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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.
 

Lost Customers? Here’s How You Win ’em Back - Part III

 
Last week, FEI sales leader Zoot taught young salesman Ganymede that demonstrating how your company has changed will help win back lost customers. This week, Zoot gives his apprentice one last tip for winning back customers who have left. Remember, fire = print.

One mild Saturday afternoon, Zoot visited the O-post office to mail a package of Olympian grape leaves to his aunt Artemis, who lived way out west in Saracens. On his way out, Zoot noticed Ganymede dropping a batch of letters into a mailbox outside.

“Oh, hi Ganymede,” Zoot called out. “Mailing those letters to lost customers?”

“Yep,” Ganymede says. “I doubt how well this campaign will work, however. Some fire buyers have long memories and may not be ready to ‘forgive and forget.’”

“Time is on your side,” Zoot disagreed. “I’m guessing you haven’t contacted most of these lost causes in months, maybe years. Since then, some of the people you dealt with have probably left their jobs. Others may only dimly remember why they stopped working with us in the first place. Either way, you can call these companies confidently, knowing there’s a good chance key fire-buyers will be open to hearing you out.”

“If you need another confidence boost, consider this: research has shown a salesperson’s chances of successfully selling to a former customer is 20 to 40 percent,” Zoot continued. “That's significantly higher than the chance of selling to a new prospect, which is the five to 20 percent range.”

Emboldened by Zoot’s pep talk, Ganymede made his follow-up calls as planned. One morning, he got a hold of Demeter, owner of Demeter’s Café. This popular restaurant had once been one of Ganymede’s three largest accounts.

“I got your letter,” Demeter said. “You have my attention. I’m willing to hear how you’ve improved.”

The next afternoon, Ganymede returned from his meeting with Demeter with a smile on his face. He found Zoot in the break room, mixing greens into his lunch salad. “Guess whose new South Olympus location will be lit by custom-branded FEI torches?”

“Demeter’s Café!” Zoot cried. “Congrats! Now that you understand the power of winback campaigns, I’ll tell you a secret: these campaigns can also work for prospects you’ve been pursuing without success – a.k.a. your ‘almost lost causes.’ Those prospects that fit your sweet spot, but haven’t responded well to your previous outreach efforts.

“Many of these prospects probably think they know what FEI is all about, but do they? Send these folks letters emphasizing how FEI has improved. In the past few months alone, we’ve expanded our product offerings by introducing matches, upgraded our torch-making capabilities to help get our customers their torches quicker and less expensively, and added new service personnel to improve the FEI customer experience. Taking that approach may just find the ‘Achilles Heel’ of these prospects and send them running toward you.”

“Hey!” said Achilles, a salesperson who happened to be listening in. “My heels are fine.”

FIRE! Point
When it comes to lost customers, time is on your side. Since the last time you contacted many of these companies, some of the people you jilted have probably left their jobs. Others may only dimly remember what went wrong. Either way, you can call these companies confidently, knowing there’s a good chance someone will be open to hearing you out.

Winback campaigns can also work for prospects you’ve been pursuing without success—a.k.a. your “almost lost causes.” These are prospects that fit your sweet spot, but haven’t responded well to your previous outreach efforts. This approach may just be the tipping point that gets these prospects to work with you.

FIRE! in Action: Lost Customers? Don’t Despair. Focus on Impressing Them
Research by the Department of Consumer Affairs has shown 82-95 percent of unhappy customers will come back if impressed and actually refer five new customers.

Next week: Zoot gives Ganymede tips for effective cold calling.
 
 

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