Customer retention is an important focus for any B2B sales team. After all, most companies indicate 20% of their new revenue comes from existing clients, and 21% of organizations use customer attrition rate to measure the success of their retention programs.
Eventually, however, every salesperson will have to face a client who is ready to leave and has already made up their mind. It’s a fact of doing business, but it’s the way they respond afterwards that can still impact the organization going forward.
Listen earnestly to their reasons
If the customer has done business with your company for any length of time, then you owe it to them to listen to the reasons why they’re ready to leave. Perceived value on the part of the customer is the entire reason why this business relationship began in the first place, so if that perception has changed then it’s absolutely worth hearing why that might be.
Schedule some time to speak with them and allow them to elaborate on their experiences and attitudes about every step of the process. During this time, they most likely want someone who will listen to them openly without an agenda, so resist the urge to interject constantly and correct them. Your customers have valid experiences to share, and they can be crucial for the future of your company.
Ask if there’s anything your company could have done to keep them
After they’ve had a chance to speak honestly about their experiences with your company, there is another step you can take that will be important for the post-mortem analysis. Now is the time to ask them whether there is anything you or your organization could have done that would have encouraged them to keep the relationship intact. This isn’t meant to be a desperate, last-ditch attempt to woo them back with a huge discount. Devaluing your product to win over a reluctant customer often does more harm than good in the long-term.
What this step does is give you important insights about your product and your processes that can be useful for the future. If your product is missing an important feature that would have sealed the deal, you can take this information to your product development team. Or, if there was a breakdown somewhere in the service chain you can investigate what happened to avoid repeat occurrences.
Remind them that you always have, and will continue to value the relationship
Ending a relationship is always hard, whether it’s between salesperson and client or spouses who have been together for decades. It’s no wonder that so many people instinctively turn bitter at the prospect of someone walking away from them, but this definitely isn’t the time for that. This is the time to let your departing client know that you appreciate what they did for you and your company, and that you will always find value in the relationship you shared together. You never know when a customer’s situation could change, and ending the relationship on respectful terms could pay dividends down the road.
Send a ‘thank you’ correspondence with a recap of your shared successes
Many sales professionals may wonder why they need to send a thank you note to a client who is no longer going to be doing business with them. The reasons are simple: it’s polite, it’s another way to demonstrate that you found value from the relationship, and it shows that you aren’t taking their departure personally.
A final thank you correspondence should be personal. It can include highlights of their accomplishments with your product, and remind them that although their desire to move on is valid, your organization did provide value to them.
Offer to be a resource even after they’re gone
Just because a client chooses to stop paying your company for a product doesn’t mean that their relationship with you has to be severed entirely. If you’ve proved yourself capable of providing them value throughout the lifetime of the relationship, then they will most likely appreciate having you as a resource for them going forward.
Assuming it’s agreeable with them, you can continue to send them relevant content and share industry news when you think it’s appropriate and helpful. The thing about business relationships is that you never know when one will bear fruit in the future, whether it’s in the form of referrals, new contracts, or another positive development.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.