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Inheriting B2B Sales Accounts

Turnover is a reality within any salesforce. As a result, there's a good chance that salespeople might find themselves unexpectedly inheriting accounts.

In many cases, that's great news because it means a nice source of leads from existing customers. And virtually everyone agrees that it's easier to sell something else to someone who has already bought from you than to try and find brand new opportunities. There are also challenges with inherited accounts, too.

There's a Golden Rule for inheriting accounts.

 Treat an inherited file like it's a brand new account.

In other words, you have to begin with thorough pre-call planning. But where can you turn for information about an existing account? Really, the list is endless...

  • CRM Notes
  • Your Sales Manager & Other Reps
  • The Company's Shareholder Reports
  • LinkedIn Profiles
  • Jigsaw Data

I might even suggest that pre-call planning is EVEN more important with an existing account than with new ones. That's because -- even though you should treat it like it's a new account -- if someone has already bought from you, they're expecting you to know everything about them already! 

To that point, you might notice that I didn't say to call your contacts within the account.

That's because you should do your level best to get as much information as humanly possible before reaching out to the account to introduce yourself.

After you've done your research, it's critical to arrange an introductory meeting that's about MORE than just an introduction. If the only value you're offering a client is to say "hello, I'm your new rep..." you're not offering any value at all. Instead, identify valuable reasons for a meeting with a business purpose. Your pre-call planning will likely reveal that to you.

When you meet with your customer, it's time to treat them like a brand new account..with a twist. It's important to express your gratitude for their continued business. Acknowledge their history. Let them know that you'd like to give them an opportunity to continue with the kind of relationship they'd like to have. Or - if they'd rather -use this time to redefine that relationship. In other words, ask...

  • "How would you describe your ideal relationship with someone in my role?"

In short, follow your sales process to a meaningful conversation.

What other strategies do you have? Oh, and by the way, what if you're facing competition from the former rep?