations are both for your services and their total growth. Taking an authentic interest in their needs allows you to develop more personalized plans and create upsells that provide them with more value.

2. Assign a Key Account Champion

Instead of simply having key account managers mixed in with your other types of account managers, have a leader who represents and champions key accounts. They should engage with key account managers to ensure they have the resources they need, regularly communicate with business leaders so the value of your key accounts stays visible, and continually educate revenue teams about the needs of these unique accounts.

3. Make Sure the C-Suite Is on Board

Your C-suite team should receive regular updates on how your organization's key accounts are performing and the value they bring to your business. This turns them into opportunities, not just disruptive accounts that seem to require more hand-holding. It's also important to have your C-suite executives engage with key contacts. This allows for better feedback and more authentic connections.

4. Communicate With Your Team

While the key account manager for a key account may know how important a client is, the product delivery team, customer service representatives, and even the marketing team may not be equally informed. Ensure that all of the departments that serve each key account are kept informed of changes and new developments — negative and (even more importantly) positive. This builds more engagement across your revenue team.

5. Give Key Accounts Attention

Don't overwhelm key account managers. Key accounts require more attention than self-service accounts or accounts that fall more in line with your standard business practices. If your AMs have too many clients, things will start to slip through the cracks, and your clients may look elsewhere for service providers.

Learn about each of these strategies in more depth here .

Strategic account mapping is all about identifying critical contacts in a strategic account client's organization. By identifying contacts, decision-makers, and how different agents within the client organization interact, your team can better communicate the value you're providing and anticipate changes in client needs.

Recording all of the client details in an account map helps your team stay on top of shifting contacts due to turnover; it's also a good resource for when your own team has turnover or you need to reach out to a key account while the typical AM is out of the office.

Learn more about how to make your strategic account mapping practices stronger.

Customer relationship management tools (CRMs) and key account management tools (KAMs) need to talk to each other, but they can't replace each other.

CRMs are generally used for cultivating new business and organizing a prospective lead's journey so it's as fulfilling as possible. KAMs help organize account details and long-term strategies to support the account manager over time.

Despite these distinct purposes, the two platforms need to share profile details and sales details so your organization fully understands revenue and can create accurate forecasts.

Read our in-depth article about how your business's CRM fits into how strategic and key account management processes.

Strategic account planning software needs to offer account managers critical resources and organization so they can manage contact details, short-term and long-term goals, and actionable tasks so the account stays as healthy as possible. We recommend looking for strategic account planning software that allows you to achieve all of the account planning fundamentals we discussed in this guide. Five of the most critical elements include:

  • Interactive Org Charts
  • CRM Integration
  • Reporting Functions
  • Deliverables Tracking
  • Planning Templates 

Explore these 5 specific elements of strategic account planning more in detail here .

Contact Kapta for Account Planning Support

At Kapta, we've created a complete software platform with the resources and organizational tools account managers need to stay on top of key and strategic accounts.

Revenue teams can use our platform to share information, analyze trends, manage deliverables and upsell opportunities, and more. Schedule a demo or contact our team today to see how Kapta can support your organization.

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Account management plan: How to increase customer value

Account Management Plan

You need a watertight account management plan to keep customers happy, entice repeat business and inspire brand advocacy.

Building one will help you understand and account for buyers’ needs, challenges and competitive landscapes.

In this article, you’ll learn how to create a reliable account management plan that helps you improve customer retention, uncover cross-sell and upsell opportunities and win new business with minimal effort. We’ll also provide a handy checklist for your account management plan.

What is an account management plan and do I need one?

An account management plan is a strategy that aims to retain and maximize the value of every customer. The term “account management plan” can refer to:

A physical or digital document that tells you important information about a customer. It includes their goals, pain points , priorities, competitors, decision-making processes and purchase criteria.

A repeatable, multi-step process to learn about your customer and determine how you’ll meet their needs.

In this article, we’ll focus on the process of building an account management plan.

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The value of strategic account management

To understand the value of a key account management strategy or plan, it’s most helpful to think about the pitfalls of not having one.

Keeping customer relationships on track without an account management plan is more difficult and time-intensive. Every challenge is a surprise that can use up days, weeks, money or extra staffing to overcome. With no time left to strategize or organize resources, you’ll struggle to deliver positive experiences.

For example, entering a customer relationship without knowing the company’s key stakeholders might begin the following chain of unfortunate events:

It takes weeks rather than hours or days to get approval on deliverables because you’re chasing contacts in order to find the right decision-maker

As a result, you struggle to provide value early in the relationship

You then fail to impress the customer or gain their trust

The customer decides they’re not getting enough value and ends the relationship

Instead, you could build an introductory customer questionnaire into your account management plan with a field for key figures’ roles and responsibilities.

If you make that information accessible using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, every team member will know who to contact first.

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How to use relationship selling to connect and convert

How to plan for more profitable client relationships

Every customer relationship is unique because the circumstances and priorities of each customer are different. However, you can follow the same high-level process to set any account up for long-term success.

Below we’ve grouped the process into three stages: understanding your customer, building your strategy and executing your strategy. Use this as a repeatable roadmap to connect with a new customer.

Understand your customer

If you’re going to put your customer and their needs first (an approach known as “ consultative selling ”), you’ll need to learn who they are and what they value.

Here are four ways to do that.

Build a profile

Write down everything you already know about your customer – ideally in a CRM so it’s always accessible.

Include information such as:

Company size

Key competitors

This is the foundation of your customer profile. At the start of your data collection, you may only have a few fundamental facts, like industry or location. The picture will become clearer and more useful as you add details from conversations, company data and research.

As the profile becomes more comprehensive, it’ll get easier to personalize your services and increase customer satisfaction. For example, if a candid conversation reveals a competitor had neglected your customer, you might send a reassuring message so they know you’ll be in more frequent contact.

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Start gaining trust

With your account profile created and the details falling into place, you can start developing those relationships with good relationship selling . Do this in the following ways:

Encourage your account managers to develop soft skills

Center the needs of prospective customers in your interactions

Be empathetic toward the challenges they face

Develop trust by being authentic and honest

Trust, in particular, is essential to forming and maintaining valuable customer relationships. Developing this kind of bond between customer and business takes time, so start early in the sales process .

Give your accounts visual journeys and checklists, if possible. A welcome email series can walk your new accounts through the necessary steps to get started with your company.

To really personalize your account management, go further than automated emails. Arrange a kick-off meeting to formally introduce your business and team to the people they’ll work with.

Use that meeting and the communication around it to:

Emphasize your company values. What about your business makes this relationship a great fit? You’ll have covered this in sales conversations but reiterating it reminds customers they’ve made the right decision. It’ll get them feeling excited about the journey ahead.

Show off previous wins. Instill optimism by showing the customer the results or returns they can expect. Case study content is helpful or you could arrange for the new customer to speak with an existing one from the same industry.

Encourage questions. All strong relationships involve two-way communication so invite questions about the product and your service. This will let the customer know this is as much a partnership as a business-and-customer dynamic.

If you can’t organize a meeting in person, create a client workspace and include a section for onboarding. You can send a video to explain the next steps, preserving everyone’s time while delivering the human touch.

Shared Notion Workspace

In addition, you can create a centralized knowledge base , providing all the information your client may need about your company and the services you offer your accounts.

Above all, be honest and transparent. Set expectations and explain any learning curves the customer may experience. The more predictable the buyer’s journey is, the happier they’re likely to be.

Gauge expectations

Your prospecting and nurturing will have uncovered the customer’s main challenges, so you should know from a high level what you aim to achieve (you’ll dive deeper into objectives in the next phase).

Now, work out what that journey will look like.

For example, what does the customer want from your relationship? Maybe they’d appreciate weekly check-ins, while others may prefer to be left alone until a need arises.

They might want one dedicated account manager or prefer to have specialists on hand for each service or product feature.

Understanding these kinds of expectations will allow you to deliver the exact service your customer wants from day one.

Understand your customer’s customers

When you understand the value your customers provide to their customers, you can do more to help them excel.

Say you sell project management software to a digital marketing agency.

You know your client works with small business owners who value transparency so you emphasize your product’s report-sharing functionality. That ability to share customized reports helps your client keep their customers updated and happy.

Talk to your customer to start the research process. Discuss their buyer personas and ideal customer profiles (ICPs) to build your understanding. You can also read their blog content and treat social media as a window into their interactions.

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Build your strategy

Careful planning helps you spot winning opportunities and reduce risks. Use the knowledge you gained during the first phase to build a roadmap.

Plot the route to success

How will you help your customer succeed and what does their success look like?

Your product’s features are a natural starting point. For example, say the digital marketing agency from the example above wants to better organize its documents. The account manager could then explain how their project planning tool works and set up a personalized demo.

To surpass direct competitors, emphasize the value of your relationship as a whole, rather than just the item or service you sell. Focus on building a value-selling framework and you will sell more of your products and services in the long run.

Useful value-adds include:

Product updates

Loyalty perks

Personalized recommendations

Match each value point to a customer objective. For example, the marketing agency customer wants to increase productivity to improve sales performance . Your 24-hour support line will help them minimize downtime.

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Turn your objectives into commitments

Turn those objectives and value-adds into commitments to add extra accountability to your relationship .

For example:

Instead of promising “around-the-clock” product support, commit to responding to all queries within 30 minutes at peak times and within two hours during off-peak times.

Rather than promising “robust data security”, list the measures you’ll take to keep your customer’s information safe. That could be two-factor authentication (2FA) or biannual security patches.

Your customers will know what to expect when you agree on specific actions rather than making broad promises.

These measurable commitments are key performance indicators (KPIs) that define success and failure in the relationship. Without them, your promises will be open to interpretation from either side, which could lead to you disappointing your key accounts.

A service-level agreement (SLA) can help you formalize expectations. It’s a document (often digital) that lays out the metrics by which that service is measured and what happens next should the agreed standards not be reached.

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Execute your strategy to grow

You’ve laid sturdy foundations and are ready to progress, but the hard work doesn’t stop there. Maintain your relationship by staying mindful of the customer’s needs.

Re-align yourself with the customer

Reconnect with the customer to reiterate your plans and promises. Take any further questions and commit to moving forward together.

Showing your hard work so far will reaffirm your commitment to the relationship. It should get your customer feeling positive about the journey ahead.

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Look for opportunities to impress

Delivering value beyond your commitments (or SLA if you have one) will help you to:

Keep customers happy and engaged. Customers have no reason to go elsewhere if you deliver better returns than expected.

Gain positive reviews. In a 2022 survey of technology buyers, 35% said they wanted vendors to provide customer reviews .

Create brand advocacy. Buyers can strengthen their own relationships by recommending your brand and its products to others, essentially expanding your prospects for free.

Helpful gestures of all sizes count as going above and beyond. For example, you could introduce a customer to one of your partners who can help them refine their B2B sales strategy. On a smaller level, you might highlight or fix a spelling mistake on the client’s website.

Keep refining your approach

Your customers’ businesses will evolve like yours. Revisit your key account planning process regularly to ensure you’re always providing optimal value.

Say you run a design agency and one of your clients hires an in-house designer. You could adjust your processes to increase collaboration. For example, you might encourage more communication during the content ideation and approval stages.

Plan for changes to your business too. If a team member is planning to leave, assess the impact that could have on your client and aim to minimize disruption. Actions might include creating a handover, giving the client notice of the change and introducing them to the new employee early.

Cheat sheet: Our account management plan checklist

Once you’ve worked through the account management planning process a few times, the sequence should become second nature.

The account planning template below will help you get familiar even faster. See it as an easy-to-follow action plan for building solid relationships from the ground up.

1. Understand your customer

2. Build your strategy

3. Execute your strategy to grow

Final thoughts

A careful, strategic approach to account management increases customer loyalty. That will improve your company’s profitability.

As well as boosting customer retention rates, it’ll help your sales team have more productive conversations.

With planning milestones in mind, salespeople can enter every meeting knowing exactly how they or their account management team will approach the relationship. That means they can reassure leads that the journey ahead will be thoughtful with all customer needs considered.

Your sales reps will still need the initiative to close deals but your account management strategy should optimize the lifetime value of every new customer.

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Strategic Account Planning: How to Plan for Maximum Sales

account business planning

Strategic account planning is incredibly powerful!

