Account Planning: Manage Long-Term Account Development

Account planning, also known as strategic account planning, sales account planning, or a key account plan - yes, there’s plenty of ways to put it, but it all boils down the process of creating a consistent strategy for gathering information and mapping out essential details on your most valued client or a new prospect. Why? To form beneficial relationships with your accounts and ultimately improve account revenue.

Table of Contents

What Is Account Planning?

To put it really simple: Account planning is the process that occurs when you map out essential details about a new prospect or an already existing customer. 

Think of it like this: a marketing strategy that sales, marketing and account management professionals use in order to maintain marketing efforts to their existing clients. It is based on thorough account assessments and ensures a unique management overview of performance across all key accounts, while equipping strategic account managers with the best working environment to manage the often very complex process of long-term account development. Thus, account planning occurs in order to better understand clients’ motivation and needs, and in return, you can form meaningful relationships with your accounts.

Keep on reading as we define account planning and dive into how you can perform efficient and successful account planning.

Strategic Account Planning

Whether you’re a marketer, a sales professional or an account manager, you need to have a strategy in place in order to contribute valuably to the success of sales efforts and thereby generate revenue. With that being said, there are countless types of plans and strategies that one can use in order to obtain marketing efforts or uphold client relationships. In order to understand these strategies and make full use of them, a strategic account plan may come in handy.

Account Management Software can be a valuable tool for creating and implementing strategic account plans, allowing you to better manage your client relationships and optimize your sales efforts.

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What Should a Key Account Plan Include?

A key account plan is your methodical strategy for ensuring your key client has a satisfactional customer experience throughout the life of the account. It could for example consist of information about a customers’ decision making process, companies you’re competing with in order to close them, or your overall strategy to win them over, keep them, and perhaps most importantly; how to grow them.

Based on an assessment, a key account plan reaffirms sales and account management best practice while coaching sales reps and account managers to add best practice tactics to their overall sales or account strategy. Basically, an effective key account plan should include a consistent approach to how you build background information on critical clients, develop a sales approach, and build a relationship that is solely based on proactive management and support. If you don’t have a strategic framework in place, you will quickly find that it is extremely hard to develop an efficient playbook of tactics that can protect your brand reputation while also cultivating long-term business relationships.

When you create your long-term key account plan, keep in mind to also include some actionable steps for each phase of the process. This will help you stay organized and thus get a better understanding of how to prioritize your tasks and increase efficiency.

Lastly: Remember to maintain and update your key account plans. It’s very important to continually include updates on your account information as your relationships with current clients evolve and new ones enter.

How to Do Account Planning?

Understanding the necessary steps to perform successful account planning can help you become more effective in your marketing efforts. There’s a series of steps that are crucial to follow if you want to perform efficient account planning – just keep on reading.

The first step is all about understanding the position of your current accounts. Make an effort to research your current accounts’ metrics, including growth, revenue, profitability, initiatives and where they are located. Once you have gathered all this information, you can start analyzing it in order to effectively determine the specific strategies and interactions that may result in improving a constructive relationship, and thereby lead to increased revenue.

Next step is to put the information you’ve gathered in your account research into actual use by identifying and prioritizing their needs. If the account assessment reveals any shortcomings, your account plan should instantly provide concrete, actionable steps for the entire account team to incorporate directly into the workflow. You should consider their challenges, concerns, and problems they may be facing. Once you’ve established this, you can start to think of ways that your products or services can assist in solving their challenges.

Now it’s time to create a map of relationships so you can fully understand and manage the different relationships within your accounts. This should include key members of the account, job titles and their relationships with each other. It’s a good idea to map everything in a visual representation of the organization in order to optimize your understanding of the relationships and influences of individuals within your accounts.

These steps should serve to help you successfully perform account planning.

Why Is Sales Account Planning Important?

Good account planning helps you to easily maintain your accounts while exploring opportunities to improve account revenue. One of the most important rules when working strategically with your sales accounts is: always stay ahead of your next step. By practicing efficient account planning you can gain long-term consumer retention, which in the end will naturally increase your revenue potential. As you compile all your information into a single document, you’re allowed to work much more accurately and strategically.

Clear and priority driven opportunity management

With your sales account planning in place, you are allowed to navigate the complex and (often) unmanageable number of opportunities. This helps you become even more accurate in your forecasting while also realizing which opportunities to pursue in order to improve the overall account revenue. As you highlight and nurture your most important and reachable opportunities within a specific key account, you are positioning yourself in the top league of salespeople.

Also, finding and converting new accounts all the time can be both expensive and time-consuming. You want to focus on strengthening your current client relationships instead. With good account planning, you are allowed to focus more on your efforts of generating business through existing accounts, instead of spending all your time trying to engage with new ones.

To sum up why sales account planning is so important, we can boil it down into one single statement: By having a proper account plan in place, you are enabled to effectively form and maintain relationships with your existing accounts and ultimately win more. What’s not to like?

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Benefits of Sales Account Planning

Throughout each phase of your account plan, it’s important to think about the mutual benefits for you and your clients. When you do this, you may be able to develop offers that contribute to the success of both parties, which could contribute to maintaining a long-term beneficial relationship with your client.

