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The Silent Killer: Changing of the Guard®

We are pleased to announce that Butler Street was recently granted a registered trademark for the term “Changing of the Guard” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Why is this so important? Because our research shows, that nearly 40% of B2B customer defections are directly attributed to a new key decision maker change in your strategic accounts. This statistic once again reinforces the fact that when the key players change, everything has the capability of changing. This applies to all levels of relationships, not just client relationships. And to be successful in dealing with these changes, we thought it was important to call it exactly what our experience tells us it is: a Changing of the Guard®

How have you dealt with a Changing of the Guard®? Just consider…

  • A key decision maker (“KDM”) at your best client gets fired. You have no relationship with the new KDM, and your key decision influencers are, understandably, worried about their own job and relationship with their new boss.

The only thing that remains constant is change. A fundamental differentiator in the aforementioned example is how YOU deal with the change. Our experience tells us that most companies do not have a strong process for dealing with KDM change in their accounts. Leveraging our Key Account Management Plan (KAM) , here is how Butler Street recommends you handle the Changing of the Guard®:

  1. Research the new KDM before arrange time to meet. Review their LinkedIn profile, company profile, research for them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. See who they follow, what they tweet and what their social interests. are. Do a deep dive on:

a. Where have they worked and what have they accomplished?

b. Where did they go to college and what did they study?

c. Who are common connections?

d. Start to develop common ground if possible.

  1. Send the new KDM a congratulatory email. Do this within the first week of their appointment. Let them know you will be reaching out soon to arrange a meeting.

  2. Leverage LinkedIn for common connections. How are you connected? If comfortable with the common connection, reach out directly and try and find out what you can.

  3. Meet with your sponsor or key decision influencers. If you are executing key account management properly, you should have strong relationships at multiple levels. Do some “recon.” Gain insight into what they are seeing and what the new KDM priorities are including any previous supplier relationships. Remind them of the positive impact you have made since signing the customer and provide documentation (quarterly business reviews) just in case they are suffering from amnesia.

  4. Arrange meeting with Key Decision Maker within 30 days of their start. It is rare that someone new comes into a position and wants to do everything exactly like their predecessor. Therefore, you must seek to understand before asking to be understood.

a. First and foremost, ask yourself, “Who are the best players to be at this meeting?” You will never get a second chance to make a first impression, so don’t fall back on being politically correct.

b. Develop a Call Planning Worksheet. Make sure there is a warm introduction, primary and secondary objective and a list of questions prepared in ADVANCE!

c. Get the new KDM talking. Your job is to learn what s/he is thinking—not sell your company.

d. What are the new KDM’s critical concerns and objectives as it relates to their new role?

e. How can you align your company’s resources to help?

f. What is their impression of your company performance?

There are more questions, but you get the picture. At Butler Street, we specialize in client acquisition, retention and expansion through our proprietary ClientFirst A.R.E.™ service offering. We understand when people change, the entire relationship can change and believe our proactive approach to key account management will insulate you and your company from Changing of the Guard®. If your key accounts do not have a plan to constantly advance the relationship, click on CONTACT and let’s start the conversation.

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