Net Sales - Why Do My Customers Go Away?

Last month, I wrote How to Maximize Client Retention, Evangelism and Sales to share how I as a solopreneur did it. I've had several conversations about client retention since the article published. Typically asking, "What's causing my clients to go away rather than staying for life, or at least until we finish?"

If you think about it, the answers are different for larger organizations than they are for solopreneurs or VSB's. Most larger organizations start off as VSB's with a dream. The founders and key hires are brought on for talent as well as passion and commitment to the dream. Their first few sales are going to be made to prospects that are in their network and trust them personally. So, when bugs, glitches or underdelivery happens, the customer knows who to call and gets great customer service by the person that they trust and bought from. Early adopters can often be the happiest and best evangelists because they get so much attention from stake holders that have passion, knowledge, talent and a lot to lose.

Remember the dream and fast forward. Those founders and key hires are busy doing other stuff to make the dream happen and they've hired VP's, multiple levels of managers, senior salespeople, junior salespeople, business development people, account managers, customer service people, etc. Several questions.

  1. Does the front line salesperson have as much passion, knowledge, drive, relationship and investment as the founders and key hires?
  2. Are the middle managers as capable at training, coaching and motivating as the founders and key hires were when they had to do it?
  3. Do the the middle managers have as much passion, knowledge, drive, relationship and investment as the founders and key hires?
  4. Does the person that 'made the sale' care whether or not their customer is happy?
  5. Are they so busy chasing new sales that they never wonder how the customer that bought three months ago is doing with their investment?
  6. Has the division of duties between sales, account management, customer service and whatever else undermined the relationship between the customer and the person that they developed a relationship with and bought from?
My point is that it's easier for VSB's and solos to retain clients than it is for a fast growing company, but the beginning of the solution is to recognize that your latest hire is probably not as talented, as passionate or as committed as you, but to the customer that bought from them, they are the company!

Thanks for reading. My next post will address the external reasons that customers leave as well as what your employees are doing that are causing them to leave.

My final post in the series will outline how I would eliminate the problem forever, but right now, I have to get ready to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. It'll start tonight and Elaine and I will be back on Monday.

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