Too many small business owners pass on the opportunity to attract their former clients. That’s a mistake. It’s far easier to get back together with a client you’ve lost or had no contact with than to get a new client. Your goal on the phone should be limited: to get a meeting with the former client at which you can pitch to become part of their life once again. The secret to achieving this is to leverage, as much as possible, on any personal relationship or event the two of you shared. Assuming there was a problem that caused your falling out, the former client may still be angry. You response should be to absorb their anger and simply ask for the chance to tell your side of the story and make amends. To do either of those, you’ll need a phone meeting, then a face-to-face meeting if at all possible.
Here are the tactics you need to practice prior to your meeting, in order to attract your former client from your competition:
* Your attitude must be cordial, humble, and if necessary, persistant.
* Before the call, gather as much personal data about the former client and his family as you can. Now is the time to dig through your notes if you don’t remember names and ages. Search Google for your client’s name, and see if any personal information pops up on a Blog somewhere. Also, be prepared to call back since your sudden reappearance may surprise them initially.
*On Tuesday through Friday, try to call either before 9 A.M. or after 5 P.M. Do not try to resurrect them on a Monday. Also, don’t call the former client at home or on the weekend.You’ll get the most civil responses during normal working hours when they are at the office.
*Prepare your behavior to absorb some anger. If possible, imply that your request to reconnect with them is a modest one. You could even offer to bring bagels for the office during a morning meeting, or offer to take them out to dinner.
*For your phone icebreaker you could say, “How are you? I ran into our friend Jane Doe yesterday and it got me thinking about you. I’m just calling to patch things up and see how you and your family are doing. I hope I’m not calling at a bad time?”
The key points to remember are:
If it’s a bad time for your former client, then tell them you will call them back later in the week.
If they are still angry, then absorb the anger and say, “You know, I understand your anger. I hope one day you’ll be able to sit down with me over a cup of coffee and hear my side of the story. Sorry for troubling you.”
If it’s a good time for them to talk, then make amends by saying, “That’s another reason for this call. I’d like to try to work with you again. I think we could really be of help to each other. Are you available next Wednesday to meet for breakfast or dinner”
You can re-use these great tactics to rekindle a dorment relationship for business networking purposes. Or, you can tell a former client about a new product or service you are offering. Either way, you will earn the respect of your former client.