Frankly, I feel as though I’m being taken for granted at a place where I’ve done business for a long time.
For now, I’m not going to call them out by name — it’s the lesson for all of us that’s more important than trying to throw a business under the bus. However, it’s an aspect that is VERY instructive for every professional.
My small business started doing business with them in the late 1980’s. We’ve been loyal and committed customers since then. In fact, my all-time favorite sales professional was the person who initially obtained our business.
Currently, however, I get the feeling they’re just trying to push their product and not engage me as a client. (The sales professional we loved has now retired.) The little details that used to be taken care of are now slipping. It’s no longer convenient to be their customer.
I reviewed this with my current salesperson. And, I asked him to tell me two numbers:
- How many units have I purchased from them over the years; and,
- What is my lifetime value to them as a customer?
First, the salesman responded with more information about the next “deal.” Later, he told me that he had forwarded my concerns to his new sales manager. However, he didn’t answer my questions.
Next, the sales manager responded with a phone message — saying he hoped we could strike another deal before the year’s end. I returned his call and said we wouldn’t be having a conversation until I got the answer to the two questions from my earlier email.
Yesterday, I received his response.
- First, he said, they changed computer systems in 2000, so he didn’t have the data prior to that.
Consider that for a moment. I’ve been a loyal customer since the late 1980’s — but the new sales manager has NO WAY to know that…unless one of his salespersons (or the customer) tells him.
- Second, the information he provided me was incorrect! He left out a major purchase from 2005!
Notice — BOTH of those errors diminish the value of the customer and the significance of the business they’ve done with the organization.
Long ago, a speaker whose name I have forgotten told a group of sales professionals to re-think how they looked at their prospects and customers. Literally.
He said, “I want you to look at their foreheads and see a dollar figure on them. Unfortunately, most of you will see the number of the sale that you hope to make that day. The best in the business will see a much larger number. You’ll see the lifetime value of that prospect.”
“Why is that important?” he continued. “Subconsciously, how would you treat a $15,000 customer versus a $500,000 customer? If you start seeing that $15K prospect as a potential HALF MILLION DOLLARS in sales, you’ll make a huge step towards delivering the experience that your customers desire.”
Turns out that I had done about $600K in business with this company since 2000. It bothers me to be treated now as a transaction rather than a client.
Growth in business comes from the combination of acquisition AND retention. It’s intelligent prospecting and conversion of targeted prospects into customers — and keeping those clients that we already serve.
How do you plan on creating distinction in your marketplace if you don’t even know the lifetime value of your current customers to you and your organization?
Here’s a clue: you can’t.