By Ashley Hall
Account Plans. They are just like going to gym: We should be doing more! Just like exercise, the more you schedule your account planning time and respect that time on your calendar the more successful you will be.
No single account plan can fit all clients across all industries, and compliment all platforms and services. Try as we might to have a standard approach to all our clients, at the end of the day they truly are all unique. Luckily, regardless of the variables, your team can define the basics of a comprehensive account planning approach.
Here are my non-negotiable requirements when it comes to building an impactful account plan.
My first step to building an account is always defining the team and their titles. Understanding your customer's internal organization is a huge part of your role. It’s your responsibility to be able to tell the story of the client and define their roles and goals. Think in terms of who is your main point of contact, your “champion,” their peers, and also two levels of leadership above them. The more contacts and touch points, the better.
Reasons for Purchase
Understanding their motivation for purchase helps set the tone of the relationship and gets you started on the right foot. That understanding sets you up to deliver upon their first success criteria. I love being able to look back on those original struggles or challenges months down the road and tout how we were able to solve for them. In other cases, if they are still struggling with those same challenges, you can highlight some red flags to tackle.
(Evolving) Success Criteria
In addition to the original reason for purchase I always like to highlight 2 or 3 other areas where they are trying to improve. This way our calls are impactful and goal-driven, not just “check in calls.” Again setting these criteria, and achieving them over time, fuels the content for future impact reviews and QBRs.
Highlighting red flags is another huge part of your role. You shouldn’t be solely responsible for solving them, but these are important to raise up to your management. Staffing changes, a high volume of feature requests, and escalated support issues are prime examples of red flags to monitor.
Initiatives & Next Steps
Next steps are such a huge help for me in my day-to-day. They are a reminder of what we are working on, and if I owe an action item or waiting for the client. Initiatives can be unique to our working relationship or their current team. Being able to recall and support a larger initiative of theirs will show the customer that you’re aligned with their current needs and supporting their bottom line.
Account plans provide your team and your clients continuity and structure. Account plans allow you to collaborate with your team internally, and are the basis of knowledge-sharing when it’s time to transition accounts from onboarding, to success, and at your next promotion. While they can sound daunting at first, this is an important initiative to begin. Start with the basics and you can always revisit and refine over time.
Looking for more tips on how to build account plans? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers online training and workshops, including our upcoming classes on Customer Goals & Outcomes and Kicking off the Relationship, which are both a part of our popular CSM Training Program. For most information on this and our other classes and workshops, please visit TheSuccessLeague.io
Ashley Hall - Ashley loves to lead account management and success teams; from training newbies to building processes out of chaos to working directly with customers. She is passionate about helping customers achieve goals. With an eye on the future she is a powerhouse in building scaleable frameworks that support and drive growth. Ashley is one of the founding advisors to The Success League, and serves as a regular instructor for the company's CSM Training Program. She also serves as a customer success manager for ProsperWorks, and brings her work experiences to her articles and classes. Ashley holds a BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and enjoys living in San Francisco while traveling all over the world.