The Account Manager’s Crib Sheet

Crib sheet
Control your account on just one page.

How to completely control your account on just one page


Account Managers are busy people. They have to react at short notice to their clients’ requests, continuously study their clients’ business to understand as much as they can about it, meet with the client regularly, listen to his problems, and increase share-of-wallet. On top of that, they are also coordinating processes, projects, and resources in their own organisation in order to deliver all these services and sales activities.

One thing about which I have seen many Account Managers become frustrated many times is the obligation to comply with too much red tape in their companies, especially the production of long-winded documents management wants them to produce even though it will not be read anyway.

In most of the cases these documents vanish in some drawer or directory.

That’s why I invented the Account Manager’s (AM) Crib Sheet, a one-pager that allows you to quickly analyse and summarise the most important facts about your clients and manage the most important tasks to increase your share-of-wallet and make your client a bit happier every day.

The AM Crib Sheet has 7 parts:

Part 1: Client’s business and strategy

The question behind this part is “Mr Client, who are you and what is important to you?”

In this part, you write down the main data about the client: turnover, profitability, number of employees, headquarters and subsidiaries, business units, product and services, and so on. Everything you consider important to know about your client.

Apart from this, give brief answers to the following questions:

  1. What have we sold to the client so far?
  2. What important interactions happened in the past?
  3. What is the client’s mission and strategy in two sentences?
  4. What important contractual obligations exist?
  5. SWOT analysis of your company regarding this account?
  6. Who are the key persons in general and for this financial year?
  7. What roles do they play?
  8. Are they for or against us?
  9. What personality types are they?
  10. Top strengths and weaknesses of the main competitors?

Part 2: Quantitative Objectives

The central question you will have to answer in this section is: How much revenue do we want to make with this client in the current financial year and how profitable do we want this client to be? That’s it!

Well, almost…. When you put together your financial plan, you have to take the following points into account:

  1. Make sure the timings are realistic; how much can you achieve by when?

  2. There is a difference between order entry and revenues; depending on the objective, you have more or less time to win enough business to make your target

  3. Deliver a business case for the investments you propose; your management will be more inclined to support you if they understand what the return of your initiatives is expected to be

  4. Look for opportunities to save money on running projects. This is very important if you are measured on the profitability of your account.

Part 3: Business Development

You can describe your Business development activities in various ways. In order to produce high-quality output for your Crib Sheet you need to do some analytic work.

At first you need to know what your strategic position is. Where does the client believe you are strong, where would he like you to improve.

Which of his initiatives represent opportunities for you and where is your business with that client in danger due to the competition or other aspects in the client’s business environment.

What exactly are you currently delivering? What is really bothering the client? Where does the pressure come from? Is it cost pressure? Is it market reach? Or is it his product portfolio?

Based on this analysis you put the following information into your sheet:

  1. Tenders you want to participate in
  2. Solutions you want to propose
  3. Extensions of running projects you want to achieve
  4. More valuable solutions and services you can sell to your current contacts
  5. Other departments of the client where you can position your solutions based on the references you currently have

The central question you are answering in this part is: In which business area and with what do we want to increase our share-of-wallet?

Part 4: Customer Satisfaction

How do you measure and improve customer satisfaction?

In order to do this, put the three main criteria with their Key Performance Indicators and the names of the key stakeholders in the client organisation into a matrix. Put in how you are doing against the performance you have contractually agreed.

If there is a negative delta agree corrective action with the client.

In addition to that, always ask the client for his level of satisfaction. If there is a discrepancy between the objective measurement and the client’s subjective feedback, you have a problem. Very often there are situations where you perfectly fulfil the contract and still the client is unhappy.

Find out why, take it seriously and correct the situation until the client is happy. Only put the actions based on your analysis into the sheet.

Part 5: Resourcing

What knowledge and skills and which people or partners do I need to implement the plan? In order to answer this question, do the following and put the results into your sheet:

  1. Identify your critical resources
  2. Determine potential skills gaps
  3. If people are about to leave think about succession plans.

When doing this, make sure the take the following into account:

  1. Get the timing right; plan your resourcing needs early so that you have the people on board when you need them and can identify bottlenecks early on

  2. Illustrate the WHY in your own organisation; your colleagues will need to know why the investment is needed and what return is expected

  3. Communicate internally; your colleagues who are supposed to support your sales efforts and deliver what you sell need to plan ahead; if you let them know in time what type and quantity of resource is needed, they can prepare and support you pro-actively

  4. Include successors early: the Project Manager will take over from the Bid Manager, technical people in Delivery will take over from presales; include them in the process sufficiently before the contract is signed so that they are prepared for their tasks

Part 6: Roadmap

What will we achieve by when in measurable terms? Put a simple client roadmap on your sheet. What are the main steps to reaching your objectives, what are the most important tasks? Prioritise them according to their effect on share-of-wallet and client satisfaction.

Part 7: Top 3 actions of the day

Every day in the morning write down the top three actions to implement the roadmap. Just three! If you can do more, that’s fine. But if you just achieve these three actions, you will know that you have moved forward and you will keep being motivated.

The crib sheet is a practical help for analysis, planning, monitoring, action planning, and self-motivation. Wanna have it?

I am keen to know what you are thinking. Please leave a comment below.