Surviving the Account Apocalypse
It started out just like every other coaching call I’ve ever done. My client described an account, giving me background and his plans for next steps. He spoke confidently of his relationship with various contacts within the company. He gave me several examples of successful jobs that had been printed. I listened for a while and then asked a question that stopped him cold:
“Could you survive a meltdown at this account?”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“What if,” I continued, “a job went horribly wrong. Imagine if Murphy’s Law occurred at its absolute worst: the prepress guy, Bill Murphy, paginated the job wrong and no one noticed. The hiccuping pressman, Tom Murphy, allowed more than a few hickeys to occur. And in finishing, Christine Murphy had just come back from a chiropractor and because her head was tilted to one side, cut the job at an angle. Oh, and don’t forget that the UPS delivery man, Ulysses Murphy, handed over the job and then kicked the customer in the Murphys for good measure.”
An account apocalypse
After a pregnant pause, my customer admitted, “I don’t know. I don’t know if I could survive that. I don’t know if anyone could survive that.”
I think it’s inevitable that a job will go wrong, even if you don’t work for Murphy’s Printing. Take every precaution imaginable, and stuff still will happen. Everyone makes mistakes. Your Apocalypse Now is coming soon to a customer near you. Prepare for it.
Think of it this way: suppose you’re sitting at your desk after the unthinkable has happened. If this is an account that you’ve done business with for a long time, one of your thoughts has to be, “Have they forgotten all the good things I’ve ever done for them?”