Effective account planning not only helps close bigger deals faster but most importantly, helps establish amazing relationships with customers that will carry on for years. Strategic account planning should be recognized as a differentiator and value creator, not an administrative chore completed once a year. Make it be part of the rhythm of your business.

Investing time in building relationships and developing account strategies is time well spent, especially when you’re doing it with the right accounts, the right mindset, the right process and the right team. Account planning isn’t something you need to do with every account you’re selling to or in every segment; for example, it’s unlikely that you’ll drive a strategic account-planning program in your small business segments. On the bigger accounts, though, this is a mandatory practice.

We’ve worked with the best sales professionals and the best sales teams on the planet and through these tens of thousands of hours of working together we perfected a proven account planning template framework (see below).

What is Strategic Account Planning?

Account planning in sales helps prioritize your most important prospects and ensures they’re getting the best of what your company has to offer — and it’s as easy as following our template (listed below).

Whether it’s this year or five years down the line, account planners layout which accounts they want to win over and when. Then keep tabs on them all with monthly follow-ups, quarterly reviews , etc.

Account planning is not just about identifying which companies to target for potential business expansion – but also figuring out how each prospect will use your products or services, and the lifecycle of potential deals over time, which accounts they want to win over, and when.

Why is Account Planning Important?

Successful account plans have a clear strategy, goals, steps to reach the goal, tactics that are tailored to fit specific clients.

Account planning provides clarity and direction for growth-account planners to prioritize accounts to ensure that each one is being served properly.

Identifying who needs your product or service and mapping out when they may be ready to make a purchase, all the way through to keeping tabs on these client accounts with monthly follow-ups.

A Proven The Account Planning Process

Account planning is very focused on getting to the essence of what we’re trying to do with an account: plan, build relationships , identify strategic initiatives that we can solve, and build an action plan to sell. Here’s an Account Planning coaching video that maps out the proven account planning process.

Sales Account Planning Template

See our account planning template below. It’s a battle-tested and proven blueprint for closing millions of dollars in revenue, continually refined over years, designed for success using best practices across multiple industries so that all businesses can benefit from this account planning process framework.

1) Build An Account Planning Snapshot

It’s scary how many salespeople don’t even know where to begin when it comes to account planning and frequently ask “What is the first step in the account planning process?”

First – it’s incredibly important that we build out the Account Plan Snapshot:

  • What do we know about the account?
  • Who are the key executives?
  • What’s their current revenue?
  • Who is their Existing Customer?

An account planning snapshot is so important. Complete a snapshot first so you can get a clear executive overview of the account. This is the ground floor of our account planning process.

2) SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats

The second step of the account planning process is a SWOT analysis which helps to formulaically analyze the accounts strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats together as a team.

Remember this is still in the foundational stage. You may not have all the answers, and that’s OK, that’s why you’re bringing your team together. See potential strengths below:

  • What are the company’s strengths?
  • What are they good at?
  • Are they making money?
  • How are they performing?
  • Are they dominating in their market?
  • What are people saying about them?
  • What products are great?
  • How are their products?

Then, research weaknesses. See potential company weaknesses below:

  • What are the areas of weakness for the company?
  • Maybe a competitor of theirs is beating them in certain markets?
  • Maybe they’ve got huge attrition right now and you’ve read that on Glassdoor or wherever?

These are some potential weaknesses you can look for.

  • Opportunities

Researching the opportunities can be downright magical for you and your team. This research will help you learn everything there is to know about your market and its competitors, which are crucial components for success.

Hopefully by this time you’ve had conversations with:

  • Decision-makers
  • Your champion
  • Some influencers
  • Even maybe some of their customers

You want to list out any potential opportunities you see:

  • What are some opportunities for the company?
  • What people are saying about them in the press?

Research is critical in the Opportunities stage of SWOT analysis. It’ll align you around what you’re trying to accomplish, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and lastly – it will allow you to provide a huge amount of VALUE to your customer.

  • What are some industry threats?
  • What are some competitive threats to the company?

Overall the SWOT analysis is an incredibly powerful account planning tool in your account planning process.

I love building out a SWOT analysis for accounts that I’m trying to partner with. When I sit down with an executive, I like popping up that SWOT analysis, saying, and sharing:

  • Here’s a SWOT analysis: strengths weaknesses threats opportunities, etc
  • Here’s the research we’ve done
  • Does this look accurate?
  • How could this improve? Let’s work on it together?

Frequently what happens on calls and in rooms with executives when sharing this information we go through and we start tweaking the strengths weaknesses and threats and opportunities together – it’s an absolute home run!

We are now embedded within their company and proposing laser-focused solutions.

3) Map Out Top Initiatives

After your SWOT is complete – it’s time to list out top initiatives derived from the SWOT and decide what to prioritize as your top initiatives, as well as brainstorm initiatives for short, middle, and long term sales goals .

So list out the top initiatives and fill in the template list:

  • Who are these initiatives for?
  • Why are they important?
  • What are some dates we can attach to tasks?

Here we can start aligning with compelling events and other trigger events – this is a hugely strategic step.

At this point we haven’t done a deal review, we’re not really at a forecast stage yet – we’re focused on research, we’re building an account strategy and account plan ( see this article for territory planning ).

4) Conduct a Business Unit Analysis

After you’ve completed the top initiatives, you can now begin building your Business Unit Initiatives Analysis.

List out all the business units or departments of the company – just start listing them out and then start filling in information around each business unit:

  • How many employees do they have?
  • What are company goals?
  • Who’s the executive that owns it?
  • When’s the last time we’ve made contact with that executive?

When building out this business unit analysis it gets you to a point where you can:

  • Prioritize your time
  • Prioritize your team’s time
  • Focus goals that make bottom-line sense

This step is where you prioritize where you’re going to invest the resources to go execute the account strategy and the account plan that you’ve created based on all your great research and collaboration you’ve done with your team – you are now aligning ACTION to your great research.

5) Build An Organizational Chart & Political Map

Building an organizational chart is so incredibly important – it’s a critical aspect of the sales process too. For many sales leaders and sales teams, the political landscape of a company and a buying decision is where we found out if and when a deal will really happen. Spending time to map out who you know and who you’re connected with, will pay dividends down the line.

SalesHood Organization Chart

Always make sure there’s an org chart in your account plan. The chart should include:

  • All decision markers, influencers, champions, and executive sponsors, both direct and indirect
  • For each person list our their “buying roles” (decision maker, evaluator, user, approver)
  • For each person market their “relationship status” (supporter, mentor, neutral, non-supporter & enemy)

There are a ton of templates out there but keep it simple – build out your chart to get a sense of the political map:

  • Who has power?
  • Who reports to whom?
  • How do decisions get done?

Org charts are done in a bunch of different ways you can use a tool if you have one or you can just draw it on a whiteboard, do it in a document – however you want to do it – go crazy! But a solid org chart is a must-have.

6) Develop a Connect the Dots Strategy

The next step is to develop a connect the dots strategy .

Let me explain what that means:

  • We’ve done the SWOT analysis
  • We’ve identified top initiatives
  • We have a sense of the executives
  • We have a sense of which executives own which initiatives
  • We’ve also built an org chart

Now we want to figure out who in our company is connected, or who in our network is connected with people of the account that we’re targeting.

From here start mapping executives to executives so we can build a connected dots strategy:

  • Ask for referrals
  • What’s our best approach to go after these people?

Be mindful about who you should be going after. Remember these are strategic accounts building relationships through outreach should be thoughtful and strategic – we’re doing it with research, with intent, with purpose – and we need to remain mindful of that.

7) Build out an Opportunity Planning Map

We’re almost done! The next thing you need to do is build out your opportunity map. So far in the account planning process, we’ve done a ton of work and we’ve identified:

  • A good sense of their top initiatives
  • We know the org chart
  • We know where power lives
  • We’ve even got to connect the dots strategy

Think about how much work you’ve done already to set yourself up for success – now you just have to list out opportunities and start projecting deals:

“Here are some deals that we can go after, based on what we’ve learned from the account.”

And then we do an opportunity map where we start listing out, you know ballpark some deals that we’re going to you know kind of start thinking about, so directionally we know what this can look like in terms of a bigger deal.

List them out and talk it over with the team – which leads us to our next point:

8) Manage an Action Plan

We have now made it to the last step of the account planning process. This is the step where you take all of the info you have gathered and turn it into an actionable plan with personnel and dates attached to it:

  • Who’s connecting with who
  • Who’s doing what
  • What’s the timeline

It’s important to remember that although the salesperson is who’s running point on the account, it’s a team effort .

You win as a team, you lose as a team, so everyone on the team must have a role in this process to keep it moving along.

By assigning roles to everyone on the team ownership is distributed across the entire team and most importantly – multiple people are responsible for follow-through – so we can see the results that we expect.

Being very specific in your action plan is the difference between an account plan that’s developed, and not in action, and an account plan that has action, and turns into bigger deals.

As the strategies are put into action, nurture a culture that holds people accountable. Ask the tough questions when the sales team comes together. Once the executive interactions and conversations happen and pain is identified and validated, shift the focus to managing an opportunity. There is a point, once an opportunity is identified and qualified, when the actions created from your account-strategy work shift to sales process work. These kinds of accomplishments are great motivators for the team to create their own qualified opportunities by being strategic with their accounts.

Sales Account Planning Recap

Just to recap quickly – see the 8 step sales account planning template process below:

  • Executive Overview
  • SWOT analysis – Strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities
  • Top Initiatives Chart – Identify the company’s top initiatives that we’ve validated hopefully with some key executives
  • Business Unit Analysis
  • Build an Organizational Chart
  • Connect The Dots Strategy
  • Opportunity Map
  • Action Plan – Critical: the plan needs owners, timeline and dates outlined

Embracing account planning, collaborating with your champion to fill in blanks, and working with your team to execute will supercharge your sales efforts.

The account planning strategy above is not going to get filled in in one sit-down – effective account planning takes time. It may take weeks to build with your team.

It really all depends on the size of the account, the size of the opportunity, the size of your team – but the steps and process are important.

Above is a battle-tested framework that has evolved over time with some of the best salespeople and sales teams in the industry and resulted in important deals with astronomical sales revenue.

Account Planning Mindset

The Zen Buddhist concept of the “beginner’s mind” is something everyone should pick up before they begin diving into the creative side of sales strategy and account planning. The saying goes, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” This is such a great concept for taking a fresh look at a familiar situation. Suggest to each new salesperson you hire and anyone wanting to kick-start their creative juices that he or she read Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. The notion of a “beginner’s mind” also helps a team get out of a rut on an account that may have had zero revenue growth. Account teams sometimes continue to focus on the same strategies, the same executives, and the same value propositions with their accounts. You can use the “beginner’s mind” philosophy to shake the proverbial tree with some of your accounts

Strategic Account Management

Effective account planning in the beginning stages sets up a lifetime of high performance, strategic account management, and a clear road map to success. By focusing on the information and roadmap laid out in the account planning, strategic account management builds trust, and leads to more deals in the future, as it proves you are a thoughtful, reliable partner that knows the customer’s business.

Final Thoughts on Account Planning

Account planning is critical at the beginning of a deal. It can help us determine who’s involved, what it will take to influence them, and how much our clients may be willing to pay for their products or services.

With this information, we have some guidance on which deals are worth pursuing further, and can help us create a roadmap so directionally we know what this can look like in terms of a bigger deal in the future, and help us allocate attention and personnel accordingly.

By starting with a solid account plan, demonstrating thorough process, insights, and strategic account planning throughout the course of the relationship, it will be far easier to find opportunities faster and be more informed than ever before, resulting in record-breaking revenue.

Sign up for your Free Demo of the #1 Sales Enablement Enablement Platform – SalesHood – today.

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account planning in sales

Understanding and performing sales account planning

Lucid Content

Reading time: about 9 min

If you’ve ever worked in sales, started your own company, or worked within a growing company, you likely understand how valuable sales are in the survival and growth of a business. Sales strategy is a consistently hot topic in the corporate world, and there are a variety of tools and practices available to serve businesses of all sizes, from software to training to market research and beyond.

Here we’ll discuss the practice of sales account planning, including why it can bring value to your business and how to start.

What is account planning in sales?

