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Professional Goodbyes: How to Tell Clients You Resigned

Leaving your job? Navigate the resignation process confidently with our guide for Key Account Managers, ensuring professionalism and positivity.
Professional goodbyes

A Key Account Manager’s resignation is a an event that can bring a sense of uncertainty within the organization and among clients. The strategy behind your resignation communication can make all the difference to a smooth transition and bolstering client trust during this time of change.

Your farewell is far more than a simple goodbye—it’s a chance to reassure your clients and give them a lasting positive image of your time as a key account manager.

This professional resignation guide is here to assist key account managers navigate this important phase with all the steps needed to manage your departure in the most professional and effective manner.

Table of Contents

What Drives Key Account Managers to Resign?

There comes a time when even the most dedicated Key Account Managers (KAMs) might choose to find a new professional challenge

Here’s why key account managers decide to hand in their notice:

  • Unseen Stars: Picture this, you’re a top-performing KAM who consistently shatters targets, but your efforts are as noticeable as a ninja in the night. It’s no surprise you might start daydreaming about greener pastures, where your work is valued, and promotion isn’t a myth.
  • Puzzle Pieces that Don’t Fit: Dealing with inadequate processes is like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces – frustrating and inefficient. If the procedural pieces aren’t fitting, a KAM may decide it’s time for a different puzzle.
  • Bad Bosses: As the old adage goes, employees don’t quit jobs, they quit managers. Poor leadership can transform a workplace into a survival course rather than a place to thrive.
  • Office Politics: When inter-departmental cooperation is as rare as a unicorn, a KAM’s job becomes an uphill battle. Navigating internal roadblocks can be a significant source of dissatisfaction and a one-way ticket to resignation-ville.
  • Life Happens: Whether it’s family obligations, a burning desire to travel, or an urge to chase a new passion, personal reasons can nudge a KAM towards drafting that resignation letter.

Before making the leap, a good heart-to-heart with yourself is worthwhile. Understanding your reasons for wanting to resign can help clear the fog of indecision, manage emotional roller-coasters, inform your career trajectory, and guide your resignation conversation.

If you’re a KAM on the brink of resignation, don’t shy away from deep self-reflection. Take into account all factors, both professional and personal. Seek advice from your network. By doing so, you can leverage this transition as a valuable learning experience and lay a strong foundation for success in your future roles.

Dealing with Feelings About Resigning

Deciding to jump ship from your current role can stir up a wide range of emotions. Understanding and managing these emotions is important to a smooth career transition

  1. Elation: Feeling elated is natural when leaving a job that has left you unhappy or unfulfilled. This joy symbolizes your bravery in seeking greener pastures, and the anticipation of stepping onto a more fulfilling career path.
  2. Apprehension: It’s natural to feel apprehensive about how your resignation will impact your clients and team. Embrace the change. After all, change is the only constant in the business world, and who knows? Your departure might ignite positive transformations for all parties involved.
  3. Guilt and Grief: As you prepare to bid adieu to the key accounts and professional relationships you’ve nurtured, you might experience a tinge of guilt and loss. They’ve been part of your professional journey, and parting can be bittersweet. But remember, every ending is a new beginning, and your future holds plenty of exciting plot twists.
  4. Fear of Repercussions: Worried your clients will feel abandoned or question your company’s stability? Remember, everyone understands the “musical chairs” nature of the professional world. Be open, be genuine, and reassure them of a seamless transition. After all, solid relationships can weather any storm
  5. Potential Backlash: Concerned that your move might spark doubts about your company’s stability? Remember, you’re not the first KAM to switch lanes. Highlight the positive aspects of your tenure and frame your move as an exciting step towards personal growth.

Feeling overwhelmed? Chat with a trusted friend, mentor, or colleague. Sharing your feelings can help process them and offer valuable perspective. And don’t forget to look after your health—because a healthy body fuels a healthy mind.

Acknowledge your feelings, but don’t let them cloud the sunny horizons ahead. You’re not just exiting a role; you’re stepping onto a new stage full of promise.

How to Discuss Your Departure with Leadership

Navigating a resignation and professional transition requires clear and open communication with your company’s leadership.

