Why Do My Customers Go Away? Sales!

This is the second in a three part series. If you haven't read, Net Sales - Why Do My Customers Go Away?, you may want to do it now and come back. As you may have noticed, I tried to write that first article from management's perspective. This article will be from the customer's perspective.

In 1972, before many of you were born, "The Cooling-Off Rule" became law. At the time, I thought that the federal government was trying to put me out of business. Imagine this. I had to go door-to-door, or call somebody on the phone to schedule an appointment in their home, or set up a table or a booth at an expo. Then I had to get somebody to listen to my whole sales pitch. Then I had to handle all their objections. Then I had to close the deal today. After handling all that resistance, I had to tell my brand new customer that "the cooling off rule" gave them three days to change their mind and cancel their order. They'd receive a full refund. They didn't have to talk to me. They didn't have to give a reason. After I explained their right, I had to complete two copies of the cancellation notice for them, show them where they needed to sign and where to mail the notice and they had to sign their order again to indicate that I had done all of the above. Give me a freakin' break! Could you imagine having to do that as part of your process?

describe the imageAs with many laws, this one was created to protect the public from criminal salespeople that lied, exaggerated, pressured, tricked and otherwise victimized consumers. Years later, OMG explained that the non-supportive buy cycle was a very common and very powerful weakness in salespeople. However, remember that salespeople are people and consumers, too, and that the weakness is as common in prospects and prevents them from being able to make a buying decision. So, salespeople needed to create objection handlers, tricks, closes and lies to get a customer to sign the order. Buyer's remorse may set in as soon as the salesperson stops talking.

Many salespeople left the industry, but in hindsight, my cancellation rate did not change and I think I know why. I'll explain later, but first ask yourself:

  • Do my customers think that my salesperson is interested in their business or were the questions canned, impersonal and asked only to get the data necessary to make the sale?
  • Does your customer wonder whether they ever see, hear from, or speak to this salesperson after they buy or will they become a number to some overworked account manager?
  • Does your customer have to re-explain themself and their business to the account manager? They told everything to the salesperson and he seemed to understand. Didn't he pass that info along?
  • Does your customer feel like a persona? Do they want to be different? Do they WANT to differentiate themself from the competition?
  • When did buyer's remorse begin? Were they worried right after they hung up? Was the hand-off to the account manager smooth? Did something happen at one week, one month, or three months to start the feeling that resulted in churn at six months?
  • Has your customer bragged about their purchase to a friend?
  • Has your customer made a referral?
  • Have they been asked if they bragged to a friend or made a referral?
  • Do your salespeople expect a call from a customer to be bad news?
  • Do your salespeople ever call their existing customers?
  • Does your salesperson think that minor white lies or slight omissions are OK?
  • Do either your salesperson or their prospect feel like a sales call is a contest or a competition? Not what do they say. What do they feel?
  • Do you ever ask, "Did you win today?"
This is by no means a complete list of the reasons that customers become unhappy or of the things that salespeople do to make them unhappy, but it's a start. If you'd like to add a comment, please do. If you'd like to discuss one, contact me and, as promised, my final post in the series will outline how I would eliminate the problem forever.

Stay tuned!

Topics: cooling off period, buyers remorse, sales churn

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