Account Planning

By Roger Bostdorff

Much of the geography that will see and read this article is farm country. So allow me to frame this message regarding sales to farming. The term farming relative to sales is cultivating and nurturing existing financial relationships with existing customers. The objective is to improve or increase their satisfaction and expand the revenue secured on an ongoing basis.  Today’s farmers are utilizing GPS more and more to increase their yields. GPS provides the farmer maximum planting capacity for a piece of ground thus maximizing the return on investment on that piece of real estate. Based on some of the prices currently being paid for farm ground I understand why a farmer would want to maximize their return … just to pay for the ground.

GPS acts like a roadmap thus aiding the farmer in maximizing yield. I have seen figures quantifying the cost to secure a new customer of 8 to 10 times the cost of maintaining a current customer. When you look at your business how are you maximizing your yield? How are you increasing the level of customer satisfaction with your customers thus maximizing your revenue yield? What are you doing to keep your competitors away from your valuable customers?  Many businesses that I deal with wait for the customer to call them to seek the product or service that my client has to offer. That is great if you service a market that is growing, such as agriculture. However, even then many new competitors start to migrate to those growing markets making the market tighter from a winning the business standpoint. This impacts growth, profit and overall revenue.   

The farmer took some proactive actions to buy and utilize GPS. He could decide to do it the same way he has been doing farming for years. However, many farmers today realize that GPS is an investment with plenty of return.  In business, why do we not do account planning?

Account planning is looking at each and every customer you have today, prioritized by potential Return on Investment.  Evaluating and brainstorming on how your product or services could help that customer. Please reread my last sentence. The sentence did not read how we can maximize our revenue for that customer but rather how can we help our customer expand his business.  How can we help our customer increase their revenue or improve his/her operation?  Hopefully we can do that with the products or services that we offer.  Sometimes we can assist that customer with some industry knowledge that we may have due to us calling on a wide swath of companies that may help our customer. We may not net ANY $$ from that assistance directly. Yet we probably have improved/enhanced our relationship thus increasing our odds that competition stays on the outside.

Sounds simple, right? It is, but rarely do I see company’s sales team sitting down to discuss how their company can assist a specific group of customers.  I am suggesting that your sales team, regardless of the size, take a day to brainstorm, what you can do to help your customers. What products or services do you offer that this specific customer would benefit from and why? Then figure out a way to best communicate that message. This is not a thought process by one person driving down the road thinking But rather the sales and support team that has interacted with this customer and has customer knowledge THINKING proactively thinking about how your offerings can help this customer improve his sales, profits, efficiencies, etc. 

The farmers are using GPS for guidance. I would think that if we want to protect our relationships and increase our revenue we could invest in some proactive thinking about our customers.

Good luck and good selling.   

Roger Bostdorff is the President of B2B Sales Boost. He spent over 30 years with IBM in sales and sales management.  He then became President/COO of a small internet security company before founding B2B Sales Boost, LLC. B2B Sales Boost, LLC is a consulting company helping organizations improve their sales and overall business processes.  You can find more about B2B Sales Boost on the web at or calling 419-351-4347.  If you would like to receive the B2B Sales Boost Newsletter please send an email to