What is an Account Plan and How to Create One?

What is an Account Plan and How to Create One?

What is an Account Plan and How to Create One?

An account plan is an extremely useful sales tool for salespeople. In an account plan, you document sales objectives and needs for each customer. This provides you with a practical overview, allowing you to see exactly what the opportunities are with a particular customer, as well as the threats or obstacles. This makes it easier to achieve your goals with that customer. Sales can be better monitored, and all tasks are neatly organized in one place. This enables you to work faster and more effectively and also strengthens the relationship with your customer.

What is an account plan


Creating an Account Plan

An account plan for each customer is indeed very useful, but how do you create an account plan? When writing an account plan as an account manager, it's important to strike a good balance between providing enough details and not getting too detailed. You want all the essential information to be present in the document, but you also don't want to spend days writing a single account plan. Excessive detail can also make it harder to sift through the information.

So, what should be included in an account plan? There are several elements that should not be missing in an account plan:

  • Practical Information: Which company is it, how many employees does the company have, what service or product do they provide, and who are the key contacts? You can also make notes about the company's culture so that you know how to approach the employees most effectively.
  • Organization's Goals: Understand the organization's goals so that you can tailor your approach during sales conversations. Pay attention to financial goals as well as the company's mission and vision.
  • Company's Market Position: Describe the company's market position. Is it a market leader, or is the company just starting? Also, consider the direct competitors.
  • A SWOT Analysis: In a SWOT analysis, you examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the company.
  • Your Objectives as a Salesperson: Describe the objectives you, as a salesperson, have for this company. Determine both short-term and long-term goals. You can also note how often you'll visit the customer and how you'll maintain further contact.
  • Time-Based Objectives: You should also associate timeframes with your objectives, including weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals, to maintain better control over your planning.

Before you start writing an account plan, it's good to clarify for yourself whether the plan is derived from your company's strategic sales plan or if the account plan stands on its own. Additionally, try to make the goals as concrete, specific, and measurable as possible. It's highly recommended to evaluate the account plan at least twice a year and make necessary adjustments. An account plan doesn't need to be longer than 2 A4 pages. This way, you keep it concise, and it won't take up too much time to create.

Account Plan Examples

If you're starting to write an account plan but don't know where to begin, it's advisable to look at various examples. While most account plans contain similar information, there are countless ways to present this information. It's essential to determine what the most crucial information is for your company. What do you want to see at a glance? Is it the annual goal? Quarterly goal? Or perhaps you want to see which tasks still need to be addressed and by whom?

Make sure that before you actually start writing the account plan, you have all the necessary information ready for inclusion in the plan. A good preparation is half the work, so it's essential. Then, it's just a matter of choosing a format that suits you and your company well. You can effortlessly fill in the data afterward. If you still struggle with creating an account plan, consider seeking help from an expert. It saves a lot of time and frustration.

Account Plan Template (Excel)

You can write an account plan using various software programs, depending on your personal preference and the amount of information you want to include in the document and the number of customers for which you want to create an account plan. Many account plan templates are available for download, including templates for Excel. This can be a useful starting point, although every organization is different, and the exact structure of each account plan may vary.

Keep in mind that a template is just a foundation. You can use it as a framework but are not obligated to structure your entire account plan this way. Retain the parts that work for you and remove the sections that aren't applicable. Ensure that not only you, as an account manager, understand the plan but also that it's accessible to all employees dealing with this account.

Strategic Key Account Plan

The key account manager is usually responsible for a large number of businesses and many ongoing projects, focusing on the 'key accounts,' which are the most important customers and potential customers. This crucial role is indispensable for building and maintaining valuable relationships between the company and its customers.

Strategic Key Account Plan

Creating a strategic key account plan provides significant support in managing these key accounts. In this plan, the key account manager can consolidate all essential information and objectives related to a customer for account management. Not only does this ensure an easy overview, but it also allows other employees to see what the strategic plan is for this customer.

By specifying who does what and when in the account plan, there's no confusion, and all tasks are completed on time. However, it's crucial to regularly evaluate and update the account plan.

Actually, it's essential to create a separate account plan for each customer. This helps in maintaining customer relationships and achieving objectives. If there isn't enough time to create account plans for all customers, it's essential to at least have a well-maintained account plan for the key accounts.

If you're wondering whether your organization would benefit from an account plan for your key accounts, the answer is almost always yes. Although creating an account plan requires time and effort, it ultimately saves you a lot of trouble. It's excellent preparation for a long-lasting and fruitful collaboration. By including not only the objectives but also the obstacles in the plan, these can be tackled quickly. Creating the plan forces you to critically evaluate your accounts and think about solutions right away. If you need assistance in creating an account plan, don't hesitate to enlist the help of an expert. It's an investment well worth making.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an account plan?

An account plan is an essential sales tool for salespeople. It's a document in which you outline the sales objectives and needs for each customer. With a well-crafted account plan, you gain an overview of opportunities, threats, and obstacles with a customer, enabling you to achieve your goals more effectively and strengthen the relationship with the customer.

Examples of an account plan

Examples of an account plan include:

  • Practical information about the company and contact persons.
  • The organization's goals and market position.
  • A SWOT analysis of the company.
  • Your objectives as a seller and time-based goals.

How to create an account plan?

To create an account plan, follow these steps:

  • Find a balance between providing enough detail and not being overly detailed.
  • Gather all relevant information.
  • Define concrete, specific, and measurable goals.
  • Keep the plan concise (maximum of 2 A4 pages) and ensure regular evaluation and updates.
  • Consider using an account plan template in Excel if it's not possible within the CRM system.
  • For key accounts, a strategic key account plan is valuable for maintaining an overview and achieving objectives.