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Buttoning Down Final Quarter Account Management

The cool autumn days have arrived in many parts of the northern hemisphere. Conversations with sales executives inevitably surface the fact that they are focused on closing out initiatives that will allow them to maximize billings before year-end and finalizing next year’s plans and budgets. You are probably doing the same.

We are too. Fourth Quarter always presents Account Management with many priorities and opportunities in completing the current fiscal year. We find it useful to have a list of activities that help us “cover the bases” for year-end account management activities.

One of the key activities on that list is preparation for and execution of the year-end Quarterly Business Review (QBR). The outcomes of these meetings drive not only contract renewals and the ability to increase share-of-wallet but also collaboration, cooperation, and trust. The client meetings must be focused, organized, open, and productive to maintain and grow the client relationship. And the preparation and internal reviews needed to make these meetings successful are necessary steps in successfully accomplishing this.

What are the key activities required to ensure that you and your customer successfully close-out the year and have agreement on plans that align with their 2018 goals and objectives? Below are some of the key activities on our checklist. We hope that you find it a useful tool for continuing to refine your checklist.

  • Schedule and Conduct Internal Year-End Account Review

  • Review account volume, costs, expenses, & profitability relative to plan

  • Review year-end value realization scorecard

  • Assess customer’s Net Promoter Score

  • Review deliverables and service levels

  • SLA review and re-Calibration

  • Development and delivery pipeline review

  • Proposed SOW changes

  • Resource(s)/Staffing – assignments, utilization/productivity

  • Assess Competitive Activity/Threats

  • Year-end QBR Preparation

  • Schedule and Execute Year-End QBR

  • Year-End Review

  • Present and discuss value realization scorecard

  • Review successes, speedbumps, potholes and detours (and actions taken)

  • Review Actual Spend to Budget

  • Initiative Review:

  • Work completed

  • Work to be completed by year end

  • Work that will continue into the new fiscal year (and planning of current year billing for interim milestones)

  • Projects on hold

  • Upcoming Year – Proposed SOW Changes

  • Objectives, plans, metrics, & SLAs

  • Additional Value-Add Opportunities/Ideas

  • Scheduling of Joint Planning Meeting

  • Joint 2018 Planning

  • Identification and Validation of 2018 Goals & Objectives

  • 2018 Deliverables & SLAs

  • Proposed 2018 initiatives

  • Roles/Responsibilities

  • Draft SOW

  • Finalize 2018 Account Plan

  • Projected budget

  • Key deliverables & milestones

  • Upside opportunities

  • Downside risk(s)

  • Finalize SOW

High performing organizations have plans to ensure that everyone delivers on their commitments for the quarter and the fiscal year. Some teams execute these activities well and that other teams…well, not so much. Different levels of experience, knowledge and capability throughout Account Management contribute to the variance.

For example, Account Management teams routinely exhibit deep technical, operational, and product knowledge. Fewer have those abilities as well as the skills and experience to structure meeting conversations to discover and understand the buying intentions of clients.

As a manager, you need to know which teams require support in planning and executing their year-end activities and the type of help/coaching they require.

Diagnostic tools can provide visibility into strengths and weaknesses of each of the account management teams and help in prescribing the amount and nature of help teams will need to effectively execute the year-end activities. In today’s selling environment, the final quarter account activities not only complete the year but really kickoff the next fiscal year. Good relationship management and account retention demand that we must make the most of the opportunity.

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