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Thoughtful Thursdays – Losing business…


… really bites.

Losing business is as inevitable as your hard drive eventually crashing. It is not a  matter of if, but when.

Let’s look at some of the reasons business is lost and think about new routines that might ease the pain or even mitigate the loss.

Why was the business lost?

I have lost business for all of the above reasons, but never the customer.

A customer going out of business can be very painful if they owe you money. There are signals such as extended days to pay, inconsistent ordering patterns or employee layoffs that might raise a flag. If you sense there is something amiss, make it your responsibility to find out what is going on. Sometimes there is no advance notice, I have been on the receiving end of that kind of situation and there is not a lot you can do except be diligent and keep a watchful eye on the exposure to limit the potential risk. Check credit on regular schedule and remember that large companies go under too.

When a customer re-locates to an existing site outside your territory there is normally advance notice. Be sure your colleagues know about the coming move and insure a smooth transition. In my experience this may  not always be a slam dunk. Some companies allow different plant locations to purchase independently.

Sometimes a product or service is discontinued. There is usually advance notice when this happens and adjustments can be made.

It can be a double whammy when your customer loses their customer. It does not, however, necessarily equate to loosing the business, if you know where it went. Being knowledgeable about the industry and up to date on what is happening in that industry can often provide insights to business shifting. Make it your business to be informed.

Perhaps the biggest blow to the ego comes when you lose out to a competitor. Over the years I have lost business to the competition, but I have never lost an entire customer. It is the strength of the relationship that will keep you in the game. It was the nature of the industries I have worked in. You did not close very opportunity. Sometimes our product did not perform as well as the competitive offering. The business relationship insured we were provided to pursue opportunities as they came up.

Losing business is not the highlight of anyone’s day, but it happens. The bottom line is that we cannot win them all. What is important is what you do when you do not have the business. If you are an ice hockey fan, the best players are effective because of what they do when they do not have the puck. They go to the places where the puck is going to be, not where it is. It is about reading the play, anticipating and acting on the opportunity with the highest chance of success.

Good information + insights = decisions with a high probability of success

Good selling,

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