Here are some things to keep in mind :

  • Leaders First, Gossip Later: Break the news of your resignation to your immediate boss or relevant leaders before anyone else.
  • Honest is the Best Policy: When sharing your resignation, be transparent—tactfully, of course. This will help leaders understand your decision and prepare for smooth transition.
  • Positive Vibes Only: Despite leaving, maintain a sunny disposition in your interactions. It leaves a good taste and nurtures a positive relationship with the company for the future.
  • Keep it Classy: Ensure your communication is professional and respectful. Use clear language, avoid jargon, and respect their time.
  • Hold Your Horses: Resist the urge to announce your departure to clients and colleagues before you’ve officially informed leadership and been given the green light. A premature announcement could stir up a hornet’s nest of complications. (see point 1)
  • Two Heads Are Better Than One: Once you’ve notified leadership, discuss your client communication strategy with them. Their experience and insight could be invaluable.
  • Keep Them in the Loop: After you’ve notified your clients, give leadership a debriefing. Any client reactions, concerns, or questions you share will equip them to step in if needed.

Your departure can send ripples through the company pond, affecting clients and colleagues alike. By keeping leadership in the loop, you’ll ensure a seamless transition and leave on good terms.

Deciding When to Inform Clients About Your Resignation

Once leadership is notified, the question of when to inform your clients becomes crucial. The timing needs to be precise. Announcing too early risks awkwardness, while too late appears inconsiderate.

  • Time it Right: News of your departure should be timed to fit each client’s situation: strength of your relationship, understanding of each client, and how much they depend on you. If your clients lean heavily on you, loop them in early to avoid feelings of abandonment. And if questions arise about the short notice, have a reasonable explanation prepared
  • Sync with Renewal Cycles: Align with your key accounts’ renewal cycles to minimize disruption. The last thing you want is to stir up doubts during a renewal period. But if a renewal has just been sealed, your news may be cushioned by the comfort of a fresh contract
  • Personalize Your Approach: Announcing your resignation shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all mass email. Tailor your message to each client. It shows respect for your unique relationship and allows you to address their specific concerns while reinforcing your commitment to their success.
  • Bundle it with a Transition Plan: Your resignation news should come hand in hand with your transition plan. It’s like serving up a main course (your departure news) with a side of reassurance (the plan for managing their account). It helps clients understand that their account won’t be left out in the cold.

Remember, the timing of your resignation announcement can make or break a smooth transition. By considering these factors and communicating empathetically, you’ll maintain a stable and trusting environment during this period of change.

Saying Goodbye: How to Construct an Effective Departure Message

Announcing your departure from a job can be a daunting task, especially when you’ve built strong relationships with your clients over the years. As you take your final curtain call, here’s some tips to be met with a standing ovation:

  1. Lead with Gratitude: Open your announcement by expressing thanks for the professional journey shared with your clients. It sets a positive tone.
  2. Crystal Clear Communication: Be clear and to the point about your departure. No need to spill all the beans about your new role or company. The focus should be on the change, not the specifics of your new venture.
  3. Keep it Positive: Avoid any negative undertones about your current employer. This isn’t the time for airing dirty laundry. Let’s keep the stage drama-free!
  4. Growth is the Goal: If asked about your reasons for leaving, make it about personal growth and new challenges. This narrative keeps the spotlight on your development, not any behind-the-scenes drama.
  5. Service Continuity: Put any worries about service interruption to rest. Assure your clients of your company’s commitment to maintaining, or even enhancing, service quality. This is your chance to introduce whoever is taking over their account and reference a well-thought-out transition plan
  6. End with Warmth: Close on a warm note, expressing gratitude and hope for the future. This finale reassures clients that even though your roles may change, your appreciation for them remains.

Email versus In-Person: Making the Right Choice for Your Resignation Announcement

The question of whether to deliver your announcement via email or in-person largely depends on the nature of your relationship with the client and the norms within your industry and company. In most cases, a combination of both methods works best.

For clients you’re closely connected with, an in-person or phone announcement followed by an email can combine the best of both worlds .

