True story: Over the past two weeks, four different firms reached to me to ask about our services and how we might best work together. What makes this a bit unusual is that – at some point in the past – I had a relationship with every one of these firms.
They are all “formers”…
- One was a former sales suspect. We had had several conversations, but they never led to an RFP.
- Two were former sales prospects. We had had lots of conversations, things progressed as I had hoped, but the response to the proposal we submitted was a ‘no’ or a ‘not now.’
- And the last one was a former client, a firm we had worked with for more than two years.
And yet, all of these ‘formers’ came back to us to explore the idea of rekindling a working relationship. Why is that? What was it we had done that had them searching us out? Several things, I think…
#1. No potential buyers will ever do business with you until they get to know you… then like you… then trust you. And while only one of these four firms was an actual buyer… because we had spent so much time together, all had gotten to know us/like us/trust us at a fairly high level.
#2. Suspect, prospect or client… all previous interactions with us were first-class. We were knowledgeable, helpful, responsive and – frankly – pretty enjoyable to work with.
#3. In the case of the former client, they had had the opportunity to experience our services and know we do good work. There was no apprehension on their part in considering us again.
#4. We didn’t burn any bridges. Regardless of how a relationship ended at the time, we were friendly, professional and genuinely grateful. If there was ever any disappointment or frustration, we never let it show. We thanked them for the opportunity and then told them we hoped we’d have the chance to earn their business again in the future.
#5. Most importantly, we never let them forget about us. To this day, they are reminded of us with every daily social post, every weekly blog post and every monthly enewsletter. If we’d run into one another at a conference, we’d always sit down and catch up over a cup of coffee. If I was in their town on business, I’d make a point to stop by for a visit. We’ve tried to stay a fairly consistent presence on their radar.
So, what are the takeaways from this?
Moral #1: Never burn bridges! With suspects, prospects or clients… you never know when the opportunity to reconnect will present itself. Keep these two words in mind: “positive” and “professional.”Never burn bridges! With former clients, you never know when the opportunity to reconnect will present itself. Keep these two words in mind: “positive” and “professional.” #sellerdoer #clientrelationships #mrx Click To Tweet
Moral #2: Stay in touch! Just because you haven’t heard from a former client or prospect in a couple of years doesn’t mean that they have forgotten about you, especially if you’ve had a consistent marketing presence.
Unsure of this “former” strategy? Don’t take my word for it. Test it! Find three former clients or prospects in your CRM – contacts you haven’t directly communicated with in over a year – then pick up the phone and call them. Here’s what will likely happen:
- They will genuinely be glad to hear from you… like hearing from an old friend.
- You’ll share with them what’s new at your firm… and they’ll tell you what’s new at theirs.
- Then, together, you’ll decide if there’s an opportunity to restart some sort of working relationship.
- You’ll like this idea so much that you’ll call three more “formers!” 😉
Will any of my four former contacts turn into new clients? I don’t know yet. But I do know that if I had burned those bridges, I’d never be getting a second chance!
Wish me luck!!