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Sales Eye - The land of the lost ... client (June 6st, 2005)



The land of the lost ... client

6th June 2005



Last month, while reviewing a list of new clients by our sales reps, we noticed a few companies that we thought were regular clients.


We offer sales reps a bonus for winning a certain amount of new clients, so we immediately thought there was a little funny business, with a few sales reps trying to pass off old clients as new to receive extra cash.


We have a lot of repeat business, so if a company is not in the system as having ordered in a year, they automatically get flagged as a new client.


We were surprised, however, when their claims turned out to be true. How do companies who are one minute constantly ordering from your company, all of a sudden fall off the face of the Earth and stop ordering. For sure, it is not the client's fault, it's yours.


All is not lost however, here are some things you can do to win the good graces of your past customers, and put them back in the win column.


A most wanted list

Before you can start to win back customers, you have to identify which ones left. We recommend going back over the past three to four years, and listing your clients with their total sales for each year in a different column (a simple Excel spreadsheet program will do). List clients by highest turnover, this way you focus on the biggest accounts. After culling through this list, target those companies who have had significant drops in business or completely fell off the radar.


Determine why they left

The best way to find out why they left is to ask them. Set-up a meeting, and be prepared with historical sales information and what types of products or service they bought from you in the past. Be prepared for their response, apologize for any past inconvenience or misunderstandings, and offer to make it right the next time.


Give them an incentive

What can you do for them to give you another chance? Maybe it is something as simple as offering a special discount or free delivery. But most times, it is them believing they can count on you and your company. A good follow-through after the meeting can confirm your commitment to the relationship.


Prevention is best

As always, a proactive approach is the best policy, but to do this, you need to track the results of your clients and their opinion of your service. If you are doing a super job and are building a relationship and not just sales, you might earn the right to keep their business. Next time we will discuss some sure-fire ways to ensure repeat business.


From Warsaw Business Journal by John Lynch, Matt Lynch -"The Sales Brothers"