Gitomer: My contact has left; now what?
Friday, July 12, 2013 7:00 AM
I sell copiers in New York City, and this year, I finished as the No. 1 rep in the nation. I truly believe that would not have been possible had it not been for your “Little Red Book of Selling.” I do have a question and would greatly appreciate your advice. Recently I have been noticing a high turnover of people (including executives) at my accounts. When this happens, it’s almost like the reset button has been pressed, and the replacements have no allegiance to me or my service and are usually unaware as to how hard I’ve worked to earn their company’s business. 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?
Common problem. Uncommon answer to follow.
Loss of key contact (the person who buys from you) happens often in business, and most salespeople (not you of course) are totally unprepared for it.
There are two variations to this scenario:
1. Someone is promoted from within. If you have 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 below.
There are 5.5 specific things you can do to prevent a total tragedy. NONE OF THEM are optional.
1. Start with prevention. You have to ask yourself, “What would happen, what would I do, if all my 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 purchase. Add them to your customer relationship management (CRM) notes.
3. Meet the key decision-maker outside the office AT LEAST monthly. Coffee at 7:30 a.m. will build the personal relationship.
4. Get known and recognized. 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.
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.
Let’s take a worst-case scenario – new person, no history with you, bringing HIS or HER contacts, connections and vendors:
1. Introduce yourself and offer help acclimating. 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.
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 more solid a value-based relationship has been built with the key contact AND the rest of the company, the more likely the new person will continue doing business with you.
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