For a more formal or distant professional relationship, an email may be enough. It delivers all the necessary information in a professional format, allowing the client to absorb the news at their own pace.

Regardless of the method you choose, make your departure announcement clear, respectful, and thoughtful. Leave your clients feeling supported and reassured about the future of their account.

Striking the Balance Between Honesty and Diplomacy

Honesty is generally revered as the best policy. However, there are instances where diplomacy takes precedence over full transparency.

If you’re parting ways due to job dissatisfaction, you might be tempted to share your reasons with your clients. But that kind of information will damage your clients’ faith in the company and add to an already tumultuous situation.

This is where the art of diplomacy steps in.

Diplomacy involves tactful communication to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or making a situation more complicated. Like telling your friend you love their new haircut when really you think it’s completely wrong for them.

It’s about conveying your departure’s reasons in terms of personal growth, new opportunities, or other neutral factors, rather than a litany of grievances. It’s not about dishonesty, but about choosing the most suitable truth for the situation.

Maintaining sincerity and positivity during your farewell discourse is essential. It helps keep your professional reputation intact and leaves a positive final impression

Here are some tips for communicating your resignation diplomatically:

  1. Highlight the Bright Side: Focus on your future role’s exciting prospects. This tactic keeps the conversation positive and diverts attention from any sour grapes from your previous job.
  2. Keep it Short: A brief, concise explanation about your decision to leave is more than enough. This prevents clients from being entangled in the minutiae.
  3. Respect the Past: Refrain from any negative remarks about your former company or colleagues. Not only can such comments hurt your professional image, but they can also damage the rapport with your clients.

By mastering these diplomatic steps, you can ensure a graceful exit, maintain your professional demeanour, and keep your client relationships on solid ground

Handling Tough Questions Post-Resignation

As a key account manager, you often build deep connections with clients, so when you decide to move on, it’s natural for them to have questions. It’s essential to field these questions with grace, steering clear of any negative comments about your current company, and remaining focused on the future.

Expect some clients to read between the lines or challenge your reasons for leaving. They might show curiosity about the deeper motivations behind your decision. However, it’s important to remember that this isn’t an invitation to reveal any dissatisfaction or internal company issues. Stick to your strategy of presenting your departure as a positive change for your personal and professional growth.

Even if the probing persists, maintain your diplomatic stance. Remember, your goal is to make the transition smooth and reassure your clients about the continuity of excellent service, rather than getting embroiled in potentially negative discussions about your reasons for moving on.

Navigating this path with tact and integrity will keep your professional relationships intact while preserving your reputation in the industry.

The key to your announcement is to reassure your clients about the upcoming transition, not delve into your personal reasons for leaving. Here’s how:

  • Speak in Generalities: Stick to broad reasons like personal growth or a desire for new challenges. Diplomatic responses like “I believe this move will accelerate my professional growth,” or “I’m ready to embrace new challenges,” keep it honest and respectful.
  • Accentuate the Positive: Focus on the silver linings of your time with the company. Phrases such as “My experience here has been enriching, but it’s time for something new,” or “I’ve grown a lot here and I’m excited to utilize my learnings in a new environment,” keep the conversation optimistic.
  • Focus on the Future: Don’t dwell on the past. Instead, emphasize aspects relevant to the client’s understanding of the transition and the company’s commitment to high-quality service. If the conversation veers into probing territory, guide it back towards the future with assurances like, “This is a change, but rest assured the team will uphold the same standard of service.”
  • Package it Positively: Portray your departure as a win-win situation. Highlight the benefits of fresh perspectives and ideas a new account manager can offer.

Awkward Questions Clients May Ask When You Resign

Upon your announcement, brace yourself for a flurry of questions. Here are some common ones:

  • Why are you leaving?
  • What does your departure mean for us?
  • Who will manage our account now?
  • Can you guarantee seamless service during the transition?
  • Why didn’t you give us more notice?
  • Who else is exiting the company? Should we be worried?
  • Who should we contact if issues arise with your replacement?
  • Can we choose the new account manager?
  • Can you stay until the end of the busy season?
  • Did our actions influence your decision?
  • Can we have your personal contact for future queries?
  • Are you joining a competitor?
  • Would a counter-offer make you reconsider?
  • Can we move our account to your new employer?

