Strategic Account Management Best Practices from Strange Places – A Football Life
The other day I was watching a re-run of the NFL Network’s documentary series, A Football Life, that covered Bill Belichek during the 2009 NFL season. If you do not remember, it was the 2009 playoffs when the Ravens smashed the Patriots (33-14) in New England, and seeing that performance was about the only therapy that could cure me of the heartache I received courtesy of the Cundiff catastrophe that was this year’s AFC Championship game. But instead of receiving some well needed purple therapy courtesy of Ray Rice and Terrell Suggs, I received a dose of thought and reflection from Bill Belichek.
It happened during a scene in the Patriots meeting rooms where Belichek stood in front of his team and referenced a quote from Sun Tzu, and his work, the Art of War.
“The battle is won before it is ever fought.”
The 3 time Super Bowl champion coach then goes on to explain who Sun Tzu was, the task that he was sent out to accomplish, and what he was attempting to teach the world about war through these words…That nothing can replace the importance of planning and preparation. After observing hundreds of battles of varying strategies across different landscapes with thousands of trained warriors, Sun Tzu came to realize that the outcome of each one of these struggles was not determined by the strongest army, or the numerous, but that outcomes were decided (almost beforehand) by the extent and effectiveness of the planning and preparation of one of the 2 sides.
Which got me thinking…this same theory and principle can be applied in the world of strategic account management. The organization with the most effective strategic account plan, who uses that document to actively plan and prepare, will win their “battles” – even before the battle lines are drawn in conference rooms and on conference calls. We have seen it over and over again in our 20 years of consulting SAM programs…that an effective (and updated) SAM plan puts organizations, teams, and customers, into positions where they can achieve levels of success they have ever only dreamed of.
So what makes for an effective SAM plan? A template inclusive of the following sections would be a great start…
Metrics Dashboard: Summary snapshot of critical SAM data points
Account Demographics: Basic information about the account
Account Team: Definition of members (who), roles, and responsibilities
Financial Summary: Key financial data points – historical, and present; delivered and/or earned
Opportunities: List of current sales opportunities
Relationships: List of all key contacts and relationship metrics that measure the strength of the relationship
Account Rating: Internal, quantitative assessment of the account measured against best practices
SWOT Analysis: Strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities assessment (qualitative)
Strategies and Tactics: List of strategic account management initiatives and the tactics needed to achieve them