Do You Wonder Why Good Clients Suddenly Stop Coming Back?

A new client (we’ll call her Jessica) recently came to me with a concern that she was delivering a service she was so convinced was a market need, yet clients who she expected to be flocking to her in droves were somewhat lukewarm, and other good clients would suddenly stop returning yet seemed happy with her service. We spoke about the importance of identifying her market sweet spot, the full discussion of which will be a topic for another day, but when I walked her through my “Buy It” chart, her eyes lit up with understanding.

The Buy It chart provides a simple view of what it takes for clients to purchase products or services. Clearly, if a client needs something, wants it and can afford it, they will buy it. My car just died so I NEED a new car, I WANT a BMW, I can AFFORD a BMW so I BUY the BMW. Now clearly if I can’t afford the BMW, I will fall into the second line of the chart where even though I need it and want it I won’t buy it, putting aside foolish decisions sometimes made by clients digging a little too deep into credit to make purchases.

Luxury purchases typically fall into the third line of the chart. I certainly don’t NEED another pair of shoes but I see a pair that I love so I WANT them, and since I can AFFORD them I will happily BUY them. One could argue that I didn’t really NEED the BMW, only a replacement form of transportation so there is certainly an aspect of that purchase which falls into this category also.  Think about how luxury goods are typically marketed.  You won’t see a woman going from barefoot to a pair of Gucci shoes, unless she was barefoot on her yacht in Monaco.

Jessica’s business was suffering from the category on the fourth line of the chart. She offers natural wellness services of such a high quality and incorporating such high end remedies that to make a living she needs to charge comparatively more than a number of other practitioners who deliver a similar service but of somewhat lower quality and impact. Clients she treated were very pleased with their results but after a relatively short number of sessions did not return and she was not sure why. It wasn’t that they couldn’t afford her. They were from upper middle class neighborhoods, drove nice cars and paid with platinum cards so they seemed to be well off. Other individuals from the area spoke enthusiastically about the importance of natural wellness yet never became paying clients.

As with every consulting engagement I like to start from the client’s clients and work my way in toward a strategy. I helped Jessica with a set of compelling questions she could use to interview her top clients (we sorted through who they should be) and get to the bottom of why they were not returning. We also spoke with potential clients about Jessica’s services to understand why they were so passionate about what she did yet were not buying from her. While each business will be different, in Jessica’s case it turned out that her paying clients would reach a point in their treatment where they began to feel better so at that point no longer WANTED to spend the time and money on services which no longer seemed to be of value. Despite the fact that technically they still NEEDED to continue in order to lock in long term results, they did not internalize that need and so stopped coming. Most of the potential clients were indeed passionate about natural health, certainly NEEDED to take steps to maintain their health, yet without a serious health issue to deal with at the time, they simply did not feel motivated to spend time or money on Jessica’s services. With this knowledge in hand, we put together a strategy for Jessica’s business that would allow her to not only help current clients to WANT her services for a sufficient length of time to lock in long term results rather than short term, but we also found ways to better position her services to create WANT with potential clients.  Or to put it more accurately, we identifed the sweet spot she could use to position her services in such a way as to align with the WANT those clients really had all along.

Are you going through a bit of a dry spell with your business? Do you wonder why good clients suddenly stop returning? Then it is time to critically evaluate your products or services against the Buy It chart. Are they aligned with client behavior that will lead to dollar signs?