A master action plan is your high level plan of attack - the ideas, activities and general approach that will enable you to reach key account goals. Your plan should develop naturally from the knowledge you gain from your research and customer contact. A plan should be developed for each of your key high potential growth accounts. However, master action plans are complex and should be limited to only those key accounts with high potential for growth. A maximum of 10 to 15 is recommended. These plans are not generated in detail for an account that has high volume but a small potential for growth. In other words, you are already getting the maximum share of their spend. The strategy in your master sales plan must determine how to match your company resources to every opportunity that exists within your high potential growth accounts.

This plan should encompass the entire year - a 12-month period - with timelines, action requirements and accountability by assigned responsibility. Keep it manageable. Make sure you have the resources to accomplish each specific assigned task and the time necessary to deliver what you promise. Details are essential for every step. Clearly defined goals containing specific action items with assigned responsibility and accountability are a must. Each participant in the plan must acknowledge and accept responsibility for their portion of the plan. (This is about team selling.) Definitive action plans are more than personal account visits once a month. They are more than introductions to upper management and they are more than a commitment to work with management to submit the lowest bid. Action plans must be precise, definitive and measurable. You start by establishing specific objectives for each key target account and continue with objectives for each personal contact. You must identify specific participants necessary to meet objectives and develop strategies to accomplish those objectives. Each plan should address the questions: who, how, when, why and what for. Who should call on whom, etc? Develop entertainment strategies where necessary.

Do not make the mistake of putting all your energy into your top five accounts because they happen to be your largest accounts. Remember, we are focusing on the greatest potential for growth.

Your Company's Strengths and Value

Companies generally demonstrate one of three or a combination of the following value disciplines:

    Operational Excellence. Companies that pursue this discipline are not primarily product or service innovators, nor do they cultivate deep, one-to-one relationships with their customers. Instead, operationally excellent companies provide middle-of-the-market products at the best price with the least inconvenience. Their proposition to customers is simple: low price and hassle-free service. Wal-Mart is such a company in mass-market retailing.

    Product Leadership. These companies concentrate on offering products that push performance boundaries. Their proposition to customers is an offer of best product, period. Intel and Nike are examples.

    Customer Intimacy. These companies focus on delivering not what the market wants, but what specific customers want. Customer-intimate companies do not pursue one-time transactions; they cultivate relationships. They specialize in satisfying unique needs that often only they, by virtue of their closer relationship with and intimate knowledge of the customer, recognize. Their proposition to the customer: We will have the best solution for you and we will provide all the support you need to achieve optimum results and lowest total cost.

The selection of a value discipline is a central act that shapes every subsequent plan and decision a company makes, combing the entire organization from its competencies to its culture. The choice of value discipline, in effect, defines what a company does, and therefore, what it is.

Determine your company’s value discipline and apply it to your key account strategy. You must understand your company’s value discipline before you can understand and sell your value propositions.

Company Support Team

It is absolutely critical that your key account plans are supported by the entire company. It is imperative that tasks requested and assigned to other personnel must be accepted before being documented in your plan. It is your responsibility to utilize all the company resources and support them in getting the commitment and cooperation of all players identified in the master action plan.


Instead of simply learning to “do what we have always done a little better,” (creative - innovative) we need to become aware of and practice understanding that involves re-examining everything we do - including how we think about our customers and our role in their future. This often means letting go of our existing knowledge and competencies, recognizing that they prevent us from learning new things.

Take planning seriously. Don’t be afraid of documenting your plan. You will be amazed how things seem to fall in place when you organize your thoughts, plan your activities and execute your individual strategies for each target growth account.