Lost customers are not necessarily lost forever, if you know how to approach them.
The key: Treat past customers as new prospects.
Start by trying to find out why customers left you in the first place. Here are some of the leading reasons:
1. They were lured away by a competitor promising better prices, better service or some other benefit.
2. Their organization changed and new management was not aware of the strengths of your services or products because the information was not passed on to them by their predecessors.
3. You or your organization failed to deliver as promised.
4. There was some hidden reason, such as you lost the business to a friend or relative, they lost buying authority or left their organization for another position.
Regaining the business
Here are five steps tohelp you get the business back:
1. Learn the real reason the customer left. Was it a pricing issue, a service issue, a quality issue? Could you have shown a lack of interest in keeping the business or exhibited some other major mistake?
2. Be willing to start selling again as if the customer is now a new prospect.
3. Put as much effort into regaining the business as you did to getting it.
4. Stay in touch with previous customers by placing them in your active file.
5. Have a specific strategy for dealing with lost business.
Adapted from 91 Mistakes Smart Salespeople Make by Tim Connor (Sourcebook, Inc., Naperville, IL). Tim Connor has been a full-time speaker and trainer for over 30 years.