How to Lose Business, Kill Your Sales, and Drop Clients Quickly
If you furrowed your eyebrows at this post, wondering why on earth I would publish something that showed you how to lose business and money, that was my intention. Why? Because the mistakes we make as entrepreneurs are actually the golden nuggets that catapult us to abundance and greatness, provided we recognize those mistakes and step up in integrity to fix them.
If you’ve ever experienced a fellow entrepreneur or business owner that didn’t make you feel like you mattered, you probably walked away. If you didn’t walk away, you should have. The second you make someone feel like they don’t matter is the same second you show them how much integrity you lack. And integrity, my friends, is the greatest and most powerful tool you can carry as you build your business.
My own coach drilled it into my head that I had to treat each and every person I served like they were the most important person in the world. I had to show them that they mattered. Their voice mattered, their concerns mattered, and their stories mattered. If I could bear that in mind and genuinely believe in that, he said, my business would change significantly. And I’ll be damned, he was right.
The number of times I’ve experienced top-notch customer service in the past year can, sadly, be counted on one hand. Because it happens more frequently than I would like, I reached out to other entrepreneurs and asked them what kind of B2B experiences they’ve had. Were they good? Or were they not so good? If they weren’t so good, why weren’t they? Where did their experience with that business fall short? The majority of the stories shared spoke primarily to these four missteps:
1) Not Returning Emails or Phone Calls
For many, this can be extremely frustrating. When you neglect to return a phone call or email, what you are really saying is, “I have better things to do than to serve you. Your money doesn’t matter to me.”
A colleague of mine (let’s call him Ed) had this experience when he reached out to a social media strategist for help creating a marketing strategy. Not only did Strategist Guy wait nine days before responding, by the time he did, he told Ed he wouldn’t be available to do a one hour consultation for another two weeks.
Think about that for a moment.
That’s three weeks, total. Twenty-three days, to be precise.
Ed didn’t want to wait twenty-three days to matter.
That’s why, after six days of not hearing from Strategist Guy, Ed reached out to someone else. So by the time Strategist Guy got back to him, Ed had already moved on. Ed had the money to spend and the desire to grow. Strategist Guy will never know that. Ultimately, Strategist Guy lost a client.
2) Not Owning Mistakes
This is a big one. I have heard, on more than one occasion, someone blame a mistake or misstep on an invisible person. Instead of saying, “Oh my gosh, I forgot. I’m so sorry. This is my fault completely. Allow me to make it up to you,” they come out with, “Oh, darn. You know what? Fred must have done that. He’s hasty. We’ll try it again, but it will take another week before you have your product.”
Good energy is easily detected.
Bad energy is also easily detected.
Keep that in mind when you choose to place blame on something or someone else. The person standing across from you (your customer) is no dummy. They’ll “feel” the dishonestly and run away, never to return. What’s worse, they’ll tell their friends about the awful experience. Good news travels fast. Bad news travels faster.
Consider this: You’re in a diner and you order an extra side of toast. When your meal comes, there’s no extra toast. You point that out to the waitress. She says one of two things:
“I’m so sorry. I forgot to enter it when I placed your order. Let me take care of that right now.”
“Oh. I ordered it. Nick is backed up in the kitchen. This is his fault. He’s not very good at his job.”
Which statement affects her tip and whether or not you come back?
It’s the same deal with entrepreneurship. If you know innately that someone is dishonest, you won’t return to do business with them. You won’t buy from them. And you won’t tell a good story about them to your friends.
3) Not Following Through
If you say you’re going to do something for a customer, do it. But don’t say you’re going to do something and then back out of it. This is one of the fastest ways to lose business and tarnish your reputation.
Not that long ago, I brought my car in for an oil change. The attendant was particularly chatty and friendly. And for whatever reason, he felt compelled to offer me a discount on new wiper blades. I took it, and was very grateful to him.
Then he handed me the bill.
When I pointed out that the discount hadn’t been applied, he said, “Yeah. I can’t give it to you.”
No apology, no explanation. I have no idea why it couldn’t be applied, but I couldn’t help but think he bit off more than he could chew and didn’t know how to tell me. I would have been fine had he said, “I’m so sorry. I told you that you would get a discount and it turns out I can’t actually give you one. I made a mistake. What can I do to remedy this?”
I would have told him that his integrity was enough. Truly.
If you can’t follow through with a promise, don’t make it in the first place. If you do make a promise and discover you can’t live up to it, be straight. And then offer your client something different. Ask them how you can better serve them. Make them feel like they are the most important person in the world. In the end, integrity is not lost and you will be more appreciated.
4) Delivering Sloppy Work
Of all the entrepreneurs I spoke with about poor experiences, businesses that delivered sloppy work was the one that came up the most.
My colleague Joanne had this kind of experience. When she decided she wanted some pages added to her website for membership purposes, she reached out to a highly recommended web designer to do the work. This was the first time Joanne was to contract someone to work on her site. It was also the last.
To ensure her branding matched what the designer would create, Joanne sent the designer the fonts, colors, and images she used regularly so the new pages would reflect what the rest of the site looked like. Not only were the fonts wrong, but the colors of the fonts were off as well. And there wasn’t a single image on the page. To add insult to injury, the opt-in created for visitors sent them to a 404 Error page.
None of this is acceptable.
Unfortunately, this experience made Joanne gun shy of contracting anyone else for a long time. When you deliver sloppy work, not only does it affect the project at hand, it also affects the client you worked with on a completely different level. Their trust is shattered. Trust is huge in business. HUGE. Trust is the cousin of integrity. You shatter trust, you shatter your businesses.
None of us are perfect. We are human and therefore prone to mistakes. That will forever be the case. But what makes us exceptional in business are the choices we make. When the choices are made for the greater good, everything changes. Our clientele changes, the work we do improves, and our profits increase. Running a business isn’t just about strategy. It’s also about integrity: the greatest tool you can ever carry as you grow.
What kind of not-so-good experiences have you had that actually make you a better entrepreneur? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can include them in our next blog about business.