This is a guest post by Harsh Vardhan, Head of Marketing at GrexIt; the app that lets you share Gmail labels with other Gmail users. He discusses the five things to do after a lost business deal in today’s article. Be sure to leave a comment below and share via social media. Thank you and enjoy! – Benjamin
Irrespective of how good you are, or how great your product is, you are bound to lose a few deals to competition. It
will always be accompanied by a rush of negative feelings, but, this might also be the trigger that propels you to build a customer centric organization.
It is crucial that you do not treat the loss as a closed door. There’s always a good side to it:
- You learnt about the account’s business, its competition, and the industry, which saves you some homework when you talk to another prospect from the same space again.
- You will always be the next best product. Anywhere inside the ‘consideration set’ is a good place to be in.
- The account might refer you to a friend, if you were good enough to remain on the short-list.
- You have a list of things that did not work, and you’ll always evaluate with more caution when you head in that direction again.
Coming to the crux of it – what does one do AFTER the business deal has fallen flat?
1. Talk to them, talk to them again
Do not take it personally. Do not get offended. Stay in the game. Keep talking to the account. Be persistent. Be pertinent.
Newsletters – yes.
Product updates – yes.
Happy birthdays – yes.
Wine and cheese – hell yes.
There’s always a slight chance that they’ll come back, or well, they’ll refer you to a friend for sure. A company that keeps in touch despite a crashed deal is one that the account will always appreciate.
Do not spam! Let them go the moment they display even the slightest discomfort (aka unsubscribe).
Useful tip – everything that you do to keep your customers happy, or to thank them – do all of it for the lost accounts too.
2. Educate them
Educate the account about the key challenges that they can face while using the product, from an industry-wide perspective. It’s imperative to be high on thought leadership; send them whitepapers, reports that discuss industry trends. Remember not to talk about your own product at the very beginning of the post-no-deal relationship.
Move to related subjects. For instance, if you sell home appliances, talk to them about interior design, new gadgets for a home, and the interaction between design and utility. The point is to keep giving them something useful.
Yes, they’ll know it’s all a form of marketing, but, they’re humans in the end, they’ll eventually like you if you keep making an effort to help.
Once you’ve made it inside the circle of trust (you’ll know when you have), there can be a slight deviation from the good-guy marketing methods. Tell them about how your product has evolved, about how’re you solving more problems, about the unique advantages that you offer.
Be subtle. Draw it fine.
3. Say good things about competition
There is no point bad-mouthing the competition. All it’ll do is make you look spiteful. Tell them that the company that they chose over you is a good company. Do not make a comparison, but ensure that you leave the customer with some food for thought.
For example – create a guide of tools and how they can help, include the competition too, say good things about them.
In short, say good things about everyone. Always great to highlight the positive side of things – it leaves your readers with a positive feeling about you.
4. Seek feedback
Try and find out if the account is happy with the purchase. Ask them if the product was able to cater to the objective. You’ll come across as a company that’s willing to learn; every customer loves that.
That done, it’s now the time to find out why you lost. By the time you finish the above conversation, the account will (more often than not) have a decent rapport with you. This is when you can seek feedback about your own product. Ask them about what they liked, or hated, and what can be improved. Seek suggestion actively and that’ll get them talking for sure.
The rule of thumb is – ask about the competition’s product first, yours comes second. Second’s definitely better than not playing!
5. The internal re-think
Start with understanding what are the company/product characteristics that eventually led to disqualification, not just for you but for all the others who did not make it.
Equally important is understanding why other companies were preferred over you. Ponder upon what can be their unique selling propositions.
To sum it up – build a list of everything that worked, and everything that did not work, for everyone from the top to the bottom. This should make a good checklist for the future.
Following the above can eventually lead to the account coming your way (okay it’s a little bit of a long shot).
The next best thing is getting referrals, which is very sweet nonetheless. With persistence, and pertinence, referrals will follow through for sure. Happy talking!
This is a guest post by Harsh Vardhan, Head of Marketing at GrexIt; the app that lets you share Gmail labels with other Gmail users. He’s an avid reader, backpacker, and rock music aficionado. Connect with @harshvgehlot and @grexit on Twitter. If you are interested in guest posting on #Orbit, pitch us your article using our Contact form.