Dear Top Sales Dog:

I think my customer is seeing another vendor.

He says everything is fine, but I don’t believe him. Sometimes I see other vendors’ names on the sign-in sheet at the front desk. My customer says they’re just courtesy calls.

Also, I’ve noticed that my customer is ordering a lot less frequently than before. He says it’s a seasonal thing, and I shouldn’t worry.

And sometimes I feel like he’s avoiding me. He doesn’t return my phone calls or e-mails, and seems distracted when I finally reach him.

I’ve tried things to spice up the relationship — new products, new ideas, articles I’ve clipped from trade magazines. I’ve asked him what’s new in his life and how we can help him meet his key objectives. He says he’s satisfied with the way things are.

Should I believe him? Or am I right to be worried?


A salesperson who loves too much?

Dear Salesperson:

You’re right to be worried. One study found that 50 percent of “satisfied” customers are predisposed to switching suppliers.

And sorry to break it to you, but if you want to keep your customer from straying, you’re going to need more than great products and service. Other vendors can offer that too.

What really keeps customers loyal, studies show, isn’t how much they like you. It’s how much they need you. And the best way to be needed is by using something called an “entanglement” strategy. That means getting so embedded in your customer’s business that it would be painful for him to stop doing business with you.

One of the best ways to get entangled, by the way, is by getting to know more people in your buyer’s organization. The more stakeholders you know, and the more you can help them get what they need, the harder it will be for your customer to send you away.

Hope that helps, and happy selling!

Your Top Sales Dog.

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