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A Champion Loss: Navigating the Waters of Key Account Changes

Imagine a solid green large revenue account that has been a lightning rod of success for a company erupting into a raging inferno. With little notice, the procurement team sent an early notice of termination. The Customer Success Manager, completely blind-sided by this development, reaches out to the main stakeholder only to receive an email bounce-back. The CSM is now left ruing the missed warning signs – the main stakeholder’s absence from the last two meetings. A sinking realization sets in. Time seems to stand still.

Desperate for guidance, the CSM contacts their manager. With their manager’s guidance and amid the chaos of everyone’s busy schedules, a conference call with sales and leadership is arranged for the following week. The call is a whirlwind of differing opinions and suggestions. Yet, in the eye of this storm, a makeshift plan begins to take shape.

The Account Executive is charged with the mission of contacting the executive sponsor, while the CSM is tasked to scout out the successor. An internal follow-up is slated for the upcoming week. As that week rolls in, it’s apparent that their outreach attempts are going nowhere. Despite this setback, the team remains undeterred, agreeing that the strategy laid out still holds water and should be persisted with. The Head of Customer Success poses a question – is it time to adjust the forecast? “Not yet,” counters the CSM, clutching onto a thread of optimism, still believing that somehow, they can salvage the renewal.

This scenario might be unfamiliar territory for some, but trust me, it’s a real-life drama that unfolds more frequently than you’d imagine in companies around the globe. The most difficult part of this story is the late discovery of a key customer stakeholder’s departure, especially when the renewal cycle is drawing dangerously close.

When an account is lost, it leaves a blot on the CSM’s report card for the next quarter. In some situations, it may even impact their longevity at the company. Yet, the harsh reality is that often, CSMs are juggling more accounts than they can feasibly manage. This might not always hold true, but if I were a betting person, I’d say it’s the case for the majority. CSMs are stretched thin, constantly teetering on the brink of burnout.

In our next post, we explore a few practical and easy-to-implement strategies to address this issue of champion loss. We propose that first start by accepting the fact that each account will, at some point, experience a change in the champion. The key is to be prepared. Have a playbook at your fingertips, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice when that change does occur.

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