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Industry Commentary

Lost Customers Are Source of Business

Never give up, never surrender


January 27, 2004

In a previous article, I introduced an essential follow-up call for anyone who has made a sale. In this segment we will focus on the second follow-up call. This call occurs earlier in the process and in an instance in which we do not make a sale.

I am referring to a call to a previous prospect. More specifically, a prospect that we have "lost," though we are not partial to the term "lost" to describe a prospect. How many times have you heard a sales person say 'I lost that deal'?

We are tempted to tell them to search the trunk of their car -- to see if they left it in there.

Obviously, you cannot lose something you never owned.

Okay, back to the point. We believe that 7-10 days after the prospect has decided to purchase from someone else, you must make a follow-up call. At this point we will say that the call is more than essential -- we will say that it is mandatory.

What do we say in this call? For one thing we don't say 'Have you changed your mind yet?'

Here is what we do say.

First, we say that we were thinking about them and wondered if everything was going well with regard to their pursuit of their goals. We are assuming at this point that you have not "lost" the deal because you never uncovered their goals. Start by repeating these objectives:

'How is your goal of refinancing your home to consolidate your debts coming along? '

Second, make sure the inquiry does not come off as self-serving. Make it clear that you are available to help them if they have a question even though you are not handling their transaction. This will set the stage for their response.

If they say that things are going just great -- you must be pleased and congratulate them. In other words, you don't say 'that's too bad!' You do say 'that is great, congratulations.' Remind them again that even though you are not doing business together, you would like to remain a resource for them. Leave the door open to a future relationship. The prospect you never closed may wind-up being your best future referral source. But only if you handle the relationship well. That is tough to do when you are losing potential income.

On the other hand, what if they say things are not going well. The company/person who promised me the world is now not calling me back or there were hidden costs. In this case, it is absolutely proper for you to say at this point:

'I would be happy to help you if you feel that dealing with someone
who follows-up as I have demonstrated would be beneficial
(and hopefully you have demonstrated this with plenty of written testimonials)

In other words, you did not call to talk them out of their decision. But you do know that anywhere to 25% to 50% of customers are going to be disenchanted with their selected company/salesperson -- especially if they were reeled in by unrealistic promises. If one out of three are disenchanted and you can convert half of these -- you are recovering a sale one out of six times.

By leaving the sales process too quickly, you waste the resources you used to produce this prospect. And resources such as time, money and energy are too precious to waste. The other five calls are not a waste of resources either -- especially if you can position yourself for future referrals.

It is quite ludicrous for us to focus on calling and/or speaking to new prospects if we never finish the process with the others we have produced. If you have too much business, you can waste these opportunities. But most sales people are not in that position.

Calling your customers after closing and prospects after you "lose" them takes discipline. We are always so busy going after our next conquest. Take the critical step of planning to make these calls. Take out your calendar and schedule them. Make this a habit. If you don't schedule them -- the calls will not happen.

And don't just start with the new ones. Many are not comfortable calling previous customers and prospects they should have called three months ago. It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, "it is never too late to do what is right." Don't let call reluctance keep you from increasing your level of income and moving off the treadmill of sales and onto a solid foundation of success...

Dave Hershman is a mortgage industry author and speaker -- with 8 books and hundreds of articles to his credit. He also heads OriginationPro.com Mortgage School. You can email Dave at [email protected].

click here for more articles by Dave Hershman

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