A sales account plan is a document or record that contains all of the important details of a prospective or existing account. Sales account plans may include a range of information, including company size, key decision-makers, timelines, a list of the company’s competitors and the company’s market share relative to their competitors, and even a strategized sales process. 

As with most areas in business, the more detailed and relevant information, the better—your account plan should be detailed enough to accommodate your sales goals and sales practices. 

Companies of all sizes can use variations of sales account plans. If you’ve ever been to an upscale restaurant where the host has detailed information about their most valued guests, you’ve seen a sales account plan in action. Think of your accounts as guests and sales account planning as a way for you to demonstrate how much you value your guests.

Why should companies use a sales account plan?

As with all high-stakes endeavors, research maximizes your chance for success. For the company serious about sustaining and growing their sales, there are many additional reasons to practice sales account planning. 

For starters, it will help you strategize your sales process from the onset. Imagine, for example, the difference between cold calling a prospect that you know close to nothing about versus engaging in a thoughtful conversation about information specific to a said company.

A sales rep with an account plan can ask detailed questions like “How has your expansion into X market been panning out?” or “We noticed your competitor has started offering [this product]—has your leadership considered plans to expand your product offering?” 

From there, they can extend the conversation into what their product or service offering is and how it supports the goals of the prospect. Suddenly, what usually feels like a sales pitch is instead a relationship built on problem-solving. And the best performing businesses are in the business of solving problems.

Closing sales on prospective accounts is just one of the advantages provided by sales account plans. Keeping detailed information on your closed accounts will help you retain business and turn a closed deal to a lifetime customer. An account plan allows you to treat all accounts like VIPs, giving them each a personalized engagement with your company and personnel. With the information detailed in a sales account, you can offer customized incentives, plan personalized communication to key stakeholders, or even use the account as data and research on how to close and retain similar accounts.

Should you be creating an account plan for every single account that you engage with? The short answer is yes—if you have the resources for it. However, given the detail required for a good account plan, it makes the most sense to use account planning for your largest and most valuable accounts, your “VIPs.” 

Let’s outline how to create your account plans and how to utilize them best.

How to create and implement a sales account plan

Consider these four actionable steps to better understand and implement sales account plans:

  • Decide which accounts need a detailed plan.
  • Understand what these accounts need by performing effective research.
  • Gather the relevant research and data into a single document and create action steps.
  • Execute on your sales account plan.

Step 1: Decide which accounts need plans.

As mentioned before, not all of your accounts necessarily need account plans. The value of account plans lies in their detail, and that detail requires time, energy, and sometimes, capital resources. As such, it makes the most sense to work account planning into strategic account management —or, in other words, focus your energy on your largest accounts.

Small and midsize businesses, or SMBs, even while being valuable to sustaining your growth,  may not have a high ROI on the time, energy, and capital needed to perform an account plan. Further, the accounts you consider the largest will depend on the size, scope, and product or service of your own company. Understanding which companies are considered worthy of an account plan can be subjective, so it’s important to develop criteria for determining which companies to create an account plan for.

A simple account doesn’t need an account plan—it can mainly be handled with the information available in any standard CRM system or sustained through communication between sales reps and point people at the organization. A strategic account, however, has high growth potential and should be considered in your sales account planning. 

To determine whether an account is strategic, you must consider these questions:

  • Are you able to offer your product or service to other departments in the company in addition to this department?
  • Is the company growing quickly? Is it in a position to scale?
  • Is this a high profile company? Would having them as a client boost your reputation within the relative industry?

If the answer to any or all of these questions is “yes,” then you should be creating an account plan.

account business planning

Find additional questions and insights to foolproof your lead qualification process.

Step 2: Understand what these accounts need by performing effective research

Information collected from thorough research will arm your company’s decision-making. To get the right information, you must ask the right questions. Here are some places to start:

What are this company’s goals?

Why you need to know: Knowing where a company is headed will help you understand how your product or service helps them get there. Is their goal to grow a robust mailing list? Do they want to expand?

Where to start: Find the prospect’s mission statement on a website or marketing materials. Ask someone who works inside the company. Read up on the company on LinkedIn.

What is this company’s current highest priority?

Why you need to know: Even if your product or service is a great fit for a potential customer, if the problem you are solving isn’t high on their priority list, you could waste critical time and ultimately lose a sale. 

Where to start: Find any company news, read any press releases, and talk to internal personnel.

Who are the decision-makers?

Why you need to know: The decision-makers are the gatekeepers to your closed deal—their support is critical to your success.

Where to start: Start with LinkedIn or any public-facing website, or investigate with internal personnel. 

account business planning

Learn how to identify decision-makers at any company, shortening your sales cycle and saving you critical time and energy. 

How are they currently executing their stated goals?

Why you need to know: Being familiar with the tools and processes your prospect is currently using will let you know if your product or service is even relevant for them, and specifically how your company will help them execute their goals. 

Where to start: Ask your prospect directly.

How do they measure success with [my] product or service?

Why you need to know: If the goal is both customer retention and problem-solving, then you need alignment on how your product or service is helping solve a problem.

Step 3: Gather the relevant research and data into a single document and create action steps

Now that your research is done, it’s time for the critical step of developing action items. Though all parts of sales account planning must be thorough, it is this part of the process that will ultimately close an account and strategically retain them as a lifetime customer. This part of the sales account plan involves three steps:

Account analysis

The research mentioned above process covers this step. As part of this process, create  sales account maps  to visualize the internal workings of the prospective company, identify any gaps in the buying team, and discover the most efficient path to sell.

account map example

Short-term action steps

What can you do in the short term (30-90 days) to ensure that this customer executes their stated goals? For existing clients, what can you do to maximize the chances that they renew their contract or term with you?

Long-term action steps

What can you and your company do in the long term (90 days to one year and beyond) to ensure that your client executes their stated goals? How do you build a relationship that grows alongside the company’s growth?

At this point in the process, it’s best to align with the account on creating these steps to ensure your research is effectively used. 

Step 4: Execute on your sales account plan.

By now, you’ve done your research, you’ve asked the right questions, and you’ve created a plan. If all steps have been applied thoroughly, it’s time for you to execute with confidence. When beginning a new relationship with a prospect, don’t be afraid to use your information in your initial outreach—after all, that’s why you did the research! That initial conversation may begin in several ways, but here are some suggestions:

“Hey Company A. We noticed that you just started offering product X. Can we explain why Company B is doing so well with their similar product?”

“We read up on your founder’s 10-year vision—how is your company preparing for [this emerging industry]?"

For an already existing customer, your sales account plan is meant to demonstrate your engagement with their goals and growth. That conversation can include, but isn’t limited to:

“Last quarter our [product or service] increased your productivity in manufacturing by 25%. What do you think it would look like to expand our [product or service] into your logistics department?”

“We were thinking about [this goal of yours] and wondered how it was going? Is there any way we can help or adjust our offering?”

Many tools help sales teams gain and retain business. Sales account planning is a powerful tool that may sound time-intensive, but it can save you time and energy by focusing on high-return efforts instead of runaround backend tedium. Try account planning today, and watch it improve your sales efforts and, ultimately, your long-term growth. 

pre-sales process

See why you should incorporate account maps into your sales process to identify the right buying team and best path to sell.

About Lucidchart

Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidchart.com.

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7 Free Sales Account Planning Templates

Praburam Srinivasan

Growth Marketing Manager

April 18, 2024

Clients are the lifeblood of our business. That’s why it’s important to give them world-class service. To do that, you need to understand their needs and problems and do your best to address them.

An effective way to ensure client satisfaction is to use account planning templates. They allow strategic account managers to collect valuable info a breeze and let you create tailored strategies for nurturing existing partnerships and forging new ones.

Check out our list of the seven best templates for improving client communication , retention, and revenue potential!

What is an Account Planning Template?

What makes a good account planning template, 1. clickup account planning template.

  • 2. ClickUp Account Management Template 

3. ClickUp Large Account Management Process Template

4. clickup resource planning template, 5. clickup business plan template, 6. sales strategic account plan template by template.net, 7. google docs business plan template, types of account planning templates, how to use an account planning template, an overview of the best account planning templates.

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Account planning is a strategy that allows you to better understand potential and current clients and customers, improve interactions, and foster relationships. An account planning template is a pre-built framework for streamlining this process, mainly by helping you organize vital information. Equipped with a well-designed template, account planning is more focused and efficient throughout.

These templates help key account managers, marketers, and sales teams with tasks such as:

  • Setting KPIs , measuring success, and optimizing future efforts for strategic account planning
  • Onboarding new clients and understanding their objectives and challenges
  • Researching the clients’ industries, trends, and competitive landscape
  • Developing collaboration strategies to maximize the provided value

Here are the key qualities of an account plan template that ticks all the right boxes:

  • Comprehensive structure : Contains sections for optimizing the most important steps of the process. These include account overview, goals, insights, budget, and evaluation
  • Intuitive design : Easy to navigate and understand, suitable for all skill levels and departments
  • Customizable and scalable: Flexible enough to accommodate various types of clients and their key account plan
  • Integrates with your favorite tools : Easy to incorporate into your existing workflow
  • Actionable : Allows you to transform your goals and plans into tangible tasks and deadlines

7 Account Planning Templates To Use in 2024

If you need a solid foundation and guidance to revolutionize the way you interact with clients, use the account planning templates below to centralize information, manage relationships and processes, allocate resources, and create superb business plans—your clientele will thank you!

ClickUp Account Planning Template

The ClickUp Account Planning Template is a simple but powerful tool for strategic account management. It’s beginner-friendly, allowing anyone to pick it up in no time. Despite its simplicity, it offers numerous views and features to level up your client relationship game.

The Accounts List view provides a crystal-clear overview of all your clients, complete with their basic info. The accounts are grouped according to their status by default, but you can sort them based on their stage, priority, or other key account planning details of your choice.

If math is not your strongest suit, you’ll be happy to hear that this template can even do mathematical operations. If you need to calculate the sum or average of, say, earnings from a particular account, hover with your mouse below the column and select the Calculate option.

ClickUp Gantt Account Planning Template

ClickUp Gantt Account Planning Template

The template’s Gantt view takes account planning one step further by helping you visualize all your client-related activities. Unlike your typical calendar, it’s a two-dimensional chart showing the task timeline and its dependencies. Use it to manage tasks and create accurate project plans for your accounts.

On the left side of the view, you’ll find a roster of clients and their associated tasks. This list also displays details such as priority, status, assignee, and other info you choose. To the right of the screen, there’s a bar chart whose length symbolizes the estimated duration of the tasks. The bars are colored based on their urgency for easier prioritization.

Now that you’re familiar with its basic elements using the Gantt chart will be a walk in the park! Click and drag to move the tasks around, or expand and shorten them by pulling the edges.

You can also add dependencies to lock tasks together. When you make changes to any of the two or more tasks, the other ones will automatically shift to maintain the relationship.

For instance, say you planned to meet with a client to discuss the next steps of your partnership, and you have to reschedule it for the following week. You don’t need to reschedule the entire workflow task-by-task. You can move up the meeting only, and the dependent tasks will follow suit.

ClickUp Timeline Account Planning Template

ClickUp Account Planning Template (Timeline View)

The Timeline view is similar to the Gantt view in terms of facilitating time management , but there are some crucial differences to keep in mind for account managers.

While a Gantt chart depicts the complexities of tasks, the Timeline view is simpler and features a single chronological line of events. It gives you a bird’s-eye view of your upcoming work.

It’s a visualization tool that gives a quick overview of tasks, their names, assignees, duration, and dependencies. You can use it to see what’s coming next, set milestones, and create project roadmaps. All this helps you effectively allocate resources , increase accountability, and instill confidence in the stakeholders.

Choose which criteria you want to group and filter tasks by. As with Gantt charts, you can reschedule and change the duration of items with a few clicks. By clicking on a task, you’ll reveal all the information you need to complete it.

ClickUp Board Account Planning Template

ClickUp Account Planning Template (Board View)

If the List view is too overwhelming for you, fear not. The ClickUp Account Planning Template also has a simplified Kanban-style board for better visualization and management of accounts and related tasks.

The clients are represented with cards, which you can move around by dragging and dropping between columns. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

By default, the grouping criteria is the account stage, but you can select a different one, such as priority or complexity. If you switch on swimlanes, you can introduce a second dimension to further personalize the key account planning process.

