Telesales – reactivation of inactive accounts
If cold calling isn’t your favorite pastime, try a different approach. Try having “warmer” conversations and watch your sales results improve.
You can do this by “exploring” inactive accounts. An inactive account is a customer who has purchased from you in the past but has not made a purchase in the last year or more. Here are three practical reasons why you should reactivate an inactive account:
First, you have a target list. The list is in house, you have ready access to it, and it’s targeted. This saves you money and time to buy a list. You can start calling right away.
Second, you know them. Since you have a record of past purchases, you have an idea of where to start when you call. You can see the size, quantity and frequency of past sales. This makes your pre-call planning much easier.
And third, they know you. Obviously, the account knows about you. They have some history with your company, even if it was a one-time purchase. But what it really means is that it takes less time and effort to help educate the customer. It can help reduce the sales cycle.
When you put all these points together, you have a call that is much easier to make than calling a complete stranger from a shopping list.
Why we resist inactive accounts
Despite the benefits, many sales reps avoid calling inactive accounts. Most believe that a customer has left for one of two reasons:
– the price was too high or,
– there was a problem with customer service.
Either way, the general feeling is, “better to let a sleeping dog lie.”
While price and customer service can be legitimate reasons for customers to take their business elsewhere, the number ONE reason customers leave is simply neglect. A number of studies reveal that as many as 68% of those customers who leave do so simply because they had no reason to stay.
Think about this! They left because no one cultivated the relationship. The order was accepted and that was that. The account was ignored. No one paid him any attention. The more positive takeaway is this: spend a little more time and pay a little more attention, and you’ll probably be able to reactivate some of these accounts.
How to reactivate an inactive account
Before you pick up the phone, take a moment or two to review the client’s file. Take a look at the sales report and see what potential opportunities there may be. The file may be thin and sparse, but it’s a start.
When you call, there are three simple rules:
Rule #1: Refer to a past relationship.
While not all of your accounts will remember the link, it’s important to use it. This is what helps make the conversation warmer. The customer tends to be a little more receptive.
Rule #2: Don’t ask why they stopped buying.
This is a common mistake. When you ask why the customer stopped buying, one of two things can happen. First, you can unnecessarily open a can of worms. If there are remarks on the bill, they will tell you. (More on that in a bit). Second, asking the question will often put your customer on the spot. Many will feel defensive; some feel vaguely guilty and even embarrassed. Avoid this.
Rule #3: Do a complete needs analysis; ask questions
Treat the account as brand new. A lot can change in a year or more. Ask the customer questions to discover needs and opportunities. This also keeps you from getting thrown. Create a new beginning with this client using a consultative approach to sales.
Mr/Mrs_________ I am calling ___________ from ____________.
Mr./Ms.___________ We have worked with you in the past by providing you with _____. (list the product). Of course, I’m not entirely sure of your needs at this point, but if I caught you at an opportune time, I’d like to ask you a few questions to see if we can help you (enter your benefits statement, such as ” reduce shipping costs’, ‘lower your prices’, ‘ship hard to find items’).
What types of _______ do you use now?”
But what if the customer has a problem or a problem from the past?
If the account refers to a problem, ask what happened. Get details. Many times the client just needs to relax. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t buy more. Hear them. Acknowledge their concern; express regret. Fix the problem if you can. But say you’d like to start the relationship over. What’s the worst they can say?
What if the customer points out pricing issues?
Treat the price objection as you would any other customer. You need to ask a question to determine if the issue is pure cost or value. You should research to determine if there are opportunities for quantity discounts. You need to use negotiation skills.
What if they have a current supplier?
Big deal! Everyone has a supplier. You have to win the business. This means nurturing the relationship.
Inactive accounts are easier to sell than cold prospects. That doesn’t mean selling is an easy job. You still have a job. But that means you have a bit of an advantage. Make sure you reactivate your inactive accounts!
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