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How to Keep the Account When There Is a Changing of the Guard (or, Success Is Easy #1)

By Kevin on December 2, 2010 in Sales, Success
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A friend of mine recently took over as the CEO of a small business, which has millions of dollars in deposits with their bank. He told me that he has been on the job for three months, and nobody from the bank had ever contacted him to introduce themselves, congratulate him on the appointment, or to ask for a meeting. No email, no phone call, no note. The bank definitely knew of his appointment, because they had to process new signature cards on the account. Literally millions of dollars at stake, but nobody at the bank had thought to greet their “new” customer.

When I had a pharmaceutical training business, my clients would typically last in their role for two years or less. They would come into the training department from the sales force, and get promoted back out as sales managers a couple years later. At first I found this to be incredibly frustrating. We would invest tons of time and money establishing a relationship, doing great work, and growing the account. Then *poof* the client would be gone.

What I learned though was that this could be an incredible opportunity as well. The key would be to quickly establish a connection with the “new guy” and to stay in touch with the previous client, since she could still serve as an incredible reference, influencer, connector and eventually might get promoted back into a buyer position in the future.

What should you do when your key customer is replaced with a “new guy”:

  1. Send a note to your “old client” wishing them well with whatever they’re doing next, and ask if you can use them as a reference in the future
  2. Immediately send the new person a hand written note or even small gift to congratulate them on the new job
  3. Ask for a face-to-face meeting, preferably over lunch or dinner, so you can get to know each other and so you can help get them up to speed on current projects and initiatives

“New guys” will be super busy getting up to speed, but smart people know that vendors can be an excellent source of information on legacy issues, company information, and relevant solutions. Every week that goes by the you don’t make a connection, you can be sure that your competitors are trying to take advantage of the situation.

While my friend has no reason to switch banks at this time, he certainly isn’t feeling any affinity for the bank he has, and many other banks have already invited him to lunch.

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Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and keynote speaker. Get more success and tips from his newsletter at kevinkruse.com and check out keynote video clips. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.

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