Salesforce Account Planning Guide: Selling Simplified

8 minute read

Sold on account planning but don’t know where to start? For many, account planning in Salesforce is a logical next step. After all, their sellers are already using Salesforce regularly. Crafting structured account plans complete with vital data from Salesforce makes it easier for sellers to get the full benefit of account planning methodologies and build better relationships. Ultimately, this translates to more revenue for businesses.  

There’s never been a better time to build an account-based sales culture

Face-to-face sales are back on the rise after several years of losing traction, says a recent study performed by Forrester. So are relationships. In fact, for large B2B enterprises, their revenue growth moving forward will be based largely on the strength of their relationships with existing accounts. Sellers will be relying more heavily on their customer relationship management systems (CRM) as well as account planning methodology and tools to ensure their relationships stay effective.  

Account planning in Salesforce is one of the best ways effective sales leaders can ensure they are staying ahead of the game given the current headwinds. To get it right, however, they need not only Salesforce and the right strategies and methodologies in place – they need the right account planning technology.  

Why account planning in Salesforce?

The CRM is vital to the sales process. Today, 91% of companies with 10 or more employees use a CRM. And Salesforce is still, by and large, the most popular CRM. And that’s for a number of reasons, ranging from ease of use out of the box to customizability to suit virtually any business need.  

One of the best things about Salesforce, however, is its ease of integration with other apps. Salesforce is meant to be a flexible platform and can be extended and customized using the Salesforce AppExchange and other third-party tools. While Salesforce does offer plenty of great features, many enterprises will need to complement their CRM with account planning technologies and capabilities that uniquely fit their own business challenges. 

Account planning as a practice is best done with Salesforce. There are plenty of technologies that can help with this, enabling sellers to deliver a robust, targeted account strategy and build relationships with the people that matter.  

After all, Salesforce account planning is about relationships 

Building out an effective, account-based selling strategy to complement Salesforce account planning efforts requires a mountain of work. It’s impossible to do without the right buy-in at the right level of the organization. But once successfully adopted, it offers its share of benefits. Enterprises that roll out an account-based sales model through their organization can expect returns like: 

  • Increased revenue 
  • Improved win rates 
  • Enlarged average deal sizes 
  • And better relationships 

The last one is perhaps the greatest. As we head into a post-pandemic world, the need for a human touch – as in meeting face-to-face – has returned in droves. Although many thought the world of digital selling was here to stay the world is heading quickly back to that face-to-face selling model pre-pandemic when it comes to the deals that matter: ones with a lot on the line for buyer and seller alike.  

Relationships matter more than ever before, given the current business environment. 

Salesforce data brings those relationships to life 

While relationships are still king, sellers need data. The reason for this stems, in part, from the incredible complexity of modern sales motions. When complex, high stakes sales happen, they are seldom done one-on-one. More often than not, it takes a buying group to make a purchase happen. And those buying groups are being more careful and taking more time to do their due-diligence before purchasing a solution.  

You need data to handle these relationships, and a lot of it. In a world without Salesforce, gathering that data would look pretty dismal. It would require a lot of spreadsheets, silos, and headache. With Salesforce, however, sellers have the data they need in one place. All they need are the tools to put this data into actionable steps towards creating better relationships. That’s precisely where account planning technology plays its indispensable role.  

What does account planning in Salesforce look like with account planning software?

Account planning in Salesforce lets you take all the data your sellers collect as they move through the deal and put it to use. The right account planning tool will enable you to visualize everything that happens in an account, from the internal influencers to the entire revenue team’s forecasted revenue, and beyond right in front of you, and guide you on the steps you need to take to build better relationships. 

Visualizing whitespace in accounts 

Doing account planning within Salesforce also enables revenue teams to target their whitespace.  

Imagine being able to discern how much potential for upsell and cross-sell you have across all accounts, and then setting up metrics and goals to win that business. 

This could mean seeing not only active pipeline and existing business under contract, but also a summary view of new potential pipeline.  

This whitespace view and potential pipeline should rightfully dwell within your CRM, not trapped in Excel. 

Mapping relationships and influence 

Speaking of visuals, there are few as powerful as an effective relationship map. 

Here’s where the color added by Salesforce data really gets fleshed out. A powerful Salesforce account planning solution includes a relationship map, populated with the data that your team inputs every day. All that vital data is shown for the entire revenue team within the relationship map, giving them the visual lay of the land they need to build effective relationships, and turn enemies into supporters, and supporters into customers, and customers into recurring revenue.  

Salesforce account planning – constant iteration 

Finally, Salesforce streamlines and emboldens your entire revenue team’s ability to build effective account plans.  As the revenue team works through a deal, the relevant data can be tracked and added automatically into the account plan, making building better relationships possible, leading to more accurate forecasts, and winning the most coveted deals. That is, of course, dependent on the solution you use.  

Account planning in Salesforce is familiar

Another important benefit of doing your account planning directly within Salesforce is because that’s where your sellers are, anyway. They’re used to working with it, so using a Salesforce native application to get things done will be second nature. As they collaborate, make calls, and iterate on their account plan, Salesforce will keep all of that up to date. With the help of Salesforce, account planning is no longer a yearly activity. It’s an ongoing, dynamic process that involves the entire revenue team – marketing, sales, customer service – even direct input from the customer! 

How to choose the right Salesforce account planning tool – questions to ask

As we said, to begin account planning, you still need the right technology – one that extends Salesforce’s considerable capabilities and structures data into actionable steps sellers can take towards greater revenue. Before anyone can effectively plan accounts in Salesforce, they need to first choose the best account planning technology. 

To find the right technology, there are first a few questions you must ask.  

Is the technology Salesforce native? 

While many apps out there claim to be Salesforce native, there is actually a big difference between an app being Salesforce native and Salesforce hybrid. When we think of Salesforce native account planning solutions, we tend to think of the former: data, processes and activities are all housed entirely within the safe and secure confines of Salesforce itself.  

In the case of a hybrid solution, however, data will leave Salesforce to be processed elsewhere. 

Checkout our guide on the benefits of native vs hybrid apps for more info.


Banner for an eBook on "Because effective account planning software lives where your sellers are," featuring a download button, alongside an image promoting the importance of using a 100% Native Salesforce App for account planning.

Is it visual? 

Visualization is key for sellers. Whether this be seeing the progress of accounts, pipeline, forecasts or even the lines of influence and relationships between key players – the visual aspect of account planning is a key component of a winning strategy. 

Does it store all data in one place? 

Remember the reason you turned to Salesforce in the first place. The right technology will consolidate all data within the account plan, making sure your team has everything they need in one place. This is a massive revolution when compared with the antiquated process of keeping information in Power Point slides and spreadsheets or in folders in disparate locations.  

Does it track your activities and enable collaboration? 

The best tool will not only include relevant data from Salesforce – it will track all data involved in an account – that means even the stuff your team collaborates on together. Integrations with popular collaboration tools can be beneficial here. 

Speaking of collaboration – it’s a key component of account planning. The right technology will enable collaboration through a myriad of ways as sellers seek to map relationships, insights, whitespace and opportunities within accounts. 

Account planning in Salesforce – final thoughts 

 Account planning is one of the most effective practices for building better relationships and growing and retaining revenue. Thanks to a combination of account planning technology and Salesforce, account plans are not static documents. They are instead living and breathing – growing and changing as sellers’ relationships grow and change.

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