Last Chance: What to Do When Your Client Is Leaving

The ability to anticipate loss is a vital part of your business’s growth strategy. But it’s only half of the solution.

The other half involves having a skilled response to potential loss: a clear, repeatable, results-focused plan to both recognize and take action in cases where the client is still heading for the door even when you’ve thoroughly checked your blind spots.

You need to have an early warning system correctly examine customer behavior and identify potential trouble. Measure these five telltale signs on a regular basis:

1) Ordering patterns for your products or services

2) Annual value—measured using the client’s metrics, not yours

3) Client support cases you’re opening

4) Inbound/outbound calls and appointments with the client

5) Rate of new contacts you’re adding to your CRM for that client

If you’re seeing a drop in any of these areas, you need to find out why—fast. Unfortunately, getting the answers you need will be difficult, because exiting customers won’t always tell you why and when they’re leaving. That means you have to work hard and get creative.

Most people avoid difficult conversations. But your job is to do everything you can to make that conversation happen, because it’s the last chance you’re going to get to keep the client. Here’s how:

Call everyone. Don’t make the mistake of calling your best, most trusted contact in the client’s company. That call list is too small for a job this big.

Your goal here is to get someone in the company to return your call so you can schedule a sit-down meeting with them. Sometimes that means the user of the product, someone from procurement, a trust coach or even your buyer’s right hand. Leave no stone unturned.

Frame properly. You’re not calling to ask, “Hey, why aren’t we hearing from you anymore?” Instead, frame the call as an offer. In other words, something that’s meaningful to the client. Maybe it’s a new training program or an insightful report on important trends in the market. The offer must come with a condition, of course: a scheduled meeting with your sales team.

Showcase excellence. In cases where it’s less than clear that a customer is heading for the door, reach out to them and offer to feature them in a new case study. That might involve an interview that you turn into a feature story for your website and social media, or maybe they guest star in a video, webinar or podcast.

This ubiquitous approach not only works wonders with prospecting—it’s a powerful magnet for client retention, too. By showcasing a customer as a mutual success story, you’re giving them the opportunity to stay invested in that story.

Know what’s next. Some clients leave no matter what you do. Sometimes it’s for the best, and sometimes it serves as a necessary but valuable education on the importance of client management skills.

Grieve the loss for a moment, but don’t waste time wallowing once they’re gone. A smart risk mitigation plan means always knowing what happens next when the worst outcome occurs. In your case, that plan should provide answers about how you’re going to replace that lost business.

Colleen Francis, sales expert, is founder & president of Engage Selling Solutions. Armed with skills developed from years of experience, she helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.