Why do Account Plans anyway?
They're supposed to inform every customer meeting and interaction, right?
So why do account plans get lost, go out of date, and go unused?
There's usually two patterns.
- You've got account plans in random docs or spreadsheets that are hard to find and don't update automatically. OR
- You're using account planning software that promises smooth CRM integration and account plan templates but really relies on manual updates that no one likes to do. So they get stale.
It always starts with good intentions "Lets make the account plan" and then people jump into meetings and leave it behind.
You’re not alone. We've been there.
What should an account plan cover?
At its essence, an account plan should lay out the current state of the customer, your relationship with the customer, their needs and goals, your goal, and who you need to get it done. If we assume that 65% of business comes from existing customers, account plans should be a key part of account management.
A generic account plan might look like this:
- Customer’s business overview and industry context
- Number of employees, recent contraction/expansion
- Annual revenue
- Business model
- Customer’s initiatives
- FQ/FY goals, challenges, and priorities
- Customer’s decision-making process
- Decision makers procurement processes, purchase criteria
- Partnership overview and forward looking
- Objective measures, e.g. trending CSAT and NPS
- Subjective measures, e.g. anecdotal overview from account rep
- Internal strategy for retaining and upselling them
So, what's the problem with using docs and typical account planning software?
There are 4 problems.
Hard to find
Account plans in a Google doc (or similar) often get buried in disorganized folders and are hard to find, or are not shared with the right people, and live completely outside any system of record, such as a CRM. They also don’t show the past meetings, contacts or related notes. Account plan software can help but is another system to navigate.
A pain to update so they get stale
What good is reviewing an account plan without the meeting history, meeting notes, contacts and so on? Pretty useless.
And how much success do we have getting reps to update Salesforce or Hubspot AND update their account plans at the same time? Good luck with that.
Some Account Plan software has great CRM integration but without solid logging of meetings, meeting notes and contacts, it's garbage in, garbage out. You're still looking at a blank screen.
Not properly integrated with Salesforce or Hubspot
Docs and spreadsheets are wonderful for account information and writing out a strategy. But if you can't refer to the deals, opportunities and contacts, it's information duplication or things just go out of date. Especially if there's multiple teams touching the account.
Outside of the customer meeting workflow
Even Salesforce's Quip (at $1,200 per year!) has the problem that it's outside the meeting workflow. Customer facing reps start meetings from their calendars, they need to take notes and track action items. That doesn't usually happen in the CRM.
So even the best account plans get ignored at the moment of truth - the customer meeting.
A new approach with Meetingflow
Meetingflow solves these problems by integrating the customer meeting workflow into the account plan context. This gives an account management system approach with three huge benefits.
1. Accounts plans in Meetingflow are Automatically organized
Meetingflow automatically organizes everything by company which is right where you can put your account plans. These are easily filtered, searched and sortable by recent activity (or the lack thereof). No more digging around to find account plans. Period.
2. They’re automatically up to date
An account plan is effectively a summarization that should be informed by touchpoints and customer experiences from meetings, so why wouldn’t meeting notes and account plans go hand-in-hand?
Account plans in Meetingflow are automatically populated with associated CRM opportunities, contacts or leads you’ve met with, and a log of past meetings with meeting notes that are easily referenceable without leaving the account plan.
Meetingflow gives you a clean view of past meeting notes right on the same screen, so it’s incredibly easy to update account plan with the most relevant and recent information that came out of a meeting - Say goodbye to the days of account plans updated 1x/quarter that then never see the light of day until next quarter when they’re updated again.
3. They’re in the meeting workflow
For every meeting, you can access the account plan right in the sidebar as you plan the meeting. Given most reps only give themselves 6 minutes to plan, it’s crucial this info lives right in the meeting workflow itself. This means every meeting can operate in the context of the account plan just as it should. Instead of great plans made once a quarter and then forgotten, account plans in Meetingflow are live and tied right to the flow of meetings.
The Meetingflow way
If you’ve read this far you’ve probably felt the pain of managing account plans that don’t go anywhere. We have too. The magic of the Meetingflow approach is because it builds on an intelligent workflow for customer meetings, that intelligence is then easily brought to the account plan context. We hope you’ll try it soon. You won’t know what to do with the time savings and new found happiness in everything automatically organized and actually used.
Happy planning (and executing)!