Everyone in business has relationships with others who are not our customers. These people may not have ever been our customers, or they may have been customers but for some reason, severed that customer association. It is imperative that entrepreneurs do not ignore either of these two types of people. Information is power for an entrepreneur, and these people have information that can greatly benefit a business.
First, let us examine the person who has not ever been our customer. Do we know why; have we ever asked the other person why they do not see themselves ever buying our product or service? What do they need to further their business, or what may they need that can make them more successful? Is it a matter of misunderstanding, financial means, the wrong time, or is there not ever a possibility of a customer relationship?
We must never put the prospect on the defensive when attempting to discover why they are not our customer. We must make them understand that we are not trying to make them justify their position. We must reassure them that we are just curious and need the information to refine our marketing and our offering to others. They can be an immense help to us, as we should be for them.
Second, there is someone who was a customer at one time, but they ceased doing business with us for some reason. We all lose customers; everyone may eventually stop doing business with us. They may die, go out of business, retire, change their business, or sell their business. There may even be financial reasons that others stop ordering from us. It will happen and does so every day to the best of operations.
Again, we must discover what information we can from this former customer. As always, we must do so without the other business person believing that we have put them on the defensive. We must make them understand that their information is valuable to us in becoming better partners in business for the future and that we support their decision making. Our networking relationship and partnership must continue to flourish so that we may both succeed.
We must contact the lost customer to discover why they stopped being our customer, asking them what changed. Did we do something wrong, did we not do something that we should have done, what could we have done differently, or did their situation just change? Sometimes someone ceases doing business with us for no reason that we can rectify. No matter what happened, we still need to know. Our future depends on our marketing and our performance, and all information is valuable for our future.
If we did something wrong, we must fix it, assure them that the problem is fixed, and apologize. Then, thank them for their business and guarantee that the partnership in networking should continue. Then make sure it does.