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Changing of the Guard: What do you do when your biggest, most senior advocate in your strategic account is leaving?

We’re faced with this situation times two at the moment – two key people are moving on in one of our most strategic customers. As a business consulting firm, we see this a lot across the companies we work with – key contacts often rotate in and out of positions involved in our work with the company on their way to bigger and better jobs (inside the company or elsewhere). Believe it or not, this can be good for everyone involved (although maybe a little scary and painful at first). 

Strategic account managers who are thorough account planners are likely prepared for these possibilities and have a customer strategy ready to implement. In case you’re not one of those thorough account planners, here are some ideas for successfully working through an advocate’s departure:

·         Leverage your network – if you haven’t reached out to other, more distant stakeholders in your account in awhile, do it now and remind them of the irreplaceable value you’re consistently delivering. Use the voice of the customer information you have from these stakeholders to frame your approach.

·         Stay confident – while you should reach out to your network, be careful not to appear overly concerned about the departing advocate(s) and the impact on your future. Continue working from a position of strength, customer focus, and presumed future business.

·         Direct the transition – get involved in the training and orientation of new contacts; offer any support and resources you can. This will be remembered and appreciated down the road.

·         Follow the trail – stay in touch with the departing stakeholders. They may not need your offering in their next position right away, but eventually they often do.

Sonya McAllister
SVP Strategic Accounts

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