Develop a winning account-centric strategy
Dan Dannenberg
Dan Dannenberg
Nicolas Weissberg
Nicolas Weissberg
February 2020

Too often, businesses which sell their products through distributors and other retailers spend significant resources calling on accounts serviced by them, trying to avoid a black box effect.

However, they do so without knowing exactly if they are doing it in the most efficient way, thus missing opportunities to target the accounts with the most potential.

Siloed stakeholders, uncoordinated spending, lack of visibility into profitability and no tracking of marketing and commercial actions lead to frustration from the accounts and eventually to lost business.

In this document, we present how a winning account-centric strategy creates a system where all stakeholders work efficiently to grow share at the accounts, renewing their competitive advantage, fueling profitable growth and generating overall better ROI on marketing and sales expenditures.

Do some of these quotes sound familiar?

“No one really knows everything that’s going on with an account.”

“I don’t know what works to grow share in the various accounts we serve.”

“We have a lot of different people visiting the same accounts. I have the feeling that some of them would be better used elsewhere .”

“The Sales team and the Marketing team don’t speak to each other.”

“I don’t know how many people should visit our accounts.”

“Our promotional program is essentially what we did last year.”

If they do, your company needs an account-centric strategy

An account-centric strategy builds on account needs and creates a system in which all stakeholders work efficiently to grow share

An account-centric strategy puts the accounts at the center of the sales and marketing strategy to better address their needs and win vs. competition by ensuring that

The right assortment of products is pushed to the right accounts and the right consumer pools

The sales force and market spend are adequately sized and that resources are focused on what works for/at the account

Time and money is either spent focusing on profitable accounts and making others profitable, or cut (unless the account is used, exceptionally, as a brand or image-building tool)

All stakeholders (sales, marketing, distributors, third-parties, accounts, etc.) speak the same language and work towards the same goals

Quantitative and qualitative data (internal data, distributor data, online providers, social media, field surveys, interviews, etc.) are leveraged to base decisions on comprehensive facts and figures, not habits or personal relationships

This type of strategy allows stakeholders to pursue multiple objectives

Identify new business opportunities and accounts with profitable growth prospects

Beat the competition by leveraging relative strengths and correcting weaknesses from the account’s perspective

Make sure that field and HQ resources (people and cash) are used in the most efficient manner

Improve profitability at the account level

Increase distributor efficiency to lower costs and/or increase outreach and impact

Break down silos between Sales, Marketing and all stakeholders along the route-to-market

Align local execution with brand strategies and portfolio objectives (i.e. in which accounts to activate which brands)

After an initial topline diagnosis, implementing an account-centric strategy is a 2-step process
  1. Build an Account segmentation model
  2. Optimize the efficiency of the Route-To-Market

Account-Centric Strategy

The Account Segmentation model

It creates segments and priorities to be shared and utilized by all Route-To-Market stakeholders, most importantly brands and field teams

Enrich account data and define segments

Define relevant segment criteria & attributes and select data sources for each

Collect and harmonize data from automatable and reliable sources (internal data, online data, e.g. social media, distributor data)

Assess the relevance and reliability of data and assign thresholds and weights

Tag accounts with attributes and assign them to segments

Prioritize accounts from a business perspective

Use current volume and “opportunity to gain share” to prioritize accounts and define the best sales strategy for each of them

Vet priorities with brand marketing and local sales force (pilot regions/teams can be considered)

Build a user-friendly tool

Pull data into analytical engine

Create user-friendly interface or integrate directly into existing system

Introduce this account segmentation tool to sales, marketing and all other stakeholders

Conduct national operational rollout

This sample account segmentation uses business, positioning and channel criteria, as well as other attributes, to identify accounts with potentially comparable needs

Business prioritization is based on two pillars: current size of the accounts and opportunity to increase share

Segmentation by Business Priority

Consumer criteria like image can be used to assess the premiumness and influence the business potential of the accounts for a brand / set of brands
Segmentation by Account Positionning (Example)

Channel-related criteria like Outlet Type are also used to segment the accounts as they often share common characteristics and needs
Segmentation by Channel - Example of Outlet Type

An account-centric RTM playbook defines optimized ways of working between multiple parties

Understand account needs and what it takes to win

Interview accounts with various profiles (large/small, new/established, satisfied/unsatisfied, etc.)

Get feedback on their needs

Benchmark performance vs. competition

Assess current state and RTM pain points

Identify which accounts are called on and how frequently

Map who calls on which accounts (i.e. account coverage by resource type)

Summarize how accounts are called on and cost to serve (incl. A&P spend and time)

Assess pain points throughout the RTM

Implementing an account-centric RTM strategy will deliver the tools and culture to renew your competitive advantage and fuel profitable growth

Redesign the account spend and the route-to-market

Design ways of working based on account feedback and market realities

Create playbook for account visits with guidelines and KPIs for call coverage and frequency

Define spend allocation guidelines

Increase account profitability by redesigning the way they are served

Redesign the main processes (e.g. budgeting, performance tracking & control, etc.)

Define decision rights and control rights, including third-parties (e.g. distributors, wholesalers)

Where things may stand today

Missed opportunities with highest potential accounts

Siloed Sales and Marketing teams with misaligned priorities

Uncoordinated efforts between HQ and field teams, distributor and third-party partners

Lack of visibility into spend, time management and account profitability

Little or no ROI tracking and measuring of A&P and marketing activations efficiency and effectiveness

What an account-centric strategy can bring

Greater bang for the buck in the field

Opportunity-driven sales strategies

Increased profitability at the account level

Alignment between stakeholders on processes and prioritization

Collaborative ways of working between all parties along the RTM

Streamlined management and control over resources in market

Success measuring and execution evaluation for programs and events

Dan Dannenberg
Managing Partner
Nicolas Weissberg
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