More often than most analysts and pundits would care to admit, the term “best practice” is often used to describe nothing more than “common practice” or “big company practice”.
Instead of setting the bar high by describing the most effective way to do something, it’s much easier—and much safer, I suspect—to simply describe what the biggest companies are doing (even if what the big companies are doing isn’t very effective) or describe what most companies are doing (even if most companies are actually stinking it up).
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When it comes to account planning, for example, we’d be doing Journal subscribers a disservice to represent what the big companies are doing as “best practice.” Sure, many of the larger sales and marketing operations are using sophisticated planning tools and templates to capture and report their team’s account plans.
But in most cases, the apparent sophistication is just a façade and the underlying inputs are actually nothing more than guesses and opinions.
On the other hand, representing what most companies are doing around account planning as “best practice” would be akin to malpractice. After all, our research indicates that most companies are only developing account plans for a small handful of customers, if they’re developing account plans at all!
The truth of the matter is that whether we’re talking about account planning or any other aspect of sales and marketing, the most effective practices and methods are rarely common or typical. And they most certainly aren’t exclusive to the largest companies.
So, you have a choice to make. Do you want to just follow the herd, hoping they aren’t all headed off a cliff? Do you want to just emulate the big boys, hoping they actually know what they’re doing?
Or do you really want to do what’s best and most effective…even though it may not be typical or broadly recognized?