Account Retention: Little Signs of Big Trouble

Access this free 8-minute video and learn how to salvage accounts that may be on the brink of disaster. Discover:

  • How to identify “conversational icebergs” — seemingly minor remarks from customers that could signal a storm on the horizon
  • Three reasons why reps might not see the danger
  • And the “ping” – a simple technique to uncover potential problems even when there’s no sign of trouble.
Account Retention: Little Signs of Big Trouble

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More information for those who love the details …

Is your customer as satisfied as they’re letting on?

You might think the relationship between you and your customer couldn’t be better. They recognize the unique value you provide, and you are responsive to their needs and concerns. But then one day they drop the hammer and tell you they’re taking their business elsewhere.

You’re shocked. After all, there were no signs of trouble, right?

In reality, customers are like icebergs. You only see about 5 percent of what they’re really thinking. And that’s on a good day.

Even the best customers have their reasons to keep you in the dark. Maybe they think you’ll take advantage of them if they’re too open. Maybe they’re talking to other vendors and don’t want you to know about it. So they hold their cards close to the vest and tell you they love you. Right up until the end.

Often, though, customers WILL drop a hint, in the form of some stray statement or innocent question. These seemingly offhand remarks are like tips of icebergs: They don’t look all that threatening. But there’s a whole lot of trouble beneath the surface.

Access your free video now and learn the signals that suggest your buyer has more on their mind than they’re letting on.

Conversational icebergs: What do they look like?

The reality is that there ARE no offhand remarks when it comes to business. Any comment related to your relationship, your products or services, or the customer’s operations requires your FULL attention.

In fact, these “conversational icebergs” are often embedded in comments that SOUND positive. Buyers might be trying to soften the blow or avoid a confrontation, so they wrap up the criticism with some good stuff to make you feel better. It’s easy to hear the good part and miss the real message, which gets buried in statements like:

  • “I really like the power of the software you designed for us. The user interface could have been more intuitive, but overall I thought it was good.”
  • “I know your prices are a little on the high side, but I told my boss that we really appreciate the level of service you provide.”

All too often, salespeople end up missing these signals. Sometimes they think the problem is only superficial and is settled with a simple email. Other times they don’t take time to explore the underlying problem. In either case, failing to acknowledge the customer’s larger concerns is a critical mistake that permanently ruins the buyer’s relationship with your company.

How to identify and handle a customer’s concerns

So what’s a sales rep to do when they pick up on these “conversational icebergs”? Stop everything and find out more. Get a fix on what the customer’s true cause for alarm is. Be crystal clear what has to happen to alleviate those concerns.

Of course, the buyer’s concern will sometimes be buried so deep that it isn’t immediately seen. That’s when it’s time to dig. To do that, send out a ping – similar to how a submarine finds its way underwater – and listen to what comes back. For example:

  • “In the past we’ve always allowed five business days for delivery. Is that still fast enough to meet your needs?”
  • “I know YOU understand our pricing and value proposition. Does your boss see the value too, or do we need to do more to explain it to him?”

Of course, you don’t want to dwell on the negatives or overdo it. You don’t want to ask vague, general questions like “How are we doing?” But when you ask specific, fact-based questions to be sure customers are getting what they want or expect, you can avoid disaster.

Access this free video now as part of a 30-day trial to the Selling Essentials Rapid Learning Center.


Steve Meyer

Stephen Meyer

CEO/Director of Learning and Development, The Rapid Learning Institute


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