Most sales people make two key mistakes when building a large account plans or as I like to call them relationship plans. First they build the plan by themselves or with the help of their teammates instead of with the inputs from the C-levels and influential people of the large account. Second, they don’t hold themselves and the large account’s people accountable for the actionable ideas generated.

Building a large account plan by yourself is meaningless. It details what you want and the actions you think will get them, without consideration of what’s important from each of the large account’s players. If there is no open discussion between both parties, there is no buy-in from these same people. Sometimes large account managers meet with the main contacts and discuss some ideas, but this is very short sighted. Large accounts are made up of many people that exert influence and power, and all of these players should participate in the idea generation and buy-in.

As far as the second mistake, I’ve seen so many plans that have no accountability. Accountability means someone is responsible to accomplish something by a certain date. Those that build large account plans without participation from the large account will find it very difficult to those people accountable for anything. They may hold themselves accountable to accomplish things, but it’s only a wish list if they haven’t created buy-in from the other party. In other words, it may be what they thought was wanted and it got them someplace, but it really wasn’t where they wanted to go.

Large accounts plans are an energy for energy concept. You do something that all agree and buy-into and you get something from the large account that you all agree and buy-into. Making an investment in time, money, or other resources with the expectation that the people of the large account will like it and give you more business is stupid and usually disappointing. If you want more business, make it part of your plan, and your large account commits to it as long as you give them what they want.

Now you may feel that you can’t ask the people of your large accounts to do things and commit to things. But, if you’re too shy or lack the confidence to state these expectations, you’ll be a one way energy source.

Realize however, there may be a number of steps or tasks to get end results on the part of both parties and these are what have to be discussed and documented and tracked for completion against deadlines. There must be energy and accountability from both parties.

Prepare Yourself

I tell all my clients that 50% of their selling time should be spent with existing accounts and 50% of that (25% of total) should be spent with their large accounts. They usually retort with, “Well what am I suppose to do and say if I go there that much?”

To which I say, “Have these meetings and talks with the various people. That’s what you should be doing.”

A large account is one of those few accounts that represents 50% -70% of your sales. In other words a large account is one of those accounts that would make you suicidal, or ripe to be fired, if you lost it to a competitor.

1. Pick one of your large accounts and list the people involved; the senior manager, those that report to the senior manager and others associated or influential people involved with what you offer. Don’t forget those effected, but not directly in the chain of command.

2. Indicate the last time you met with each. Indicate what was agreed that needed to be done by you or your company in order to get more sales from this large account or at least this person’s commitment to support you. Have you provided what was discussed? Has this person performed for you? In other words have you held each other accountable?

Tak’n it to the Streets

Here is a template to get you going with your discussions with the various people in you large account.

1. Discuss both of your successes working together. It’s best to remind people how you benefited from each other. Be sure to get this person to acknowledge his or her benefit from working with you. If this is not acknowledged, then you won’t have a basis for expecting this person to support you.

2. Discuss and write down expectations of both for the near future.

3. List the specific actions for each of you for these expectations to be met, and then assign completion dates. If you are reluctant to assign your large account person tasks or commitments, you can’t expect that person to support you or buy into you. Remember, energy for energy.

a. One of your expectations and his actions should be to get you in front of his boss and/or associate peers so you can have the same discussion with them. Broaden your exposure.

b. Discuss what it will take to maintain your position as a resource to the individual, (the basis of a professional relationship). Make it tangible i.e. what exactly do I have to do, rather than, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

c. Be sure to discuss your expectations of more business, sharing of critical information and introductions or referrals.

4. Now go to the dark side -- What if your competition has these meetings? How much business could you stand to lose? What would you do to prevent this from happening?

Prepare your large account plans together with the C-levels, influential and powerful people of your large account. Find out what each expects and what actions are required by you to meet those expectations. Be sure to get their commitment that each will do what you expect as you deliver. Hold each other accountable and you’ll have an open, and rewarding large account that keeps on giving.

And now I invite you to learn more

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Author's Bio: 

Sam Manfer is an expert sales strategist, entertaining key note speaker and author of TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER$, The Complete Guide to C-Level Selling - getting to and influencing top level decision-makers. Sam makes it easy for any sales person to generate quality leads, and become a 70% closer. Sign-Up for Sam’s FREE E-Books, Articles and other Advanced Sales Training Tips at http://www.sammanfer.com