What does your team already know about your Strategic Key Accounts? Where is this information? If you are like most teams, some of this information, the basics, is in your CRM account information but most is located in the note pads and the minds of those who work with and on the account. Or, in some cases teams are building strategies that will fail to drive the desired sales results because they lack the foundational account profile information. In this post we will discuss what is needed for strategic account profiles before we develop our account development strategy. When teams create account profiles in writing it makes their strategic account development plans drive sales velocity.
We have already determined why it is beneficial to have Account Development Plans.
We discussed the next step in solving this puzzle is defining what a key strategic account is for your organization.
We shared how to strategically design key strategic account support structures.
Now we need to create our account profiles. If your organization is like most, your have some of the following information in your CRM account information but unfortunately most of what you need to know to develop strategies that drive profitable sales are on note pads, post it notes and in the minds of the account managers and others who serve this account. There is a tremendous value to your customer and your organization by creating a customer profile document and needs assessment document. Please keep in mind this information will be gathered over time and may change. We recommend you create the initial document and leave information blank until you can fill it in.
Some time ago I discussed something called the Iceberg Principle. This is a great time to quickly review this concept before we list what we need in a customer profile.When we work with customers they often share information. This information is shared with our competitors and us ( the tip of the iceberg) . The information is interesting but we really cannot act on it completely until we know more. We need to get below the surface to find the information we need to develop strategies and tactics to drive profitable sales growth. We need to earn the right to ask questions by building trust then log the information we find into our CRM system.
Information I ask key account managers and teams to gather for account profiles is below. Fell free to add industry and market specific categories you need to give your strategic key accounts the best overall service experience.
Customer Legal Business Name:
Corporate Phone #:
List of all locations
Company LinkedIn Profile: (follow it!)
Company sales last 12 months
Company sales trend information last 3 years
Global or regional
Public or Privately Held
Shipping and packaging instructions
Order confirmation preference
On time delivery requirements
Certifications required of vendors
Customer Business Goals
Any significant changes that account is facing or will face in the next 12 months
- Production efficiency
- New products
- New markets
Sales History– Products and services we have sold to solve problems and meet needs
Product Units last 12 m Units Prior 12 m Sales $ last 12m Sales $ Prior 12
Note significant Changes
Our Goals and Objectives for the Account
Account Relationship Development Phase
Recently Opened-Build trust/ Identify Needs/ Launch solutions and grow
Growing-Known needs and opportunities qualified and plans in place
Mature -many problems solved/ need to identify more opportunities
Maintain – large sales volume/ business mature / large % of buying $’s
Decline – customer business declining due to shift beyond our control
Key decision makers and influencers: customer
Title Decision Maker Influencer Name My Relationship* email
Purchasing X X
- for My Relationship use: Strong, Developing, Need to Build
Key decision makers and influencers: our team
Title Decision Maker Influencer Name My Relationship* Email
Customer Service Mgr
2nd Level Sales Manager
- for My Relationship use: Strong, Developing, Need to Build
Global support on our team
Customer Location Our Key Account Manager Manager Email
Current Projects / Plans underway
With the above your key account manager and key account team have captured the information needed to have a strong customer profile. It is critical this information is added to your CRM system and updated by key account manager as changes occur.
I hear voices from fixing sales projects past like some key account managers and even sales Vp’s saying….
“Really Mark? All of this is necessary? We have grown our customers just fine for the last 20 years without all this…”
“ I want my Key Account Managers Selling not doing paperwork..”
“ I was told by the buyer they are my contact at this account”
“ I have all of this and more, I do not have time to enter all this in the CRM”
“ If I put everything I know in the CRM they could replace me tomorrow”
” What if we build this information and someone on the account team leaves and goes to a competitor? This could really hurt us..” ( what if you don’t and they stay?)
Trust me, I have heard all of the above objections and many more when I was asked to help teams fix their sales problems. ( These comments could be a blog post on their own.) My short answer is: Yes, we need the above account profile information completed to truly develop strategic key account action plans that drive profitable sales growth. There is a power, focus, efficiency and improved service our customers will experience when we capture all of the above customer profile information. When we have a strong customer profile foundation we can build strategies and tactics that drive sales velocity. When we start impacting our customers’ bottom line we move from “sales rep” to “trusted advisor“.
How about your company….
Do you have customer profiles in your CRM?
Do your account profiles list key decision makers and relationships you and those on your team need to develop?
What significant changes have your key strategic accounts experienced in the last 12 months and are they in your CRM? Why? Why not?
If your accounts have global locations how effective is your internal communications?
How would gathering the above information hurt your business?
Gathering and creating customer profiles for key strategic accounts is a critical building block to solving the puzzle of profitable account development plans.
If you are a business owner, Company executive, sales VP …just imagine you flew into an airport for a meeting with one of your companies’ key strategic accounts. The key account manager picks you up at baggage claim, welcomes you to their market and hands you a printed copy of the customer profile they emailed to you 10 days before. How powerful would that be? Would you feel this key account manager is prepared or just winging it?
In my next post we will discuss the next piece of the key account development puzzle: why we need to conduct a needs assessment and needs assessment best practices to insure we clearly understand our customers to help us develop strategies and tactics to provide the maximum value to our customers and our organizations.