The cards contain information such as assignee, duration, account health, completion percentage, and monthly revenue. As usual, you can customize their appearance and click on the task to reveal more information, add comments, and track time.

2. ClickUp Account Management Template

ClickUp Account Management Template 

Account planning and management are closely related. While planning focuses on studying the clients’ needs and strategizing, account management deals with the day-to-day execution of client-related work. They’re like a lock and a key—one is useless without the other!

To help you with account planning efforts, we’ve created the ClickUp Account Management Template . It serves as a central database for all account-related information and activities. Use it to track tasks and deadlines, and streamline communication.

The template is in folder form and includes dedicated lists for key account plans and past clients. They’re packed with vital information such as contact info, chosen pricing plan, and estimated revenue opportunity.

The master view offers as many as six custom views:

  • At Risk : A list of existing relationships with low engagement and are likely to churn
  • Engagement : A list of all clients grouped based on their engagement level
  • Priority Accounts : An agile board that classifies accounts by their priority tag
  • Gantt : A chart for keeping up with the task schedule
  • Client Success Playbook : A document for recording critical processes
  • Signup Form : A Form that prospects can complete and connect with dedicated key account managers

ClickUp Large Account Management Process Template

Despite your finest efforts and the help of a handy template, key account management is still complex and labor-intensive. The best way to streamline it and establish consistency is to document every step of the process.

The Large Account Management Process Template by ClickUp is ideally suited for high-level planning. It helps you develop an efficient account management workflow and centralize critical account-related information.

It’s in list form and contains multiple views. Use the Process Overview List to jot down all the stages and tasks of your account management process. With a few clicks, you can:

  • Assign tasks to team members
  • Define their priority and complexity
  • Update the status

Add your own specific fields and play around with the filtering, sorting, and grouping to get the overview you need.

After defining the tasks, use the Gantt and Timeline views to schedule and visualize them. This helps you identify critical path tasks, track progress, and allocate resources to optimize productivity .

ClickUp Resource Planning Template

Account management typically requires some serious juggling between the client’s wishes and your capabilities. You want to provide as much value as possible without overworking your staff or maxing out your resources. It’s all about striking that perfect balance.

Luckily, that’s where the Resource Planning Template by ClickUp steps in. It’s like having a personal resource management assistant that’s available 24/7. It’s a comprehensive system designed for businesses of all sizes, particularly those dealing with resource constraints and capacity gaps.

The template comes in list form and includes numerous views:

  • Clients List
  • Project Coordinators Board
  • Project Coordinators Workload
  • Team Workload
  • Activity Gantt

Feel free to add custom views to tailor the template to your workflow. For example, you can create a new list view dedicated exclusively to budgeting or equipment.

The template also includes many time management tools. In the Workload view, you can quickly assess team members’ availability and capacity. Distribute tasks by dragging and dropping them from the right sidebar onto the chart. Employees can also track time in-app, which helps ensure accurate billing.

ClickUp Business Plan Template

This ClickUp Business Plan Template is a game-changer for up-and-coming businesses and those looking to propel their existing operations to new heights. It’s a user-friendly tool that provides a structured framework for outlining your goals, strategies, and action plans.

Although comprehensive, the template is easily adaptable to various scenarios and purposes. The best part is—it allows for easy scaling once your business takes off.

The template is available in multiple views, including:

  • Topics : A list of subjects to cover when discussing the launch of a new business
  • Status : A Board view of topics, i.e., tasks, grouped by status
  • Gantt : A chart to help you plan and stay on top of the timeline
  • Business Plan : A document in which you can describe your company and vision, outline marketing and sales goals , and define metrics and milestones

Sales Strategic Account Plan Template by Template.net

If you want to optimize your sales efforts and align them with your client’s needs and goals, check out this Strategic Sales Account Planning Template by Template.net. With all the key information in a single document, you can create a winning sales growth strategy and build a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship with your account.

Within the template, you’ll find sections covering all critical aspects of sales account planning. For starters, lay out the executive summary, objectives, and account details. In the next section, perform the SWOT analysis for the client and their competitor, then compare the results to gain valuable insights.

The final section, which is the action plan, defines the steps needed to reach the desired objectives. Top it off with key performance indicators and a sales reporting schedule, and you’ll have a perfect roadmap to success.

This template works in Google Docs, Word, PDF readers, and Apple Pages. You’ll need to subscribe to Template.net to download the document, but you can edit it directly on the website for free.

Google Docs Business Plan Template

This Google Docs Business Plan Template can be an invaluable resource for all newcomers to the world of business. To call it comprehensive would be a massive understatement—it’s 45 pages long!

The document covers it all—from the Confidentiality Agreement and executive summary to the expenses and appendices. It contains tables, charts, and lists for easier readability.

Setting up and using the template is a breeze. After opening the doc, create a copy so you can edit it. Then, section by section, replace the decoy text with your own, following the provided guidelines for optimal results.

Account planning templates come in various forms, each designed to cater to different aspects of account management. Here are some common types of account planning templates you might encounter:

Strategic Account Plan Template : This type of template focuses on long-term strategy and goals for a specific key account. It typically includes sections for objective setting, understanding the customer’s business and needs, identifying opportunities for growth, and outlining a strategic action plan.

Sales Account Plan Template : A sales account plan template is geared towards sales teams. It often includes sections for identifying key decision-makers, analyzing competitors, tracking sales targets, and outlining strategies to increase sales within the account.

Customer Success Account Plan Template : This template is designed to help customer success teams manage their accounts effectively. It usually includes sections for understanding the customer journey, identifying customer pain points, setting customer satisfaction goals, and planning initiatives to improve customer success.

Account Management Plan Template : An account management plan template is a comprehensive tool for managing an account across all fronts. It may include sections for setting objectives, identifying key stakeholders, SWOT analysis, developing an action plan, and tracking progress.

Key Account Plan Template : This type of template is used for managing major clients that make up a significant portion of the company’s revenue. It generally includes sections for understanding the client’s strategic goals, identifying opportunities for upselling or cross-selling, and creating a tailored service plan.

Account Development Plan Template : An account development plan template is used when the goal is to grow the account. It often includes sections for identifying growth opportunities, setting growth targets, outlining a sales strategy, and tracking development progress.

An account planning template is a valuable tool to streamline your sales strategies and enhance customer relationships. But how exactly do you use it? Below, we break down the steps to effectively utilize an account planning template.

  • Understand the Template : Each account planning template may vary in design and structure, but they generally include sections for objective setting, SWOT analysis, key stakeholders, action plans, and progress tracking. Familiarize yourself with these sections to understand what information is required.
  • Set Clear Objectives : Begin by setting clear objectives for your account. What do you aim to achieve? This could be expanding your business within the account, improving customer satisfaction, or increasing the account’s profitability. Write these objectives in the designated section of the template.
  • Conduct a SWOT Analysis : The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis section helps you understand the current state of the account. Identify your strengths and weaknesses within the account, as well as any opportunities for growth or potential threats that could hinder your progress.
  • Identify Key Stakeholders : Every account will have key stakeholders or decision-makers. It’s essential to identify who these individuals are, understand their needs and expectations, and document this information in the template.
  • Develop an Action Plan : After setting objectives and conducting a SWOT analysis, develop a strategic action plan. This plan should outline the steps you will take to achieve your objectives, with clear actions, responsible parties, and timelines.
  • Track Progress : Most templates include a section for tracking progress towards your objectives. Regularly update this section to keep track of your achievements and adjust your strategies as needed.
  • Review and Update Regularly : An account plan is not a set-and-forget document. It should be a living document that you review and update regularly. This ensures the plan remains relevant and aligned with any changes in the account or your business strategy.

Remember, an account planning template is a tool to guide your strategy and actions. It’s not about filling in every section perfectly; it’s about using it as a framework to deepen your understanding of the account, align your team, and drive strategic action towards your objectives.

Take a look at the table below to compare the templates on our list and their benefits:

ClickUp Account Planning Template (List View)Stay on top of all information related to your accounts and prioritize tasks
ClickUp Account Planning Template (Gantt View)Manage the schedule of your account-related tasks to perfection with all relevant information closeby
ClickUp Account Planning Template (Timeline View)Gain a broad overview of the schedule, progress, and milestones of your account-related activities
ClickUp Account Planning Template (Board View)Plan and visualize tasks and related info in a convenient, agile board view
ClickUp Account Management TemplateStreamline account operations, track tasks, and facilitate client communication
ClickUp Large Account Management Process TemplateDevelop an effective management workflow and store information essential for decision-making
ClickUp Resource Planning TemplateAllocate resources, assign tasks, and optimize productivity
ClickUp Business Plan TemplateOutline goals, strategies, and action plans for your new business
Sales Strategic Account Plan by Template.netCraft professional sales growth strategies and help clients expand their businesses
Google Docs Business Plan TemplateCreate a detailed business plan with guidance on each section

Elevate Your Account Planning With ClickUp Templates

With their flexibility and user-friendliness, these templates are sure to take your account planning to the next level. Use them to strengthen your client relationships and ultimately drive growth and bring mutual benefit . Start a free ClickUp Workspace today!

Questions? Comments? Visit our Help Center for support.

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Free Account Planning Template

Free Resource

account-management

A strategic template for your account-based marketing, sales, and management.

This Account Planning Template contains sections for:

  • Business Overview
  • Key Business Initiatives
  • Customer Relationship Landscape
  • Customer Products and Revenue
  • Account Competitor Analysis
  • Buying Process & Selling Points
  • Relationship Goals & Strategy
  • Sales Opportunities, Targets & Risks
  • Action Plan

account plan template

Get started with your account planning.

Whether you're a marketer, salesperson, or customer success manager, you need a more strategic approach to earn the delight and business of your key accounts. 

With this template, you can customize a strategy for each of your accounts, regardless of where they are in your journey with them. 

When paired with your account-based marketing software , this template can keep your thoughts and actions purposeful and organized in your quest for earning and keeping more major accounts. 

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MindManager Blog

A strategic account planning template for your business

January 14, 2021 by MindManager Blog

By: Nicholas Mistretta

It’s always easier to paint by numbers than it is to sit down in front of a blank canvas and create something new, and this approach can be adapted specifically for your account planning needs. What’s to follow in today’s article is a strategic account planning template that you can use to win new key accounts or grow existing ones.

You may recall from previous articles that you must first change your mindset when dealing with your strategic accounts. You’re a partner, not a vendor. A problem solver, not a salesman. And as such, you have to think differently and plan differently.

The strategic account planning template below, including some account planning tools, is meant to help you improve relationships with your key accounts by:

  • Understanding your customers’ business goals and identifying opportunities
  • Identifying and reducing risk
  • Delivering value to your client
  • Creating value for your organization
  • Increasing revenue

You want to show your strategic accounts that you’re invested in their success, challenges, and goals. But you also want to create a strategy for mutual success, where both sides win. That’s the only way successful partnerships last.

Perhaps it will help to think of your strategic account planning template in simpler terms. It should help you figure out where you are now with a particular client, where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there.

Therefore, your account planning template will be more Rand McNally road atlas than Picasso’s painting of The Old Guitarist. But that doesn’t mean it still can’t be a masterpiece, and that will be determined by how well you fill in the blanks and connect the dots.

Your strategic account planning template for greater success

Will time and effort be required when filling in your template details and all the research and resources that go into it? You bet! Will it be worth it? If done the right way, the potential ROI from a great account planning template has no limits, or as Michael Jordan once famously said, “ The ceiling is the roof .” (That’s OK, we know what he meant.)

1. Your customer’s business overview

Your goal in step one is to gather as much information as you can on your key account’s business so you can better understand their wants and needs. In doing so, you can create that value we mentioned above. And what happens when you create value? You make your organization indispensable.

This should never be thought of as a one-time exercise. Change is always happening whether we see it or not. Goals and objectives change over time. Markets shift and businesses expand. And new technology comes along that turns everything upside down.

Write everything down about your strategic client – from names, main contacts, and year founded, to annual revenue, number of employees, and the date your relationship with them began. Everything that’s relevant, and in the beginning, it may be better to have too much information rather than too little. At least until you get a better sense of what data is necessary.

Take note of all the information you’ll need to help define your customer’s goals and strategies for reaching those goals.

