Selling: How To Save a “Lost” Client

Don’t write off a client who stops using your service or begins to order from your competitor. An inactive client, even one that is mad at you, is a pre-qualified source of new business. You already know more about this client than you will ever know about a new prospect. You know what makes the client tick and what are his hot buttons. You were successful selling the client once. You now  know where your efforts or product have fallen short of the client’s expectations. This is valuable information that you can use to win the business back.

An unhappy client’s dissatisfaction often lies with your lack of service and follow up rather than the actual product you have sold.

Your client will respect you if you fight for their business. Here’s a three step process you can implement to win the business back:

1. Schedule a face to face meeting with your client. Your client may be reluctant to meet. It’s human nature to avoid confrontation or bad news. Many clients would prefer that you fade away. Don’t do it. Persist. Be humble. Acknowledge there is an issue and you know the client is unhappy. Ask for the meeting so you can hear where your firm is not meeting the client’s expectations so you can understand and work on a solution.

2. At the Meeting ask the client to explain the problem and shut up and listen. Let the client talk. Don’t interrupt. Don’t make excuses. Ask the client if there are any additional issues or problems with your service or product. Only then, when everything is on the table, you can respond. Always apologize.  Apologize for the miscommunication. Apologize for not staying on top of the issue. Apologize for something. Acknowledge the issues your client raised are important. Tell your client you understand his concern and frustration. Then offer a solution. Get personally involved in the solution. For example, “I will personally check our invoices before they are forwarded to you so I can be 100% sure there will not be any billing errors.”

3. Ask for the business. You have identified the problem, apologized, acknowledged the importance of the issue and offered a solution. Now it is time to ask for the business. Try something like this, ” Jim, if we can fix the issues we have discussed by Friday, can we start again fresh next week with a new order?” It’s a simple as that. You have addressed the issue, provided a solution, shown your dedication and commitment to the client and now you are asking to continue the business relationship.

By making the extra effort with a unhappy client you will put yourself in a position to win many of them back. Don’t give up. Use the same tenacity you used to win the business the first time to save the business when it is in peril. It will pay off for you big time.


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