Thursday, August 24, 2006

Call your customer

I just talked with a fabulous Canadian entrepreneur in technology who shared with me one of his top growth tactics: going back to prospective customers to find out why they didn’t buy from you.

He says he picked it up from a mentor in sales who used to say that “Good salespeople know why they should get the deal. Great salespeople know why they don’t get the deal.”

When his company doesn't make an expected sale, he or his people go back to clients to ask three basic questions:
* “What did you buy instead?”
* "What did you like about it?”
* “If you don't mind, what could we have done better?”

The most worrisome thing, he says, is when they haven't bought anything else. That means whatever you're selling is not sufficiently compelling – and should make you take a second look at what you're selling and why.

I asked if he borrowed this system from someplace else, or came up with it himself. His answer: “It’s something I invented from constantly getting my teeth kicked in.”

Mark this down as another of those tactics that’s so easy to do – almost textbook – but almost never done.

The entrepreneur suggests many people don't do it because their entrepreneurial egos couldn’t take the negative feedback. As he says, “Humility is a learned trait.”


Anonymous said...

Hi Rick - great post. It's definitely a tactic that is not widely practiced. It's too easy to think about going after a new sale instead of examining the whole process.

Any insights from the entrepreneur on what he learned by asking why prospects didn't buy?



Andrew said...

I think this is so important. I often say to entrepreneurs you need to go out there and get rejected as often as possible. The more sales you don't get the better, as long as you ask why. You can then perfect your presentation and close many more deals