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What to do When a Decision-Maker Leaves Your Target Account

4 min read
Updated Aug. 4, 2021
Published Apr. 25, 2017

It seems like everywhere you look, your professional network is becoming more fluid. It’s becoming easier for you to find and secure new positions and it’s getting easier for your colleagues and peers to find new jobs as well. That also means it’s more likely the important decision-makers at your target accounts will leave in the middle of a sale as well.

While having a decision-maker leave is certainly a case of bad timing, it’ll happen more than a few times throughout your sales career and you need to be ready for it. Consider these data points from LinkedIn:

  • 20% of professionals at director-level and above change roles in a year
  • Average tenure for the executive-level team: 2.5 years

With trends like that, knowing how to prevent these changes from derailing your deals can be a major asset. Let’s look at a few ways you can counter the churn of a decision-maker.

Build In Redundancies

Any complex process has built-in redundancies, or safeguards against failure, and your sales process should be no different. From the start, you should be hedging your bets by developing and maintaining relationships with other individuals inside your target account.

While it may seem like a drag when your decision-maker pulls more people into a demo or sales call, each new person is a potential bridge into that account that can prevent your momentum from stalling if one connection fails. You should work to maintain communication with everyone involved in a deal, not just the decision-maker. This doesn’t have to mean more work for you either. You can use technology like cadences inside Salesloft to automate this communication for you.

Reevaluate the Landscape

Don’t assume that the landscape of your account will stay the same after a decision-maker’s departure. Just sitting around and waiting for their replacement to start would be a mistake. Tap into your additional contacts at the account and try to decide what that change will mean for your sales process. Can the decision go ahead without the decision-maker? Has that responsibility transferred to another person or another department? Depending on the state of your relationship, the departure of a decision-maker may even be an asset that can streamline the buying process. But you’ll never know until you ask.

Ask for an Introduction

Assuming a new decision-maker will fill the role and manage the purchase of your product or service, use one of your additional contacts to introduce you to the new decision-maker. You don’t want to get their contact information and go in cold. The only person less receptive to a cold email than a busy executive is a busy executive that just started a new job. Having somebody at the account make that introduction for you confirms that you’ve already been vetted to a certain degree and what you are selling holds some strategic value to the decision-makers role or company.

Position for an Early Win

While it can be a pain to determine the goals and pain points of an account’s decision-maker, when a decision-maker is replaced, you already know their biggest goal right off the bat: make a positive impact right away. That’s the number one concern of a new employee starting at any level. Positioning your product or service as an essential piece of the decision-makers early triumph can be an effective way to get their interest and buy in. However, new decision-makers will also be especially wary. To calm their fears, be sure to use risk-mitigating language. These terms include:

  • Opt-out clauses
  • Money back guarantees
  • Easy cancellation
  • Etc.

While having your decision-maker leave a target account is certainly not ideal, with the right preparation and right attitude, you can turn this setback into a significant opportunity.