What happens when a salesperson leaves?

How do we safeguard the “orphan” accounts?

Selling Radio Direct with Pat Bryson

If your stations are similar to the ones I deal with, from time to time we need to move accounts from one salesperson to another. Sometimes that occurs when a tenured salesperson retires. Sometimes a salesperson leaves for “greener pastures”. Many times, the person who is leaving hasn’t done a good job and is asked to leave. In any of these scenarios, we are left with “orphan accounts”: accounts who have had their relationship with our sellers disrupted. What do we need to do to make sure the transition is a smooth one and we don’t lose business?

Scenario one: A tenured salesperson retires or leaves.

Chances are, these people have had good relationships with their clients. They have worked with the clients long enough to know the trends of those businesses. They may have become close with the decision-makers. They have lived through good and bad times with those clients. Now, the client is faced with reestablishing a relationship with a new person. They may be thinking, “Now I’ve got to train another one.” The good news is, this client probably has experienced good results from our stations. This may transcend the break in relationship. We know that one of the things our clients value most is a long-lasting relationship. Here are some steps to begin establishing a new relationship without damaging the business:

1. Immediately call the client, introduce yourself, and set an appointment to come see them. (It’s even better if the outgoing salesperson will personally introduce the new AE)
2. Research their account. Pull billing figures from your traffic system. Go back several years if necessary. Look at production orders. How and what are they advertising?
3. Talk to others in the station who might know the history of this account.
4. Do some research on the category of business if you have not handled accounts in that category before.
5. Now you go to the appointment. “I’ve done some research on your account but I’m sure there are many other things I need to know to make sure I take great care of your business. Might we talk about those?” Now you do what we call a “mini-CNA” where you delve into biggest concerns the client is having now, where they are, where they want to be in the next 6 months. You probe for needs and goals. Talk about the business of the business. Begin to establish a relationship with them.
6. Set parameters on how they wish to work with you. “Mr. Client, I want to see you at least once a month, but that might not be often enough. How do YOU define “exceptional service”? Do you want to see me once a week, twice a month? How is the best way to communicate with you? Do you like to text, use email, phone?” Then make sure to plot these contact dates on your calendar. It will be important that you over service this client in the first 3 or 4 months.

In our next newsletter we’ll investigate what needs to happen when an underperforming salesperson leaves to safeguard business or, as I’ve found in many cases, to pick up the pieces and move forward.

Happy selling!