Noted author and speaker, Jeb Blount, recently penned a blog stating that “almost 70% of customers are lost because of neglect. Not prices, not products, not the economy, not aggressive competitors. Neglect! They feel taken for granted and unimportant.”
The blog goes on to mention that most customers won’t point to the neglect when giving a reason for leaving, but will point to a “logical” reason such as price, product or economy, to avoid a more difficult conversation. Most of the time the sales rep believes what they’re told and then gives that reason to their manager. Now everyone is convinced it was for the reason the customer stated and the real problem is never addressed or fixed.
The first thing I did after reading the whole blog was to think back on clients I have lost, for whatever reason, and tried to think of whether or not I may have really lost them because of neglect. It helped me realize the article was 100% accurate about it never being the reason given, because while I’m absolutely certain I’ve lost clients because of my failings in servicing the account, yet I can’t think of a single time, either as a seller or a manager, where a client actually said they were leaving because of neglect. For that reason, I’ve dubbed neglect in our world a “silent assassin.”
Remember, we only have six main responsibilities – prospect, contact the decision maker, do a needs analysis, present a great plan with solutions for the client, close the sale and service the account. As mentioned many times in this space, in order to be one of the top media sellers in the game, you need to do all six. We have covered before that if you aren’t willing to do the first couple, you can’t possibly think you’ll get many chances to present, close and therefore, service. Now, we look at the back end of the equation and see if we neglect the sixth and final responsibility, we will fall short come renewal time.
Losing a client to neglect is similar to an unforced error in tennis. It’s understandable when someone smashes a cross-court forehand and smokes it by you, but no excuse for hitting a ball that comes right to you, at average speed, in to the net. For us, if your customer ends up leaving because they ran in to an unexpected crisis when their building burned down it’s one thing, but when they leave because we didn’t pay attention to them, that’s inexcusable.
I worked with a seller once who I thought was the best I’d seen at servicing accounts. The first thing he did that I haven’t seen many do, is he wrote down the date of each time he reached out to a client in one way or another. This way, he could look at their file and know how long it had been. He was always running tickets to people and most of the time trying to go with the client or set it up for the two spouses to join as well. He used all the station’s assets to his advantage and could be found eating lunch with a client (on trade of course!) at least three or four times a week.
Most importantly, he always had names and information about the decision makers and the gatekeepers, too. If the front desk person at a car dealership had a grandkid who played baseball, he would walk in with a pair of baseball tickets and tell her to take (insert Grandchild, by name) to the game with her. One time on a call together, a client talked about having problems with their staff not trying to upsell clients as he was convinced that was why his sales were down. He offered to be a “secret shopper” for the client to help him know whether it was happening or not. He treated all of his customers well and went out of his way to make them feel special.
There are a lot of things we can all be doing to improve our relationship with our clients to avoid neglect. Bring their office lunch or coffee and doughnuts, drop off tickets to an event you already know they like, invite them as your guest to a cool station event, or just simply stop in or call just to see how they are doing versus only seeing them when it’s time to sell them something.
Whatever the case, make it a part of your regular routine and consider writing down the dates so you can always refer back to how long it has been since you touched base. None of us can afford to lose clients to things we can control. If you continue to neglect your clients, it could end up being game, set, match for your career.