You Know You Should Be Doing Account Planning. Here’s Why.

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By Ashley Hall

Last year I covered the building blocks to structuring an impactful account plan. Now that you’ve got the basics down, I want to revisit why it’s vital and worthwhile to invest the time in keeping them up to date.

Keeps you organized and prepared

A well maintained, updated account plan is an incredible resource to keep you in the know and two steps ahead of your client. This document should be a one stop shop for reacquainting yourself of your stakeholders, their evolving success criteria or expected outcomes, and current projects or tasks. This means you don’t need to go digging in your success platform or CRM to get back up to date. Say the client calls you up out of the blue. With just a few clicks, you can pull up this document and be prepared for the action of the call. Not only that, it cuts down on your meeting prep time for scheduled engagements.

Supports your QBR schedule and is a system of record for your renewal event

Rather than having to go back and sort through your call notes or your CRM in order to prepare for a renewal conversation or QBR, your account plan is a great place to start. Updated accordingly, your account plan should be a record of recent successes, projects, and initiatives. As a living, breathing document it tells an ongoing story and can be utilized by you and others throughout the customer lifecycle.  

Aids in times of transition

Account plans are like the insurance policy for a success team. Things happen - people quit, leave the company, get sick, or even (hopefully!) get promoted. While we always wish for ample time for transition and formal handoff calls, we don’t always get that luxury and sometimes have to pick up the pieces while in motion. I always try to operate in a way where I am preparing for “if I were to get hit by a bus.” If something were to happen to me tomorrow, would my team be able to pick up where I left of and continue supporting the client? In the anticipation of the unknown tomorrow, prepare for it today by covering all your bases and thinking one or two steps ahead.

Keeps leadership and peers in the know

I’m not sure about you, but requests from your manager, the marketing team, the sales team, and sometimes even the board will come across your desk. Usually, the requests are urgent and will be top priority. Typically the requests will vary from “How is client “x” doing?,” or “Will client “y” do a marketing story with us?,” to “Would client “z” be open to being a reference for us?” Imagine having a library of these answers or stories at your fingertips. Rather than having to drop everything when a request hits your desk, in just a couple of clicks your manager or peer will have just what they’re looking for by referencing your account plans.

When it comes to account plans, don’t try to do it all at once. Start with just a handful of your clients or chose just a couple of data points to begin collecting and start building your library over time. I’ve started blocking 2, one-hour blocks throughout the week to spend time updating my account plans and have started looking forward to that time!

Need help becoming a more organized CSM? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers a comprehensive CSM Certification Program which includes such classes as Managing Your Portfolio and Executive Business Reviews. For more information on this program and our other classes and workshops, please visit TheSuccessLeague.io

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Ashley Hall - Ashley loves to lead account management and success teams; from training newbies to building processes out of chaos. 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 is a senior account manager for Copper, and brings her work experiences to her articles and classes. Ashley holds a BA from the University of Colorado, lives in San Francisco, and and enjoys global travel.