We all lose business for one reason or another. We often think we know the reason why and in many cases we are probably right. In some cases however we lose business for reasons we are unaware of.

What really motivates your prospects to buy products or services from you or your competitors? Maybe it is time to think a little differently and take a closer look at why you’re losing customers and what action you can take to fix it.

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Common Reasons Business Is Lost

  1. Price – You didn’t show the value of your proposition.
  2. Poor customer experience –  The quickest way the leave a bad impression.
  3. Poor products or service offerings – You don’t solve your prospects problems very well.
  4. Your sales process is out of date – Is your approach all wrong and too aggressive?  Are you really understanding your prospects needs?
  5. Poorly performing staff – Some staff members may be taking the wrong approach or not getting back to prospects in a timely manner. They may need further training and support to follow your best practices.
  6. Your business is inconsistent – Does your brand build trust? Have you used consistent messages across all your channels? Different messages on the website versus your social media channels or even out of date logos can all drive potential customers away.
  7. Your online presence is out of date – Many customers will research a company before they make contact. If your website is poor and doesn’t provide a good user experience customers may think your service may be of the same poor quality.

Ask The Right Questions

Some prospects will not tell you exactly why they went elsewhere. They will make it short and sweet and may even just send you an email saying “Thanks but we preferred company X so went with them”. You can’t really learn from this and take steps to improve so you may end up repeating the same process.

If you do get to speak to your prospect to hear the bad news, they may not be forthcoming about the real reasons. They may tell you one reason but there may be a number of them. Asking why, is quite an open question so breaking down your questions into categories helps get more insight.

You can then understand the areas where you can specifically make improvements or repeat those things that you do well, that impressed your prospects. More specific questions might include:

  • Did you like the quality of our products/services?
  • Did you understand our Unique Selling Proposition?
  • Were we able to work to your budget?
  • Did we get back to you promptly?
  • Did we make the sales process easy for you?
  • Did you find it comfortable dealing with us?
  • Did we meet your expectations?
  • What would have made your experience with us better?
  • Do you think we fully understood your requirements?
  • What was the most memorable thing about your experience with us?
  • What did the competition do that made you go with them?

Explain Why You Are Asking

Explain to your prospect that you are asking because you want to learn from this experience. Explain you are striving to be the best you can be and the feedback is valuable to us. This way, the prospect may be more inclined to help you with specific answers.

It is important not to argue with your prospect. If they are openly telling you their feelings and you disagree, suck it up. Let them get it off their chest and simply apologise accordingly. Also, try not to make it an interrogation, see how they respond to some specific questions and you’ll know when to stop.

Additional Methods

If you would rather not get into conversation about it, you could send the prospect a digital feedback form. Some prospects will ignore your request for further information but some will be prepared to help you improve. Some benefits of using this method include:

  • They may tell you more that face to face/verbally.
  • It may give them more time to think about specific answers.
  • If you have under-performing staff, you may get more information about this.
  • You could get more insight with a rating, giving the prospect a way to click from 1 to 10 for example on “Product Quality”.

Most Importantly, Take Action

Once you gain some insight, you will be able to spot the trends and take appropriate action. If you are failing on price, you may need to improve and better identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  What value do you bring to your prospects that other businesses don’t? This may be your justification for an increased price. You’ll need to articulate this consistently across all your platforms and ensure the benefits are clear.

If you are getting common issues regarding response times that lead to prospect dissatisfaction, then you obviously need to address what issues are preventing faster response times. Is it a general problem or are certain employees overloaded or poorly performing? Give your employees the resources they need to provide your customers with absolutely awesome service. Hold your employees accountable for delivering a consistently positive customer experience.

Audit your online platforms to make sure you are delivering consistent messages and building trust. Treat your website like an employee and invest in it accordingly. It should deliver consistent messages, an awesome user experience and mirror the quality you put into the service you provide to your customers. Create brand guidelines to establish consistency and share with your team. Ensure your employees are not sending out inconsistent messages or poorly branded assets to your prospects.

Understand budgets upfront and employ value-based selling techniques. Take the time to really learn what your prospects desired outcomes are and then align your value-based solutions that address those needs. Build relationships with your prospects and don’t try to sell to them on every interaction. Focus on establishing trust with your prospective customers.