2. Understanding your customer’s key objectives

In this step, you’ll want to ask your customer about their business. And listen strategically while they talk, rather than what most of us do in casual conversations, which is to passively listen and wait our turn to speak.

You want to get a better feel for:

  • The challenges they currently have
  • How they’ve tried to solve them, what’s working, and what isn’t
  • How they measure success and the time frame for measuring
  • Their short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals
  • Key projects now and in the near future
  • Their KPIs – key performance indicators

Keep in mind what your objective is during this step – to figure out what your strategic client values most, and this may sometimes require reading between the lines, which is why being a great listener is so crucial. By better understanding their expectations and goals, you’ll build more customer loyalty, and keep the wolves at bay (i.e., the competition).

Jeff Bezos once famously said, “Focusing on the customer makes a company more resilient.” There’s that win-win end game we keep harping on.

3. A better understanding of the client landscape

Large corporations are complex machines made up of flawed human beings all trying to get ahead. It’s important that you and your team understand the organizational chart, the important players, and the decision-makers. And this can change based on different product lines, different divisions, and geography.

The point of this exercise is in knowing the right person you should be dealing with. Think Godfather II. Would you go to Fredo Corleone to strike up a deal with the family or Michael?

Find information on what job titles you should be targeting for your products. Use past performance – which titles served you well in the past, allowing you to get your foot in the door or the information you needed to help move forward with that client.

Part of your strategic account planning template includes assessing the client landscape, and to do that, you should get information on the following:

  • Your relationship history with the client
  • The client’s organizational chart
  • A whitespace map – opportunities for added value – upsells, cross-sells
  • Project status reports
  • Customer value scorecard – client satisfaction, objectives, performance/KPIs
  • Net promoter score – percentage of customer rating recommendations likelihood

4. Delivering value across the client’s organization

This step gets to the heart of your client’s products and revenues. Identify where you’re currently adding value, what the ROI is for that value, and if any gaps exist in the value chain.

Specific things you’ll want to examine are:

  • Their white space analysis
  • Current sales performance
  • Current margin performance
  • Successes and failures over the last 12 months

Now it’s time to analyze your key account’s top competitors.

5. Analyze the competition

As a partner, the only true way to understand your clients’ needs is to better understand their competition. When dealing with simple accounts, your relationship was very transactional – how much can I sell them today. But with strategic accounts, your partnership must be more strategic.

Part of that challenge is in helping those customers differentiate themselves from their top competitors. For each strategic account who you’re creating an account planning template for, consider the following:

  • Your client’s top competition
  • The competition’s strengths
  • The competition’s weaknesses

6. Identify value-based selling for key decision-makers

When is the last time you sold to a company versus an individual at that company? Understanding human nature will be helpful.

Take the organizational chart you created in a previous step in your account planning template and expand it to include motivations and criteria for each key decision-maker in your key account.

Then use value-based selling points to target those individuals to whom you’ll be selling. Salesmen sell based on an empty slot on a shelf. While trusted partners understand how their selling points match the goals for each decision-maker.

Identify each of the following for the key decision-makers within your strategic accounts:

  • Evaluation criteria
  • Key decision criteria
  • Key selling points

You must understand how the people inside your key accounts make decisions and what criteria they use to do that. Those great listening skills we mentioned earlier will serve you well once again.

7. The customer relationship – goals and strategies

Use the motivations from the above step and the organizational chart from step three to find relationship targets (key players) with the greatest opportunities for engagement. Those that can provide the most productive outcomes for both the customer’s business and your own. Remember, mutual success is the goal; that’s what a true partnership is built upon.

Start by being honest about where your relationship status currently stands. Have you ever watched a movie where a guy proposes to a woman who obviously isn’t interested, while you cringe with embarrassment simply because he misread the relationship? Don’t be that guy.

You’ll want to determine the following:

  • Your current relationship status – are you seen as a trusted partner or simply a vendor?
  • Who are the core business partners?
  • Answer the who, what, where, how, why for all relationship targets
  • A progression strategy to strengthen those key relationships

8. Identifying opportunities, targets, and risk

To this point, you’ve gathered and analyzed a lot of data – customer objectives, motivations, and important relationships with key decision-makers. You’ve decided which products or services you can suggest to help your clients reach their goals.

This step is about making a list of relevant goals for your strategic accounts and identifying internal and external blockers. Then it’s time to face the final hurdle – operational restrictions.

You may find certain roadblocks in place for the delivery of products and services. You may find opportunities to automate certain aspects of the client’s business, or specific processes that can have a greater impact on their success.

At this stage, you’ll want to identify:

  • Operational restrictions
  • Barriers, limitations, and risks
  • Cross-sell and upsell opportunities
  • Methods to align your customer’s needs with your products or services
  • Long-term revenue goals

9. Creating your action plan for success

Much of your strategic account planning template to this point has revolved around gathering data and becoming more familiar with your key accounts and the key decision-makers inside those accounts. So, by now you should know the problems and potential solutions, the steps required to get there, the necessary resources, who should perform each step and by when, and how you can measure accountability.

Identify all the tasks you’ll use to achieve positive results and assign them to the right people. This will include primary tasks, milestones, and sub-tasks if required.

Your action plan should contain the following:

  • The customer’s top five objectives
  • Critical resources for achieving those objectives
  • The assignment of each task

How do you measure success? You quantify with data. Some specific areas you’ll want to assess are:

  • How to improve results with fewer resources (cost-conscious)
  • How to achieve the same results with fewer resources (cost reduction)
  • How to improve quality or user experience (satisfaction)
  • How to reduce time or unnecessary steps (efficiency)

10. Strategic account planning review

You should review the entries in your strategic account planning template as often as necessary. As we mentioned earlier, things tend to change and sometimes those changes happen quickly.

Consider using the following schedule for this last step:

  • Bi-weekly – check-in by email to get status updates on the account plan
  • Monthly – schedule a client call and go over their account plan updates or changes, if objectives have changed, and anything else
  • Quarterly – Put together a one-hour progress report that outlines challenges, unexpected events, new opportunities, successes, failures, and decisions for moving forward

Review the process to date, the timeline involved, and the next steps. Ask yourself if you’ve prioritized value opportunities correctly. And ask the client for relevant resources to secure buy-in as you continue working together to achieve their long-term goals.

The emphasis should always be on collaboration and positioning yourself as a beneficial and mutual partner. Your strategic clients will value you much differently and begin to see you as an indispensable member of the team, rather than someone trying to make a quick buck with a quick sale.

Let’s conclude this article on strategic account planning templates with a quote from a gentleman who’s seen a bit of success in his life:

“The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them – preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.”

– Richard Branson

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10-Step Guide: Creating a Strategic Account Management Plan

Strategic Account Management, or SAM, is all about the relationships you build with company customers or partners. But even with that idea in mind, building strong relationships worth the time and effort isn’t always an easy process. If you don’t have a clear pathway to strengthening and maintaining those connections, your company relationships could be suffering. Finely tuned communication and negotiations skills, trusting relationships forged over time, and regular reassessments all contribute to an effective plan. You may want to learn more about our negotiations skills training program .

A proper strategic account management plan can help you and your team stay on track and ensure you’re giving each customer and partner the proper amount of attention. This step-by-step guide can help you create a plan that fits your needs and moves your company forward.

The Importance of a Strategic Account Management Plan

As with just about everything in business and sales, when you have a plan in place, you can stay organized more easily while ensuring that no projects, customers, or clients are neglected. SAM planning works largely the same way.

Without a strategic account management plan, you approach your customer relationships without a checklist of bases to cover or things to address. This means that projects and tasks can easily become forgotten and get pushed to the side, while customers and partners are left feeling like they’ve been ignored. But when you have a plan in place, you can ensure you’re nurturing key relationships, giving each customer, client, or partner the appropriate amount of attention.

If you’re ready to get started on creating your own strategic account management plan, these steps can help you out. These ten steps, broken down into three main portions, can get you on track to building stronger relationships.

Phase 1 – Developing a Portfolio

Before you can begin working with a client, you need to do the research to understand who they are, what they value and what their goals are. Within this phase, there are four key steps.

1. Create a Profile

The profile of your customer, client, or partner will share a brief overview of who that person is. Much of the information that appears in a customer profile will not be extremely detailed, but it will serve as the foundation of your work. The customer profile should be referred back to whenever you need a refresher about the personal or business details about this individual.

2. Develop Trust

Because trust is the foundation of all relationships, both personal and business, your second step will be to show your client or customer that you are serious about helping them fulfill their needs and desires. Throughout this step, your main goal will be to develop an effective working relationship with the customer and identify areas that may need strengthening.

3. Identify Targets

Once you have been able to develop who the customer or client is, you can start working towards figuring out their wants and needs. These needs will be the items or ideals that drive you and the client forward through the next steps of your account plan.

4. Find the Opportunity

Everyone brings their own value to the table, and now that you and your client have gotten a clear understanding of who you each are and what you are intending to accomplish, you can determine what opportunities are available to you. Analyze what the competition is doing and what distinguishes you and the skills you bring from what is already out there.

Phase 2 – Creating a Strategy

The next phase of your strategic account management plan should be to lay out an angle of attack based on the information outlined in your portfolio. In some cases, you may be able to create multiple pathways for the second phase of your account.

5. Determine the Value

Understand what value can be provided by the client. When you understand what customers can hope to get out of a purchase, you can better understand how to push that idea forward.

6. Create Objectives

It isn’t enough to say you want to “sell a product” or “get things done.” Instead, you need to set out clear long and short-term objectives that can be reached and measured. Outline a few of these growth objectives beforehand as part of your account plan and you’ll have an easier time developing your strategy in the next step.

7. Take Action

Using all the information you previously gathered, develop an action plan for accomplishing your goals and objectives. Look at the value you hope to provide, the opportunity you have created, and consider what customer needs will need to be addressed. All these pieces of info should influence the decisions you make.

Phase 3 – Growing

The final phase puts all the information into motion and continues to measure what has been developed. Throughout this phase, you and your customer should continue to implement the strategies and ideas created in the first two phases. Once a change needs to be made, you can return to Phase 1 and readdress the ideas and issues.

8. Commit

Recognize that this relationship is important and that it will consistently need to be maintained. Both you and the client should commit to moving forward.

9. Follow New Leads

Once you have prepared yourself to continue forward, look for new leads that may allow you to grow. These opportunities are what pushes your business to the next level.

10. Always Reassess

Very rarely will a strategic account management plan work for years and years without needing to be readdressed. Whether you accomplish your goals or you’re struggling to see any developments, you may need to restart the process earlier than you thought. Always be ready to begin again when the time is right.

The art of strategic account management planning is becoming increasingly important for businesses. If you understand how to approach building each relationship and move forward as a team looking for mutually beneficial rewards, you can increase your position, develop the company to see more profits and returns, and have an overall better sense of what you are able to accomplish.  If you’d like to accelerate the learning of your team, don’t hesitate to contact SNI so we can assist you in your specific goals.

To learn more about our sales, negotiation, or influence training for your organization please click here . Contact

1 thought on “10-Step Guide: Creating a Strategic Account Management Plan”

You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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A Complete Guide To The Key Account Planning Process

Guide to the key account planning process

One of the most significant challenges for key account managers and strategic planning executives alike is finding the time to invest in key account planning. However, you can’t leave the opportunity to drive revenue growth and increase your competitive advantage to chance. That’s why we’ve created a 7-step guide to leveraging the key account planning process, including a key account planning template you can swipe and use today!

Account Planning Complete Guide

What is key account management, how to pinpoint your most valuable key accounts, maximize profits with effective key account planning, what is the process for account planning, what are the benefits of successful key account planning, 1. account overview, 2. objectives, 3. solution, 4. action plan, 5. change management, 6. implementation, winning strategies for overcoming key sales account planning hurdles, best practices for managing your key accounts, grow valuable accounts to protect your competitive market advantage with soco®.

Key account management refers to a long-term strategy of delivering significant value over time to your “key accounts”. In other words, it is a systematic approach to managing, retaining and growing your organisation’s most valuable customers with the focus of maximising mutual value alongside achieving mutually beneficial goals. 

Your existing accounts are the backbone of any successful business. To identify these important accounts, start by looking at the numbers; revenue is a telling sign of an account’s importance. Consider the long-term growth potential and strategic value of each relationship. The first step in this process is to collaborate across various departments within the organization to align on goals and responsibilities. This ensures that everyone understands the value these existing customer accounts bring and is prepared to support them effectively.

