From Twitter to Microsoft, enterprises undergo reorganizations frequently —and publicly. These shifts in personnel often come with shifts in priorities, preferences, and strategies, all of which can open up a wealth of opportunities for new business. If your prospect is in the middle of a reorg, or if you were previously unsuccessful at selling into that company, the moments during and following the shake-up can offer a sales opportunity or a second chance.
Here’s why reorgs seem so daunting—and how you can use that to your advantage to win new business after the rest of your competitors have thrown in the towel.
The Reorg Reality
From identifying key stakeholders to moving from a first call to a final contract, the everyday challenges of the typical sales process are already hard enough. But when your prospect tells you they’re about to undergo a reorganization, you’re probably going to think, “Great, this one’s not happening for at least another year.”
That’s probably the case, and it, unfortunately, also means you’ll likely be back to square one. Everything you learned about during the discovery phase—the decision-makers, the tech stack, the budget, and more—is now useless. It’s all going to change by the time you’re ready to re-engage, and even that’s only if you’re able to hang on to the relationships you built in the first place, which, with so much up in the air at your prospect’s organization, is far from a given.
Many or even most sellers would probably abandon the pursuit and say “Give me a call when everything’s settled.” After all, your time is literally money, and nurturing a deal that’s not happening any time soon won’t help you make your number. That’s especially true considering that the cost of lost pursuit is $218,000 for a salesperson that closes $1 million
But that’s exactly where the sales opportunity lies in reorganizations. Remember: Your competitors are also looking at these same numbers, and are probably coming to the conclusion that moving the opp to closed-lost and trying again once the dust settles is the smart move. And once it does, they’re going to have to start from scratch yet again—but if you play your cards right, you won’t have to. You will have been working all along, preparing behind the scenes, and staying abreast of all the changes to the organization so when your prospect’s business is back in business, you’ll be first in line.
Be an Active Strategist
In communication theory, there’s a fun idea called “uncertainty reduction theory,” or URT if you’re fancy. It posits that we experience an innate anxiety when communicating with new people for the first time, and we can reduce this anxiety by gaining information about them in advance. It’s central to what we do at Emissary, and it’s more important than ever during a reorg.
Since everything you’ve learned about your prospect to date is now out the window, your uncertainty meter is now buried in the red. You don’t know how the reorg will shake out, who’ll be calling the shots, or what strategic direction the new team will take. Your prospect doesn’t know this either, so you can’t simply ask for a straight answer. But according to URT, there are three ways to get your uncertainty under control:
- Be a passive strategist: The passive strategist tries to reduce uncertainty by observing their target in his or her natural state. In the context of a sale, this might mean observing a prospect at a conference or even at work—all while remaining unnoticed. That won’t tell you much about a reorg, though. It’s also kind of creepy.
- Be an active strategist: Active strategists seek to gain information about a situation by asking someone related or involved. In this case, that’s your prospect. You can’t address the new team head-on because it doesn’t exist yet, so you reduce uncertainty by learning from someone in the know.
- Be an interactive strategist: Interactive strategists reduce uncertainty by asking for info directly. Without a clear decision-maker in play, you can’t really do this, so this one’s off the table.
While many other sellers may disengage and ask to be updated when the reorg is done, an active strategist does the opposite. The active strategist will keep gathering information and working to stay top-of-mind by continuing to meet with their prospect informally.
Use these meetings to understand your prospects’ professional goals. Do they want to be the head of the new team? Or are they more interested in being a project lead or an individual contributor? Understanding how your point of contact is thinking can be just as important as learning about the reorg, and it will help you know which message to go with when you resume sales conversations.
At that point, you’ll have built a trusting relationship with your buyer and will have a better understanding of the motivations behind why they invited you to pitch to their team and bosses. You may even score the opportunity to be implanted at the ground level to be a foundational part of their new plan.
Sales Opportunity to Reactivate a Closed-Lost
You’ll often hear about a reorganization within a company that you’d pitched to unsuccessfully. Since your prospect’s company will basically emerge as a whole new entity with new stakeholders to target and new priorities to address, a reorg is a golden opportunity to revisit that sales opportunity and try again.
The company will have been forced to closely re-examine its priorities, structure, roles, and responsibilities across all personnel. That means that you can ask deeper, more targeted questions and actually get answers because they’ve been asking themselves the same questions for months.
When a company decides to reorganize, they do so with intent. They want to come out the other side with new direction, new goals, and new milestones by which they will measure their success. Re-engage your prospect by asking how their company is reshaping itself so you can reshape your strategy accordingly. You will be able to better align your product to the new challenges they face as well as understand how your company and theirs will best fit. In many ways, it gives you an opportunity to see how their metaphorical lock is being redesigned so you can recut your key.
If the prospect has been dormant for a while, and you don’t know how to reignite the conversation, get an inside edge by enlisting someone who has worked at that organization before. As we discussed in a recent case study about one of our clients, a reorg can be difficult to navigate without an Emissary who understands “the political org chart of all the new decision-makers, influencers, and champions since the restructure.” Moreover, you can better understand “dynamics between the relevant individuals that could influence buying,” which will make it easier to call the right people and include the right stakeholders so you can sell to your prospect anew!
There’s no question about it: Reorgs are demoralizing and can really take the air out of your deal’s sails. But before you give up and go home, stop and remember that all your competitors are doing the exact same thing, leaving you with a golden sales opportunity to get ahead. If you stay diligent by learning as much as you can about the new shape of the business and the goals of the decision-makers you’ll meet down the road, you’ll have all the tools you’ll need to be first in line when they’re back in business and ready to buy.