the account planning edition 🎯

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Hey there 👋

In last Friday's Masterclass we talked to sales leaders from Databricks, Anthropic, and Salesforce about their top account planning strategies, and had a ton of fun along the way.

Thanks to everyone who joined or signed up to make it a great session – ICYMI, you can check out the recording here.

We covered a lot of  information in 45 minutes, and got so many audience questions that we ran out of time to get to them all…so we decided to make this newsletter a special ✨account planning edition! ✨

So… why was this our most requested masterclass topic?

Because solid account planning is hard, and at its core you need to PLAN.

No one is incentivized to care when your account plan is a combination of a pitch book page, a basic fill-in-the-blanks template, and some sort of customer profile that was copied and pasted.

Account planning needs to MATTER to your sales team. This looks like:

📈 Accountability from the top down

💯 Constant iteration and improvement

🤝 Deep collaboration & alignment with customers

A huge thank you to Jamie Cosgrove, Christina Smears, and Kate Jensen for joining the session and sharing all their hard-earned strategies! Check out more of their advice and takeaways around account planning below.

- Ross

In this newsletter:

  • Top tips for account planning (+ a guide to get you started)
  • How leaders can make account plans part of their team’s DNA
  • Creative approaches to initiative gathering

🎁 Ultimate account planning guide for B2B sales teams

Accord's ultimate guide to account planning

“When I was an AE, no one taught me how to account plan… they just told me to do it.”

Sound familiar? 😅

Someone dropped this in the chat during the masterclass, and I think a lot of reps can relate.

Luckily, starting simple and getting the basics of account planning down first can make a huge difference in your deals. Here are 5 tips to get you started:

1) The focus should be on your customer’s goals, not your solution. Use their language wherever possible and hone in on challenges across the organization

2) Map exec-level customer initiatives to specific use cases and solutions that you can help with, and tie quantified outcomes to them

3) Identify potential risks/blockers to getting the deal done, and proactively make a plan for them

4) Be collaborative – validate and build the plan WITH your buyer

5) Revisit the account plan often with your team to update and improve it. It should be a living, breathing doc, not something you create and then immediately forget

We put together this ultimate account planning guide to help you map important account details, tailor outreach, and consistently win up-market. Hope it’s helpful for you and your team!

📣 For leaders: how to drive consistency & accountability around account plans

Here’s a question we got during the account planning masterclass: “How do you drive accountability to ensure account planning is a ‘living and breathing’ exercise?”

Our panelists emphasized the importance of not creating your account plans and immediately forgetting about them. The plan should change throughout the sales process, with your team continuously revisiting, updating, and improving it as you learn more about the account.

So, as a sales leader – how do you create that culture of account planning across your team?

A few tips:

1) Provide a basic template to help your reps start building plans easily. (The guide I shared above is a good place to start, but as always, adjust it for your specific team and process!)

2) Don’t forget to emphasize the “WHY” behind all of this. It shouldn’t be just another box to check off or chore for your reps to do. Explain and show the benefits of account planning and how it can help them nail those tough up-market deals.

3) Embed account planning and account plan reviews into your team’s process. From team meetings to deal reviews to 1:1s, visit your reps’ account plans often to check in on progress, coordinate next steps, and coach where needed. Make it a normal part of your process, and it will eventually become a habit for everyone.

4) Make it a collaborative exercise. Your reps shouldn’t be working in a silo on this – build the plans together! Every team member will have valuable insights to share. In today’s environment, acting as a team is so important.

Overall, driving consistent, 10/10 account planning starts at the top.

🔥 Tip on getting creative with initiative gathering

Another great question from the masterclass: “Can you walk through best practices around initiative gathering?”

Identifying key customer initiatives (and mapping them to use cases for your solution) is a core piece of putting together a great account plan.

Christina Smears had a hot tip for getting creative with initiative gathering: podcasts! 🎙️

We all love a good podcast, and listening to your champion or exec stakeholder on a podcast is a great way to understand their priorities, values, and if you’re lucky, their hobbies as well.  

Not sure where to find them? Go to Spotify, Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts. Chances are, if you search for your stakeholders’ names or organization, an episode will pop up.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply with any feedback, questions, or requests for what to cover in our next edition. I’ll respond to every email. 👋

Ross Rich (CEO and Co-founder)

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