Top 10 Account Planning Mistakes to Avoid

By Masami Middleton

In B2B sales, driving revenue from existing accounts is far easier than landing net new customers. With so much opportunity available, why do mature sales organizations still “wing it” with their Account Planning process?

According to CEB/Gartner research, only 28% of sales leaders believe their account management channels meet their cross-selling and account growth targets. Thoughtful, intentional account plans provide real strategic insight and actionable game plans for account teams to meet growth targets. For sales managers, account plans provide an excellent foundation for consistent coaching conversations, insight into forecasts, and an overall way of staying engaged with customer activity.

Account Planning is the process of determining the best way to grow and add value to existing accounts. While many organizations engage in both Account Planning and Territory Planning (systematically determining how to optimize impact over a portfolio of accounts), the purpose of this post is to explore the deep dive Account Planning process to dissect one account at a time.

If your team is currently digging into Account Planning (or about to), here are 10 common mistakes to avoid.

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Break Through the Proverbial Brick Wall of Sales with Transformative Thinking

By Joni Santos

Picture this – You’ve been nurturing a deal for quite some time – much longer than the average deal, as a matter of fact. It seems that no matter what you say or what you do, you can’t make headway with this new prospect.

Every meeting you schedule is moved or cancelled. Every email you send goes unanswered or is met with a combative response. Every recommendation you make adds fuel to the rapidly spreading fire of negativity and ultimately ends with a resounding, “NO!”  

You’ve hit the proverbial brick wall of sales. It’s almost as if you and your prospect are speaking different languages.

The problem may be that you really are speaking different languages. Sure, your spoken language is the same, but what about your brain language? Let me explain…

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The 60-Day Sales Discovery Challenge in 5 Simple Steps

By Rachel Cavallo

I have recently had multiple conversations with sales leaders who complain that their teams are ineffective at sales discovery.  Their teams don’t know enough about their customers.  They don’t ask the right questions, don’t ask enough questions, and don’t apply what they learn to sell more.

Typically, my question back to them is, “So what are you doing about it?”  I’m a firm believer that teams will rise to the expectations of their leaders, but those expectations need to be clear, succinct, and consistently applied and measured.

I also know that it takes 30 to 60 days of consistent focus to change behavior (the behavior of the sales professional AND the leader).  Widespread, long-term change is daunting, though, so, here is my challenge to you… Take a 60-Day Sales Discovery Challenge with your team with the following steps.

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Going for the WIN, Not the A+, in B2B Sales

By Rachel Cavallo

I admit it, I was that kid in school.  I sat in the front row, and I generally had my hand raised.  I studied every night and wouldn’t dream of coming to school unprepared.  Straight As were important to me, and I would do anything to keep my teachers or parents from seeing me unprepared or not in “straight A” form… 

Fast forward a few years (okay maybe more than a few), and I’ve had a realization working with a lot of awesome “type A” sales professionals … the real world of B2B sales is not at all about getting straight A’s – it’s about getting numbers on the board, and many of the things you have to do to win are completely contrary to straight A habits.

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Sales Opportunities: Know When to Hold 'Em, Know When to Fold 'Em, Know When to RUN

By Rachel Cavallo

Walking away from the biggest opportunity you’ve had all year?  Walking away from an opportunity where you’ve already invested weeks or months cultivating the relationships and building your proposal?  Taking yourself out of the game?  For most sales professionals, these are some of the hardest decisions to make; However… they can be the decisions that make or break your year. 

They can be the decisions that keep you from wasting time on opportunities that aren’t real, investing valuable resources on opportunities you can’t win regardless of how awesome your pitch is, or spending countless business development dollars on a deal that will ultimately be discounted to the point it is barely profitable.

Why do sellers waste time on questionable pursuits and how do we focus them on the right deals?

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The 'Imperfect' Way to Sell

By Michael Perla


“The perfect is the enemy of the good.”

“The perfect solution never executed realizes no value.”

I’m always amazed in meetings with clients how much time is spent on wordsmithing[i] content.  It’s not that words don’t matter – they do – it’s just that fighting over different synonyms for the same concept feels pointless… or spending time trying to determine some perfect question to a prospect that accelerates the deal and saves the day.  Cut it out.

Anthony Iannerino recently wrote a blog entitled: “Stop Searching for the Perfect Way to Sell."  In it, he writes:

Selling is a complex, dynamic human interaction, which is to say, it doesn’t lend itself to a single right choice that covers all of the possible variables.  Because there is not one right choice for every situation, there is no perfect way; there are only choices.

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Show... Then Tell (with Win Themes)

By Rachel Cavallo

The value proposition. It’s at the core of everything we sell, right? Value propositions come in many varieties, but essentially they are the statements that say, “You need what we have to offer, and we are uniquely positioned to sell it to you.” We’ve seen the statistics that tell us how important clear value propositions are to buyers… But is the value proposition statement alone enough?

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Making eLearning Work for the Busy Sales Professional

By Rachel Cavallo

So you need to train your sales force, but you want to minimize their time out of the field. eLearning is the perfect answer, right? In today’s world of cost and performance pressure, eLearning can easily become the silver bullet to “check the box” on sales training. After all, IBM saved $200 million, a 2/3 savings, by adopting a virtual training program for its employees (Source: IRRODL). But beware… you can easily make a significant investment that won’t move the needle as much as you think.

The other day I was sitting near a friend who had to complete “mandatory eLearning” on a new trend his company was trying to position with clients. As someone who is generally on the other end of these courses (the designing and building of them), I was fascinated by his running commentary. I listened to a few of the videos and heard some of his frustrations along the way, and it crystallized my perspective that there are some right and wrong ways to do eLearning.

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Getting The First Customer Meeting is Hard Enough – What About the Second One?

By Michael Perla

“It’s only getting harder to get a meeting with a decision maker today," the SVP of Sales was telling me, “and getting a second meeting can be even tougher.”  When I ask groups of sales professionals whether it’s harder getting a sales meeting with a decision maker or key influencer today, they all invariably agree that it’s harder.

These days, with the amount of information available online, a seller can’t be a ‘walking brochure’. And, when he/she initially engages with prospects or customers, they are often already behind the curve on their need if they didn’t create the demand.

The infamous 57% statistic from CEB research on how far along in the purchase process a typical B2B buyer is before engaging with a supplier has been debated (for example here and here). But the core message is very important.  If you didn’t create the demand or ‘write’ the RFP, you are already behind.

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5 Steps to Sales Onboarding Success

By Joni Santos

How can you design an effective onboarding program for sellers that accelerates their time to productivity, while reducing employee turnover? In our recent blog post, the Case for Sales Onboarding, we highlighted the sobering data around seller turnover, departure costs, recruiting costs, lost revenue, and new seller ramp time. We also emphasized the importance of establishing desired outcomes and milestones for a seller onboarding program, defining success according to five C’s: Clarity, Connections, Comprehension, Confidence, and Contribution. 

As each ‘C’ builds upon the last, you can implement them as you would follow steps in a process, recognizing that the journey may not always be clean and linear.  In this post, we expand on how to apply the 5 C's of Sales Onboarding Success.

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