I can see the eyes rolling every time the topic of account planning comes up. I can even hear the inside voices of so many sales people. They’re saying, “But it takes me away from my clients.” “It’s a waste of time.” “I only do it because management makes me do it.” You get the drill. So, I provocatively lay down the edict and enunciate in a very loud, strong voice: Don’t do account planning! Here are four huge reasons why it’s a total waste of your time.
You might as well continue to work deals that are more important to you than they are to your customers or prospects. Have your meetings, put together your lengthy and detailed proposals, do many demos, work with people who have no budget, and keep yourself busy. Repeatedly throw stuff at the wall and hope something sticks. Hey, at least you’re in front of clients. That’s really the most important thing.
Keep talking to the same people who know you and like you, too. I mean, these are the people who buy from you. Always. And, considering that executives stay in one position for a long time (NOT), don’t get to know anyone else in the organization. That is, not until that scary day when you hear that your coach, your buddy, the one who always buys is leaving the organization or moving up to another department. The person who replaced him or her was right in front of your nose the whole time, but they did not like you or take your meetings. Ever.
So, now you have to figure out how to change that – and quickly. But, at least you didn’t waste your time with account planning, right? Plus, you like the challenge of fire drills. They’re also good for your cardiovascular system.
Your pipeline is already full and many times over your quota. You have this year in the bag. When you meet with your management, they see how busy you are. They see a pipeline of deals giving them hope that you will make or exceed quota. At this point, account planning would be just a waste of time, even though you have no idea if these deals are important to customers/prospects. You have little to no clue as to how your products and services will help them solve their priority business problems. In fact, you don’t even know if they are a priority, what level of the organization they’ll impact the most, or what deadlines they’re trying to meet.
The good news is, account planning would never tell you that. All the close dates in your pipeline are just your quarter-end dates. So, who cares what your customer/prospect may need or why they should truly recognize the value of whatever you’re selling?
It’s virtuous to be a giving person in this cold world, so don’t do account planning. This will ensure your competition gains an advantage when selling against you. Your competitors will have a proactive plan to broaden and expand their relationships outside of who they already know. They’ll work diligently to nurture their relationships using all the internal resources afforded to them.
It would be crazy to think that your competitors would have the gall to proactively and continually do research on YOUR customers/prospects. I mean, after everything you’ve done for them? And then they go a step further and confirm specifically what they’re trying to achieve, by when and where it sits in their 1 to 3 year plan. Then you find out they’re actually meeting with senior-level executives, and are now completely and continually aligned with their timelines and priorities. Ouch. That’s hurts.
Account planning may be bad for you, a big waste of time. But there’s a lot of people out there who benefit greatly from it: your customers/prospects, and your competitors. Which side of the account planning fence do you sit on?