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Why Your Account/Territory Plan Ends Up in the Trash Every Year

Why Your Account/Territory Plan Ends Up in the Trash Every Year - SalesLatitude

Why Your Account/Territory Plan Ends Up in the Trash Every Year - SalesLatitudeMost sales people hate working on their account/territory plan. Not surprisingly, they’d rather work opportunities. But, hold on a second – are they not one and the same? We’ve all heard the stories of the “one and done” account/territory plan: you do it once a year to show to management, then put it in your desk drawer. Or, the trash.

The Typical Account/Territory Plan

What are sales reps presenting that is not worth looking at the rest of the year? I can only imagine. I have seen tons of account/territory reviews, and most of them contain an overview of:

  • Past history in the account/territory
  • What they have sold in the account/territory
  • Other things they can sell in their account/territory
  • Who they know in the account/territory
  • Who they would like to know in their account/territory
  • A plan to reach their annual quota target
  • Risks, barriers, and limitations to discuss with the team at large

Or something pretty close to it. Typically, they are very “us” focused, with little to no representation of what customers are interested in. It’s like throwing sh*t at the wall and hoping something sticks. The “plan” gets management’s seal of approval. But then everyone wonders why deals slip and get re-forecasted quarter to quarter. I can see why the account/territory plan ends up in a drawer or a trash can.

Always Customer-Focused and Evolving

But the best account/territory plan is one that continues to evolve. It should help the sales team truly understand more about their customers by reflecting their businesses through their eyes. Look at the top performers. They use the account/territory plan to better understand what their customers are trying to accomplish, their timeframes, priorities and risk tolerances in order to plan how they will fill their pipeline.

And in the end, the account/territory plan and working the right opportunities are one and the same. You can’t have one without the other. The plan is constantly reviewed and verified with your customers and prospects to ensure you’re working the opportunities that are getting most of their time, money and resources. You plan for it.

What’s a Good Account/Territory Plan?

You’ll notice many similarities between planning from your perspective and planning from your customer’s or prospect’s viewpoint. But it’s this nuance that bridges the gap between account/territory planning and working opportunities. A good account/territory plan includes a review of:

  • Past history in the account/territory
  • What you sold in the account/territory – including how each customer has improved their business outcome (value to the customer) based on the products and services you sold them
  • Other things you can sell in your account/territory based on what you’ve identified are the customers’ or prospects’ priority business outcomes
  • Who you know in the account/territory, and who you should get to know based on what you’ve identified as the customers’ or prospects’ priority business outcomes and who cares
  • Who you would like to know in your account/territory, and a detailed plan on how to accomplish this
  • A plan to reach your annual quota target AND fill your pipeline for future years. Your customers couldn’t possibly solve all their critical business problems in a single year!
  • Risks, barriers, and limitations to discuss with the team at large

What have been your experiences with your account/territory plan? And how are you deciding which opportunities to spend your time on? Do you do “one and done” plans? Or do you have an evolving plan that changes as you nurture your customer relationships and learn more about their business priorities, up front and personal?

Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and change agent focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams by maximizing their time and resources, selling from the buyer’s point of view, and strengthening the effectiveness of leadership. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter

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