You just closed your biggest deal of the year, your current customers are all doing great and you’re right on pace to hit Quota Club this year. Then you get the email: one of your biggest customers just put in a cancellation of their contract and your year is shattered. You immediately jump on a call and try to “save” the customer, but it’s too late: they proceed to tell you how your company’s customer service was unresponsive, you didn’t fulfill your promises and basically they felt that no one there cared about them.
If you have sold for any length of time this has probably happened to you, so how do you avoid it? You’re probably thinking that’s not my fault, operations were supposed to take care of them. To a degree, you’re right, but YOU still lost one of your biggest customers, and it really doesn’t matter whose fault it is now. The question is how do you avoid this from happening in the future.
The best answer is to stay in touch and keep a pulse check on your customers. I’m not saying call them every day or even every week (as you need to be out prospecting and closing business), but putting a quarterly reminder into your CRM to reach out to them will pay huge dividends. I don’t mean just shoot them an email, but pick up the phone and give them a call. Again, don’t just say how it is going: they say fine and then you hang up thinking everything is great. If your wife is like mine, “fine” means that you have a whole lot of problems! You better start digging; I mean ask the tough questions to find the “real” answers. The conversation may go something like this – “how is everything going?” “Fine.” “So tell me Mr. Customer, what do you mean by fine? On our last project was everything GREAT?” “Well, we did have an issue where the items were delivered a little late which put our customer behind on their scheduled time line.” “You’re kidding me, let’s talk about that! So tell me…”
This will allow you to get a deeper understanding of their satisfaction level. If you find a problem, your first instinct will be to run over to operations and start screaming at the operations manager, but that’s a BAD PLAN. This will just put them on the defense and have them put their guard up and not really listen. The best approach would be to schedule a meeting with your operations manager and let them know that you just spoke with the customer and here are a few concerns that they mentioned. You may even suggest that you do a conference call between the three of you so everyone is on the same page, at that time you can bring up their concerns and the operations manager can here it from the customers mouth.
This won’t take you a lot of time to do over the course of the year but will pay huge dividends in customer retention.