If you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail. This phrase is used a little too much in everyday life, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Planning means that you have looked at every corner of a situation and have figured out the correct path to take to victory.
In strategic account management, it’s crucial that you plan, and luckily, account plans are relatively easy to create when using a tool like Kapta.
The thing is, our templates can only help you organize the information, but it’s on you to ask the right questions to make sure that you’ve covered all of the bases. Miss a couple of steps or fail to identify specific risks and you can move the goal post even further down the line, upsetting your account and slowing down your progress.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the five questions you should ask at the start of a relationship with a client while you’re in the account-planning phase. If you can get clear, direct answers to these questions, you’re already a few steps ahead of the competition.
“What challenges, internally and externally, are threatening your success?”
Every organization faces their own set of unique challenges and issues, and as the SAM for their account, it’s on you to know them inside and out.
Whether the challenges are internal within the client’s organization or external market forces, you should know what they fear the most. You essentially want to know what keeps them up at night.
Some clients might be more reluctant to admit their company has challenges, hoping that if they ignore them, they’ll go away.
Luckily, they’re working with your organization, and you offer the perfect solution to solve their problems. The thing is, you can’t know which solution to provide them with if you don’t know the problem that you’re trying to solve.
Find out what scares your client, and you can be the hero that scares their boogeyman away.
“How are you perceived within your industry?”
Sometimes we can get caught up looking at everyone else, that we forget to look in the mirror. Before you start creating the account plan for your client, we recommend that you have them engage in a little bit of self-examination.
One of the most important things that you can learn about your client’s organization is how they are perceived within their own industry. Chances are you are not as much of an expert about their industry as they are, so they should be able to provide you with some more insight into their position.
Are they seen as the cheap company? Are they recognized as leaders of innovation? By understanding their unique position within their competitive landscape, you’ll be able to plan for unforeseen risks while also identifying new and exciting opportunities that they might not have considered. Tools like SWOT analysis are helpful here. And by providing solutions for both, you’ll be one step closer to becoming their Trusted Advisor.
“What is your organization’s history?”
As the saying goes, history repeats itself, and the more that you can learn about the past of your client’s organization, the more you can do to ensure their future is brighter.
We’ve found that you should start this as a broad general question, but then follow up with more targeted questions about their past.
Also, you’re not looking for basic answers that you could just find on the company website (i.e., when they were founded, who the CEO is, etc.). Instead, you want to know more about areas they have struggled in the past. How did they overcome these challenges? Are they afraid of making this same mistake again?
Also, you should also learn more about their past successes so you can provide repeat results. How did they succeed? What did they do to enable the result?
Once you learn more about the organization’s history, you can start to provide unique solutions to build their future.
“What is your definition of success?”
“Success” might seem like a universal term that means the same to everybody across the board, but we’ve found in our experience that different organizations will have a different definition. For this reason, before we create the account plan for any strategic account, we like to make sure that we’re on the same page.
For example, one client might think that reducing their churn rate by 20% is the ultimate success while another might be more concerned with the revenue growth for the year. Everyone will have a different metric, and it’s crucial that you know how you’ll ultimately be judged.
“What is your ultimate goal within the industry?”
Finally, you want to know what the end goal is. How will you know that you will provide them with a win within their organization, catapulting them to the top of the rankings above their competition?
Finding out your strategic account’s ultimate goal will give you an endpoint for the account plan. Keep in mind, that account plans are living, breathing documents that you should update on a semi-regular basis. The goal post will always move, but as you start tackling objectives and hitting milestones in the account, you’ll be one step closer towards reaching ultimate success for them.
Additionally, you should also ask to learn more about their value proposition. What makes them different? Why do customers choose them over the other guys? If you can determine their unique value proposition, then you can come up with solutions that will help them sell more and create more value for their customers.
How Kapta Can Help
Now that you’ve got the hard questions out of the way, you’re ready to create a thorough, winning account plan that you can follow for the rest of the life of the account. We hope you weren’t planning on starting from scratch, were you?
With Kapta, you can use one of our many account plan templates to simply fill in the blanks and get started. To see how Kapta can improve your account plans, request a free demo today.