Treasure trove in sales

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Dormant accounts might yield gold
Maybe they were left over from a former sales rep, several years removed. Maybe they were dissatisfied with the service your company or a former rep provided. Maybe other priorities took over, and those accounts that were small buyers at the time grew into large accounts – for your competitor.
They’re dormant accounts: one-time customers who haven’t been contacted in six months, or a year, or even longer.
And they’re filled with opportunity.
There are two main reasons that dormant accounts exist: 1)The salesrep left and, during the transition period, the customer was ignored while larger customers got all the attention, or 2) a problem occurred with your company that was never fully resolved.
Solving either type often begins with a phone call. Sometimes there’s been turnover at both companies, and the customer’s new buyer doesn’t recall a problem. You’re the first contact the account has received from your company. On those calls, mention that you’ve worked together in the past “before either one of you was in your current position,” then get the prospect talking about current and future needs. Forget the past.
Sometimes, as perfect as we all try to be, mistakes are made, or we just can’t live up to the expectations of a customer. We’d like to have those situations forgotten, too.
The best approach is to call the decision-maker, introduce yourself, and pave your way to the future. Mention that you know there was a problem in the past, but that your job is to meet current and future needs. Then ask an open-ended, needs-based question. The sooner the prospect starts telling you about his or her needs, the sooner you can both move ahead and leave the past where it belongs.
In either case, avoid pointing the finger of blame at a former employee, especially by name. If the customer asks, explain the situation briefly and without emotion.
Keep it subtle. The message will get through, and you’ll be respected.
There really is gold in those dormant accounts. All you have to do is dig.
Joe Guertin is an Oak Creek-based speaker, trainer and consultant. Small Business Times readers can contact him at 762-2450, or by e-mail at
Ten tips
For Reactivating Dormant Accounts
1 Uncover past problems. Know about past situations before you call
2 Avoid blaming former employees. It hurts your own credibility
3 Don’t dwell on the past. Customers usually won’t, either
4 Be “customer-focused.” Never say, “I’ve been assigned to your account”
5 Offer a “service guarantee.” To put past concerns to rest
6 Expect reactivating to take time. You’re earning the prospect’s trust
7 Remain upbeat. Don’t sound dejected by past mistakes
8 Defuse old “grudges.” Offer to bury the hatchet
9 Make a fresh start offer. Tell the prospect you’ll work hard for his or her business
10 Take action.

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