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Improve Sales : What Accounts Need  Strategic Account Development Plans?

Post Series: strategic account development plans

In my last post I shared the value strategic account development plans provide. The question then becomes: Should every account have a strategic account development plan?  No! How do we decide what accounts warrant a strategic account development plan and which do not?

I recently attended an excellent sales enablement conference in New Orleans and one of the speakers reminded me of training I had over 30 years ago.

Account management is actually very simple.

You have 5 options for an account:






As the salesperson responsible for your accounts have you determined where each of your accounts should fall?

Once you have identified the accounts that fall into the Acquire and or Grow categories we need to develop our strategic account development plans.

As I shared in the last post, Ivan Rubric invented the Rubric Cube and it even took him over 4 weeks to solve it.

The expectation is account development plans and account acquisition strategies take time to develop and execute because they are multi demential as well.

One of a salesperson’s most value assets is “Time“.

We must have the discipline  to spend time on activities that drive the greatest returns.

Below are questions I have used when coaching salespeople to determine if an account warrants a strategic growth or acquisition plan.

  • Is the account in a market you already have experience in?
  • Does this account have problem(s) your product or service can solve?
  • Is the dollar value growth (the return on your efforts) greater than $________? ( this will be specific to your organization)
  • In terms of products and services like yours if it is an existing account, do your current sales represent less than 70% of total purchases in like products?
  • Is this account in a strategic market you have targeted to diversify your account portfolio?
  • Does this account match your companies Ideal Customer Profile?

If you answered “yes” to at least 4 of the above the account does warrant a strategic account development plan.

I am often asked : what is an ideal customer profile? I dedicated an entire post to this topic and I encourage you to read it here if you have not heard of this term. A quick summary of an ideal customer profile is a template that clearly tells sales the types of customers we want. It reinforces what sales needs to be looking for when they hunt so they bring home the accounts the organization values and accounts that value your organization .

So you have determined the account is worth your time developing a plan.

The account matches your ideal customer profile.

Now what?

Most salespeople have a number of accounts and you may have a large list that warrant an account development plan and or have a large list of targeted new customers your company wishes to serve. Where do you start?

Create an Ideal customer profile matrix and weight each account based on how closely it matches all the criteria in your ideal customer profile.

Rank each growth account and account you wish to acquire based on the criteria important to your company.

Criteria like

Size of $ opportunity

Size of Company in sales and # of employees


Are they in a market you have experience in

Do you have experience in their application challenges

Are they in a market your leaders targeted for strategic growth

Terms required

Shipping requirements

Quality Requirements

Cultural fit

Confirmed budget

Channel model

Service requirement

( you will need to capture your organization’s key customer criteria)

Once you do so score each account based on how many of your ideal customer profile matrix criteria each account matches.

Work with your sales manager and business leaders and share the results of your ideal customer profile matrix and confirm your score matches their expectations.

Focus your attention and time on high to moderate score opportunities.

If your dollars of opportunities do not meet your targeted growth objectives you have options:

  • Seek and qualify more accounts to acquire
  • Identify other current accounts and score them in the matrix
  • Your company many need to build and or add capabilities they have not had prior
  • Negotiate criteria areas that do not match your ideal customer profile

How about your company….

How does your organization decide on what accounts to target for growth?

How does your organization decide what accounts to target to acquire?

Does your sales team have an ideal customer profile?

Have you ever experienced developing a strategic account development plan that did not add value to your bottom line?

Once you have identified and qualified the accounts that fall into the Acquire and or Grow categories we need to develop our strategic account development plans. We must build an ideal customer profile matrix to insure where sales teams spend their time had the greatest Return on Sales Time Invested. (ROSTI).

In my next post I will share key components of a strategic account development strategy.

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