The next step is to establish clear criteria for what constitutes a key account. This might include factors such as the amount of revenue generated, the strategic importance of the account, or the potential for a long-term partnership. It’s also important to consider the cost of serving each account and the profitability margins, as not all high-revenue accounts are necessarily profitable.

Once the criteria are set, use a standardized method to assess and qualify accounts. This could involve scoring accounts based on various factors and applying weightings to reflect their importance. Look for accounts that not only fit well with your product or service but also share your company’s values and have the potential to grow alongside your business. Remember, the goal is to nurture these key accounts for sustained growth and mutual benefit.

Effective account plans is vital for business growth. This process helps companies focus on their most valuable customers, which can lead to increased sales and stronger relationships. By understanding the needs and goals of these top clients, businesses can tailor their services to better meet those needs, resulting in happier customers and more repeat business.

Additionally, key account planning allows for more efficient use of resources, ensuring that time and effort are invested in the clients that will provide the greatest return. In turn, this strategic focus can significantly impact the company’s bottom line by driving revenue and fostering long-term stability.

What is Key Account Planning?

A key account plan is your roadmap to strategic success. It’s your guide to knowing where your most valuable client is today, where they want to be and how you’re going to get there on mutually beneficial terms. Account planning is a tool for identifying gaps or possible risks to account retention alongside a helpful method for spotting valuable opportunities to drive additional revenue. The key account planning process often consists of 7-steps:

  • Account Overview:  Outline all essential information about your key client that is relevant to your account plan. 
  • Objectives:  What does success look like for your key client? How will they measure this “success”? 
  • Solution:  Identify opportunities to support your key clients’ objectives. 
  • Action plan:  Create a roadmap to achieving the objectives with clearly defined steps. 
  • Change management:  Evaluate chances of success. 
  • Implementation:  Agree upon actions, and orchestrate the operation. 
  • Review:  Re-adjust and review the key account plan to maintain your level of success. 

Revenue generation is the lifeblood of any organisation, which is why successful key account managers consistently increase revenue by retaining top-earning accounts. Moreover, KAM’s importance is linked to the 80–20 Principle, which suggests that 20% of your accounts are responsible for 80% of the outcome (revenue) – true for most companies. However, there are a lot more reasons to focus on key account planning; discover the benefits below:

  • Increases customer satisfaction: Not only do satisfied customers become repeat and loyal ones, but they recommend your products and services to their peers and other industry connections.
  • Helps gain competitive advantage in the marketplace: By building strong relationships with key accounts, key account planning provides a strategic advantage to businesses over their competitors, which leads to superior financial performance.
  • Increases lifetime customer value: The more value you show to your customer, the more they’re willing to invest in your relationship.
  • Builds better customer relationships: By getting to know your customer’s you’ll build better relationships, allowing you to meet their needs and solve their problems with ease – creating a cycle of trust.

7-Step Key Account Planning Process

We’ve already quickly outlined each step in the key account planning process, but now let’s delve into each in detail:

Infographic on the 7 steps key account planning process

The first step for beginning the key account planning process is to state the basic information about your key client:

  • Client name
  • Main contact method for client
  • Client since: [date]
  • Account plan last reviewed
  • Relationship strength:  It’s advisable to add a rating to remind yourself if a partnership is solid or shaky. Choose your values (e.g. bad, good, excellent).
  • Period of the plan:  Don’t assume that it’s annual. It could be quarterly or half-yearly; remember to align your account plan with your business review and sales cycle.
  • Summary overview:  Write a couple of sentences detailing any other relevant client information such as; their industry, major industry news, buying process, and primary objective.

The next step is finding out precisely what your key client wants to achieve. The fastest way to do so is simply to set up a call to discuss the following points: 

  • “What do you want to accomplish in the next 12 months?”
  • “What challenges are you currently facing?”
  • “How have you tried to solve them (what’s worked and what hasn’t)?”
  • “How will you measure success at the end of the year?”

By asking these four questions, you should uncover some valuable opportunities to include in your key account plan. If not, it may be worth considering that this contact isn’t the right one to grow, and you may need to find an alternative. 

Now that you have a vision of exactly what your key client wants to achieve, it’s time to determine what potential solutions you can offer them. To do so, ask yourself these following questions:

  • How are your offerings currently supporting your key clients’ objectives? (Are they making the best use of them? If not, what could you do to promote better use?)
  • What else do you offer that could help create the impact they desire?
  • What would be the return on investment for the key client?
  • Can you anticipate any objections they may have to the proposed solution? 
  • What other advice or assistance could you offer to help the client achieve their goals? 

We’re halfway through the account planning process. At this point, you know what the problem is and the solution – now you just have to determine how you’ll make it transpire into tangible outcomes for your key client. To achieve a robust action plan for your clients, you’ll need to:

  • Review your client’s  objectives .
  • Identify the  actions  required to achieve said objective.
  • Determine the  result  of completing said actions. 

Moreover, at this stage, you’ll want to consider what data you can bring to help your client understand the impact of your action plan. Here are four of the best ways to measure success that will show an impact you can quantify with data: 

  • Cost avoidance:  How to improve results without your client spending more.
  • Cost reduction:  How to achieve the same result but spend less.
  • Satisfaction:  How to improve the quality or user experience. 
  • Efficiency:  How to reduce the time involved to achieve objectives. 

Before committing to your action plan, you need to gather support from other stakeholders. To do this, you need to consider whether the pain of change is worth it and inspire action. 

To get the answers to these questions, you can use  Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis . The analysis model uses Newton’s law of gravity that there is an equal and opposite reaction for every action. In simple terms, the benefits of taking action have to outweigh the risks of doing nothing.

For this stage, take your action plan and create two columns; 1. why change is good, and 2. why change is bad. Below each, write down all your proposed actions’ positive and negative consequences and assign a strength score to total them up. Once you have the totals, subtract the good score from the bad score. Ultimately, if the overall score is greater than zero, your key account plan has a good chance of success. However, if it’s zero or less, your key account plan is likely to fail.

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Time for the fun part! It’s time to bring your key account plan to life and achieve your client’s objective. However, first, you must gain some form of accountability, so ask your client to agree to: 

  • The goals (including measurement and actions of your plan)
  • Specific task owners, time frames and deadlines. 
  • The preferred format of the key account plan (e.g. Excel, Word, google sheets?)
  • How it will be accessed (on the cloud or attachments?)
  • How often you will update it. (e.g. Bi-Weekly, Monthly Quarterly)

Lastly, how often will you review the overall key account plan? We all know things change over time, and adjustments will be needed as you learn new information about your client or new valuable opportunities arise. Consider using this review schedule when it comes to evaluating your key account plan: 

  • Bi-weekly:  Send clients brief critical activity updates to keep them aligned with key account plan progress. 
  • Monthly:  Use a brief 30-minute call to update your client (possibly more if your client has many objectives)
  • Quarterly:  Usually a 1-hour key account plan progress report to your client. Include all success to date, hurdles, unexpected events, new opportunities, and outline the key decision makers and decisions needed to propel the plan ahead.

Also read: How to Work with Channel Partners to Maximise Sales Volume

Overcoming key account planning challenges is essential for business success. These challenges often include understanding customer needs, aligning internal teams, and adapting to market changes. A proactive approach is key, focusing on the customer’s perspective and maintaining flexibility to adjust plans as needed. Effective communication and relationship building are also crucial.

By addressing these challenges head-on, businesses can ensure their key account planning is robust and responsive, leading to stronger customer relationships and improved business outcomes:

Challenge AreaStrategy for Overcoming Challenges
Have a deep understanding of the customer’s business and industry for tailored planning.
Build trust with key stakeholders through effective communication and understanding.
Collaborate across departments to create strategic plans that align with client goals. Align sales and marketing efforts with strategic account plans for a unified client approach.
Anticipate customer needs and manage accounts proactively to prevent issues.
Set and review key performance metrics to measure and improve strategy effectiveness.
Stay flexible to adjust account plans in response to market dynamics or customer strategy changes.

Strategic account management keeps your most important customers close. To practice this effectively, start by:

  • Choosing the right accounts based on their value to your business.
  • Understanding what your clients need and working to meet those needs consistently
  • Regularly reviewing the accounts to help you stay on top of any changes and opportunities
  • Making sure to provide solutions that align with their goals , and always keep an eye on the economics to ensure profitability
  • Having a strong collaboration within your team to ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives

The key account planning process shapes the future of your business. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can build a solid plan that will help you connect with your most important customers. Remember, the goal is to understand their needs and exceed their expectations, which in turn will lead to a successful partnership.

Stay committed to regular reviews and updates of your plan to ensure it remains relevant and effective. With dedication and a clear strategy, your key account planning will pave the way for sustained business growth and profitability.

Key Account Management training supports account managers to develop the application skills needed to systematically review and grow their most valuable accounts. While also helping them create actionable plans to grow long-term relationships as trusted advisors who provide immediate, measurable, sustainable business results to key clients.

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Accounting Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

How to Start an Accounting Business

Accounting Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 500 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their accounting firms. 

In this article, you will learn some background information on why business planning is important. Then, you will learn how to write an accounting business plan step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is an Accounting Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your accounting business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategies for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan for Your Accounting Firm

If you’re looking to start an accounting firm or grow your existing accounting business, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your accounting business to improve your chances of success. Your accounting business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Accounting Firms

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for an accounting firm are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans, and angel investors. When it comes to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to ensure that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for accounting firms.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

How to write a business plan for an accounting firm.

If you want to start an accounting business or expand your current one, you need a business plan. The guide below details the necessary information for how to write each essential component of your accounting business plan.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your executive summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the kind of accounting business you are running and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have an accounting business that you would like to grow, or are you operating an established accounting business you would like to sell? 

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. 

  • Give a brief overv iew of the accounting industry. 
  • Discuss the type of accounting business you are operating. 
  • Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers. 
  • Provide a snapshot of your marketing strategy. Identify the key members of your team. 
  • Offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Overview

In your company overview, you will detail the type of accounting business you are operating.

For example, you might specialize in one of the following types of accounting firms:

  • Full Service Accounting Firm: Offers a wide range of accounting services. 
  • Bookkeeping Firm: Typically serves small business clients by maintaining their company finances. 
  • Tax Firm: Offers tax accounting services for businesses and individuals. 
  • Audit Firm: Offers auditing services for companies, organizations, and individuals. 

In addition to explaining the type of accounting business you will operate, the company overview needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to questions such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of clients served, or the amount of revenue earned. 
  • Your legal business structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry or market analysis, you need to provide an overview of the accounting industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the accounting industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating. 

Secondly, market research can improve your marketing strategy, particularly if your analysis identifies market trends.

The third reason is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your accounting business plan:

  • How big is the accounting industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential target market for your accounting business? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your accounting business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: individuals, organizations, government entities, and corporations.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of accounting business you operate. Clearly, individuals would respond to different marketing promotions than corporations, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, including a discussion of the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the potential customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can recognize and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are othe r accounting firms. 

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t directly competing with your product or service. This includes CPAs, other accounting service providers, or bookkeeping firms. You need to mention such competition as well.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their business and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as

  • What types of customers do they serve?
  • What type of accounting business are they?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide options for multiple customer segments?
  • Will you offer products or services that your competition doesn’t?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.  

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a accounting business plan, your marketing strategy should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type o f accounting company that you documented in your company overview. Then, detail the specific products or services you will be offering. For example, will you provide auditing services, tax accounting, bookkeeping, or risk accounting services?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of yo ur plan, yo u are presenting the products and/or services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the site of your accounting company. Document where your company is situated and mention how the site will impact your success. For example, is your accounting business located in a busy retail district, a business district, a standalone office, or purely online? Discuss how your site might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions : The final part of your accounting marketing plan is where you will document how you will drive potential customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertise in local papers, radio stations and/or magazines
  • Reach out to websites 
  • Distribute flyers
  • Engage in email marketing
  • Advertise on social media platforms
  • Improve the SEO (search engine optimization) on your website for targeted keywords

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your accounting business, including answering calls, scheduling meetings with clients, billing and collecting payments, etc. 

