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My contact left the company. What do I do now?
We’ve all been there. We spend so much time developing and nurturing relationships with our clients. We do it to gain their trust and, most importantly, to gain and/or keep their business. So what happens when your primary contact – the one you’ve spent so much time “courting” – leaves the company?
Build multiple relationships within the company
It can be devastating if your only contact at one of your biggest clients suddenly leaves the company. One way to avoid this disaster is to make sure you have multiple points of contact within the organization – and that you interact with each of them regularly. You should know several people within the company (and even within different departments), and they should all know you, and know what role you play. If multiple people within the organization recognize the value you provide, you’re more likely to secure your place, even if your primary contact leaves.
Make people like you
It may seem silly, or it may seem like common sense. But you would be amazed at how few people actually take the time to “sell themselves” when selling their product or service. The ability to ask how someone’s kid’s soccer season is going, or whether they’ve found the time to put that new boat in the water, can go a long way in building a relationship. Your product may be the best there is, but people want to do business with people they like – so make them like you! Bring them creme puffs from the amazing creme puff place near your house; or bring them a big “box” of coffee for a Monday morning meeting. Make each interaction memorable, even for the people you don’t get to meet with directly.
LinkedIn is your friend
If you’re in business, you should have a LinkedIn profile – bottom line. You may not be extremely active on it, but you should have a presence. And, once you’ve linked to your primary contact, scour their links and link to others within their organization. That way, if your main contact leaves, you still have the information needed to get in touch with others within the company.
And LinkedIn will also help you find out where your primary contact has gone. Many people move quickly from one position to the other – and there may not be time to notify everyone. But now you can find out where they’ve landed once they’ve updated their LinkedIn profile – potentially giving you an “in” at their new place of employment. And, if their departure was unplanned on their part (downsized, etc.), you may be able to use LinkedIn to connect them with some potential employment leads. It’s a “win” for everyone.
Make it easy for the company to continue doing business with you
Many will tell you that they key is to make it difficult for them to stop doing business with you. The better approach is to make any transition seamless, so there is no reason for a company to discontinue using your product or service just because the person who dealt with you in the past is no longer there. If your contact has been replaced, touch base with the new employee as soon as possible to assist with the transition. Make them aware of the processes and procedures that exist, and find out how you can help them succeed in their new position.
It is true that, in many companies, a new employee will bring with them a stable of preferred vendors – people with whom they have existing relationships. And it’s possible that you may be replaced, regardless of what you do. But don’t simply accept defeat. Be sincere, be friendly, offer exceptional service, and remember that the stronger your relationship with a company (and multiple key people within that company), the more likely you will be able to continue doing business with them.
Mar 14, 2014
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