In 1922, Tristan Bernard wrote that "Men are always sincere. They change sincerities, that's all."
Was he writing about product preferences? He may as well have been. People make decisions to buy from you or your competitors for a variety of reasons. In fact, I'd submit to you that there's nothing quite so irrational as the decision to make a purchase (that goes for complex, B2B Sales, too).
But, perhaps a better question is why do they stop buying from you?
What makes buyers change loyalty? Why might someone buy from you one day and not the next? Here are a few thoughts:
- New boss
- Budget loss
- Cutting of costs
- Your contact gets tossed
- You fail
- Your offering fails
- Your company fails
- The quality lacks
- The service is slack
- There's a lower price
- Bad delivery
- There's a better salesperson out there.
How best to combat a fickle customer? Obviously, it depends on the reason for the change. But the most critical first step is information. The sooner you're aware of (1) the fact that they're thinking of changing and (2) the cause of their disatisfaction, the better. Of course, then you've got to act!
Traditional sales training tells you that dissatisfaction with a current supplier is a great time for a salesperson to pounce! But, the inverse is equally true. You'd better know as soon as possible when a current customer is considering leaving you.