Each question calls for tactful handling. By adhering to the guidelines provided above, you can answer them while maintaining your professionalism and preserving your client relationships.

Passing the Baton: Ensuring Continuity After You Leave

A key account manager’s departure can be tricky, stirring a wave of anxiety among clients worried about potential service disruptions. But guess what? It doesn’t have to be this way. By deploying a thorough client transition plan you can turn choppy seas into smooth sailing.

Cornerstones of a client transition plan

  • The handover document – your successor’s new best friend. Pack it full of juicy details like client history, contract info, preferences, goals, challenges, and ongoing projects.
  • Identify key milestones – Highlight significant upcoming events such as business reviews, renewals, and KPI check-ins. It’s like setting the GPS for the new account manager, ensuring they stay on course after you’ve gone.
  • Pass on the secret sauce. Make a list of any bespoke processes, systems, or templates. Explain your methods and provide context for why you created them, and hand them over. This step is usually the most difficult as it’s often undocumented, so give yourself enough time

Preparing the team

When an immediate successor isn’t available, your team or co-KAMs might have to temporarily manage your accounts. Here’s how to prepare them:

  • Host a handover huddle – Discuss each client’s profile, ongoing projects, potential challenges, and the transition plan you’ve created.
  • Encourage direct communication: Get your team to directly connect with clients during the transition. It helps clients adjust to new faces while you’re still around, maintaining a sense of stability and confidence in the knowledge transfer.
  • Address concerns: Give your team space to voice their concerns and guide them through it. Be patient. There taking on a lot of new information in a short amount of time, so be there when they need you most.

By implementing these strategies, you can create a tailored client transition plan for each client, ensuring a smooth handover and keeping everyone informed.

Resignations bring change, not chaos. Leave your clients and team with a roadmap to success, equipping them with the tools to keep your accounts thriving.

Introducing the New Key Account Manager (or Managing Interim Periods)

When a Key Account Manager (KAM) resigns, it typically triggers one of two scenarios:

  1. The Successor Scenario: The ideal situation where the successor KAM is in place before the current KAM departs. In this scene, the departing KAM introduces the successor to the clients, kicking off the rapport-building right out of the gate.
  2. The Interim Scenario: With no KAM successor in sight, the existing KAM team keeps the show running while the search for a new lead continues. In this scene, Leadership communicates the temporary arrangements to clients, promising the show will go on with the same level of dedication and excellence.

No matter the scenario, the golden rule is to inform clients before you leave. Here’s why:

  1. Preserves Trust and Reduces Speculation: By telling clients upfront, you keep their trust intact and stifle any rumors or surprises that might spring from sudden changes
  2. Ensures Uninterrupted Service: An early heads-up means for time to develop and implement a well-structured transition plan, ensuring seamless service and minimal disruption.
  3. Paves the Way for New Relationships: Early communication sets a positive tone for the incoming relationship with their new account manager
  4. Allows Time for Client Feedback: Giving clients the news in advance lets them tweak their plans, manage expectations, and voice any thoughts or concerns.
  5. Signals Commitment: Letting clients know about your departure ahead of time highlights your dedication to their interests and reassures them the transition is being managed with their needs in mind.
  6. Maintains Positive Connections: Transparent communication throughout the departure process preserves positive relationships with clients, leaving a lasting impression of professionalism and integrity.

Reflecting on the Journey: Turning Experiences into Assets

As you step down from your role as a Key Account Manager, don’t forget to pause, take a breath, and look back on your journey. This isn’t just a trip down memory lane – it’s an essential step in setting yourself up for future success.

  • Celebrate Your Wins: Celebrate your accomplishments—think big deals, top-notch partnerships, or skyrocketing customer satisfaction.
  • Appreciate Client Relationships: Remember those late nights solving client issues or the custom solutions you built? They’ve all played a part in forging stronger client relationships.
  • Evaluate Growth: No one said being a KAM was a walk in the park. Think about the challenges you faced and how you’ve grown from them.
  • Future Goals: How has your KAM journey shaped what you want next? Whether it’s a similar role or a completely new challenge, make sure to connect your achievements and lessons to your future plans.

