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Poached: How to Prevent Competitors from Stealing Your Customers

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Poached. It’s great for your eggs, but not so great for your customer base.

If you’re a business owner or salesperson, you’ve probably been poached – by the salesperson who disregards territory lines to cultivate your prospects or the competitor who actively pursues your customers.

The business reality is that almost everyone is someone’s provider or customer, and the business networks of competitors and customers often overlap. Poaching is usually an indication that you’ve been complacent about maintaining your customer relationships. Here are a few tips for keeping your competitors from preying on your customers.

Protect Your LinkedIn Connections

Check the visibility of your connections on your LinkedIn profile, especially if your connections include customers and prospects. If your connections are visible, change the setting so that only you can view your connections. Here’s how:

  • Go to your profile page
  • Click “Me” next to your photo on the top right of the page
  • Click the “Privacy” tab at the top of the screen
  • Click “Who can see your connections”
  • Select “Only You” from the drop-down menu

Browse Your Competitors’ LinkedIn Connections

Review the profiles of key salespeople for your competitors, and look for shared connections with any of your customers or prospects. If you see connections to your customers and prospects, pay close attention to those relationships. You may want to browse these profiles in private mode by changing your settings. From the Privacy tab, click “Profile viewing options,” and select “Private mode.”

Develop a Loyalty Program

A loyalty program can help you to monitor and adjust engagement of your customers with your company.  According to database marketing and loyalty programs provider Epsilon, 80 percent of consumers indicated they are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences.

Pay Attention to Your Customers

A client of mine was invited to a ballgame recently by one of his suppliers. My client was impressed by a sales rep for the company, who spent the entire game with his clients. He personally engaged with each client, one by one. He sat down, bought each client a beer or soft drink and talked with each client for about for 15 minutes. My client observed, “That rep only spent 15 minutes with each person and spent less than $150 on beverages, but that was probably the best money and time he spent all year.”

When you don’t pay attention to your customers, your competitors see an opportunity to offer your customers an alternative. The best way to keep poachers at bay? Give your customers the attention they want, need and deserve.