When you get to work in the morning, you probably think about all of the small tasks you need to accomplish. You need to email someone back, create a report for an account, and hopefully find time to squeeze in a lunch break at some point.
As a key account manager, you’re responsible for a lot, and it can be easy to fall into the trap of over-analyzing the day to day tasks of your job. While you want to make sure that you’re on the ball at all times, you shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger picture and plans for your key accounts.
Ask yourself, “What can I do today to help my clients get one step closer to their goal?” Chances are the answer isn’t creating another spreadsheet, and is instead more related to the steps in your action plan.
If you really want to reach your key account’s desired outcome, you need to take action, and your action plan is the playbook you’ll follow to keep you on track. With a well-written and thorough action plan, you shouldn’t ever feel like you aren’t doing enough for your accounts. You should also never have to ask yourself “what good can I do today” and instead when you come to the office, you’ll know what you need to do for the day.
Let’s take a look at some of the components of a practical action plan, along with some helpful tips to help you craft a winning strategy.
Features of an Effective Action Plan
Although they will have different goals and uses, most successful action plans feature the following:
1) Easy to Follow
An action plan is both your recipe for success and the roadmap to your client’s desired goals and outcomes. If an action plan is complicated, confusing, and challenging to understand at a glance, it is ineffective. Although you might think it’s best to initially include every single task and item related to your client’s goals, if it’s hard to understand, you won’t use it.
Instead, you want to create an action plan that you actually want to use, and will follow over the coming year or even longer. The more you want to use a tool, the more helpful it will be. So, as you create your action plan, keep your future self in mind and ask yourself, “Will I want to use this six months from now?”
2) Combines Short-Term Objective with Long-Term Goals
An action plan is meant for use in the short-term, with specific tasks and actions that will lead to an ultimate end goal. Your action plan doesn’t emphasize one over the other, and instead, your objectives and goals work hand-in-hand.
Creating an action plan is daunting at first, and if you’ve never used one before, you might not know what works for you and what doesn’t. Everyone is different, so there is a little bit of trial and error involved at first. With that in mind, after you’ve created one action plan and found great success, you can use it over and over.
Many key account managers will take a fill-in-the-blank approach, and whenever they need to create a new plan for a different account, they’ll just change the details but keep the structure the same. By doing this, you’ll save yourself time and the trouble of formulating a plan from scratch each time you work with a new account.
Chances are, as you work through your action plan during the year, circumstances might arise, necessitating a change in direction. Don’t create a rigid plan without room for changes and instead, keep some options open so you can take strategy shifts in stride.
Goals vs. Objectives
In everyday life, most people use these two terms interchangeably. It doesn’t make much of a difference in casual conversation, but when it comes to your action plan, the distinction is crucial.
Goals are long-term outcomes that have a numerical to them such as “increase subscriptions by X%” and so on. On the other hand, objectives are the milestones that will get you to your ultimate goals in the action plan. You can’t achieve a lofty goal in one fell swoop, so you need to break the goal into more manageable steps you’ll follow along the way.
When you set your goals, you should think about how they will help your customer become more successful, rather than thinking about your own personal gain. It can be challenging to come up with goals for your customer. To overcome this challenge, we recommend you refer to your Voice of Customer interviews and the details your clients provide.
Objectives are the mile markers that you aim to achieve every few months or so, depending on the duration of your action plan. We often recommend that account managers start with their goals first and then work backward from there. Set your goals high and you’ll be more likely to stick with the plan and take steps to reach them.
Actions and Tasks
The other two components of your action plan are the smaller steps you take to reach your objectives, and ultimately, your goals. Actions are just one level below objectives and usually, take a few weeks to accomplish. Tasks are the small things that you do on a daily basis like sending an email, creating a sales report, etc.
Although they seem small, it’s the actions and the tasks you accomplish that will ultimately get you to your goals. Even when your goal seems far off in the distance, if you stay true to your action plan and complete your daily tasks, success is inevitable.
How Kapta Can Help
As an account management platform designed specifically for KAMs, Kapta contains several tools that can improve your KAM efforts with increased efficiency. Specifically, you will find the account planning tools and templates useful as you craft your action plan. To see how Kapta could improve your KAM efficiency, request a free demo today.