The Controversial Dead File Tactic

Okay here is a different approach to moving old customers into taking action, yet, it is controversial and is a whether bold initiative.

Let’s set the stage as to why this tactic would be put into play.

First, your customer has not purchased anything over a 12 to 24 month period. And, they tend not to return phone calls or emails with any consistency.

Second, these are the customers (usually past customers or even non-customers) who contact you every month for a quote or for you to bid on an RFP. Yet, you never get any business from this account and typically there is no reasons provided regarding you no sales situation.

Third, I advise my clients who have thousands of accounts on record to review actual sales activity. They are to look for two factors. How many (as a percentage) have not purchased anything for the past 12 months and how many are getting quotes from you over the past 12 months and have not purchased.

Now, after finding the above information you are ready to activate the “dead file tactic.”

The steps are simple. You will write a letter to the customers who have not purchased during the past 12 months (or longer – use what you are comfortable doing.) You explain that you recently reviewed your customer list and the purchasing activity for each account. Then, it is apparent you are no longer activity buying from us for whatever reason. We have enjoyed our relationship over the years, yet, we do not care to bother you will letters, emails, fax or sales person visits if you are not interested in working with us.

Therefore, if I do not hear from you in the next 30 days, I will assume you have no interest in working with us. We will place your records in the Dead Customer File and will no longer call on you.

I told you it is a controversial tactic. Some b2b sales person do not have the style or stomach for such a letter to go out.

However, an interesting thing can occur and usually does based upon our experiences in using this tactic. Several of those old accounts come to life! Yes, they actually do not want to go to the dead account file. It does not matter if they are superstitious or were just unaware they had no brought anything from you during the year.

The results of this little exercise can boost your sales results between 5 to 10% during the current period. And, on several occasions it lead to be included in a major sales opportunity with an old customer.

Now the other part of the exercise involving the RFPs helps you improve your efficiency of time. When you have accounts getting quotes from you every month and not buying anything from you probably has nothing to do with your pricing. Because the customer is using you to verify the market or competitive pricing of their current supplier.

Again, a letter needs to go out explaining a lack of sales from all the quotes being requested. There needs to be a meeting to discuss what is occurring regarding the results and can the results be changed? If the account contact does not want to meet, then they are in fact using you.

This productivity drain is really unnecessary and the people involved in the pricing of parts or creating detailed RFP contracts could be working on value added activities rather than cost creating activities.

One client actually reduced their account list by 25% using this guideline, and grew their sales results by 20% by reassigning these resources on targeted accounts or customers who would actually buy from them more often due to the additional attention they were receiving.

And since they were not losing any business or sales from these accounts who were asked not to request an bids since they had not purchased anything for the past year or two – the overall productivity of the sales team increased.

How many of these dead head customers are teasing you with RFP and Bid requests – with no history of buying anything? Take a stand and take back your valuable time.

Then use the Controversial Dead File Tactic and the elimination of Non-Buyers technique.

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Voss Graham

Sr Business Advisor / CEO at InnerActive Consulting Group Inc
Your Knowledgeable Partner for Business Success and Achievement. Dedicated to helping others get to their next level of success. Award winning business advisor; coach to executives and business owners; Business Growth Strategist; and experienced using assessments for hiring & selection, evaluation of teams and improving communication. Voss is available as a Speaker for your conferences or company meetings contact him at 901-757-4434 or use the LinkedIn or Facebook direct messages.

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