Why document all this? Well, these reflections can be turned into handy career tools:

  • Identify Strengths and Areas for Improvement: Know where you shine and where you need a bit of polish. It’s all part of professional growth.
  • Craft Future Ambitions: Your past wins can be the launchpad for future career highs.
  • Ace Job Interviews: Nothing speaks louder in an interview than your proven impact. Your documented wins will do the talking for you.

When putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), remember to:

  • Stay Specific: For example, “boosted sales by 15% last year” is far more impressive than “did well in sales.”
  • Measure Success: Wherever you can, back up your successes with numbers. For instance, “cut down customer churn by 20%.”
  • Keep it Clear: Ditch the jargon and stick to simple, understandable language.
  • Highlight the Positives: Focus on your wins rather than your losses. They show what you’re capable of.
  • Keep it Fresh: Regularly update your accomplishment list to capture your ongoing journey.

Reflecting on your journey as a KAM isn’t about getting stuck in the past; it’s about propelling yourself into the future. So, take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come – future you will appreciate it.

Keeping in Touch with Clients After Your Departure

Transitioning from your Key Account Manager role can feel like leaving a part of you behind. One question you might have is, “Can I keep in touch with my clients?” In short – yes, you can, but there’s an art to it. Here’s how you can maintain those professional relationships and keep your network buzzing.

  • LinkedIn – Your New Best Friend: LinkedIn isn’t just for job hunting. Use it to stay connected with your clients and keep tabs on their professional progress. Send them a personalized invite to connect.
  • Catch-up Calls: Settled into your new role? Great! Now’s the time to drop your former clients a line. Let them know you’re still around for a chat and looking forward to maintaining a professional relationship.
  • Be an Industry Event Regular: Conferences, seminars, and networking events are your tickets to catch up with former clients. They’re great spaces for engaging conversations and a way to keep those professional ties strong.
  • Social Media – A Double-edged Sword: Remember, your online presence speaks volumes about you, even if you’re not directly connected with clients on social platforms. Keep it professional, engage in insightful conversations, and share your expert thoughts.
  • Integrity is Key: While keeping in touch, respect the boundaries of your previous company. It’s a big no-no to use these connections to poach clients or drum up business for your new company. Remember, professionalism and integrity go hand in hand.

By following these steps, you can keep those professional relationships healthy and active, even as you embrace your new role. Remember, it’s not just about keeping in touch, it’s about doing it right.

Understanding Your Legal Obligations: Non-Compete, Account Poaching, and Confidentiality

Before you wrap things up in your current role, it’s worth doing a legal homework check. Why? Because key account managers have access to confidential info and some pretty important client relationships that need to be handled with care.

While your primary goal will be ensuring a smooth transition and leaving on good terms, navigating potential legal landmines is equally important.

  • Review your employment agreement. Dig out your employment contract and go through it with a fine-tooth comb. Remember, relying just on HR advice or what your colleague said might not cut it. Each contract is unique and needs your attention.
  • Non-Compete Clauses: Your contract might have a non-compete clause that stops you from working with competitors or starting a similar business for a certain time after you leave. If you’re uncertain, get an attorney who can help interpret the legalese.
  • Account Poaching: Moving clients from your old company to your new one can land you in legal hot water and tarnish your professional image. Before you even think about discussing your new role with clients, check-in with your company’s leadership or legal team about what you can or can’t say.
  • Confidentiality: Remember the confidentiality agreement you signed? Make sure to honor it, even after leaving. Steer clear of sharing any sensitive info, like details about products, services, pricing, or customer lists. If you’re unsure, a legal professional can help clear things up.
  • Professional Conduct: You might have left your job, but your professional conduct should always be with you. Avoid anything that could harm your old employer’s reputation or yours. Keep your standards high and show respect for your past employer and clients

Exiting your job gracefully isn’t just about handover notes and goodbye emails. It’s also about understanding your legal obligations and staying on the right side of the law. If you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice – better safe than sorry.

