How to Lose a Prospective Customer in 3 Easy Steps: Part I

Sep 9, 2014

If you want to lose a prospective customer really quickly, it’s easy to do. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, consultant, real estate agent, or small business owner, most of us think we’re working very hard to generate new business. I challenge you to examine your approach. There’s a high probability that you’re doing at least one thing that’s costing you thousands of dollars.

The question I suggest you consider asking yourself is, “Am I really doing my very best to respond to prospective customers in the way I should or am I sabotaging my potential for new and repeat business?”

The Internet has Changed Your Business—Face it!

We now live in a global world where the customer has more decision-making power than ever. Virtually anyone who chooses to do so can design and launch a website in literally 24 hours. And, with the increasing rise and interest in content marketing, everyone has an opinion and a forum to express that opinion.

If you’re in business, large or small, I hope you realize that the customer has the power to put a voice to their experience. And, they can do so instantly—while they’re in a reactive state of frustration about something you either did or failed to do on their behalf.

More importantly, they don’t have to even have a website to do so. They can reach their circle of colleagues and friends via Instagram, Facebook, texting, Pinterest, and on the list goes.

I hope you’re getting the idea: It’s now more challenging than ever for you to meet their high expectations, and those expectations start with the first second, and, yes, I said, second, they contact your business. If you don’t respond immediately (within 24 hours is like dog years for most customers), they have Googled the next guy, and guess who gets the business?

Here are three steps that you can easily avoid, and in fact must avoid, if you want to stop sabotaging your own potential for new and repeat business.

Just Stop Doing This Stuff!

• Delayed Response Time

A few days ago, I spent more time than necessary trying to access an online business that I was hoping could redesign my existing Curriculum Vitae. After four repeated attempts to fill out and submit their questionnaire, their system kept telling me that my email was invalid. I simply could not move forward to the payment process section of their system.

I finally emailed tech support, and a day later, they informed me that there was nothing wrong with their system. I should try once more. I did just that. After completing the lengthy form again, the same pop-up resurfaced; I called tech support. After over 10 minutes of waiting on line for someone to assist me, I hung up and Googled the next guy who, by the way, got the job. Two days later, I received a standard email from the first company asking if I would be interested in their services.

Uh, no!

Here’s the point, whether it’s a technical issue or your own failure to return a phone call or email, it doesn’t matter. You lose. You lose credibility. You lose the customer. And, you lose dozens upon dozens of potential new customers when the one you’ve slighted shouts it to the world or, at the very least, refers their people elsewhere. Because, you see, when I get my new beautifully designed CV back and people ask me who did the work, who do you think I’m going to refer them to?

Yes, I’m afraid this is how the game is played no matter how much we want to pretend otherwise. Now, I know that some of you have this antiquated strategy that you want to make potential customers think or believe that you are so busy and valuable that you can’t get back to them right away. In other words, you don’t want to appear desperate for work.

Let me make this loud and clear: That strategy doesn’t work in today’s market.

You’re not showing them that you’re busy or valuable. What you’re clearly demonstrating is inefficiency. No one wants to do business with someone who is inefficient.

Potential clients don’t care how busy or important you are. They only care about getting their needs met as quickly as possible. Remember, in today’s market, they have more choices than ever, and you want to be their first choice.

It’s that simple. When you get a new lead, your first response is not later in the hour or the day or next week. It is now. In the mind of your customer, they are first. If you can’t put them first, they will put you last. End of story.

Stay tuned for Part II of this conversation where I’ll discuss other dumb things we do that sabotage our potential for new and repeat business.