New vs. Old Customers

Published on April 2, 2004

Do you treat existing customers differently from new customers? Most people do and it is disgusting. For one thing, we tend to take existing customers for granted. All of the special attention we provided prospects to turn them into customers tends to dissipate once they are on board. In some cases, when it comes time to renew agreements, some companies alienate their customers even further with questionable business practices.
Here’s an example. Recently, the lease for my postage machine was about to expire. The name of the company shall remain nameless. I have leased equipment from this company since I started my business 18 years ago. A sales rep calls me in January to offer a new lease. I share with her my dismay on the lack of service and problems I have had. I also tell her I want greater functionality at a lower price. She responds by telling me to call service for the equipment problems. I suggest she makes the call since she wants my business to continue. No call is made and the equipment is not fixed. The sales rep also realizes that the prices for renewal will not meet my budget or functionality. So, she decides there is no business.

In the meantime, I am shopping the competition. Two months go by and the original company finally calls to arrange to pick up the machine. I tell the service rep that if her company really wants another shot at renewing my account, now is the time to make me a compelling offer.

She has the same sales rep who was of no use in January call me back! And here is where it really gets outrageous. She confidently says, now that your lease is over, I can treat you as a new customer and give you pricing I could never do for a lease renewal.

I was shocked! End result, I went with the competition, who by the way was a few dollars more expensive. What the old vendor was doing is a practice that some companies use, where they continue to roll their customers over without taking into account their needs, wants, etc. It is only when they leave do they finally listen and come up with proposals that make sense. The problem is when a customer leaves, they rarely come back.

Most of you do not engage in this behavior. However, once your customer is on board, you must make sure they are happy and not looking elsewhere. Are you giving them the same economic benefit you are giving new customers? If not, you are churning your customer base. The reality is, renewing existing contracts is more profitable than having to find a new customer because the relationship has been already consummated.

Are you selling the smart way? Or are you working too hard by ticking of existing customers and running around like a chicken without your head on trying to find new business?

The choice is yours. Your customers are waiting to hear your answer. Actually, they have already heard your answers by the service they are getting.

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