Why Did They Leave?

woman-worried-looking-at-laptopThis is a story about a struggle I experienced that was troubling, to put it mildly.

But first:

Has this ever happened to you?


One of your best clients stopped buying from you

Despite your best efforts to provide top-quality products and world-class service, you lost a customer for one reason or another.

What do you do?

What do you say to find out why the customer left and – how can you earn the business again?

This was my struggle:

During the time I was manager of a Supplies Department, one of my best (very best) customers was a large law firm. They bought everything from our company: equipment, service and supplies.  This was business I could count on every month.

Great clients and very nice people, but . . .

. . . suddenly they stopped buying supplies from me. I phoned my contact at the law firm and she said they “didn’t need anything.”

After a few calls like this, I knew something was terribly wrong.

What happened?

Had I offended someone?

Then I checked with our equipment sales manager.

Same story. Silence and no more sales from this client.

I walked downstairs to see the service manager and he said the law firm had cancelled their maintenance agreements. No one knew why.

Wow.

Finally, I worked up the nerve to phone the customer again

This time I said something very different and asked her a specific question.

It worked. She gave me the (incredible) answer to why they stopped buying.

It turned out to be such a minor thing (not minor to the law firm) but we were able to earn their business back after the president of our company made an appointment for a visit with the partners of the law firm.  The problem had nothing to do with my department (whew). It was solved and the law firm began buying again.  All was well.  What a relief!

Wrong Question to Ask

It could be tempting to call an inactive customer and ask: “Why did you stop buying from us?”

Not exactly the most tactful or effective way to ask :(

Three tactful ways to ask why they stopped buying:

Here is what works for your call to the customer who no longer buys from your company
(The third question is what worked for me.)

1.) YOU:

“I’ve studied your account (or reviewed your file) and found that it’s been [length of time since they last purchased] since your company last purchased your [products they bought from you]. I’m concerned that you may be running low on [insert products]. Shall I send you a case today?”

Or:

2.) YOU:

“Last year we had the opportunity to supply you with your [products they purchased from you]. I’d like to ask you a couple of questions and give you some new information about benefits you may qualify for, so you can decide whether it would be worthwhile for you to take another look at what we could do for you in the way of [type of products they bought from your company]. Okay?”

If that doesn’t work, the following question should get an answer from the customer, so you will find out why they stopped buying from your company (This is the call that worked for me):

3.) YOU:

“I know that not every company is perfect in every way. If there were a way you feel we could improve our products or our service, I hope you will tell me what that is. I would really like to know because I value our relationship (or: I hate losing your business.)”

VERY Important Next Step

After you say this, don’t say a word until the customer speaks.

It may be difficult to stay silent, but it is the only way you will get an answer.

What Else Works?

When a telephone call does not work, an attention-getting email or direct-mail letter – with the right components – can remind inactive customers of the benefits you offer and what they may be missing.

A well-written letter – with a P.S. or note of enclosure beneath your signature – followed by a telephone call will let the customer know you care about their business.

 

 

You Don’t Have to be Cheaper to Win Clients

Mercedes_Benz_Classe_E_dsc06449Here is a fact for you:

You need to be better than each of your competitors in at least three ways if you want to survive.

This does not mean your products or services need to be cheaper.

But . . . what happens if a competitor undercuts you and offers your customer a lower price on the same product?

True story:

It happens to the best of sales people, just the way it happened to Jennifer.

She made the telephone call, scheduled the appointment and everything seemed to go well.

She wrote a thank-you note after the first appointment and then made a follow-up telephone call to the client.

The client wanted a demo. The demo was a success.

The client asked for a proposal.

Wow!

Time to celebrate.

But then something unexpected happened.

After all of Jennifer’s hard work, the prospect took her proposal to a competitor and was able to get a better price.

The client bought from the competitor.

Ouch.  That really hurt.

What happened?

How could this have been prevented?

Three Ways to Avoid Being Undercut by a Competitor

  1. Begin at the very beginning of the relationship to build true customer loyalty.

Go here to see an example of how a dedicated sales rep was able to build awesome customer loyalty (with me as the buyer).

And simple efforts can make all the difference—world-class customer service, for example, will entice many customers to pay your price.

Thoughtfulness, like sending holiday cards and/or gifts will cause your customers to feel that you really care instead of feeling that you just want to make a sale.

Keep in touch with customers and prospects using . . .direct mail.  Yes; you read that right.

Today with millions of emails flying back and forth, receiving an actual letter by postal mail from a company you have done business with is impressive.

Click here to get 63 effective pre-written business and marketing letters you can copy and paste so you can easily keep in touch.

See the table of contents on this page.

Building customer loyalty is not about being perfect but being authentic and keeping in touch.

And I promise you this:

Your clients will love you when you use these 4 words that show you are thinking of them.

2. Find ways to differentiate yourself.  Add value to your products and services.

Customer-perceived value is the difference between a prospective customer’s evaluation of the benefits and costs of your product when compared with others.

  1. Use your Unique Sales Proposition (USP). It is the thing that makes your business different from anything else out there – the reason customers will buy from you and not from your competitors. Identify and plan at least three clear USPs that define exactly what you offer that your competitors don’t provide.

USPs must be true to your business vision – and, in turn, everything your business does sticks to your USPs. Clients can relate to your product, the way you deliver your service or the way you run your business. Do market research to make sure your USPs are unique.

