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Win Back Your Old Clients

How many clients have you served in your career? How many of those clients no longer do business with you? How many of those relationships would you like to win back?

I know you are good at what you do but, at some point, everyone loses a client. Fortunately, only a small percentage of trusted advisors make the effort to win back lost business.

I believe there are 5 reasons you stop working with a client:

  1. You terminate the client – These are unprofitable, unprofessional or unethical clients that you choose not to serve.

  2. The client terminates you – These are profitable clients that you want to serve but your and/or your organization’s performance did not meet the client’s expectations or standards.

  3. You lost the client to a competitor – Another firm had a superior value proposition or reputation and they took your client away from you.

  4. You lost the client because of your fee – A competitor won the business because they were the low-cost option.

  5. Your client makes a transition – The business was lost because your main contact moved to another organization, changed their responsibilities, sold their company or retired.

Lost clients are not a lost cause. In fact, recapturing an old client is often easier, quicker and more profitable than trying to close a new relationship.

What can you do today to reconnect with someone you served in the past?

The following client recovery process should not take a lot of your time:

  1. Do some research on the individuals and organizations you want to serve again. Identify why those clients stopped doing business with you and how you can add value to them in the future. (Be aware the reason you think the client left may not be completely correct.)

  2. Make a phone call or express your interest in reconnecting with them. Establish rapport and find common ground before you talk business.

  3. If appropriate, ask the client why he/she left your firm and really listen to their answer. It won’t do you any good to get defensive or try to make excuses about the reason they gave for leaving. Keep asking open-ended questions and listening until you get an accurate understanding of their point of view.

  4. Express your desire to be their trusted advisor again.

  5. Ask for the opportunity to earn the right to do business with them in the future and suggest several dates for the two of you to meet face to face.

Every client situation is different. I do not suggest following a one-size-fits-all approach to the re-acquisition of an old client. If you have a sincere desire to rebuild the relationship, you will say and do the right thing. Your efforts will either win back the client in the short term or, at the very least, you will have opened the door to doing business with them in the future.

Take some time today to create a strategy to regain clients who have paid for your services in the past.

You will dramatically increase your odds of building a thriving business if you take positive action every week to win back old clients.

Let’s Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin


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