5 Ways to Best Transition a Sales Account or Territory
What’s the best way to transition a sales account? It’s a good question.
Handing off accounts – or transitioning territories – is a potentially touchy task. Our salespeople build relationships with customers, and for whatever reason, we are severing one relationship to start another. Comfortable customers buy; one of the most uncomfortable moments for a customer is when a new salesperson takes over their account. Here are five ways to take the discomfort out, and keep their business intact.
- Give the customer plenty of warning. Customers don’t like surprises. They like it even less when the surprise has to do with the point person for their business. So, one key to a smooth transition is to warn the customer ahead of time, and give them an opportunity to mentally adjust to the idea of a new salesperson before they have to adjust to the reality of a new salesperson. Sometimes this isn’t possible (for instance, in the case of a sudden change in personnel), but oftentimes it is possible.
- Make the handoff in person. The handoff should be made in person, preferably from the old salesperson to the new salesperson in real time and at a face to face meeting. This allows the past salesperson (with whom the trust has been established) to introduce the new person, and in doing so, the past salesperson is giving the new salesperson his endorsement. This should mean that the ‘new guy’ doesn’t have to build a relationship from scratch.
- Train the new salesperson. The biggest fear of the customer is that there will be a drop in service levels when the new salesperson takes over. Don’t let that happen. Make sure that the new salesperson is trained to a reasonable level of competence; you won’t be able to replace 20 years of experience with a training session, but the new person should understand your company’s products and services, as well as knowing your sales process and culture.
- Give extra support to the new salesperson. You may need to devote extra resources to the new salesperson handling the account(s) for awhile. That means extra support personnel, more of your time, increased quality checks. The most critical issue here is that the customer perceives no drop in customer service levels – and if the customer perceives a raise in service levels, that’s even better.
- Don’t force the customers to accept a bad deal. If you transition a lot of customers, invariably you’ll have at least one where you have an unhappy customer. No matter how good the new salesperson is, there’s likely to be a personality conflict between a legacy customer and a new rep. When that happens, don’t force the customer to accept a salesperson that they don’t want to deal with. Remember – one way or another, the customer will cut that salesperson out of the process, either with you or without you.
Whether you’re transitioning one account or a whole territory, keep these steps in mind if you want a successful transition.