The Best Account Plans Start in Sales

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By Ashley Hall

It’s me again! Here to be your customer success conscience, reminding you how and why growth plans are a powerful and necessary tool of the trade.  

So far, you know the 5 elements that outline a strong account plan. You also have a firm grasp as to why they’re important as well has how they support your role and also your colleagues. Now I’d like to discuss how you can get account plans going before your first meeting with the client.

My most impactful account plans have greater context from our sales team on what was important to the client at the time of purchase and what their long terms goals were. More importantly they also include relationship details regarding the stakeholders and their purchasing team.

This information is amazing to have organized access to. Why? It’s a great snapshot of their challenges at the time, their main goals at a time when they were evaluating solutions, and a glimpse into their excitement about your product upon purchase.  This intel empowers you as a relationship manager from day one to have full context into their lifecycle with your product and allows you to drive the strategic relationship forward.

There are a number of ways you can kick off the account plan process in sales. In my current role, we pull certain fields from a won opportunity in the CRM into an object both in the CRM and into our account plan document in a collaborative sheet. With a minor investment in development and CRM magic you can be pulling the key data points important to your account plan automatically.

If this doesn’t sound like a feasible solution for your team, I suggest getting started with form submittals (Google Forms are super easy to set up!) or hand off meetings where the salesperson shares the story verbally. Regardless of the method, set up a standard set of 5-10 key points you need from the sales team regarding this opportunity and record it in a place that is accessible company-wide.

What should you be collecting? Here are some ideas on what to start collecting in the sales process.

Client industry

Previous solution your product is now replacing

Summary of the client’s business model

Top challenges the need to solve for now

Long term goals

Summary of their current tech stack or tools

Planned growth or opportunities for cross/up-selling

Special contract terms or agreements out of the ordinary

Immediate action items

Customer success and partnership is a team sport! While the success team may own the retention and expansion goals, every department participates in customer success. Building an open and communicative relationship between success and sales ensures that the client wins every time but also your customer-facing teams.

Curious about learning more on how sales and customer success can work together as a team in your organization? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers a CSM Certification Program that includes selling-focused classes like Uncovering Opportunities and Managing a Selling Cycle. For more information on these 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.