Leadership, is not the same as involvement.
It is incredibly hard to institutionalize Account Planning within an organization without the direct involvement of the senior-most leaders in the organization. The reasons it’s incredibly hard are straight-forward:
- Sales and operations leaders are “running all out” with limited time for distractions. Their spans of control are larger than they have ever been, and support resources are limited.
- Senior leaders are committed to hitting the numbers, and they know how to keep their teams focused on the task at hand.
- Account planning requires different motions from sales and operations leaders, motions that many of them have never performed before. To that end, they don’t always know what good looks like.
- Account Plans are not meant for PowerPoint (presentation software). Account Planning is about execution — Objectives, Strategies and Action Plans.
Senior leadership involvement in Account Planning means active participation in Account Plan reviews — FOREVER . What does active involvement look like? We think a day a month is the right level of commitment. With about 260 working days a year in the U.S., that works out to about 5% of senior leader’s time. The interesting thing is that by embedding Account Planning in the organization, that there are fewer meetings and calls during the month talking about account and opportunity issues that could be covered in a regular Account Plan Review cadence.
So, in the end, Account Planning doesn’t take more senior leadership and sales, and sales leader time, rather is a re-allocation of time spent on ad-hoc and unstructured conversations.
If your organization is struggling with the adoption of an Account Planning culture, it’s likely not the Account Planning tool, nor senior leadership’s desire to have the organization adopt Account Planning. What’s missing is senior leadership’s active involvement in the process, which is jet fuel for adoption of Account Planning.