Nothing lasts forever, right? While it may seem pessimistic, having a plan for dealing with a client’s departure is sound advice when it comes to maintaining business and clients. We spend so much time building solid, trusting relationships with clients that it can come as quite a blow when news hits that your client contact announces they’re leaving their current position.
Before we get into tactics to employ to make this scenario less devastating, it’s important to operate under the assumption that our ‘in’ could easily be out at any given moment.
Prevent “scramble mode” from setting in by implementing some of the best practices we recommend to our clients.
1. Take stock of your current portfolio. Pull an organizational chart for each of your biggest clients and circle the names of those people with whom you have forged a close relationship. These are people who have seen the quality and level of service you have provided over the course of your time liaising with the client.
2. Count your circles – then grow your circles. More than likely, you don’t have as many circles as you’d like to have. Work to build relationships with those you’ve supported in some way or had contact with during your time working with the company. Schedule a lunch or coffee to identify common interests and gain better understanding of their focus areas in their position.
3. Document - every step of the way. If we’re always documenting, re-capping and following up digitally, then no tribal knowledge will be lost if our main point of contact leaves unexpectedly. It’s easy to fall into thinking that you and a client have an understanding, but it’s best to not leave all your good work to good faith. Doing this means there will be no questions when there’s evidence to support the work.
4. Ask for an introduction to the new contact. In a perfect world, introduction to the new client will be accompanied by a glowing recommendation, proof of your ROI and endless stories of your strategic support. So, if given the opportunity, ask your departing client for their help making a seamless transition.
5.Remember “New Person Syndrome.” We all want to be known for something, and this rings true when clients step into a new role. Some clients will choose to bring in someone they’ve worked with before, while others may continue to work with you and raise the bar.
6. Get to know your new client. Familiarize yourself with your new client by learning about what drives them, and not by telling them what you do. More than likely, they already know you’ve been successful in your role – now they just need to know they can trust you.
7. Ask for a meeting of the minds. This is where all of those circles will come in handy. Position the meeting as an opportunity to bring the new client up to speed by bringing together all your contacts for an account review. This goes against the grain because so many professionals fear the tough questions account reviews can bring on. But asking for the meeting displays confidence; demonstrates your commitment to the company; highlights your services; and will show the deep, trusting relationships you have within the organization.
8. Let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve followed these tips and the new client still decides to go in a different direction, the best advice to follow is to end on good terms, stay in touch and learn from the experience.
So tell me - are you taking any of these steps already?