I’ve been involved with similar projects to re-connect with lapsed customers in 4 different companies over the last couple of months and following some undoubted successes I thought I’d share with the wider world the smartest way to approach these particular accounts.
The same old story…
I’m always interested to see how people plan to approach these accounts because it’s very easy to adopt an approach equivalent to waving a brightly coloured flag at your prospect which says:
‘We lost your business some time ago and we’ve finally got round to attempting to do something about it’
A couple of genuine examples of this that have come out of recent workshops are:
‘We used to provide you with…..’
‘I noticed you haven’t ordered from us for a while….’
‘I wanted to understand why you haven’t used us for …’
These are pretty typical answers although I personally think there is a far smarter way to be approaching this..
You see, the problem with these approaches to re-engaging with lapsed customers is that they’re simply far too negative for you to expect much back in terms of positive responses.
They draw attention to a possible breakdown in the former working relationship, the fact that account management hadn’t been great which is why their business wasn’t retained, and the fact we’ve left it longer than we should and have only got round doing something about it now.
My view is that in preparing your sales call in this instance, you need to consider the following:
- What is your objective for that call?
- What action do you want your prospect to take?
Then, in terms of your call opening we need to be a bit smart. Usually the value statement in your sales call will be centred around profit or productivity increase, time savings etc whereas for this task your value statement needs to be based around something different.
Order Histories. (Which should be easily accessible through your CRM – Please don’t tell me you’re still using spread sheets!?)
There’s a couple of variations of my recommended approach to this type of call below and then we’ll examine why it works underneath.
….I was just taking a look at the (1)order history on (2)your account with us and wondered if you’re still (3)outfitting your team with the (4)blue t-shirts with your logo’s matching the thread colour?
I’m looking at the (1)order history on (2)your account with us and wondered if you’re still supplying branded pens with the (4)silver plating as gifts to your renewing clients?
How and why this works:
When approaching the account we need to make a positive link with our prospect and as such items 1 and 2 from the above example should always remain unchanged.
1) Referring to someone’s order history refers to a historical relationship in a much more positive light than some of the examples in the beginning of this article which make it glaringly obvious that for whatever reason we lost that business.
2) The phrase ‘your account with us’ indicates they are still a customer or certainly that we still regard them as so. It also doesn’t make reference or draw attention to the period of time in which they had not used you or your service for.
The 3rd & 4th elements to the approach are your variables which allow you to tailor the approach around the order history itself:
3) This is where we look at the specific orders that the customer has made in the past. Look for repeat orders of specific products and use that item or items to tailor the approach to that particular account. You will find that you make a connection because you’re clearly demonstrating an existing knowledge of their requirements whether they have changed or not.
4) This is where you can further demonstrate your knowledge of their business by referring to how the prospect made use of the items from those historical orders or certainly their specific preferences.
It’s really quite a simple yet effective approach and can be adapted very easily on an account by account basis. If you have lapsed accounts that you really should be re-engaging with, this is the way to do it.
Always make sure your approach is well thought out, relevant and confident. You’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised by the receptiveness of the people you speak to when you can clearly show them that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to their business.