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Surprised When Your Longtime Customer Walks?

The Situation

Ramon sells industrial hardware to manufacturers. Karen has been a longtime, steady customer. The two don’t have a contractual agreement, but like clockwork, every two months Karen purchases a good-sized order of basic hardware for assembling her company’s deck furniture.

Once in a while, Ramon gives Karen a call when he has some new products that might interest her. He always ends his conversations with, “If you have any problems or need anything else, let me know.”

Out of the Blue?

The other day, Ramon contacted Karen, and she said:

Karen: I’m glad you called, Ramon. I was going to let you know that after this next order, we’re going with BigTown Steel for our hardware.
Ramon: Wow! Karen…this is so out of nowhere! I wish I had a chance to match whatever offer you got from them. I mean, you seemed happy with us. You could have talked to me if there was a problem.

What Went Wrong?

And so it went — Ramon flabbergasted, Karen trying to explain, but also uncomfortable having a drawn-out conversation at this point.

You may shake your head and decide that Ramon must have been Q2 complacent. But he had checked in with Karen regularly. What would a Q4 collaborative salesperson have done differently to avoid this kind of shocker?

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