There is a day in every sales rep’s life when they have to go through a break-up with a customer. You ponder the aftermath with thoughts of “Was it something I did or didn’t do?”, “Was it something I said?” and “How can I fix it?”
There are actually clear-cut researched reasons why customers stop buying from a particular company. Some of these reasons are beyond your control but a majority of the time the break-up was preventable. So what are these reasons and how can you fix it, if at all?
A disappearing act
We live in a mobile society. Field sales reps should be familiar with this fact by now. Sometimes the person you were dealing with in the first place got promoted or transferred. Perhaps they even physically moved to another area. The problem comes in because those who come after the previous contact have not yet built the same rapport with you so the connection needs to be re-established from your side.
If you have a good relationship prior to the “disappearance” you can obtain information regarding the customer’s replacement. Then you can start building trust with the newcomer to prove to them that the decision made by your previous contact is still the best decision. Oftentimes the replacement feels an obligation to find something “better” to prove themselves, but it’s your job to convince them that there is a good reason why they are using your company.
Shifting business relationships
A recommendation from a colleague, business associate or friend can lead to a customer abandoning your company. Often this has nothing to do with you and more to do with loyalty to someone the person knows very well. There is not much you can about this but it has been shown that in this case it is more likely the person will return to you of their own free will. Another thing to take into consideration is to ensure you deal with decision-makers who are closer to the top as they are less likely to be capricious in this regard.
In a few cases it all boils down to price. Only about 9% of customers leave because they have found a company prepared to charge a lower price. Ask yourself, if a customer leaves based on price, can you really afford to go lower in an attempt to keep their business, and ultimately, will it be worth your while? This type of customer tends to be less loyal and fickle, which is bad for you and your security. When this is the reason for leaving there is a low possibility that the relationship will be rekindled.
Around 14% of customers will stop buying simply because your products no longer fulfil their needs. This may come from the fact that you sold them something that wasn’t right for them in the first place. Sometimes it is better not to sell anything than to sell something simply for the sake of the sale. Pushing a product onto a customer that will not provide them any benefit or solve any problems will simply lead to a dissatisfied customer. These types of dissatisfied customers will feel like they have wasted their money (no-one wants that) and move on to a place where they can get what they need.
There is a possibility that this reason means a permanent break. However, the best cure is prevention. Build trust by looking at your customer’s needs before anything else and then only sell what is useful for the customer and their company.
A poor attitude
The biggest and most important reason why customers stop buying from a company is due to a poor or indifferent attitude from you or someone at your company. The perception of a bad attitude can stem from a complaint that goes unnoticed, a lack of consistent follow-up or an email left unanswered. This reason is by far the most preventable of them all; you didn’t need to lose those customers.
The best way to keep this from becoming a reason why customers leave is simply by listening and fixing issues continuously. Reach out to current customers as much as possible to ensure you are meeting all of their needs or to check if they require anything more from you Also, it is key to reassure your customers that you have listened to them and are working on whatever issue they may have. Oftentimes a lack of feedback can be the ultimate problem. If you are fixing a problem the customer is having, make sure to tell them that and to give them a time frame within which the problem will be resolved. It all boils down to good customer service.