I recently received an email from a copier salesman in New York City; in fact the top rep in the country.
He said he'd noticed a high turnover of people (including executives) through his accounts. When this happens, he said, it was as though the reset button had been pressed and the replacements had no allegiance to him or his service, or how hard he had worked to earn their company's business.
He asked me: "How should I conduct myself when I know there is a new person in a company I have to work with? Is there a specific process I should follow?"
It's a common problem.
The loss of a key contact happens often in business, and most salespeople are totally unprepared for it.
There are two variations to this scenario.
1. Someone is promoted from within. If you've done your homework, built multiple relationships within your customer's company, and you know the replacement, then you should be fine. If you don't know him or her, you have to scramble and start over.
2. Someone was hired from the outside. This is basically a start-over situation and all the answers you need are stated below.
There are 5.5 specific things you can do to prevent a total tragedy. None of them is optional.
1. Start with prevention, this is a major point of understanding. You have to ask yourself what you would do if all your prime contacts left tomorrow. Begin to plan and act from there.
2. Then ask yourself ...
How is the purchase made? Discover the chain of purchase, and know everyone who impacts on the purchase. Add them to your CRM (customer relationship management) notes.
Who's the boss? Get to know the boss and make sure they know your value.
Who are the users? Talk to and meet the people who use your product or service. They are not the ones who purchase, but they can play a major role in the decision to purchase. And they tell the real story of quality and service response.
Who else is influenced by or involved with your product? When you meet, add others from the inside. Get to know co-workers.
3. Meet the key decision-maker outside the office at least monthly. Coffee at 7:30am will build the personal relationship.
4. Get known and recognised. Your weekly email about office productivity, communication, and morale will get passed around if it's valuable – even forwarded to other professionals in other companies. And when you visit the customer, they'll recognise you.
5. Build reputation across the company. Know everyone, but more important, have everyone know you – not just know you as a person, but as a person of value.
5.5 Gather video comments after every service call and delivery. Post them where anyone can view them. Your blog, YouTube channel, Facebook business page and weekly e-zine are a great start.
If all of this seems like hard work, it pales by comparison to the work you'll have to do if you're unprepared after the fact.
OK, so the new person starts.
Did the departing person tell you or was it a surprise?If the old person told you in advance, that's a sign your relationship was strong.
If the relationship was really strong, the departing person will put you on a preferred list of recommended vendors.
If you're blind-sided by the news, that's a report card, too.
Let's take worst-case scenario – new person, no history with you, bringing his or her contacts, connections, and vendors:
1. Introduce yourself and offer help settling in. Gain access.
2. Have coffee with them ASAP – get the personal relationship in gear. Share the history. Ask for their wisdom, their experience, and their goals.
3. Print your CRM history and present it to the new person so they can see your relationship and your value. (All of a sudden, CRM diligence can have an impact.)
4. Enlist others to speak on your behalf.
5. Follow all the ideas above.
5.5 Find the person who left. They represent the best possible new customer.
The key to having a new person in charge of your future sales is to be ready. It's a simple rule of 'the more, the more'.
Jeffrey Gitomer is an American author, professional speaker and business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development.
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Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer. 704/333-1112