Ever get curious as to why customers leave your business? It is a question I get from executives, sales managers and sales people on a regular basis. So I began to track the reasons customers leave a business to business relationship.
There are five major events – or lack of events – that lead to a customer moving on to a new supplier or relationship. Here are the five reasons for your review…
- Lack of Attention – Now this one is interesting. How do show a lack of attention to a customer. The biggest reason is the “house account” usually with some of the largest accounts. As I reviewed this issue, it seems that entrepreneurial companies how had owners who sold do not hand their accounts to new or experienced sales people to monitor the accounts. I found this particularly true when the new management team have an operational background. They expect the customer to be loyal and continue to do business using the “if we build it they will come” model of customer relations. Here is the truth – customer need attention. They need to be able to discuss the future, changes in products or services, quality issues, pricing issues, – well, anything to do with their business and what they buy from you.
- Lack of Service – This probably the real number one reason for leaving. Lack of service means missing delivery dates, missing quantity and quality standards, accounting mistakes, a lack of response by the sales people or especially customer service. Today, I read a quote saying “Customer Service is not a department, it is an Attitude!” The attitude in this quote is about a positive want to serve you customers. Unfortunately, too often, they are just getting an attitude – which is anything but positive. Hire people who really want to serve others, rather than protect themselves or assign blame to the customer.
- Lack of Innovation – It is interesting that a company can lose an account due to a lack of innovation on the part of the business and its sales team. If these accounts are major accounts, do you think no one else is going after the account? What do you think competitors are using to gain an entrance into the account? Yes, innovative ideas and responses to the changing technologies and needs to the customer. Complacency is a killer of account relations. The customer will either ask you to innovate – or – they will tell you good bye as they leave due to something new! I have seen businesses that knew there were better solutions for a customer (even within their company, at another division) yet, due to politics they did not introduce this solution – until the customer threatened to move their business. What is your policy for innovation?
- Lack of Listening – Now this is closely related to “talking too much” and “telling the customer what to do” rather than asking good questions and then listening – really listening – to everything the customer tells you. The art of listening is one of the true competencies of the great sales people. Listening to the customer will give you the insight needed to create an excellent offer to the customer. However, a majority of sales people still want to only tell their story and miss the opportunity to learn about their customer – desired results, direction of the company, issues the customer wants corrected, and future opportunities.
- Lack of Networking – Here is the biggee in most sales relationships. The sales person only knows one person within the customer organization. The best sales people have extensive relationships within the customer account. They network with as many people as they can. They go pass the purchasing departments and meet with engineers, sales people, production managers, quality experts, marketing or product designers/managers and even the shipping/receiving department. The best sales people create “early warning systems” with all their networks. Learning about coming changes in the customer’s organization is a competitive advantage others may miss. Remember, networking is an advantage for the sales person who takes the time to build relationships.
There you have my big five reasons that customers leave your business. Work on systems and processes to counter any of the “lack of” reasons. You level of business depends upon it.