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How to Write a Think Bigger Account Plan

“Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.”

Amazon Leadership Principles: Think Big

The Disruption Selling Account Plan starts with a description of the current state followed by the Account Target. Many plans I came across derived this from the quota the account team got. This is thinking too small!

The Account Target we formulate in Disruption Selling must be so big that at first glance it sounds crazy. And it must take years to reach it. Why? Because only then it will function as a north star, providing direction for the account team unaffected by short term obstacles and, most importantly, failures.

Formulating an outsized, multi-year goal will also prevent the account team from taking shortcuts, especially sacrificing the long-term goal in favor of short-term gains. This will automatically translate into thinking win-win as both win-lose for and against the customer will inevitable jeopardize this goal.

A Disruptor must aim for a bigger share in the Total Addressable Spend (TAS) a customer carries than anybody else to support their goal of unseating the Incumbents. So if a customer carries a $500M TAS we’ll need to aim for $200M (40%) annual revenues.

If you start at zero, this might sound like a crazy figure, but shooting lower means you are simply jumping too short.

There is another effect of Thinking Bigger: it makes you aware of the fact that anything you do today you’ll need to do bigger tomorrow which means you need to build flywheels that will grow for years to come. A single one-off deal won’t provide this.

The plan works backwards from the Account Target translating it into Account Priorities, the Engagement Model, and Key Initiatives the account team will drive to unlock the revenue potential. The total effort of Key Initiatives will determine the required resources by team roles and the contributions from outside the team.

And, as every good plan, it has to call out Risks and Obstacles that might negatively impact the plan’s successful execution and how to mitigate these.

I provide a template for a narrative-style Account Plan here which also includes an example plan. The plan must stand on its own, so it holds all information required to understand and validate it.

While the plan is limited to six pages with no graphics it is allowed to contain additional information in appendices. The aim is to enable readers to digest the plan within less than 30 minutes in a self-service fashion, so the team is freed from having to perform repeated briefing sessions for colleagues outside the team getting involved.

As in Disruption Selling every account is part of a portfolio the Account Plan also functions as an appendix of the respective Portfolio Plan and inherits portfolio wide definitions such as the Common Purpose and the Tenets stated in there.

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