Account Plan or Strategy Paper?

John is a civil engineer who has recently received; the latest version of a drawing tool meeting the Australian Standard AS 1100 conventions, from his boss. Initially he was delighted, but trying to do what he was good at, made him confused and irritated. Without a proper training it would take him at least 6 months to get back at the level of professionalism he was used to working at.

I realize that in my previous posts on account management, I mentioned the Strategy Paper Tool. The name Strategy Paper has been chosen for two reasons: 1. It is not a key account plan. (of which there are already at least 10000 different versions) 2. It is a strategy to realize customer dreams. It is a tool that facilitates your mind-set and it helps you through the right sequence.

To make sure you will not end up the same as John, the tips below will help you further to professionalize your role of Key Account Lead.

The Strategy Paper:

The Strategy Paper model gives instructions on sequence and structure for the set-up of a KA Strategy Paper (SP). In headlines the KA SP informs on the possibilities, required achievements, the way to achieve, your focus areas, who is involved, what important actions should be taken, how improvement is measured and how the governance on the plan is organized. Preferably the maximum length of a written SP should not exceed 2 (A4) pages. It is a coherent story which could be told and explained to another person in roughly 2 minutes. It is the story line that anyone involved in the KA should know and understand. Strategy Paper Planning is a mid-term approach. Only relevant direction and trend changes should effect in changing the SP. Other reasons for changing the SP are not preferred and unnecessarily complicated.

The SP is a dynamic document. Based upon in between results and progressive comprehension, it can be created, changed and consummated. , All persons in the core team are responsible. (The core team = The team with joint responsibility for the KA)

The SP is a tool for strategic collaboration and realization of business goals of the KA. It contains 9 chapters:

1) Account Market analysis: Analysis of the specific markets and challenges of the account containing: A) The market description. B) The Market trends. C) The Market opportunities & threats. D) The Market vs. vision, mission and strategy of the account. E) Relevant names, parties and roles in the market F) Strength and weaknesses of the account in their Market (internal) G) Opportunities & threats for the account in their Market (external). H) Competition of your account in their market. I) Golden Stars (Unique Buying Reasons for the customers of your account. J) Quantified goals of the account in their Market (in numbers, money and ebitda).

2) Your goals: Definition of your goals that will contribute to the achievement of your customer’s goals.

3) Your strategy: Description of your approach to add value to your customer and to achieve your goals

4) Your focus areas: Description of your contributions with distinguished products and solutions in the value areas of your customer.

5) Your golden stars: Description of the distinctions of your products and/or solutions in the focus areas of your account.

6) Your team: Define your team, based on roles and competences needed, to fulfil your customers dream.

7) Your action & decision list.

8) Your strategy paper planning kpis.

9) Your strategy paper governance.

With the right mind-set, the right sequence and the right guidelines you will not end up as John but you will make the difference by being a dream maker.

Oscar Aantjes, Senior Change Consultant