Turnover is common in sales jobs, so this salesperson's dilemma is likely something you'll encounter in the upcoming months.
Question: One of my peers resigned and I've inherited some of her big accounts.
My boss has asked me to make a personal call, then follow up with an email to introduce myself and begin a dialog with them. Also, I've been asked to send a card with a note that says, "I'm looking forward to working with you."
What should I say in my phone call and follow-up email? Any other suggestions?
Jill's Response: Think about things from your customer's perspective first.
Customers hate changing reps. It just means more work for them. They need to bring you up to speed on what's been happening in their account as well as educate you on how things work in their company. Plus, they have to get used to working with a new person - whose capabilities are currently unknown.
If I were a customer, I'd want to be reassured that I was in good hands. But if you tried to do it by coming off as a really nice person who was totally at my service, that just wouldn't do it. And, I would have no desire to meet you just because you were the new rep.
What I'd really want to hear is that you'd reviewed my account and knew what was going on. I'd want to feel comfortable that no balls were going to be dropped.
So your initial approach needs to be focused on the business. For example, with an active account where discussions were underway for 2008, I might leave a voicemail like this:
Pat, (your name) from (company) calling. (phone #). I'll be taking over your account from Terry, effective immediately.
I've been reviewing the projects that we worked with you on in the past year – and also what you were hoping to accomplish in 2008. I have a few questions for you and thought it would be good if we could get together right away – so that we don't miss a beat in working with you.
I'll send you an email with some suggestions on possible times. Again, this is (your name) from (company). And my number is (phone). I look forward to talking with you.
Then, you could follow the voicemail message with an email that was nearly identical. In the email you could even mention something very specific about what's going on in their account or identify several questions that you want to talk about.
Finally, you can be nice. Send a card that says you're looking forward to working with this person. Perhaps a small gift too - but nothing elaborate.
Final thought: Anything you can do to minimize their workload or make things easy for them is the best way to quickly earn their respect - and ultimately more sales.