We all know that sales from existing customers can mean the difference between a good and a great year. If you’re working in an organization which relies on a few key accounts, you know how important it is to keep those customers happy. According to Tris Brown, who writes for td.org, having a clear plan for dealing with strategic accounts can explain 31% of “the difference between a high- and low- performing sales team. [LSA Global research.]” The same holds true for your own management of strategic accounts.

Regardless of the quality of your customer service, you could be at risk for losing a strategic account at any time. If you stay in close touch with these accounts, you’ll be less likely to encounter a surprise loss. Regular phone calls to key accounts are a must. The outward purpose of these calls could be about sharing valuable information with your clients. Or you may want to bring them up to date on the new features that will be offered in the next release of your product.

During these calls, make sure to listen for any sign of a critical change. One big heads-up that your contract could be in trouble is the imminent departure of your main contact. If you no longer have anyone advocating for you inside the organization, it will be more difficult for you to sell a renewal or add-on services. To ward off this problem, try to maintain more than one contact at a client site.

In addition, once you hear of a personnel change, increase your level of outreach. Find a reason to personally visit the customer site. For example, you’ll want to form a relationship with the employee who replaces your departing contact as soon as possible. This kind of action might save the account.

It’s easy to assume an account is on autopilot until it isn’t. To avoid getting blindsided by a sudden change at an account, always be monitoring their activity level. If the users at the client site are suddenly not logging into your service as often as they did three months ago, flag the account and take action.