Regular readers will know that I am passionate about combining sales methodology with technology to make life easier for sales people. One of the areas where I have seen lots of wasted time has been in Account Planning and Management. So, I decided to do something about it and I’m excited to let you know that my new book Account Planning in Salesforce is now available at your favorite online store. You can get an extract here, and buy the book here. It should be less than $10 (I’m trying to make it very affordable) and proceeds go to Peter Gabriel’s WITNESS charity.
As I hope you would have come to expect, this is not a theoretical book – but is practical and marries methodology with technology to make effective account planning accessible to all sales professionals who care about taking care of their customer while they go about selling to them. But this post is not meant to be a promo for the book. I was very fortunate to have a number of people who are a lot smarter than me review the book while it was a work in progress, and I want to share some of their comments here – as I think they point to the many challenges that sellers face when seeking to maximize revenue from their major customers.
This is Account Planning that works – because it is fully integrated with salesforce.com. There has never been a time where customer focus has been more important. As broad marketing becomes irrelevant, sales professionals need to treat their current customers as their marketplace; consider what the marketplace needs and then deliver true value.
My friend Matt Dixon, co-author of The Challenger Sale, was kind enough to review the work in progress. Apart from commenting that this is the only business book that he has ever seen that quoted lyrics from Metallica! (more about that later), Matt’s take was that "[the book] grounds its recommendations in the context of modern B2B sales, where customers armed with massive amount of information and advice can afford to engage sales people later and later in the purchase decision … there are no short-cuts to getting this right.” Matt knows this better than most I think.
When Bob Thompson of Customerthink read the book, he hit the nail on the head. He was kind enough to provide this quote for me. "All too often Account Planning is a once-a-year effort that gathers dust on the shelf. Use Donal Daly’s ACCOUNT PLANNING in SALESFORCE to help transform this critical activity into a usable, customer-centric approach to growing loyal relationships all year long." I thank you Bob. There is a recognition from those who know how it really works, that there are many hours wasted on developing account plans that are never used. (By the way, if you’re not familiar with Customerthink, you should go and have a look. Bob curates some wonderful insights on his site.
Matt Cox over at HP told me that from his perspective "Account Planning is a core sales skill that requires a disciplined approach and ongoing care and maintenance." and of course he is right. When I spoke to Peter Jofriet, who runs Sales Excellence at Honeywell, he said that "account planning must live and breathe as part of how you run your business. It needs to become part of your culture, and should be integrated into your overall business cadence." This is a really critical observation. Account planning can be the new marketing for your large accounts. If you are hoping that your marketing department is going to help you penetrate that key customer, then you’re likely headed for disappointment. Ask Peter, he knows. And he had nice things to say about the book as well. I thank you Peter!
More than half of the sales professionals that I have spoken to acknowledge that they are not maximizing revenue in their accounts. Sales reps are leaving money on the table and they are not serving their customers well. I am trying to help them solve those problems. This book, based on interaction with hundreds of sellers and their customers, describes how high-performing rockstar sales reps are successful at maximizing value in their strategic accounts, both for themselves and for their customers.
You can read more insights from some of the others who supported me along the way here. I am deeply honored by the caliber of people who were interested enough to share their thoughts.
And about those Metallica lyrics …
Account Planning is not always the most riveting subject, so a book about account planning isn’t guaranteed to be a page turner! Well, I tried to make it as consumable and enjoyable a read as possible. I feel pretty confident in saying that this is probably the first and only book on account planning that includes a playlist to help you hum along as you develop your plan. You will find songs here that you know (from the Beatles, Metallica and U2), some you may have forgotten (anyone remember Rose Royce?) and probably some new songs that you will not have heard before. I borrowed from the lyrics of these musical muses to illucidate some of the points I was trying to make. Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters refers to Trust – and in Account Planning, it is true; without trust, nothing else matters. I hope the playlist adds to your enjoyment when (if) you read the book. I know it lessened the load when I was writing it.
Account Planning is a tremendously important endeavor. It drives revenue, increases customer satisfaction, aligns your organization, and provides incredibly gratifying moments when you can see the impact of your work – both for the customer, and for your company. I hope this book accelerates your journey. More info here.