Your often-forgotten former customers get a lot of lip service but no actual service. Forgetting them can cost you sales you could have gotten for a lot less effort than you’re spending now focusing on potential sales from prospects. This is true whether we are talking about sales to consumers or to businesses. No sale has to be a once only sale. Even those who purchase a home or a wedding ring will always at least think about buying something else — smaller or larger; newer, older, or established. Reconsider writing former customers off. It may not be in the best interest of your business.
Why Do We Forget Certain Customers?
When it comes to failing to remember and focus on former customers, it could be caused by what is called “working memory” in cognitive psychology and neuroscience. This is the memory capability that is immediately available and active. It is very different from long-term or short-term memory.
According to working memory theory, all active thinking and problem-solving occurs in working memory. It is where focus takes place as well. Chris Adams calls it the brain’s search engine. It filters and focuses the information stored in the brain and it is where a person can actually do something with that information.
It’s hard to have working memory of a former customer except on those rare occasions you come in contact with them again. You don’t search for them because they aren’t currently needed. But, they should be if you want more sales and higher-value sales.
Why Are Former Customers Ignored?
Why do business owners ignore those who have contributed to their success? Is it a case of “out of sight, out of mind”? Is it because they no longer seem relevant since they are not paying for anything or not asking for anything now? Who’s fault is that? Not theirs.
There are other excuses businesses use to explain why former clients are forgotten and ignored. The most common are
- The person who the company worked with isn’t there any more. Not relevant unless the product or service was just for them. If the company used it, it stands to reason the company might want to use it again.
- The seller’s situation has changed and the company no longer offers that product or service or it’s significantly different now. Not relevant. The buyer’s situation has probably changed also. What the old seller has is “history.” If it’s OK or good, then this former customer is worth approaching. They may be looking for just those improvements.
- The buyer was a pain to work with. That’s relevant. If the same people are still there and feel the same way, then stay away. The key is not to tar everyone with the same brush. There are excellent former customers as well as terrible ones.
- The seller’s fear that the buyer won’t take the call, respond to the email, etc. It seems odd, but most of the time they will if only out of curiosity. A medical practice consultant was sent a LinkedIn request from a former client that she had refused to work with further because of his business ethics.
- Salespeople don’t want someone else’s history or baggage. Poor excuse. Getting sales from a former customer can seem less exciting, less of a challenge — like shooting fish in a barrel. This is exactly how they are treated in some businesses. The perspective is that they will always be there if you need them. The key here is YOU DO NEED them now and always because the value they bring is much more than the potential that prospects have!
Why You Should Focus on Former Customers