Lost OpportunityHave you ever been a lost opportunity? This story is about a vendor that was approached with a request for quote. Truly a good sales opportunity is where the customer finds you. No prospecting, just find out the pain point, position and convey a value-based price. Be responsive and the sale is made.

This Story

A sales person had recently left a firm. A senior executive had the former employee’s email forwarded to him. A current customer wanted to purchase services from the vendor firm. The VP did not have the time to be responsive. That was the first error. Former sales employee’s email should be forwarded to a responsive sales manager. Perhaps it was beneath the VP’s pay grade.

Selling products and services – and selling brand – is everyone’s job.

In this story days went by. Then the VP emailed to set a sales phone call the following week. The VP missed the call. That was the second error. No email, no request to reschedule, no follow-up apology for missing the outlook calendar event – nothing. Two more weeks went by.

Another contact was called to ask, “what’s up?”  He shared an apology from their delivery team, and let on that there was a developing service gap. The other contact inadvertently revealed that the unresponsive VP had contributed to the exodus of several people at the company, as well as customers. Everyone recognized the collateral damage this VP was doing. Frustrated, they shared the truth with customers. Is that wrong? Yes.

The other contact said she would try to motivate the VP to call. An email was received another week later saying, “let’s schedule a time.” By then another vendor is actively engaged. The customer has goals and deadlines to meet. The customer’s response to the VP’s late email says that another vendor is now submitting a quote.

Opportunity Lost or Found

The senior executive now has two options. A better senior executive takes action. He would pick up the phone immediately, apologize with out excuse for his error and solve the problem immediately. A lesser senior executive hides. He sends a rationalizing email with excuses, and even suggests it was the customer who  missed the appointment.

The lesser VP does not work to win-back the business. He dismisses it saying, “good luck with the other vendor.” There’s only one way for a customer to take this lesser response. That the VP is not interested in meeting their needs in a brand driving customer experience.

I like to call the better executive’s approach to solving the problem: “the Nordstrom approach.” Call now, put immediate action in gear to ensure that the situation is resolved and that the vendor’s brand is protected.

How many times does it happen that a Senior VP thinks that participating and engaging with customers is below their pay grade? What will happen to the referral business this client had been sending the vendor?  what will happen if they are asked to complete a survey, or Google review?

For opportunity, it’s never below anyone’s pay grade. As the old Chinese proverb goes, “There are three things that cannot be recalled; a spent arrow, a spoken (broken) word, a lost opportunity.”

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