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There are more customers are out there!

I read an interesting article, “Prescription for Wholesome Sales” which I re-posted  on my ScoopIt.

The evaluation of the process or problem takes high priority on their sales examination. “Just like a medical professional, this phase takes the organization crucial symptoms to get and ideas of the well-being of the sales business.”

With any problem the most important phase is the examination process. Where am I, how did I get here and what am I doing? The more thorough the examination the better the  diagnosis and the more useful the  prescription. They talk about speaking with the salespeople, discussing their goals and how close their actual sales are to their goals. Of course there’s the “why” is it happening.

This is definitely a great place to start but it lacks one element: the customer’s input. According to statistics the average “good business” loses 10% of it’s customers yearly. How many of these businesses actually seek out these customers to find out why they’ve defected? I have asked many businesses this question and they all seem to have an answer but never a solution. Both the problem and  the solution out of their hands.

“We were too busy, we couldn’t wait on them.”

“They were just the wrong customers, they won’t pay our prices.”

“We get lots of cheap customers.”

My experience is different. After interviewing hundreds of customers I’ve found that their reasons for leaving fall into the category of “they just didn’t pay attention or they never followed up.” Simple you say? Why don’t they just make a phone call and follow up? It just doesn’t happen in many stores. Particularly if the customer has been designated as a “problem customer.” You know the kind, they just look cheap.

Sales training would make more sense if businesses would include their customers in the process. Have an outsider call 25 of your lost customers and ask, “what happened?” I know many businesses have follow up questionnaires but nothing beats the place of a phone call from someone outside your business. Once you get input from your customers, the training will make more sense.

“Where did you go and why did you leave us?” I have found that the answers are very specific and often unusual. “I asked about the bathroom and they said it was out of order.” (I wondered, was it or wasn’t it out of order? That didn’t help my problem, I still had to go!) Trust is one of the first things that must be present to sell a customer and in this case the trust went  gone out the window.

If this is your business, consider a study with some well designed questions (things you really want to know) and have a trusted person call these customers. I have found that the best way to approach the customers is to voice concern over their loss, or if not lost, concern about improving customer service.

Even if a customer hates you they will be happy to stay on the phone and complain. A well meaning customer will be happy to give you some ideas if they feel their comments matter. You can make comments matter by offering them a gift–a real one with no strings attached.  (A gift with “strings attached” is a  discount on a future purchase.)

Following up on a customer is critical if you want repeat and referral business–which turns out to be the most profitable. I purchased a domain name from GoDaddy the other day and received a phone call the next day. I was asked about my purchase and I assumed they were trying to get me to buy additional products. Instead I was asked why I left some “free” products on the table. I told them I didn’t need the blog information I already had one nor did I need another email account, free or not. Gary proceeded to ask me about my account, what was I selling etc. This turned into a very useful conversation about business and ideas that I hadn’t thought of. When I asked why he made the call he said we consider our customers our business partners and we like to do whatever we can to keep them in business! Wow, I thought, that’s what I would have told him to say. I then proceeded to write a note to GoDaddy and ask for an interview for my blog; I haven’t heard from them but they’re on my “favs” list!

So what does this mean to your business?

Call up a few customers daily and thank them, ask how the product is doing, ask about their lives.

Ask if they have any ideas about how you might deliver better service or add services.

Remember their birthdays or their kid’s birthdays. Ask how they enjoyed the summer.

Ask if there’s anything else you might do for them..and don’t forget to ask if there’s anyone they know you might help or would benefit from your expertise. Don’t be uncomfortable asking for a referral–if you did a job  you deserve it!

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