Business Loyalty. Stay I stay or should I try a new business? Can you imagine how many times you would lose business when the next opportunity rolls out the red carpet for relationship building? Lost business is hard to reconnect, especially when you realize the only way to reconnect is by creating a better package deal that might not be the wisest investment for the consumer.
Gaining business in your own backyard is just the beginning on learning how to engage with other. Simply put, you have to sell yourself to everyone. From a new client, to former client or even a neighbor. I am sure your eyebrows went up when you read former client but the truth is, you have to stay in the front of your former client to keep their business or ask them to return back to your business. Especially if you have changed companies and want to seek them as your new client.
Recently, I bumped into a former business relationship at a networking meeting. We had lost touch over the past few years and as soon as we met again and almost immediately my thought was to reconnect my business to her because there was a customer loyalty that has been developed many years ago. But as quick as that thought came to mind, I changed my mind just as quick. Why? Within seconds of reconnecting, I was asked to change my current relationship to a new relationship with the assumption that I wanted to change and a dash to bash her former employer with the recent merger. Fortunately, I have loyalty with the original relationship that was established years ago and the only dissatisfaction I have are the mergers which have taken place over the past few years, yet each merger has been smooth and consistent, with inconvenience of change being the only challenge. Next, the question was never asked, just assumed that I would want to change.
Reconnecting with a former client does not mean that you immediately hone in on regaining the business relationship. There needs to be a system in place to find out if they are a candidate in your new business connection.
Some simple suggestions that offer the invitation to re-engage with a former client.
– In the first 30 seconds of reconnecting, do not ask your former client to change business arms and legs.
– Learn about them again and what is going on in their life.
– Find out about their business and what they are doing, how they are growing and learn what their needs are.
– Ask questions, show interest and this keeps you in control of the conversation.
– Invest in the relationship and ask how you can meet their needs in something else, not what already has been established by them in the past.
– If you do not know what the needs are, you won’t connect and not connecting means there is no chance of change.
All this to remind you that business begins in your own backyard. New employment comes along frequently, sometimes unexpected, but losing site of a former client can be hazardous to your new business. The expectation that they will jump right over to you as a customer should not be an expectation, but recognized as commendable.
For the client that makes the verbal link to reconnect, think before you jump into the help a former business associate. Ideally, wanting to help and engage can be in your best interest, but will you always be bouncing from relationship to relationship and missing the key components to create loyal long term relationships.