With that being said, the benefits of efficient sales account planning are manyfold. Among some of the most crucial benefits are:

  • Increasing overall performance on key accounts
  • Accurately positioning value based on client needs
  • Enabling transparency and overview across key account performance
  • Empowering data-driven decision making
  • Focusing effort and ultimately achieving faster sales

As you can see, the benefits of sales account planning are diverse and manyfold. Perhaps one of the most significant benefits is the insight into which of your accounts have the most potential to result in revenue. Why? Because when you focus your marketing efforts on the accounts that are most likely to grow, you are suddenly allowed to target and maintain relationships with important clients much more efficiently. 

Account Planning Best Practices

  1. Set clear goals and objectives: Before starting an account planning process, it’s essential to set clear goals and objectives that align with your company’s overall strategy. Make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  2. Understand your customers: To develop effective account plans, you need to have a deep understanding of your customers’ needs, goals, and pain points. Conducting regular customer research and feedback surveys can help you stay up-to-date on your customers’ evolving needs and preferences.
  3. Collaborate with internal stakeholders: Account planning is not a one-person job. It requires collaboration with internal stakeholders such as sales, marketing, and product development teams. Make sure to involve all relevant stakeholders in the account planning process to ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals.
  4. Focus on the long-term: Account planning is all about managing long-term account development. Don’t just focus on short-term wins or immediate revenue gains. Instead, take a strategic approach and focus on building long-term relationships with your customers.
  5. Monitor and measure progress: Regularly monitor and measure the progress of your account plans against your goals and objectives. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) such as customer satisfaction, revenue growth, and account retention to track your progress and identify areas for improvement.
  6. Be adaptable: Account planning is not a one-and-done process. It requires ongoing monitoring and adaptation as customer needs and market conditions change. Make sure to regularly review and update your account plans to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

By following these best practices, you can develop effective account plans that help you manage long-term account development and drive business growth. 

Automation in Account Planning

It can take up a lot of time to plot all the relevant data in account plans, and in the end, this is time taken from strengthening client relationships or creating upsell opportunities. By implementing an automated account management process you can free up hours of the workday. Sure, there are some tasks that require direct human attention, but the majority of the repetitive and time-intensive tasks can be taken on by automated account management, so you can focus your time and energy on more dynamic tasks.

For example, automated account management software can:

  • Automatically generate reports with detailed overview of account health e.g. by yielding a dynamic score that changes in real time
  • Provide actionable next steps for the entire account team to incorporate directly into the workflow
  • Prompt you to reach out at regular intervals or when there’s a potential account status change
  • Help you become even more accurate in your forecasting while realizing which opportunities to pursue in order to improve the overall account revenue

Account Planning in Salesforce With ARPEDIO

Considering what we have learned so far, it’s important to note that account planning should not just become another administrative burden on top of everything else you’re handling. By implementing automated tools to help with your account planning, you will be able to finally bury all the numerous PowerPoint slides and Excel sheets. You will have one comprehensive command center from where you are able to manage everything. Sounds too good to be true?

Well, based on easily manageable account assessments directly in Salesforce, ARPEDIO reaffirms sales and account management best practice while exploring opportunities to improve performance and revenue within each key account. ARPEDIO’s Account Management Software also enables digital and intelligent professional coaching to implement best practice tactics and a common language strategically throughout the sometimes complex journey of progressing with your accounts.

But what does it include? Here are some of the most groundbreaking features that you will find in ARPEDIO’s Account Management Software:

Know your key account health score and compare across accounts

Completing a checklist of customized questions in each step of the assessment will yield a score that paints a holistic picture of your overall account health. This score is dynamic, so as you take new actions to improve the customer relationship, the score will change in real time. Also, you can compare scores across accounts and make informed, objective decisions about where to focus your attention and resources.

Customizable to fit your own terminology and methodology

All companies have their own wording and approaches when it comes to internal language and client interaction. Therefore, ARPEDIO’s Account Management Software is fully customizable to fit your company’s specific needs, approaches, wording etc., regardless of sales or account planning methodologies.

Capitalize on strengths and opportunities

Use the SWOT analysis feature to easily identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to your accounts. Examining these four elements will give you valuable insights into the business and provide full awareness of all important considerations involved in making business decisions. In short, the SWOT analysis arms you with the strategy for prioritizing the work you need to do to grow the business.

Combining Account Planning and White Space Analysis

And just like that, account planning was made a whole lot easier. And this isn’t all. You can actually combine ARPEDIO’s Account Management Software with ARPEDIO’s White Space Analysis solution. This allows you to further uncover white space opportunities directly in Salesforce. Get your mind set on opportunities for expansion or deals that need to be defended with this inventive tool for digital white space analysis. This unique combination opens up the possibilities of:

  • Creating an account plan with goals, account assessment, situational analysis, and SWOT
  • Incorporating SAMA’s 7 step framework or your companies’ preferred KAM/SAM sales methodology
  • Getting suggestions for next best actions for review and coaching calls
  • Viewing account and relationship health over time
  • Creating account plans in Salesforce using best practice account planning templates


Without an account plan to serve as a strategic framework, it can be difficult to develop a playbook of tactics that can help cultivate long-term business relationships.

Efficient account planning is all about creating a consistent approach for gathering information on your most important clients, developing a sales approach, and building a beneficial relationship based on this information. In order to obtain a beneficial relationship with your accounts, it’s important to identify and prioritize their needs. The purpose of all this is to achieve best practice and ultimately improve account revenue by having efficient and strategic account planning in place.

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