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to book your Xth client, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your accounting business to a new city.  

Management Team

To demonstrate your accounting business’ potential to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company. 

Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing accounting businesses. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act as mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in managing an accounting business or bookkeeping firm.   

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance s heet, and cash flow statements.

Income Statement

An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenue and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you see 5 clients per day, and/or offer discounts for referrals ? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets

Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your accounting business, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a lender writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement

Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and ensure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt. 

When creating your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a accounting business:

  • Cost of equipment and office supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Other start-up expenses (if you’re a new business) like legal expenses, permits, computer software, and equipment

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your office location lease or a list of your most prominent clients.    Summary Writing a business plan for your accounting business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the accounting business plan example above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will understand the accounting industry, your competition, and your customers. You will develop a marketing strategy and will understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful accounting business.  

Accounting Business Plan Template FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my accounting business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily write your accounting business plan.

How Do You Start an Accounting Business?

Starting an accounting business is easy with these 14 steps:

  • Choose the Name for Your Accounting Business
  • Create Your Accounting Business Plan
  • Choose the Legal Structure for Your Accounting Business
  • Secure Startup Funding for Your Accounting Business (If Needed)
  • Secure a Location for Your Business
  • Register Your Accounting Business with the IRS
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
  • Get Business Insurance for Your Accounting Business
  • Buy or Lease the Right Accounting Business Equipment
  • Develop Your Accounting Business Marketing Materials
  • Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Accounting Business
  • Open for Business

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Key Account Management Plan Template

Abhijit gangoli.

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer at DemandFarm

Key Account Management Plan

As the saying goes, ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. This could not be more true when it comes to Key Account Management . Creating and maintaining a Key Account Management plan can be critical to the success of your business. After all, your key accounts are the customers that bring the most revenue and profit. So it only makes sense to invest the time and resources necessary to keep them happy. But what goes into a Key Account Management plan ?

A Key Account Management plan will help you map out your approach, stay organized, and on track as you work to grow and nurture your relationships with your key accounts. If you are not sure where to start, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with this Key Account Management plan template . We provide a systematic approach to analyze your customers, identify key areas, and adopt best practices of Key Account Management planning.

6 Steps of Key Account Management plan

Broadly, a Key Account Management plan can be divided into 6 categories or steps: account analysis, self-analysis, business development, action plan, monitoring, and reviewing the plan. Each of these sections will provide you with an opportunity to capture information that you need to improve your business and ensure customer satisfaction.

Step 1: Account analysis

When creating a Key Account Management plan, start by analyzing your current accounts . This will give you a better idea of how to focus your marketing efforts. Also, it will help you identify the pockets of potential growth. For example, do you have any new customers on whom you are not able to collect data? Are there existing customers who are not satisfied with their experience? These and other questions can help you identify areas where you need to improve.

Get to know their business better – what are their goals, what are their challenges, what are their priorities? Here’s a list of questions to guide you through some research:

  • What is their company culture like?
  • How do they view themselves?
  • What is their budget like?
  • How many employees have they hired?
  • For each employee, what is their role description?
  • What are their key performance indicators?
  • What are the challenges the key account is facing?

Best practice: You may find it helpful to create a diagram or table that illustrates the relationships between these various parts of your key account. Invest in an automated solution that can improve the integrity of your data while enhancing the research process.

Step 2: Self-analysis

What analytics can help you to understand is what type of information you need to focus on in order to improve your business. This includes customer requirements, competitive analysis, product development, and technical excellence. Depending on the situation, one or a combination of these elements will need to be emphasized.

Current customers can be analyzed using a number of tools. You can use analytics and automation to get a handle on how your customers interact with your business. This will help you identify customer pain points that you can address with changes to your product or service. You can also analyze performance data to identify how your products perform. This can include identifying customer complaints, feedback, and satisfaction issues. Lastly, you can analyze sales projections to determine how much revenue you will be making in the coming year.

These projections are based on estimated sales growth, which uses data from your previous experiences with similar products and services. All this information will help you create a list of initiatives that you need to address in your key account management plan. Define your objectives by answering questions like: What is your key account trying to achieve? What’s the bigger picture? Differentiate yourself by linking your capabilities to their key objectives.

Best practice: Clearly define your objectives and allocate specific business units to a generic team rather than a specific account manager – it will foster a creative, collaborative culture.

Step 3: Business development

In order to sustain growth, businesses must constantly look for ways to improve their offering. This can include new products, processes, and services. However, innovation is not just for startups. Even large companies must continually look for ways to improve performance. For example, how can a company increase sales by 10% without increasing prices? How can they do this by improving their service? Or by adding new products that are both cost-effective and attractive to customers?

Analyze the current state of the account and the factors that affect it. Consider this

  • Market position (leadership, growth potential, share of market, price sensitivity)
  • Business unit performance (income, cost, margin, growth potential)
  • Current contracts (length, renewal likelihood, value, special terms and conditions)
  • Customer service/relationship quality ratings (impact on new business opportunities )
  • Competitors’ status (what are they doing?)
  • Potential business opportunity value (current and future)
  • Critical success factors (what would make the account happy?)
  • Optional technology benefits

Knowing this will help you frame how you approach the project. Also, it will help you identify the type of research needed to understand the client’s industry better.

Best practice: Depending on the type of research you are doing, you can either outsource it to a specialist, or hire a professional researcher to do it for you. If you are conducting consumer research , you can create a survey or you can ask people who are familiar with the company to complete questionnaires for you.

Step 4: Action plan

Once you’ve done the research and analysis, it’s time to create your plan. Don’t worry about being perfect at this point – just get your plan drafted and then review it with your key account manager. Ensure everyone is committing to achieving the goals. A successful Key Account Management plan will show you where you need to go next to grow your business and build more value for your customer.

Define timelines that are achievable and align with your objectives.

  • What’s the short-term goal?
  • What is the best time to do it?
  • How will you achieve your goal?
  • Who is responsible for each task?

Focus on high-leverage activities to understand what takes up your time. What is unlikely to generate new business? Eliminate or reduce these tasks to make way for more productive activities. Focus on activities such as one-on-one meetings, phone calls, writing, project reviews, and research. 

Best practice: Don’t overload yourself or your team at first – ease into your plan gradually. This will help you get used to the process and avoid procrastination. Focus on one task at a time to ensure consistency and improve your performance. Celebrate your victories (big or small) to keep yourself motivated.

Step 5: Track and monitor your progress

Once your Key Account Management plan is underway, you need to make sure you’re tracking and monitoring your progress. Did you commit to too much? Are you going to get done on time? Ensure that you take some time to review your progress so that you can course-correct if necessary.

In addition, review your customer’s performance. Did they meet their commitments to you? If not, why not? This will give you insight into what they are seeing or feeling so you can position yourself for future advantage.

Set up a progress report template to ensure that you are able to capture all the data and information that you need to compile a report on your key account management efforts. A template will ensure that you do not miss any important information and that you can easily compare your progress between different reports.

Best practice: Set up a Key Account Management software to manage and organize all your key accounts and objectives. You can set up a project for each of your key accounts, or you can create a general project for all of your client work. Using software will ensure that you don’t lose track of any elements of your work and can easily revisit past projects or templates to ensure consistency between projects.

Step 6: Revise and improve

No plan is ever set in stone. Your Key Account Management plan isn’t any different. Don’t be afraid to review and revise your plan. Keep records of your Key Account Management activities to ensure you can recognize your successes and learn from your failures. Review your activity logs at the end of each month to evaluate your performance and effectiveness.

Keep a PMO (project management office) or project management software can help you manage and organize all of your 

  • Does the plan reflect the results of your analysis?
  • Are the goals realistic and achievable within the timelines?
  • Are there any parts of the plan that need to be revised or updated?

Best Practice:  Review your plan on a quarterly basis at the very least.

How to overcome challenges while creating a KAM plan template?

Although a Key Account Management plan can provide tremendous benefits to both you and your customer, the process of developing and executing such a plan is not without challenges. Challenges such as time, resources, information and organizational culture can impede your team’s ability to succeed with the plan.

Time constraints

Time is a precious resource, and your customer may not have much of it to invest in you or your organization. You need to ensure that you don’t put unnecessary pressure or demands on them that they   can’t  meet. Similarly, you don’t want to delay delivering on your promises because you’re waiting on a customer to meet you halfway. Be creative and resourceful in meeting both of your obligations.

Resource constraints

Your team may not have the resources (human or technical) necessary to complete Key Account Management activities. Ensure that you thoroughly review the requirements and focus on those that provide the most value. Then prioritize the requirements and take time to prepare yourself and your team to tackle  Key Account Management plan requirements from both a quality and time perspective.

Incompatible organizational culture

Although most organizations attempt to integrate their culture with that of their customers, in some instances the two are fundamentally incompatible. If this is the case in your scenario, then it is likely that you will not be able to change your customer’s culture. Instead, you will need to carefully strategize how you will adapt yourself and your operations to accommodate your customer culture. 

Differing priorities

Your customer may have conflicting priorities which prevents them from fully engaging with you. For example, they may have a new product launch they are prioritizing above all else. This may mean that they are unavailable to participate in any collaborative events you plan with them or their other key accounts. Ensure that you have a backup plan that allows you to engage with them in some way to ensure retention of the relationship.

Uncertainty surrounding Key Account Management plan effectiveness

The results your organization achieves when performing key account management activities are often uncertain until some time has passed. Ensure people from all departments are prepared for this and ensure leaders are able to course correct if required.

Cost-effectiveness of activities

It is possible that the time or costs associated with an activity designed to nurture your customer could result in a negative return on investment (ROI). Ensure you’re not unnecessarily draining your resources. Eliminate or reduce the impact of activities that are not worth the cost or time required to deliver them. 

Lack of or ineffective tools and systems

There are many technology solutions available to help you manage your key accounts more effectively. A common complaint we heard was that the tools and systems provided by the company were underdeveloped or clunky, so much so that they frequently caused more headaches than they alleviated. Ensure that the tools and systems you require to manage your key accounts are state-of-the-art and functional.

As you can see, there are many different elements that go into a successful key account management plan. Success with your key account management plan will require commitment and discipline from you and your team. Prepare yourself and your team before you launch the plan. Ensure everyone is clear on their responsibilities and timelines. Use resources such as one-on-one meetings, group meetings, phone calls, or a virtual meeting platform to engage your team and address any concerns early on.

By taking the time to put together a detailed and well-thought-out plan, you can increase your chances of success and make it easier to manage your key accounts. Use this template to keep your key account management plan organized and ensure that you are providing the best possible service to your most important clients.

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About The Author

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer at DemandFarm, Abhijit Gangoli, is a seasoned entrepreneur with over two decades of experience in successfully building businesses in the Sales and Marketing domain for the B2B Tech industry. At DemandFarm, he focuses on business and sales strategy to drive growth and innovation in the company. His past venture, DemandShore, now a part of Spiceworks Ziff Davis, is an omnichannel B2B performance marketing company. At DemandShore, he also successfully conceptualized and launched martechadvisor.com - one of the leading digital media publications in the marketing technology space globally.

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Now you choose.

Key account management, by nature, is a process-heavy segment that demands the collaboration of cross-functional teams.

Each organization has unique processes and preferences, so ensure you pick a customizable tool with a great support team and one that is intuitive enough to encourage easy adoption within your organization.

If you’re evaluating KAM tools, you might find our Buyer’s Guide for Key Account Management Tools useful

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Student-loan borrowers who were set to get debt cancellation or lower payments through Biden's new repayment plan won't get it — for now. Here's what you need to know.

  • Two federal judges blocked parts of the SAVE income-driven, student-loan repayment plan on Monday.
  • The rulings mean that student-loan forgiveness and lower payments set to begin in July cannot move forward.
  • The Justice Department is appealing the rulings, and the courts have yet to make final decisions. 

Insider Today

Legal challenges against President Joe Biden's student-debt relief efforts are back — and the latest rulings are bad news for his new repayment plan.

On Monday evening, district courts in Kansas and Missouri handed down rulings blocking parts of the new SAVE income-driven repayment plan , first introduced last summer with the goal of giving borrowers more affordable payments and a shorter timeline for loan forgiveness.