Templates: Resignation Announcements to Clients

You need a well-constructed email that announces your resignation. It’s not just about the ‘what’ but the ‘how’ that ensures a smooth transition and leaves your clients feeling like they’re in good hands, even when those hands are changing.

To help you kickstart the process, we’ve put together some handy email templates that fit various scenarios you might encounter. But remember, these are just springboards, not one-size-fits-all solutions  Each client relationship is unique, so make sure to personalize your message to suit the rapport you have with each client.

Grab this template when you’re ready to tell your clients you’re heading out the door, but the mystery of who’s stepping into your shoes remains unsolved. It’s tailored to break the news of your departure, express your gratitude for the shared journey, and assure them that the service they’re accustomed to will continue uninterrupted. Personalize the message and ensure it is empathetic, understanding, and reassuring.


 

Subject line: Moving on to a new opportunity

Dear [Client’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to share some personal news: I will be transitioning out of my position as your Key Account Manager at [Company Name], with my last day being [date].

Working with you over the past [number] years has been a highlight of my time here. Your trust, support, and collaborative spirit have greatly contributed to my professional journey, and for that, I am sincerely grateful.

While transitions like this can seem daunting, I want to reassure you that your success remains a priority for us at [Company Name]. We are committed to maintaining the high standard of service that you’re accustomed to.

Over the coming days, we will discuss the transition plan to ensure a seamless experience for you. Your understanding during this period is greatly appreciated

Thank you once again for the wonderful opportunity to work with you. I am excited about my new venture, and at the same time, I’m confident that [Company Name] will continue supporting your business goals effectively.

Best Regards,

[Your Name]

Choose this template when a successor has surfaced and it’s time to introduce them to your clients. Lightly outline the new KAM’s experience to reassure your clients that they’re being passed to a skilled pair of hands.


 

Subject line: Your New Key Account Manager at [Your Company]

Dear [Client’s Name],

I trust this message finds you well. I’m reaching out to share an important update with you. After much thought, I have decided to embark on a new professional journey, with my last day at [Your Company] falling on [Date].

In light of this change, I am thrilled to introduce you to [New KAM’s Name], who will be your new Key Account Manager. [New KAM’s Name] brings with them [describe their experience] and a strong commitment to client success, just like myself. I am confident they will continue to provide the exceptional service you’ve come to expect from [Your Company].

[New KAM’s Name] and I will work closely over the next [timeframe] to ensure a seamless transition. We welcome any questions or concerns you may have during this period.

Best Wishes,

[Your Name]

Reach for this template when there’s a gap in the succession line and your clients will be in the safe hands of an interim team or existing KAMs. Such an announcement should come from a manager or leader, offering clients assurance about the uninterrupted flow of their service.

Above all, it’s crucial to drive home the company’s unwavering dedication to their success, and to reassure them they’re not just a number, but a valued priority throughout this transition.


 

Subject: Ensuring Continuity: Temporary Change in Your Account Management

Dear [Client’s Name],

We trust you are doing well. We would like to inform you of an upcoming change within our team. [Your Name], your present Key Account Manager, has decided to pursue a new professional endeavor. Their last day with [Your Company] will be [Date].

While [Your Name] will certainly be missed, please be assured that we have devised an interim plan to ensure the continuity of the high-quality service you’re accustomed to. Our team of seasoned Key Account Managers will be overseeing your account until we assign a new dedicated KAM. Contact details are:

[Team Contact Details]

We are in the process of appointing a new dedicated Key Account Manager for your account, and we will keep you updated on our progress. Should you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Best Regards,

[Manager’s/Leader’s Name]

Need More Help Announcing Your Resignation?

Books

Online resources

  • How to Write a Resignation Letter (with Samples). Excellent article to help you write well-crafted resignation letter that ensures a smooth exit and leaves a positive impression on your soon-to-be former employer and colleagues. Includes three templates.
  • The Balance Careers. Offers numerous articles about resigning, including how to tell clients you’re leaving, sample resignation letters and what to do when you want to quit and your boss wants you to stay.
  • LinkedIn Learning: Transitioning Out of Your Job. Online course that helps you evaluate pros and cons of leaving a job, give proper notice and say goodbye to your team.

Podcasts

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
WhatsApp
Email

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