We’ve been working with a client who, because it is the start of their new financial year, think it is time to move their account managers onto new customers. Why is this a common habit?
We’ve learned, sometimes painfully, throughout our careers, that change for change’s sake when it comes to customers and account managers can backfire. Validating this is the research we’ve seen from CEB (Gartner) that sales experience contributes a massive 53% to customer loyalty.
There may be times, when a change is unavoidable, necessary or even requested (by a customer), but to do it without a compelling reason leaves the customer or partner mystified and open to competitive threat. Think about it; the account manager you have just replaced may have worked on the account for years, built deep relationships across the organisation and now been replaced by a fresh (but unfamiliar) face.
The account manager from the competition will be rubbing their hands together to see that their counterpart has been replaced.
According to HubSpot’s research in 2016, only 3% of Business to Business (B2B) buyers thought salespeople were trustworthy.
Fortunately, 3% certainly doesn’t resonate with my own experience of professional colleagues. In many cases, the account manager being replaced is likely to have a very high trust and integrity rating with her customer. But even if the research is out by a factor of ten, 30% is a pretty low starting point for a new account manager to start from. So why take the gamble with your customer relationship?
Trust takes time to build. With the multiple touch points in partner or major accounts, that’s a lot of “meet and greet” meetings before that trust rating is as high as their predecessor. Without the change, those meetings could have been more productive for the client and focused on business outcomes or revenue generating opportunities.
Account management changes can be pre-empted. Career progression, retirement or a leave of absence can be managed with succession planning. In partnership with the client, with open communication and engagement in the process, positive and fresh perspective can then become a benefit.
So, how do you know if it is the right time to change?
Our recommendation is for continuous feedback between the account manager, client and organisation. This process will provide immediate insight into the sales relationship and allow the organisation to make an informed decision based on the facts and relationships at play, rather than instinct. After seeing results based on sales activity combined with client feedback across all the contacts, our client retained the existing account manager relationships.
Rather than rocking the boat, our client now has a tailwind that will drive a more productive outcomes and future relationship.
The continuous assessment on customer loyalty was conducted through the Qdos Performance Valued system. A demonstration can be arranged through firstname.lastname@example.org