Weekly Tip: My Best Customer Just Re-Organized, Now What?
It happens all the time…your best customer goes through a significant change in its structure and you lose supporters. The mechanism can be acquisition, merger, headcount cuts, shuffle-the-deck of leadership…there are others, it doesn’t really matter, the outcome is the same. You are in trouble.
- Don’t Panic – It’s natural to hear fire alarms, especially if this is a very big customer. The fact is that this happens a lot and you have seen it before.
- React Fast – You must get on the calendar and in front of your customer’s people, new or old. You can’t sit and wait, even if they tell you to. You must manufacture a reason to see them and connect.
- Establish Contact – When changes happen fast, it is not unusual for there to be a little confusion as to whom you should be connecting. For this reason, you need to go wide with your efforts and contact as many people as you can to gather reconnaissance and establish a picture of the customer’s new world order.
- Start Over – Assume that you will need to re-sell your solution. This does not mean that you ignore all that has been accomplished. Instead, you outline the history of why you were selected, the highlights of your value and the nature of the current working relationship.
- Expect Change – Re-organization initiatives do not happen to keep things the same, they occur to shake things up. Your relationship will change as a byproduct of this effort. Get ready for it.
- Guide Rather Than Resist – If your first response to a challenge is to hide behind your history or your contract when dealing with new personnel, you are already losing. You need to see if you can guide the change in the relationship, not just stop or slow it down.