The first lawsuit was filed in March in Kansas by 11 GOP state attorneys general, and the second was filed in April in Missouri by seven GOP state attorneys general. In both cases, the plaintiffs requested that the courts block the SAVE plan and the loan forgiveness that comes with it, arguing that the relief is beyond the administration's authority.

Monday's district court rulings were different, but both dealt blows to the SAVE plan. Kansas Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled that new provisions through SAVE set to go into effect July 1, like lower monthly payments, cannot be implemented as the legal process progresses. Missouri Judge John Ross ruled that the plan's provision to cancel student debt for borrowers with original balances of $12,000 or lower who made as few as 10 years of qualifying is now blocked, as well.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona condemned the rulings on Monday, saying in a statement that "the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the SAVE Plan."

"Republican elected officials and special interests sued to block their own constituents from being able to benefit from this plan – even though the Department has relied on the authority under the Higher Education Act three times over the last 30 years to implement income-driven repayment plans," Cardona said.

"While we continue to review these rulings, the SAVE plan still means lower monthly payments for millions of borrowers - including more than 4 million borrowers who owe no payments at all, and protections for borrowers facing runaway interest when they are making their monthly payments," he added.

Related stories

Here's what borrowers should know about the rulings.

First ruling: No new payment reforms

Student-loan borrowers who have already enrolled in SAVE can continue making the payments the plan calculated for them. However, the new provisions set to go into effect July 1 — including cutting undergraduate borrowers' payments in half and forgiveness credit for period of deferment of forbearance — are halted.

Here's why: Kansas' Crabtree ruled , in part, in favor of the attorneys general, and he explained in his ruling that the SAVE plan's monthly payment cap and shortening of the payment period for forgiveness "overreach any generosity Congress has authorized before."

However, Crabtree ruled to preserve the provisions of SAVE that have already gone into effect because the plaintiffs failed to adequately show how they suffered harm from parts of the plan already in place. For example, the Education Department outlined in June 2023 its intention to cap monthly payments and announced the shorter timeline to forgiveness a month in advance, leaving the attorneys general with time to challenge the plan earlier.

"All of this is to ask why: if these parts of the SAVE Plan promised an irreparable harm to plaintiffs, why didn't they move to enjoin the SAVE Plan before they took effect?" Crabtree wrote.

However, with regards to the new SAVE provisions set to go into effect July 1, Crabtree ruled that the plaintiffs succeeded in showing harm because there was no delay in challenging the plan's unimplemented provisions, and any forthcoming relief would be irreversible.

So rather than reversing or altering any of the provisions through SAVE already implemented, Crabtree decided to halt any new measures that have yet to be implemented until the court makes a final decision.

Second ruling: No student-loan forgiveness

While thousands of borrowers have already received student-loan forgiveness through the SAVE provision, which cancels debt for borrowers with original balances of $12,000 or less, no more borrowers will be able to partake in that relief for now.

Missouri's Ross handed down a different ruling regarding SAVE. He first said that Missouri's argument that the plan would harm student-loan company MOHELA — based in Missouri — due to lost revenue has standing, given it was the same conclusion the Supreme Court reached when it struck down Biden's first attempt at broad debt relief last summer.

With regards to the fate of SAVE, Ross decided that while already implemented provisions of SAVE can remain, any future student-loan forgiveness through the plan is blocked. He wrote that Congress did not account for the scale of loan forgiveness under SAVE, and as a result, the attorneys general have "a 'fair chance' of success on the merits on their claim that the Secretary has overstepped its authority by promulgating a loan forgiveness provision as part of the SAVE program."

He also said that even without allowing student-loan forgiveness, the other provisions, like lower payments and limited interest accrual, will still provide relief to borrowers. Since the attorneys general did not adequately argue why the other provisions should be blocked, Crabtree said he would only place a preliminary injunction on the debt cancellation.

Cardona said on Tuesday that the Justice Department will appeal the rulings.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that the Education Department will "continue to enroll more Americans in SAVE and help more students and borrowers access the benefits of the plan that remain available, including $0 payments for anyone making $16 an hour or less, lower monthly payments for millions more borrowers, and protecting borrowers from runaway interest if they are making their monthly payments."

Watch: Why student loans aren't canceled, and what Biden's going to do about it

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Judges Block Parts of Biden’s Student Loan Repayment Plan

A part of the SAVE plan that would have cut monthly bills for millions of borrowers starting on July 1 was put on hold.

President Biden gestures to an audience, with a large U.S. flag and a crowd of people behind him.

By Tara Siegel Bernard and Zach Montague

Two federal judges in Kansas and Missouri temporarily blocked pieces of the Biden administration’s new student loan repayment plan on Monday in rulings that will have implications for millions of federal borrowers.

Borrowers enrolled in the income-driven repayment plan, known as SAVE, are expected to continue to make payments. But those with undergraduate debt will no longer see their payments cut in half starting on July 1 , a huge disappointment for borrowers who may have been counting on that relief.

The separate preliminary injunctions on Monday are tied to lawsuits filed this year by two groups of Republican-led states seeking to upend the SAVE program, a centerpiece of President Biden’s agenda to provide relief to student borrowers. Many of the program’s challengers are the same ones that filed suit against Mr. Biden’s $400 billion debt-cancellation plan, which the Supreme Court struck down last June.

“All of this is an absolute mess for borrowers, and it’s pretty shocking that state public officials asked the courts to prevent the Biden administration from offering more affordable loan payments to their residents at time when so many Americans are struggling with high prices,” said Abby Shafroth, co-director of advocacy at the National Consumer Law Center. “It’s a pretty cynical ploy in an election year to stop the current president from being able to lower prices for working- and middle-class Americans.”

The preliminary injunctions freeze parts of the SAVE plan until the cases are decided.

In a statement, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said the Biden administration strongly disagreed with the court decisions. “Today’s rulings won’t stop our administration from using every tool available to give students and borrowers the relief they need,” she said.

Eleven states led by Kansas filed a lawsuit challenging the SAVE program in late March in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. The next month, Missouri and six other states sued in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Both suits argued that the administration had again exceeded its authority, and that the repayment plan was a backhanded attempt to wipe debts clean.

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    At its core, strategic account planning involves a deep understanding of the customer's business, industry, and challenges. It goes beyond transactional interactions and focuses on building strategic partnerships that are mutually beneficial for both parties involved. By investing time and effort into understanding the customer's needs ...

  4. Account Management: A Complete Guide to CSO Strategy

    Account planning creates sales motion and alignment around the customer, giving account management teams a structure and process to improve customer retention and growth. ... Customer's long-term business goals. Successful alignment requires the account management team to understand the customer's needs, articulated and unarticulated ...

  5. Strategic Account Management

    Strategic account management is a big investment, but with the right skills and proper planning, it's a worthwhile one. Having a dedicated SAM who's actively building strategic relationships with your most important clients and pursuing new initiatives within those accounts can transform your business and dramatically increase revenue.

  6. Free Account Planning & Management Templates

    1. Download and Name the Simple Account Plan Template for Microsoft. Download and open the Simple Account Plan Template in Microsoft Word. Save and rename the document locally. 2. Enter Basic Details About the Plan. Click the Date box and enter the date you're creating the plan.

  7. Key Account Management: The Ultimate Guide

    A key account manager must have an intimate, sophisticated understanding of her account's strategy, market position, finances, products, and organizational structure. Then, they'll use this knowledge to make business cases showing how price changes, customization, and add-ons will add value. 2.

  8. The Fundamental Guide to Account Planning

    Create the Sales Account Plan. Develop a sales plan of step-by-step actions the account manager can perform to both grow the account relationship and satisfy current orders. 4. Implement the Plan. Now that there is a fleshed-out plan with supporting details and rationales, it's time for the AM to take the first step.

  9. Account Management Plan

    An account management plan is a strategy that aims to retain and maximize the value of every customer. The term "account management plan" can refer to: A physical or digital document that tells you important information about a customer. It includes their goals, pain points, priorities, competitors, decision-making processes and purchase ...

  10. Strategic Account Planning: How to Plan for Maximum Sales

    By focusing on the information and roadmap laid out in the account planning, strategic account management builds trust, and leads to more deals in the future, as it proves you are a thoughtful, reliable partner that knows the customer's business. Final Thoughts on Account Planning. Account planning is critical at the beginning of a deal.

  11. Drive Better Retention and Growth Through Account Planning

    When sellers actively use account plans, they're almost 2x as likely to identify significant growth opportunities within their accounts, according to Gartner research. But account planning needs to be relevant and easy to implement for account managers to adopt it in their daily workflows. Download this Gartner guide and you'll discover:

  12. Understanding and performing sales account planning

    Many tools help sales teams gain and retain business. Sales account planning is a powerful tool that may sound time-intensive, but it can save you time and energy by focusing on high-return efforts instead of runaround backend tedium. Try account planning today, and watch it improve your sales efforts and, ultimately, your long-term growth.

  13. Free Sales Account Planning Templates

    This ensures the plan remains relevant and aligned with any changes in the account or your business strategy. Remember, an account planning template is a tool to guide your strategy and actions. It's not about filling in every section perfectly; it's about using it as a framework to deepen your understanding of the account, align your team ...

  14. Free Account Planning Template

    Get started with your account planning. Whether you're a marketer, salesperson, or customer success manager, you need a more strategic approach to earn the delight and business of your key accounts. With this template, you can customize a strategy for each of your accounts, regardless of where they are in your journey with them.

  15. A strategic account planning template for your business

    The strategic account planning template below, including some account planning tools, is meant to help you improve relationships with your key accounts by: Understanding your customers' business goals and identifying opportunities. Identifying and reducing risk. Delivering value to your client.

  16. 10-Step Guide: Creating a Strategic Account Management Plan

    Within this phase, there are four key steps. 1. Create a Profile. The profile of your customer, client, or partner will share a brief overview of who that person is. Much of the information that appears in a customer profile will not be extremely detailed, but it will serve as the foundation of your work.

  17. A Complete Guide To The Key Account Planning Process

    Overcoming key account planning challenges is essential for business success. These challenges often include understanding customer needs, aligning internal teams, and adapting to market changes. A proactive approach is key, focusing on the customer's perspective and maintaining flexibility to adjust plans as needed.

  18. Strategic Account Planning

    Account Planning for Strategic Accounts or Strategic Account Management is building value-driven relationships with your key customers that can help in long-term development and retention, thereby maximizing the revenue potential. It is a synonym for Key Account Planning. The account management process has always been complex.

  19. Account Planning Template

    Account planning is a process of building strategic plans to improve value-driven relationships with key customers that can help in long-term development and retention, thereby maximizing the revenue potential. Effective account plans and templates help account managers gain a more in-depth understanding of the client.

  20. Accounting Business Plan Template [Updated 2024]

    Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P's: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a accounting business plan, your marketing strategy should include the following: Product: In the product section, you should reiterate the type of accounting company that you documented in your company overview.

  21. 6 Steps of the Key Account Management Planning Template

    6 Steps of Key Account Management plan. Broadly, a Key Account Management plan can be divided into 6 categories or steps: account analysis, self-analysis, business development, action plan, monitoring, and reviewing the plan. Each of these sections will provide you with an opportunity to capture information that you need to improve your ...

  22. Definition of Account Planning

    Account Planning. Account planning is the process of mapping out important details about a new prospect or existing customer, including information about their decision-making process, the companies you're competing with to close them and the overall strategy to win them over, retain and grow them. Learn how to build a world-class key account ...

  23. Write your business plan

    Common items to include are credit histories, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference, licenses, permits, patents, legal documents, and other contracts. Example traditional business plans. Before you write your business plan, read the following example business plans written by fictional business owners.

  24. Walgreens will close a significant number of US stores, shutting down

    Walgreens is set to close a substantial number of its roughly 8,600 locations across the United States as the company looks to reset the struggling pharmaceutical chain's business.

  25. Student-Loan Forgiveness Through SAVE Plan Is ...

    Missouri Judge John Ross ruled that the plan's provision to cancel student debt for borrowers with original balances of $12,000 or lower who made as few as 10 years of qualifying is now blocked ...

  26. Judges Block Parts of Biden's Student Loan Repayment Plan

    A part of the SAVE plan that would have cut monthly bills for millions of borrowers starting on July 1 was put on hold. By Tara Siegel Bernard and Zach Montague Two federal judges in Kansas and ...