Our first White Paper in this series described the benefits of client accounts, how to operate them and how and when to review them. This companion piece addresses some of the most common questions about client accounts:
- Why do I need a client account plan?
- Who should be involved in producing the plan?
- What goes into a client account plan?
- What do I do with the plan once it is written?
It ends with some further useful notes about client accounts.
1. Why do I need a client account plan?
You need a client account plan because:
- It gives an intelligent structure to your day-to-day and week-to-week role.
- It helps you to manage all aspects of your relationship with your client.
- It helps you to identify opportunities to make related sales and get referrals.
- It makes it easier to identify goals for your team as part of your performance management.
- It makes it look as though you are in control, rather than just reacting to what happens to you!
It is important to build relationships with as many influencers as possible within the client organisation in order to protect your interests from the fickle hand of fate. If your organisation only does business through one particular individual at the client, then anything that affects that person affects you:
- If they leave, you have lost your contact.
- If they get a new boss, who has his or her preferred supplier, you may lose out.
- If they are promoted or reassigned to another division/country/role, you may not have the same beneficial relationship with their successor.
- If, heaven forfend, they are disciplined for some sort of wrongdoing, you may be tainted by association.
Similarly, you will need to keep a close eye on your competitors to ensure that they don’t catch you napping, either in terms of developing a relationship with your client or developing a product or service that leaves you behind.
So, whether you are on a preferred supplier list (PSL), framework agreement or outsourcing contract, or you just have a large client, there are benefits to actually planning your approach to managing their account.
2. Who should be involved in producing the plan?
When you set out to develop a client account plan, there are fundamentally two options, each of which has certain benefits and certain difficulties. Which you choose to follow will depend on many factors and you must be the ultimate arbiter. You may, of course, choose to mix and match your approach.
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