How a Handoff Can Save Your Largest Account

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handoffMost companies encourage their salespeople to take ownership of their accounts. That’s good and appropriate—to a point.

When a sales rep’s ownership of an account puts that account in jeopardy, the sales manager needs to step in and correct the situation.

Mitch was the sales rep on a major account and had a high level of customer contact. Although Mitch was great at new business development, he wasn’t so strong with account management. He often butted heads with his primary contact and—without meaning to—steamrolled right over others. His assertive behavior earned him a nickname within the customer’s office.

They called him “Sandpaper.”

The problem was that this was Mitch’s account. If he turned it over to another rep, he’d lose the commission associated with it, as well as respect within the organization. Or so he thought.

Mitch sat down with his manager and considered options. The account represented a significant revenue stream for the company and the opportunity for future referrals – if they could turn the relationship around. Losing the account would have a disastrous affect on the department’s sales.

Gently, the sales manager suggested that Steve, a sales rep with greater interactive flexibility, might be more successful managing the account. At first, Mitch resisted the idea of someone else taking over. “But this is my account,” he said.

His manager gently but firmly disagreed. “It’s not your account, Mitch,” she said. “It’s the company’s account.”

Once it was put in those terms, Mitch began to understand what had to be done. If he couldn’t please the customer, he was going to lose the revenue from the account anyway—and so would the organization. By turning the account over to Steve, the company revenue could be saved, and the commissions would be split with someone he knew, worked with, and respected—not lost to the competition.

In the end, the handoff of the account from Mitch to Steve benefitted everyone. Contacts at the account were immediately happier because they had a more pleasant account manager. They also perceived their vendor as responsive to their needs. Steve’s paycheck got a nice bump from the increased commissions, and his company not only kept the account’s revenue, but also watched it grow as Steve built trust and rapport with his contacts there. And Mitch, free from having to manage an account, had more time to do what he truly loved and excelled at: winning new business.

Not all sales handoffs have such happy endings, of course. But by implementing this one change, sales organizations can leverage the individual abilities of every team member to increase revenue, enhance the customer experience, and build the company brand. No one loses in that situation—except the competition.

Posted in Blog.