Stay in touch with prospects and customers using direct mail (real letters) and you will begin seeing an increase in customer loyalty.purchase-marketing-letters2

Click here to get 63 effective business and marketing letters you can copy and paste – and use as emails – so you can easily stay in touch with prospects and customers.

 

The Secret to Getting Good Referrals

success-road-signWouldn’t it be nice to open an email from someone and read this:

“My friend recommended that I buy your products because she has been very happy with them.”

Or answer a phone call from someone who says the same thing?

Wow!

New sales without cold calling.

New sales without sending an email.

Just new orders.

Lots of new orders.

Sales coming in because customers recommended you or your products or your company.

Awesome!

This actually happens on a continuing basis to a successful business in Chatsworth, California.

In fact, they tell me that more than 150 of their current active accounts have come from referrals over the last two years!

This company’s products and services must be very, very good to attract this number of referrals who continue to buy from the company.

What is the secret to their success?

From their website:

“Our mission is to create quality products, quality services and quality relationships.

From the referrals they receive, it seems their mission is accomplished.

This is one of the compelling testimonials they received:

“I just realized that we have been working with [company name] since 2007. I wanted to take a moment of your time to thank you for the excellent customer service you have provided me over the past several years! We make most of our inkjet cartridges in house, however the Dell’s and Lexmark’s that we have trouble with and are known problematic cartridges, we get from you with excellent results.”

But not every business is lucky enough to attract referrals without asking, so what is the best way to ask for a referral?

The best time  to ask is after a happy customer has thanked you for your excellent products or fast delivery or anything else they love about your products or services.

How to ask:

First:  Don’t ask “Do you know anyone else who can use our products?”

Reason: This question makes it too easy for the customer to say “no.”

Better: “Who else do you know that can use our products?”

Reason: This is an open-ended question that prompts the customer to THINK about an answer.

Here is a thought for you:

If you set a goal that you will get two referrals each day from your customers, at the end of the week you will have 10 new prospects and they won’t be as a result of cold calls.  Nice!

To learn more about how to get good referrals plus specific and creative ways to increase your sales, join my e-Course.  I would love to work with you and help you achieve and surpass your goals!

Ann

 

An Unexpected Response to One Email

woman_reading_screen-tnHow often have you received an unexpected and creative email from someone you didn’t know?

Maybe not that often. Or . . . if you are lucky, you do get unexpected + creative emails every once in a while.

This is something nice that happened last week:

After months and months of being a customer and receiving friendly and efficient service at a local Chipotle Mexican grill and then emailing a testimonial on their website, I received a surprising (in a good way) reply.

Not only was it a fast response, though short, it was one of the most creatively worded emails I’ve ever seen.

This is the thing:

You know how – when service is really good at a restaurant, plus you enjoy the food –

you think:

“I have to tell someone, like a manager, how much I (as a customer) really appreciate the good food and great service . . .

“. . . and how this one employee is always genuinely friendly and efficient.”

Because:

How often do these hard-working folks hear positive feedback from customers?

How often do the higher-ups in another state hear positive feedback about employees they might not know?

So, after procrastinating for much too long, I found out how – and who – to contact about the great service at this restaurant.

They have a good talk to us page on their website.

Positive Feedback Makes a Difference

I wanted to let them know about one employee who is nearly always there and is genuinely friendly and efficient.

She actually appears to LIKE her job.

And when things are busy and moving quickly in a fast-food restaurant this is kind of unusual.

Not only did I get a quick response to my email, but it was one of the most creatively worded emails I have ever seen.

Chipotle began a trend in restaurants that the industry has dubbed “fast casual,” which offers a more upscale dining environment and food quality along with higher prices.

(Actually, the Chipotle burrito bowl is not too much more chipotle-chicken-bowl-tnexpensive than a
Big Mac meal.  I know this is true because every once in a while I have a “Big Mac Attack.”)

The creative email I received from Chipotle responding to my testimonial:

“Ann,

“It sounds like we have quite the rock star on our Virginia Beach Crew.
I’ll be certain to pass your wonderful words along to Audrey and her team so they, too, can jump up and down with joy.
I hope we see you for another tasty outing soon, Ann, and thanks for showering us with love.

“Your bud in the burrito biz,
Ashley”

(“Marketing Consultant
Chipotle Mexican Grill”)

And, no, I am not an affiliate of – or being paid by – Chipotle Mexican Grill.  Just a happy customer.

If you would like to request a testimonial from one of YOUR happy customers, you can get great pre-written copy-and-paste testimonial request letters in my e-book.  Plus more than 50 different business and marketing letters that can also be used as emails. You can see a complete list of the contents on this page.

How to Make an Objection Disappear

magic-disappearing-graphics-tnYesterday in the grocery store I heard a woman say excitedly:

“Look at this: ‘Buy one and get one free!'”

Her husband (I’m guessing it was her husband) objected and said:

“But we don’t need that today; maybe next time.”

Then the woman pointed to a sign next to the product, which contained a very important phrase.

They ended up buying the thing they really didn’t need.

At least they didn’t need it at that time.

But . . . why did they buy it at that moment?

Because of the phrase on the sign that made the objection disappear:

                                       “Valid through February 26th.”

(Studies show a 75 percent increase in sales with a limited-time offer.)

. . . .still one of my favorite ways to answer an objection is on this page.

Here is a fact for you:

There are ways to make sure you won’t hear an objection.

And that makes your day much less stressful.

CLICK HERE to read how to get better results when responding to objections.