So, you get to work on Monday morning and are greeted with the news that the executive sponsor has left your customer’s team or company altogether. Now the project is in a state of confusion, and you are facing much greater risk than you did before.
What if the new sponsor is hard to work with? What if they decide to pull the plug on the project altogether? These questions are very real risks that you could fall victim to if you aren’t careful. Luckily, you’re a Key Account Manager. You are a part of the A-Team of account management. As a key account manager, it’s your job to hedge against this massive risk, and have a plan ready to go in case this happens.
If you don’t have a plan already, let’s take a look at a few of the things you should do if you were to lose a sponsor in the future. It isn’t the end of the world, and if you follow these tips and tricks, you should be able to help get the project back on track in no time.
Conduct a Voice of Customer Interview
After you learn about the sponsor leaving, one of the first things on your key account management to-do list should be learning more. You need to know the entire situation. Why did the sponsor leave? What will happen to their project? Where does the relationship go from here? What are the customer’s goals?
These are all crucial questions that you need to answer. What’s the best way to ask structured questions with a purpose that will show you the health and status of the relationship? A Voice of Customer interview of course!
The most important takeaway you should get from this VOC interview is an update on the customer’s short and long-term goals. You want to know how they plan to find a new sponsor and how the project will be affected by the search for a new sponsor.
With these new answers, you can shift your strategy to meet their needs currently. Input their answers into Kapta’s built-in VOC Insights tool, and you’ll be able to view the current health score of the relationship. With this insight, you can better adjust your strategy to meet the needs of the customers during this sometimes-chaotic moment with a lost sponsor.
Do Continuous Relationship Management
As a key account manager, Continuous Relationship Management is your bread and butter when it comes to keeping accounts happy and successful through your services and products. Even in periods of flux, you should continue to provide top-notch services that turn your customers into office heroes at their organization.
The relationship shouldn’t be put on pause while your account looks for a new sponsor, so you should still follow and implement the rules of continuous relationship management. If you’ve followed the principles so far, the situation shouldn’t be as confusing. Nevertheless, continue your efforts to eliminate blind spots, strengthen the relationship, and do what you can to increase your customer’s satisfaction across the board.
Be Up Front
With the last executive sponsor now gone, a lot of things are in motion. If you don’t ask up-front questions of your customer, you could make the wrong decisions, and the account could spiral out of control. For this reason, we recommend you simply ask your key account the following:
“Who is taking over responsibility for this relationship? Now that this sponsor is gone, who else do I need to know?”
It’s a simple question, but many unseasoned key account managers fail to ask this during the initial aftershock of a sponsor leaving. It will make you appear more knowledgeable to your customer because you’re showing a proactive approach, and you’ll also be able to get the direct answers you need to view the full picture of the situation.
You want to know who is who in your customer’s organization, and the sponsor is an important person to know. They might not have made a decision yet, or they could have a new sponsor already lined up. Whatever the case, you need a name and a face to help you shift your strategy.
Because sponsors are usually higher-up members of an organization, typically with a VP+ attached to their title, they usually have a history attached to them as well. Different sponsors will come on board with different strategies as well, and your plan should adapt to fit their overarching vision for the client’s project.
Talk to the Sponsor Directly
Before the sponsor leaves, you should try your best to get ahold of them. By speaking with them before they leave, you can ask important questions about the project or company, and uncover some potentially disastrous hidden risks.
Many in the industry refer to this as a “knowledge transfer” so you can gain a deeper insight into your key account’s pressing issues and risks moving forward. If you have a better understanding of the risks, they won’t blindside you if they turn into major problems. It’s all about having a plan of action should the worst happen, and if you’re prepared, you can minimize the damage that these risks could have on the key account.
How Kapta Can Help
When a sponsor leaves, some people will panic and make sudden, often incorrect decisions. If you’re prepared, you can take the situation in stride! Especially with the right set of account management tools at your disposal, finding a mutually beneficial solution can be a breeze!
Kapta is a powerful account management platform designed specifically for key account managers in both times of success and confusion alike. The powerful features like VOC Insights and account planning tools, you can have a bird’s eye view of the entire situation, allowing you to plan the perfect next move. If you want to see what Kapta can do for you and your key accounts, request your free demo today.