How your B2B Business Can Regain Lost Customers
Expanding your customer base is the goal of most sales training practices. How do we reach new prospects? How do we convert these new prospects once we’ve made contact? Yet mysteriously, how to regain customers who were previously lost seems to get left out of many conversations.
B2B businesses have the most to gain from rescuing lost business relationships, as the initial loss likely came at a significant cost. This is especially true if your revenue is mostly comprised of buyers of a large size. One lost customer can result in 20% of your revenue disappearing in a moment.
Re-appealing to old customers requires a different approach than selling to new ones, as a history already exists between you. This history involves the customer’s opinions on your process, your team, and the results that you were able to deliver. All of these things could be seen in either a positive or a negative light depending on the specifics of said history.
One massive benefit here is that you have substantial insight into whether or not this customer would potentially be interested in renewing your relationship. You know how things went during your previous business relationship, and whether the odds are in your favor when pursuing a revamped relationship.
The process of evaluating lost customers to determine whether they are worth pursuing again involves four specific steps…
Consider: Why Did You Part Ways?
In order to start the process of reacquiring lost customers, it is critical to understand why they left in the first place. There could be many factors here including pricing issues, end dates on a contract, or a change of services offered. There is also the chance that your organization failed to apply adequate focus to this customer’s needs.
When considering the answer(s) to this question, your organization needs to be attentive to detail and exhaustive with your analysis. What was responsible for their departure? Who was responsible for their departure? What happened?
Conduct: Cost-benefit Analysis
To put it simply, some business relationships are not worth the effort of rekindling. This is why it is so important that you conduct a cost-benefit analysis in order to determine whether or not they are worth pursuing again.
Take a look at the requirements necessary to re-launch a working relationship from a technical, organizational, and relationship perspective. Can you offer price reductions in order to compete with current service providers? How can you appeal to this lost customer in a way that benefits you without it costing more than it’s worth?
Commence: An Involved Dialogue
You are ultimately hoping to do business with this organization that previously left you. Everything looks good from a cost-benefit perspective, and you believe that you can appeal to them after considering your previous relationship. The unavoidable fact here is that you are ultimately dealing with people at this organization who will need to make their own decisions. This is why the commencement of a dialogue with your prior customer is necessary.
Often leadership or needs change at an organization, and this has to be considered. The only way to delve into this in detail is to launch a comprehensive conversation with the company in question. If you hope to regain this lost client, you need to be aware of many details including who is doing what, and how. This involves a dialogue between not only those in leadership positions, but also those who occupy other roles such as production or lower level management positions.
Cater: Providing Definitive Requirements
When approaching a customer that had previously parted ways with your organization, you really need to inspire them to return. They likely have a current provider, and your goal is not only to persuade them to leave their current provider, but to also feel excited about returning to you.
This process often involves catering specifically to their requirements as opposed to offering run of the mill, status quo services. Some clients may request changes to your current processes, routines, or systems. If you determine that these changes are possible, and will still yield a profit for your organization, then it is worth meeting their specific needs and making the required adjustments internally. The result may even benefit you outside of this relationship, as you could very well figure out ways to optimize your systems and appeal to new market segments in the future.
Appealing to new prospects is all about making a good first impression and moving forward from there. There are concerns related to making an early mistake or being judged out of the gate and seen in a negative light. However, when re-approaching lost customers these concerns are mostly irrelevant. You are focusing more on atoning for mistakes that were made in the past, which is often perceived in a much more positive light than an early impression. It demonstrates your ability to accept truths, learn from your mistakes, and grow from the experience.