Key Account Planning

Key Account Planning

Use Case

Many companies use Key Account Plans which are typically created each year for critical customers or in some cases all customers depending on preference of the company. The purpose of Key Account Plans is to document what a salesperson (or sales team) plans to accomplish with a customer over the course of the year.  They are created either during the 4th quarter of the previous year or during first quarter of current year.

Typically, key account plans consist of the following elements:

  • Documentation of past year’s purchases / performance (usually overall purchases, but sometimes purchases by core product categories)
  • Recap of activities / actions taken by sales person / sales team in the previous year to support customer
  • Goals for purchases (overall or by category) for current year based growth goal percentages (they may have a target and a “stretch” goal
  • Documentation of Customers current year goals (in their words)
  • Documentation of Manufacturer’s goals to grow the customer’s business
  • Specific activities/actions (w/ counts) to be taken by sales person / sales team (& sometimes sales manager) to support growth goals.  Examples:
    • Joint calls on customer’s customer:  qty = 8
    • Customer Sales staff Trainings (product knowledge):  qty = 4
    • Training Events for Customer’s customers:  qty = 4
  • Account Plan may include documentation of “co-op marketing dollars” and how they may be spent.  Examples:
    • Promotional item giveaway with purchase
    • Sporting event tickets tied to a training
    • Booth at local association or trade event
    • Samples or Displays

Salesforce can be used to document all account plans by sales person and use activities module to document actions taken in support of goals / actions promised.  Companies can choose to automate this and allow for activity roll ups to calculate percent of plan complete.   Companies with ERP integrations may roll up purchase data onto the account plans to track pace toward purchasing goals and/or rebates.

Why Doing this in Salesforce Adds Value:

  • Typically Account Planning lacks standardization (verbal, excel, word docs)
  • Creating standardized approach ensures key accounts are being handled correctly and the Key Account plan is the center-point of a valuable customer meeting
  • Key Account plans can go through a structured and documented approval process that is automated
  • Documenting and Associating activities in support of plan is now possible
  • Salesforce can help ensure that scheduled follow ups (i.e. Quarterly) are executed and documented
  • You can automatically update pace to goals detailed on the Account Plan, most companies struggle to keep this up to date and do it manually. If at all.  At best updates are done late in the year (too late to affect customer behavior)
  • Key Account Plan documentation is now centralized and searchable
  • Executives and Managers gain visibility into Key Account Plans across the company
  • Reporting on success of Key Account Plans now becomes possible
  • Provides accountability for execution of Key Account Plans

Additional Thoughts & Ideas

  • When combined with a product like Conga (from Salesforce AppExchange), companies can produce a formal Account plan document and use as an agenda for yearly kick off meetings with key customers, or as an internal document for sales meetings (Conga will allow for internal and external versions)
    • Additionally Conga can produce a quarterly progress statement
  • The Account Plan can become the backbone of yearly Customer management and tracking by associating additional objects such as Rebate Programs*, Co-op Marketing Expenditures* & Account Sales Forecasting (w/ Seasonality)* & Events.
  • In some cases it makes sense to use a sub object called “Action Item” or “Strategy Item” which can be a many to one relationship to the Account Plan; this applies when a supporting Action (or Strategy) Item may have several steps or tasks to complete.  Typically a standard Task record can be used directly related to the Account Plan itself to be the Action Item
  • Key Account planning is depicted here as specific to manufacturing, however other industries can get excited about the concept for their orgs; examples include distributors, professional services, and software companies

*Rebate Programs, Co-op Marketing, & Account Sales Forecasting (w/ Seasonality) will be future topics of white papers

Reporting Concepts

Once Salesforce is being leveraged to centralize information, reporting becomes valuable and can be sliced and diced in multiple ways to provide insights for sales people, managers, and executives

  • Completion percentages of Account Plans by Account by Salesperson
  • Activity reporting specifically related to achieving Account Plan by Account by Salesperson
  • Percent to Account Plan purchase goals (if ERP data not available, updates may be manual)

Licensing Considerations

  • Key Account planning can be set up with Professional Edition, however for a higher degree of automation (code based roll up calculations, automated completion percentages) and depth (i.e. ERP Data), you should consider Enterprise Edition
  • Visit or contact Idle Tools regarding questions on licensing

Screen Shots

Below are examples of Key Account Plans in Salesforce. Please note that some screenshots are in the Salesforce Classic User Interface and others are in the latest Lightening User Interface. Also some information has been blanked out for data protection.

Scott Thomas