There are a few leads in every cold calling list you inevitably can´t turn into a viable prospect for one reason or another. The reasons vary from being geographically undesirable, to a new owner in the company with no need for your services, or the current owner is selling the firm and thereby not in the market for any new services. These are called long shots. In other words, leads for one reason or another are unlikely to become prospects or clients. Other scenarios include the company being too large for your firm to handle (or too small) or they´ve gone out of business, their number is disconnected, you get the idea. These are the leads that you want to weed out of your calling lists as soon as possible. You don´t want to waste a lot of time calling someone who doesn´t have any money or not likely to use your services or isn´t even in business anymore. Don´t throw them away; just categorize them as a lower priority. You may also have past clients in your database that for one reason or another are no longer using your services. Before you delete any of these leads from your database consider these tips to reactivate and reinvigorate them.
Reactivating Previous clients
If you´re in business you´ll inevitable lose accounts. That´s the nature of business. However many business owners make the mistake of thinking once they´ve lost an account, it´s impossible to get them back. Not true. Many reasons for losing a client have nothing to do with your services but rather circumstances beyond anyone´s control (i.e. lack of money, company is going in a different direction).
"We no longer need your services/we´ve decided to take the project in a different direction"?¦"
No one likes to hear these words but if you´re in business, you will inevitably hear them and the reasons can vary. Consider this"?¦
ï?? "Is there any particular reason you´d like to discontinue service?´
Determining why a client has decided not to use your service any longer is key to retaining their business. It can be as simple as pricing or as complicated as a clash in personalities. Regardless of the reason, it would greatly benefit your business to know why.
ï?? "We´ve decided to bring everything in-house´
Unfortunately, this is a sign of the times. More and more firms are bringing typically outsourced components in-house, leaving some small business owners scrambling for new accounts. Don´t worry, because you may still keep the client but on a limited basis. For example, if a client has made the decision to bring a graphics department in-house instead of outsourcing, you can still offer to handle" overflow projects". These are projects that may be too large, menial or not cost effective enough to keep in-house; in which case you may have an opportunity to handle the project for them. Smaller is better than nothing. Also keep in mind that just because they´ve decided to bring this component in-house doesn´t mean the client knows what´s involved in running that department or what capabilities or challenges are expected. This is where your consulting skills come in handy. You may only keep the client a short while but again you´re offering a different component of your services making you an even more valuable asset. Also consider inviting your client to one of your workshops (if you´re not conducting workshops yet, start now. It´s a great way to create a new market and gain more clients than ever before). By sharing your knowledge either in a group setting or one on one, you´ll get in front of your prospect thereby reminding them of your expertise.
ï?? "What can we do to retain your business?´
You don´t need to short change yourself or your services but it may come down to offering a small discount or offering additional services to add value. The point is to be open to renegotiate when and if necessary. Again, don´t sell yourself short. Not everyone should be a client of yours and sometimes you just have to let go and wish them well.
ï?? "Can you tell me what previously went wrong with your account?´
This is especially important if it´s been awhile since the prospect has been a client, you´ll want to revisit what went wrong the first time and try to correct it. Be prepared if it was a contentious relationship as you may have to dredge up some past unpleasantness. But if you want to reactivate this client then you´ll have to grin and work through it.
ï?? "We recognize and acknowledge your concerns and have made some much needed changes. May we contact you at a later time?´
Letting the prospect know that you understand why they are no longer a client will go a long way to getting your foot back in the door. Allow them to tell you in detail what went wrong and why they don´t want it to happen again. This doesn´t mean they will immediately re-sign but it gives you a better shot at wooing the client back.
ï?? Just because they are no longer a client doesn´t mean that you did anything wrong. Sometimes it´s just about money or timing.
"I was a little surprised when you decided not to renew your contract because everything seemed to move along smoothly.´ Can you tell me how you came to your decision?´
Again Probe, probe, probe. You need to understand their reasons for leaving your firm. And what it will take to win them back.
ï?? "What can we do to win your business back?´
It never hurts to ask this question keeping in mind that you may not be able to win them back. But it won´t be for lack of trying.
Tomorrow: Part Two
Tony Wilkins is the author of "Telemarketing Success for Small and Mid-sized Firms available in most bookstores and online at www.amazon.com and www.xlibris.com you may also find out about his workshops and services at
http://stores.ebay.com/telemarketing-success via e: mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 415-267-4872 .If you´d like to be notified of a new posting for this column ,please contact Tony Wilkins at email@example.com