4 Tips for More Effective Account Plans

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Hayley_CoxonAccount plans are a powerful way to keep everyone on the same page on what’s happening with key accounts. At Conga we’ve seen all variations on account plans from simple Word-based reports for sales/account management to beautiful PowerPoint presentations for client meetings. The one thing they all have in common is the need to aggregate data from multiple objects and reports in Salesforce into one presentable format.

After seeing so many account plans, we’ve compiled four tips that we’ve seen make account planning solutions more effective. For the purpose of this post I’m assuming we’re using a PowerPoint template; however, all of the same principles can be applied to Word documents as well.

1.   Create an Archive of Each Account’s Plans

By design, account plans are constantly evolving documents as growth strategies are implemented and targets are met. For example, at the start of Q1 the sales manager may identify upsell opportunities for two additional products for Acme Corp, and the account plan would detail the sales manager’s strategy to close these opportunities. At the beginning of Q2, we’d hope the sales manager was successful and has identified new growth opportunities for Acme Corp.

Without an archive it can be difficult to understand whether or not the account plan strategies are driving more business. Thankfully, account plans generated with Conga Composer provide a snapshot of an account’s status at a specific point in time and can be configured to create an account plan archive for you.

Here’s How:

Use the “save a copy” parameters to save the generated output file to the Notes & Attachments list on the Account record. Remember to first enable saving copies with &SC0.

&SC0=1

&SC1=Attachments

Conversely, you could tell Composer to save the output to Content, Chatter, Google Drive or SpringCM.

2.   Dynamically Personalize the File Name for the Account

The output file name is an important consideration for two reasons. First, your internal naming conventions may not be appropriate for account plans that will be shared externally. Second, your sales reps will be generating account plans for all of their accounts multiple times throughout the year. Give them a clear naming system to help them find the desired account plan quickly. As an added benefit dynamically personalizing the output file name helps keep your account plan archives clean and searchable.

By default on standard objects, Conga Composer will append the record name to the name of your template when saving a file. For example, if your template name is “AcctPlan Approved 18Aug2014” than the output file name will be “AcctPlan Approved 18Aug2014 – Acme Corp.” We can do better than that. I would recommend the file name should incorporate the type of document, account name and date generated, but you can customize it to your business needs.

Here’s How:

Use the “output file name” parameter to tell Composer to name the file “Account Plan for Acme Corp – 1_21_2015.”

&OFN=Account+Plan+for+{!Account.Name}+-+{!TODAY()}

3.   Automatically Ditch Bad Slides

Salesforce data completeness is a constant work-in-process, and you’ll need to consider what to do if a slide merges empty due to a lack of data. Typically you would want to hide the slide when the presentation is merged lest the user forget to delete it before a meeting.

Here’s How:

Use the SlideHide feature in your PowerPoint template to exclude the slide if there is no data.

{{SlideHide:Opportunities}}

In the above example, I’m using a report alias called Opportunities. To achieve this behavior in Word, use the TableHide feature.

4.   Mix and Match Slides without Lifting a Finger

Once you’ve got an account plan working for one set of users, another department will inevitably want to add a few slides. Rather than trying to maintain multiple separate versions of the account plan template or broker a compromise between the departments, dynamically assemble the final output based on your business rules.

First you’ll need to determine who owns each set of slides. For example, most departments will agree on how to present opportunities based on how the accounting department recognizes pipeline and closed business. Marketing typically sets the look and feel of the actual slides – what colors and fonts are used, the logo, etc. Other departments will own additional content.

Once you’ve determined who owns each set of slides, you’ll need to understand the common or shared slides used in each variation of the account plan. Think of this set of slides as the core PowerPoint deck to which Composer will add additional slides depending on the final desired output.

Finally, you will need to tell Composer which criteria to use to assemble the final presentation. Composer can create a different version of the deck based on the running user’s profile or criteria on the Account record. For example, the VP of Sales may want to generate a different slide deck than the CFO, or enterprise accounts may require a more detailed presentation than SMB accounts.

Here’s How:

1.    Create formula field to evaluate your business logic and determine which PowerPoint templates to include when Composer runs

2.    Set the &TemplateID parameter equal to your formula field

3.    Use the “assemble PowerPoint files” parameter to stitch the different slides into one deck

&APF=1

We’ve got a whole post on how to do this. The Word equivalent of this functionality is the &AWD parameter.

What are your tips for effective account plans? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

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