Rekindle Your Former Business Relationships
It's been a while. I’m unfortunately back at the 100k mile tier on one airline and this isn’t the only one I fly. Need I say more about delinquent blog posts? Now, on to today’s topic: Rekindle your former business relationships.
Your Best New Prospects Might Be Right Under Your Nose
Every 12-18 months, I ask my established clients (in business at least a half decade) to set aside a few weeks of sales and marketing energy to examine their former client lists and choose some to target as key prospects.
The reasons to do this are straightforward:
- You don’t have to explain who you are
- They’ve already proven they have the budget for your services
- If you know why the relationship didn't work out before, you can address objections right up front
- You likely will experience better success rates rekindling old flames than doing ordinary prospecting activities
Which Former Clients Should You Try to Rekindle?
On the "NO" list:
- Slow or no pay. Once a leopard has shown its spots, there has to be a really good reason why the future will be any different than the past.
- Poor business ethics. I’m no prude, but again, leopards don’t change their spots.
- Out of business. Kind of obvious.
On the "YES" list:
- Previous bad work on your part. If you have tangibly changed your operations, and can document it, you may be able to successfully paint a vision of how their future with you will be different than the past.
- Structural changes on their part. Mergers, acquisitions and ownership changes can freeze out good suppliers due to no fault on their own. Some of the old guard will remember your previous good work and might act as influencers on your behalf.
- Personality clashes. It happens. And may not be forever.
Results vary when trying to rekindle former business relationships. If you choose realistic targets and work them properly, it’s reasonable to expect 50% of your target list to consider working with you again and 50% of that number to actually restart. This means if you begin with a dozen companies, you can reasonably expect about three to come back, at least on a trial basis. Compare this to your batting average for your normal prospects. Not bad, eh?
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I’ll cover marketing mechanics of rekindling former clients at some point in the future. For now, take a look at a rekindle landing page I’ve created for a campaign I’m doing right now targeting former graphic arts clients of my old Washington, DC-based sales growth agency.