While every business is unique, there are often common causes of lost client accounts. It might surprise you where many of the cracks in client relationships originate: with a company’s executive team.
New data reveals that client accounts are often lost due a lack of executive involvement from the provider. When buyers mentioned that they weren’t receiving the level of support they wanted, 58 percent cited an insufficient level of involvement from senior-level executives at the provider company as the main reason for their disappointment, according to a report put out by my company.
Accounts make the shift from strong to vulnerable when senior executives from the provider company are no longer engaged or proactively sharing recommendations with the buyer. This is a common scenario that occurs when senior executives invest a great deal of time and effort during the sales process, only to step out of the picture when the deal closes. Meanwhile, buyers have developed a false expectation that the executive involvement they experienced during the sales process will continue. When those expectations are not met, cracks begin to develop in the client relationship that, if not addressed, can result in losing the account altogether.
If you want to prevent a lack of senior executive involvement from becoming a client relationship-wrecking ball, consider implementing the following three account retention best practices:
1. Build senior executive involvement into the account plan.
Schedule senior executive client meetings and make them part of the account plan. Your company’s senior executives should visit strategic accounts at a frequency that is most appropriate given the client’s total contract size, growth potential and overall strategic importance. Providers should establish and adhere to the annual visitation plan.
2. Share the load.
It might make sense for multiple executives at your company to share the load when it comes to developing key touch points with your client. For example, it may be advantageous for the senior vice president of sales to visit your client during one quarter and the chief financial officer during another depending upon the message you need to communicate, executive availability and the overall coverage you want to achieve. This will not only broaden your company’s involvement with the client, but it will also open additional opportunities to meet and interact with client stakeholders.
3. Establish a system to archive and share ideas.
It is difficult to proactively communicate ideas to your client if you don’t have a system in place to store, organize and share ideas. By developing a system to archive and share ideas with your client, both executive-level and client-facing teams are able to systematically see what ideas have already been shared, as well as determine where gaps may exist so you can provocatively make recommendations on a regular basis to improve account support.
While a single major incident can damage a client relationship beyond the point of repair, most of these relationships become vulnerable or damaged over time through a series of seemingly small cracks in the relationship due to chronic issues, such as a lack of senior executive involvement. Smart entrepreneurs will adjust their level of senior involvement to provide the necessary attention these important strategic customers require. Effectively doing this will yield measurable and long-term improvements for the years ahead.