It is a fact that in B2B sales most buying decisions are taken by people, so therefore if you manage relationships well, then you can improve your chances of winning business in those accounts. Even with artificial intelligence and machine learning as the new frontiers in the buyer-seller dyad, this is true.
This makes a lot of sense also when looking at reviving dormant account relationships. A strategic account relationship is often at risk for an incumbent when:
- There are new buying influences and decision makers in the customer organization’s hierarchy
- These new people control budgets and/or can influence how an existing budget is spent
- Your coverage of these new people through frequent contacts and exchanges doesn’t currently exist, or starts dropping by the day, weeks and months, following their resumption
- Your competition is more in touch with and in tune with their priorities, than you are.
- Your competitor probably covers the more frequently than you.
Whether an account has been inherited or the relationship went cold under your management, this approach is capable of getting you back in business within a short time. One of the best things that can happen for a dormant account relationship is that you make contact and they start ordering again without asking much questions. While this is possible, it could also be rare that this happens. For instance, it can happen when buying influences and decision makers who knew and related with your organization from another company have now moved to the account, or even when persons blocking you in the account you are trying to revive have left the account to pursue other interests elsewhere.
So here are 3 things we recommend you do when trying to revive a dormant account using past or new relationships.
Create A Relationship Map
An important first step in reviving dormant accounts is to build a relationship map of the account. This will typically involve understanding the customer organization’s existing or new Org structure, then plotting key decision makers into it. A physical drawing helps to visualize this. It is recommended that an account manager draw this up in great detail, identifying where there are gaps in his/her knowledge of these decision makers. Sigs that you don’t know them well include;
- Knowing a fraction of their name, like having the last name and not knowing the first name,
- Having only the designation they were at when you first knew them, or not even knowing they designation at all,
- Not knowing other important personal identifiers like someone’s gender and prefixes or suffixes and/or
- Not knowing who they report to or who reports to who.
In these examples above, and they are by no means a finite list, there is work to be done by the account manager and account team. Part of the work here would be to identify who is supporting and rooting for your competition.
Conduct A test of real Authority, Power & Influence
People’s influence can often be directly proportional to the Power & Authority conferred on them by;
- Position: their office and responsibilities attached, not just their title.
- Hierarchy, .i.e. their level in the organization
- Domain Expertise, .i.e. what they know as experts and how that is held in importance
- Tenure, i.e. how long they’ve worked in the organization, sometimes even in the industry.
- Interests, .i.e. often the basis for building strong internal relationship networks.
As you plan to revive the dormant account relationships, you need to also check if individuals who are there now are knowledgeable as to why the relationship went cold, and if any one of them would be a deal killer. (see our previous blog post titled “Beware the Deal Killer“)
Build A Coverage Plan
Having identified who the new decision makers are and how they stack in terms of authority, power and influence, you will then proceed to work out a plan of who to contact, through what means or channel?, when and by whom?. An important caveat here is to be mindful of hierarchy’s and preferences. Don’t use an intern to cover a CEO , for instance, unless you have very compelling reasons to do so (not impossible, but highly unlikely, if you ask me).
Next in importance to this is to carefully craft the messaging for each new decision maker or influencer in the account that you have tried to win back. Messaging is very important. Recently, as I was conducting an account win-back session with a major international organization and I helped them see the importance of not using mono-messaging to reach out to everyone because the key decision makers and influencers within the account all see the relationship differently.
Caveat: Attempting to restart account relationships without addressing a big elephant in the room can be disastrous. Big elephants include;
- Promises not keep, whether it was made by your predecessors or by you.
- Disputes not resolved, -ditto-
- Service & support issues still pending
- And all other things that make the individuals in the account grimace at the mention of your name or your company’s name.
Account management wisdom dictates that you settle all of those and take them out of the table before proceeding to attempt to revive any Dormant account.
Revive Dormant Accounts through rapprochement with Key people should be seen as an investment because it calls for being deliberate in everything. And so, patience becomes a virtue as you execute because things can happen on the timeline and gelada of the people you are calling on, not yours.