In sales, we don’t always come out victorious. As the statement goes, “You win some and you lose some.” This doesn’t mean, however, that a loss has to remain a loss. In this episode, we discuss 3 tips if you are working toward winning back customers you may have lost.
Tom Whalen works for McKesson Medical-Surgical selling medical supplies. He’s worked inside sales for most of his career and with the pandemic, many would think it’s the perfect time for medical sales reps to sell medical supplies. In truth, the demand outweighs the supply and when you don’t have the product, selling isn’t an option.
Sometimes, customers choose the competition. As a salesperson, if an account is lost, it may be worth exploring if you can win them back. There are, however, points you need to consider while making these decisions.
First, you need to assess whether or not you even want these customers back. Make sure they are worth the effort if it’s a customer that is difficult to work with. Evaluate the customers as to whether they’re worth the effort.
Did they pay their bills?
Are you making money out of the sales relationship?
Are you earning money but it’s costing you even more?
Why did they leave?
Tom suggests that researching why your customer left is worth the effort. This is where being humble and the willingness to have difficult conversations are great assets. Successful salespeople know when ego needs to be set aside for even greater gain. When a person declines to work with us or if it’s an account that’s been lost, these are great opportunities to assess how the company can do better. Are these problems that can be fixed and overcome? Does an old client need to be updated on improvements that have already been made? You won’t know until further investigation has been done.
Do you have the capacity to bring them back?
As you gather information about what these clients need, make sure you’re able to meet their requirements before you bring them back. For example, confirm you can accommodate their turnaround needs or inventory before you commit or overpromise. This is why having exploratory conversations is so critical. You want the relationship to be mutually beneficial and your reputation intact. If this is a client you’re bringing back, especially after a falling out, you want to relaunch with improvement, integrity, and renewed trust.
Bringing a client back
Tom suggests consistently looking at your CRM in order to stay on top of client needs while they are still your customers. If you lose them, however, monitoring gives you the ability to figure out their reasons. Were they offered a lower service fee? If this is a client worth keeping, then explore options to make your services more affordable.
Also, keep in touch with sales reps who have been with the company for a long time. They have insight into clients you may not have. You also might find out their information is outdated and you can offer a fresh perspective or fresh approach.
Tip 2. The Power of Apology
Once you decide a previous client is worth re-engagement, one of the next best steps you might take is to apologize for whatever severed the ties. Take pride out of the equation and be humble, even if the disconnect wasn’t your fault. During this call, really listen to what upset your client and listen with the intent of healing, even if the professional ties aren’t made right away. This will at least leave the door open for dialogue or referral in the future.
Tip 3. Evaluate your company’s capability
After hearing what a previous client’s needs are, you may find out that your company may not be able to move forward even with goodwill restored. Maybe the software is no longer compatible or maybe they’ve changed direction and your product is no longer needed. Ties can still be mended, however, in order for there to be a greater gain of reputation, reliability, and knowledge. At the end of the day, if it doesn’t work out, you’re still on speaking terms with the client and you’ve left the door open to possibly re-approach in the future.
The value of the pursuit
When you no longer have a client, you have nothing left to lose so you might as well try.
Tom Whalen knew about a previous client and he decided to make contact. Initially, this client was adamant that he wouldn’t be using their services again due to inventory issues. After the first call, Tom waited for a few days before he called him again. Tom updated him about how things had changed in the ten to fifteen years since the client had been with them and offered him some information. The client still reused to work with him. Tom waited for another month before calling again. At that point, he asked if he could just email him and mail him information as well. When Tom called he asked the client if he’d had a chance to throw the information in the garbage and it got a laugh. It was the ice breaker they needed and Tom got to present information the client accepted!
As salespeople, we shouldn’t be afraid of asking the tough questions and exercising some humility. Not all customers will say yes but if there’s hope to get back a great client, it’s worth the effort.
“Three Tips To Win Back Lost Customers” episode resources
Check out and follow Tom Whalen on LinkedIn.
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