Gary is having one of those days where he is angry, but also having some self-doubts. One of his biggest accounts just informed him they are switching to another vendor. All of this comes as a great surprise and he knows these events will create a whirlwind of damage control, finger pointing and endless postmortem conversations. His first thought is they are just jerks, but something is nagging at him about how this could happen on his watch.
When it gets to this point, it is all too often the situation is well past the point of no return. The defectors have worked their way through the exit process (possibly right in front of us) without our even recognizing it happening. The response is often to point the finger at anyone but themselves and write it off as evidence that “there just isn't any loyalty anymore”. Gary just isn't willing to admit that he and his team ignored all the signals and let blindness or complacency dictate their approach. His false expectation was that if someone was leaving then they would bring it up before it was fatal.
The Defection / Loss Model has a definitive progression:
Step 1: An event is the catalyst that starts the defection model in motion.
Lack of response to a problem or complaint
Competition knocking at their door
A cross word, a style conflict or a problem with perceived tone
Poorly planned meetings
Step 2: Introspection:
Is this just the tip of the iceberg?
Why is there a struggle about almost everything?
Maybe I should be looking at other options
My agenda always seems less important than theirs.
I deserve more respect than this
Step 3: Due Diligence: It's time to do their homework, so they:
Request copies of contracts and agreements and other documentation to prepare their case.
Start making unreasonable complaints (looking for a reason to quit)
Stall on any activity that implies a renewed commitment
Don't return phone calls or emails
Seriously consider the alternatives and the competition
Step 4: Deciding to defect:
They keep it on the "QT"
Plan their exit strategy and select a replacement vendor
Prepare to SPIN their reasons for leaving
Build their case against you
Make the Announcement
Make it Official
If you are alert and take pro-active action in Step 1 and 2, your chances of saving the situation are still good. Once they move to Step 3, your recovery rate drops considerably and at Step 4 it will take a miracle or a huge concession.
Take a deep look at the important accounts and resources around you and ask yourself what would happen if you didn't have them anymore. Take their pulse and temperature to make sure there isn't any smoke before the fire. Where are they on the 1 to 10 scale? Have you asked "What do we have to do to lose you?" Have you put the "In the Ways" in the way? Have you talked about your "biggest fear"?
How have you handled defectors in the past?
Final Thought for the Morning:
More business is lost every year through neglect than any other cause.
~ Rose F Kennedy
Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.
~ Peter Drucker
Your Top 3 Goals & Tactics for the Week
What were your 3 best outcomes from last week?
What are your 3 most important targets for this week?