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09.12.2014 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

How to Lose a Prospective Customer in 3 Easy Steps: Part II

Earlier this week I wrote about how easy it is to lose a prospective customer. If you didn't get a chance to catch part 1, you might want to go to here.

Just to put a different spin on my earlier discussion about how fast the world is turning, Rose and Pilizzi (2011) tell us that we now have students entering their first year of college who are graduating to jobs and positions that didn’t even exist four years prior. This trend is expected to continue, and the rapid pace of change is impacting the way you do business whether you want to accept it or not.

What I’m talking about, then, is our propensity as business owners to engage in some pretty weak tactics that impact our ability to generate new and repeat business.

The first point I made earlier this week is that we fail to respond to the initial client or customer contact immediately. Now, let’s return to that hard conversation we started a few days ago. I’d love to see you change your approach and increase your potential for new and repeat business.

The next two points are as follows:

• Lack of Commitment to Process

When and if you finally do make that first point of contact, be ready to commit to your prospective customer in one way or another. More importantly, be prepared to help them commit so that you don’t have to keep chasing the same rabbit.

In interviewing several contractors who bid for our recent bathroom renovation, in the end, we made a decision to go with the one who came to our first meeting ready to commit. He had a portfolio to show me of his work. He measured and took pictures. And, he had a process in place that helped me commit to the next steps.

That process involved our committing to a certain amount of money for his team to draw up the plans. Someone from his office scheduled our next meeting at which point he had a drawing and the proposed products for the renovation. What he did in this process was create a vision for the finished product. The upfront money helped us commit to moving forward.

It was a 1-2-3 process that couldn't have been easier. I left feeling confident that I’d picked the best team, and I haven’t been disappointed.

So, what’s your process for commitment?

It starts with your calendar. I’m amazed, in this day and age, how many small business owners show up to an initial meeting without a calendar or some follow-up process in hand. You must be able to schedule that follow-up meeting in the moment. With today’s phones, it’s easy to do. If you have a larger business, at the very least, your process should include a call from someone from your office by the end of that business day.

In the example of the company I decided upon to redesign my Curriculum Vitae, for example, I heard from the owner via email immediately. I then received a follow-up email from someone on her team who set up an appointment for us to discuss the content. What this tells me is that they have an efficient process in place that is designed to meet my needs. I’m already satisfied, quite secure in knowing that the finished product will be just as purposeful.

If you want to lose a customer, one of the quickest ways to do so is to show up at a meeting without your calendar or without a follow-up system in place. It’s up to you to move the sales process forward. The prospect will follow your lead.

• Poor First Impression

You might think you’re the biggest and the baddest in the business, but a prospective customer only knows what they experience in the first moments of interaction with you. If you have a website, that first impression begins with the first click.

How easy is your site to navigate? Is it cluttered? Outdated? Does it reflect your product and services? Does it have a specific call to action?

Sounds obvious, right? Well, not so much. I am in the middle of redoing my site, yet again, and one of the things I noticed is that the site fails to provide an easy way to access my contact information!

How did a team of eyes miss that most important feature? It happens. Check your site. Does it have a call to action? Can someone pick up the phone or email you if that want to?

Beyond the website, that first impression also means that you adhere to best business practices. I was sitting in restaurant the other night and couldn't help overhear a physician tell his colleague about a vendor who arrived at his office thirty minutes late. It was clear from his remarks that that relationship ended before it even started.

The point is this. If you've been in business for a while and have been successful, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the prospect is lucky to have you consider them as a client or customer.

Let me be bold. Get over yourself. No matter what business you’re in, I can promise you that your prospects can get the same level of service and expertise either from someone down the road or from someone on the internet.

Remember this: You’re only as good as how you show up for this potential customer in this particular moment.

Once again, I challenge you to think about what you need to STOP doing and what you need to START doing differently to step up your game.

I’d love to hear some of your best practices for getting a new client.

[reminder]

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. September 12, 2014