THE TOP 5 STEPS TO TAKE TO WIN A CLIENT BACK FOR GOOD
Look inside, make changes, and plan to succeed
Winning the client back is not
the ultimate goal. Taking care of the client
so that they never want to leave you again is.
By Michael Wayne
By and large, I don’t believe most of my industry colleagues are big Alfred Lord Tennyson fans. However, many people are familiar with Canto 27 in Tennyson’s poem, In Memoriam:
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
The instances when I have heard a colleague utter the words, “I may have lost that client, but I’m glad I had them at one point,” have been few and far between… if ever. Certainly, there have been times when a client was so problematic that it truly was a relief and blessing to see them go. But for the most part, seeing a client move on to someone else to write their business is painful. If anything, agents go into “win-them-back” mode.
The reasons clients leave are varied—price, service, and unknown among them. Unfortunately, you may have screwed up something so royally that there’s no way a client will have you back. If you’re convinced that you’re the client’s best option, that the relationship is salvageable, and that you are willing to commit to having them as a client once more, here are the top five steps to winning back a client for good.
Step 1: Mind over heart
Shortly after everything goes nuclear, you will likely be driven to fix things and make everything right in the shortest timeframe possible. You’re going to want to call, text, email, and meet until the client breaks down, sees the errors of their ways, and welcomes you back before their next renewal.
In reality, all that does is prove to the client that you are a desperate annoyance who wasn’t paying them the attention their account needed before everything went sideways.
Your heart is going to tell you that you need to be in your client’s thoughts constantly. Don’t listen. Constant bombardment will portray you as needy and begging. Worse yet, you set yourself up to be beholden to their every whim, and you also set yourself up for failure once more when you cannot meet ridiculous, unrealistic demands in servicing them moving forward.
Step 2: Step back
Your former client has made the decision to go with another agent. Let them. Now is the time for you to reflect on what went wrong, evaluate how you could have done things better, and make sure those same scenarios are not jeopardizing your remaining book of business. At this point, you should not be communicating with your former client at all. Every time you reach out, you are reinforcing the memory of what went wrong.
Before jumping back into communication, you need a break to be confident on several fronts: Do you understand fully what happened? Are you sure you have the capability to avoid those errors and have a plan for other potential issues? Do you really want them back as a client?
Before you are ready to reach out to your former client, you need to feel like it would be great to have their business again, not that your book is incomplete without them.
Step 3: Be better
You likely have other clients to worry about and don’t have time to mope about the one client you lost. Instead of focusing all your energy on what you lost, be concerned about what you have. Take stock of how you are serving the needs of your other clients before you lose them as well. Take time to evaluate what you haven’t been doing, what you’ve become sloppy about, what innovations have come along that you have ignored.
There is always room for improvement, and that goes for everyone. This is not a scenario where you need to beat yourself up and wallow in self-pity. This is a wakeup call, big or small, that you have an opportunity to adapt and also to elevate your game and reputation. Show your former client that you are successful without their business and make it abundantly clear to your other clients how you are servicing them so that they want to talk about you positively.
Step 4: Time to fly
While you may not have been actively reaching out to your former client, you should still have been keeping an eye out and working to glean some insight into how things are going. Ideally, pain points have emerged that you have picked up on. Maybe you saw a story in the news that indicated a severe claim. Maybe you still have a relationship with someone on the inside who has reached out to you because of something that happened. Maybe there was a management change.
Regardless, once you have positively and undeniably made necessary improvements to yourself and your service model, and you are mentally ready, the time to reengage with your former client has arrived. Instead of approaching them as a former client, however, you need to think of them as a prospect. You also need to be comfortable in the knowledge that not winning this business will not break you.
Step 5: Set the meeting
Your former client is going to be skeptical when you reach out to them about meeting their broker needs. After all, there’s a reason why they fired you before. Now that you have gotten them to agree to a meeting, which you were able to do by convincing them that you have products and services that could benefit them, they are likely on the lookout for any minor red flag to justify walking away.
Whether you know it or not, everything you are doing and saying at this point is being scrutinized. You are absolutely being judged. You are being tested. Be as prepared as you can to answer questions about the past and provide clarity about what you have changed to ensure pitfalls have been eliminated. This initial conversation should not revolve around you and you winning the business. Instead, it should be about what your former client (prospect) has been experiencing and solutions you have uncovered that may be applicable to their situation.
Be prepared to be rejected and be prepared to see ideas you provided get implemented without any reward. Above all else, be prepared to win the business back and to make good on your promises.
Winning the client back is not the ultimate goal. Taking care of the client so that they never want to leave you again is. Hall of fame speeches don’t begin with, “I just wanted to be in the business,” or, “I just wanted to play this sport.” Likewise, no agent should have the mindset that it is better to have sold and lost than never to have sold at all.
Michael Wayne is an insurance freelance writer.