Off the Cuff Instant Interview Question: “What are some tips for doing practical market, territory and account planning?”
While those of us in sales are usually viewed as not the best of planners, my experience is that we welcome practical, streamlined planning that helps win business. As such, concise, targeted planning, such as that used in the Sandler Enterprise Selling Program, is typically embraced. Complex situations can call for more extensive analysis but there’s great value in simple frameworks for pragmatic planning. Other areas are certainly important as well, and perhaps more relevant, depending on business models. And with enterprise selling, significant, focused research is essential. That said, let’s review a 30,000-foot framework of five fundamental areas:
1. Market Understanding – The fundamentals are the bedrock for sound business decisions, focusing on:
- Accounts: Verticals, challenges, sizes, sales cycles, market attraction, etc.
- Economy: Overall health, seasonality, geographic issues, governmental impacts, etc.
- Service Structure: Direct/remote, product/service, internal/outsourced, etc.
- Market Patterns: Demographics, buying access, trends, etc.
- Competition: Footprint, incumbency, strategies, distribution, pricing, etc.
- Affiliations: Alliances, associations, channels, partners, prime/subs, etc.
2. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Accelerator – Enhancing traditional SWOT drives accountability, action and success. Market understanding now complete, you must identify what you do well (Strengths) and not so well (Weaknesses) and understand external factors increasing your chances of goal achievement (Opportunities) and internal factors creating disadvantage. With fundamental SWOT done, it’s all about acceleration by building and implementing clear improvement actions for each item identified.
3. KARE (Keep, Attain, Recapture, Expand) – Developing profiles for all accounts, clients and prospects, based on their traits and tendencies, is truly impactful. Accounts are profiled as KEEP accounts, ATTAIN accounts, RECAPTURE account and EXPAND accounts, with customized attributes aligning each profile to your model. Specific account tactics and strategies are then identified and implemented via the KARE profiles.
4. Territory Value Propositions – Based on the planning now accomplished, outcome-based messages are crafted for your identified, most promising market areas. Strategically then, doing what you do best in the truly aligned profile accounts, provides logical structure and breeds confidence for sales teams.
5. Growth Account Booster – Crafting and following streamlined account plans drilled down to the opportunity level with key advancement actions very simply increases the likelihood of wins. These dynamic plans provide the platform for the communication and collaboration that is the hallmark of team selling.
A practical framework for sales planning. Simply put, it’s a survival skill. Internalize it and follow it, amending and enhancing as you go. Make it yours and good things will happen as a result!
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