A question that medical sales reps hate is when their manager asks, “Why did we lose that customer?”  The sad truth is that sales reps often don’t know why customers take their business elsewhere.  Some reps make the time and effort to find out, while other just assume that some force or element outside of their control led to the customer’s departure.

A study by the Rockefeller Corporation back in 2005 studied the reasons why customers leave.  Here are the reasons:

  • 1% die
  • 3% move away
  • 5% develop other business relationships
  • 9% leave because of being persuaded by the competition
  • 14% are dissatisfied with the product or service
  • 68% leave because of an attitude of indifference on the part of the person or people they deal with

Notice that in this study, there is no mention of price or quality!  And one of the biggest reasons that medical reps offer as a cause of lost business—the customer preferred the competition—accounts for only 9% of customers defecting.

Even if you acknowledge that this study is six years old, and believe in your mind that selling in healthcare is different, you can’t turn your back on the most glaring statistic:  The vast majority of customers leave because they feel like the vendor/salesperson doesn’t care about them!

There is a difference in saying that you care and allowing the customer to feel it.  Let’s face it, medical selling is challenging and time-consuming, plus you’re selling to some highly educated and often hard to deal with people.  How do you let your customers know that you care about them?

  1. Call on them regularly and consistently.
  2. Focus on their patients and their challenges, not on just selling your product.
  3. Go the extra mile for your customers and when you do, make sure they know it, i.e., tell them!
  4. Treat each customer like he or she is your best customer.
  5. Tell your customers that you appreciate their business and tell them often.  Don’t ever let them feel like you take them or their business for granted.  If this feels awkward to you, get over it.  Your competition might not feel so awkward.

When you’re busy and successful, it’s easy to get complacent, and  complacency is a deadly condition that can erase years of hard work and hard won business.

Want to do something super-productive?  Go through your customer list and identify those customers who haven’t been feeling the love.  Contact them this week and let them know you’re here for them and that you appreciate them.

If you have lost any business in the last year, have the courage to visit those customers and ask them why…and then apologize if you’re the reason or if it’s something that you did or didn’t do.  Ask what is needed to get their business back and then implement it into your business plan.  Don’t ever make the mistake of not asking customers why they moved business or chose a competitor because chances are it’s something other than what you think and something that you can control.

Your customers might not remember the way you made them feel when you went out of your way to help them a long time ago.  However, they won’t forget how you make them feel today.  One of your jobs as a medical sales rep is not just to sell and service your product, but to remind your customers how important they are to you.  Letting them forget can be very expensive.

 

Mace Horoff has spent the last 28 years working with the medical device industry.  He is an award-winning speaker, trainer, author and consultant  focused on sales force effectiveness for the medical device, pharmaceutical, dental, and other related healthcare industries. To learn how Mace can make your medical sales force more effective, please call him at 561.333.8080 or email.

One Response to “Why Did We Lose That Customer?”

  • A few other ideas:

    -be where your customers are going for information. Online. Help them find YOU!
    -engage in social media be sharing value information via twitter, linked in, etc.
    -share blogs that provide information your customers may find informative and pertinent to their business.
    -be a resource for your customer.
    -keep that online dialogue open.

    This will help in keeping you top of mind with your existing customers, your lost customers will see your value and eventually, you’ll gain them back, and future customers will see the value you bring to their business.

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