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So, What Is a “Prescriptive” Account Plan Anyway?

We field many questions from subscribers about account planning. And we heard from a long-time subscriber who wanted to better understand what makes an account plan truly “prescriptive” and why it matters so much.

In truth, the typical account plan isn’t really a “plan” at all.

Sure, there might be a lot of detail about the customer included—current sales levels, product category breakouts, historical trends, etc. But when it comes to the forward-looking part of the so-called plan, it’s very often just an overall sales goal for the customer. And more often than not, it’s simply a percentage uptick from the customer’s current sales levels and purchasing trends.

So, the typical account plan is more like a documented sales goal for each customer. This type of plan just says, “Increase sales to this customer by X%,” but provides little or no guidance as to how that could, or should, actually happen. All of those pesky details are just left to the sales reps to figure-out on their own…if they can.

In sharp contrast, a prescriptive account plan details the specific sales opportunities that should be pursued in each account.

Most often, these opportunities have been identified and quantified through rigorous historical analysis, statistical comparisons to similar customers, etc. From the broader pool of opportunities that have been identified, the priorities are then selected and codified into the account plan. The potential value of each individual opportunity is expressed in the plan, and rolled-up to form the overall target.

A prescriptive account plan doesn’t just say, “Go get 10% more!” Instead, it details the specific opportunities that should be pursued, the specific conversations that should be had with the customer, and how much revenue is realistic:

  • Win back the share we’ve lost in Product X, worth $72K
  • Secure 9% additional volume in Product Z, worth $56K
  • Get them to start buying from Category D, worth $32K

Simply put, prescriptive account plans are actual plans. They outline the specific actions that your sales reps should take. They give your sales managers specific opportunities to coach toward. And for the broader organization, prescriptive account plans provide a very clear path to more realistic outcomes.

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