“Whenever we can replace human judgment by a formula, we should at least consider it."
--Daniel Kahneman, 2002 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, named one of the best books of 2011 by The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The New York Times.
Reading Kahneman’s book reminded me of how important it is to remain open-minded and objective in business, especially in the conclusions we draw and the decisions we make. The path to extraordinary growth with our most significant accounts is no exception. Every good large account planning effort should involve an account plan presentation to a review board of executive stakeholders. Ideally there would be two reviews annually-- a one-hour initial account plan overview and an abbreviated follow-up review three to six months later. As the number of accounts planned and presented increases, it is essential to find an efficient method for reviewing the accounts and providing feedback to the teams.
Like a newborn wellness Apgar test, we developed a simple, 6-dimension scorecard to assist in the evaluation and feedback process. The scorecard can be tailored and weighted according to your strategic account environment. If you prefer, use a “very weak” to “very strong” scale rather than points to assess your account teams’ plan presentations.
Measures of Account Team Competencies:
1. The Customer’s Environment (20 Points) _________________
- Did the team provide a thorough description of the industry including the customer’s customers?
- Did the team know the account’s business drivers and current and future markets?
- Did the team know where the account competes and wins most effectively--their mission, goals and strategy?
- Have an understanding of how the account is structured and how they go to market?
2. The Account’s Key Financials (Total 10 Points) _________________
- Is our detailed knowledge of the customer’s current financial position and critical business issues clearly articulated?
- Do we know where our opportunities to provide the most business value lie? Where we shouldn't invest our time and resources and why?
3. The Current Relationship (Total 25 Points) _________________
- Is there a relationship map in-place summarizing key account players and their influence levels in areas where we compete?
- What is the decision-making culture; do we understand how the account executives and/or committees make buying decisions?
- Do we have an accurate assessment of the customer’s view of the relationship?
- Do we typically have early access to the owners of critical business issues to help understand the issue and shape the solution?
- Is there a thorough and objective analysis of our competitive position within this account?
4. Planned Strategy and Execution (20 Points) _________________
- Do we have a realistic account growth strategy with measurable objectives? Are there new activities and tactics planned to create extraordinary revenue growth rates over historic performance?
- Does the plan position and differentiate us from our competition? Have we identified areas where we can dislocate competitors? Does the team know where we win and understand why?
- Do our current and future products and services align with the customer’s critical business issues? Have we identified any potential partners needed to provide a more complete solution?
- Is the team working together consistently to review all sales opportunities within the account? Does the plan show a reasonable trajectory of sales opportunities to achieve the accelerated growth?
5. Additional Resources (10 Points) _________________
- Does the team have the appropriate resources to cover this account and accomplish the accelerated growth goals?
- Has the team asked for the additional resources required?
6. Team Self-Assess: What has the Team Learned Through the Strategic Account Planning Process? (15 Points) _________________
- What’s working well as you plan and manage this account relationship?
- What hasn’t worked well and how can our organization improve?
- Is the team sharing account relationship concepts and best-practices?
Evaluator Notes (additional comments on the plan presentation):
ACCOUNT PLAN TOTAL (100 possible points): _____________
This standard account scorecard can help make the team feedback process more productive for the account team and more efficient for the executive reviewers. It will provide a reference point from which to build your own account plan criteria and associated scoring. Use the final scores to prioritize which accounts require additional management oversight.