When Customers Buy From Competing Firms

Customers Buying From Competing Firms

TwoBusinessmenOnTheGrid-byAmbroAnother danger: Focusing totally on the prospective buyer can take you away from ongoing awareness with your current customers.

Taking existing buying relationships for granted is commonplace. I have heard far too many sales and marketing leaders tell us they find out after the fact that a customer is buying some of the products they sell from a competitor.

And the amazing thing is that for the most part it doesn’t take place because of lower pricing.

Believe it or not, customers forget all the products/services you offer. Many years ago one of my clients was a world leader in machine tools. One day I received a call from the CEO who asked me to come to his office to discuss a new machine launch. He played a video and for the next few minutes I watched as my heart sank.

When it was over I said, “Who produced the video?” He told me they received some fliers from a local video production company. I was a bit incensed.

“I’m confused Joe, we are your ad agency of record. Why would you go elsewhere for a video?” I never forgot this lesson. He said, “Young man, let me tell you something. Do you think I have nothing better to do than recall all the marketing services you offer? I didn’t remember you provided video service…and further…it’s not my job to remember what you offer. It’s your responsibility to stay on my radar screen.” And he was right.

I lost a $15,000 video project. Dennis Lacilla a friend and business expert said after listening to my sob story, “Al, it costs money to get an education.” And I had just learned a very expensive lesson. But that’s not the worst of it. The deeper issue is this. I failed to remain on my client’s radar screen. I failed to provide my client with a video that would have been much more effective for them. I missed the process of AICP which applies not only to prospects but to customers. The existing customer is the best place to increase sales (more share of wallet), but they know when they are being overlooked.

Here’s a question. When was the last time you sent a letter (yes a letter, you know, your company’s name and address printed on a really nice paper), to a customer with an expression of appreciation for his business, with your actual signature at the bottom? There are so many low cost, high impact ways to stay in touch with customers but maybe you’re too busy spending time on the golf course.
I hope it’s never happen to you but I can assure you that hearing a customer tell you he purchased what you offer from another company is about as painful as a pencil in your eye. I suggest you avoid it at all costs.