We spoke recently with a reporter who was looking for insights into how to regain lost clients. What techniques would be most effective and what would the timeline be? How would one address the issues that led to the loss, and how could confidence be regained?

Client loyalty ain’t what it used to be, so the topic of account retention is particularly timely. However, the most relevant questions when a client leaves are not necessarily tied to winning them back. More important, in our view, is the question of whether we want them back in the first place.

As regular readers know, the Quadrant Five discipline emphasizes the identification, care and retention of A-List Clients. A company built around its A-List will be inherently more profitable, less risky and more valuable than its peers.

There’s nothing wrong with losing a customer, if it’s the right customer and it’s lost on the vendor’s timetable. It’s a major failing, however, when an A-List customer leaves. Knowing which is which can make all the difference.

In most companies we’ve worked with, a handful of customers provide most or all, or more than 100% of a company’s profitability. Of course, as we discussed in our 120/20 Rule post a few months ago, a single group of customers can’t provide more than 100% of earnings unless another group is being served at a loss.

When clients are unprofitable, it’s important to understand why this is the case, and whether/how to correct it. Some clients might appear unprofitable at first glance, but actually deliver a satisfactory return when all factors are considered. Others are unprofitable for reasons created by the company, such as overly aggressive bidding or over-servicing the account. These clients might be salvageable through steps that lead to a profitable relationship.

In other cases, clients might appear profitable, but prove to be a drain when all factors are considered. A toxic client that drives staff defections creates employee recruitment/retention costs that should properly be assigned to their individual P&L.

If a company does an appropriate analysis and a client turns out to be irretrievably unprofitable, management can implement a number of steps to reduce losses and encourage a friendly departure. The action plan could include price increases or strict adherence to protocols on service levels and receivables, for example. It’s best to handle this process on a transparent basis, when possible, so that the departing client feels he/she was treated with respect and without business disruptions. One never knows when today’s unprofitable client will become tomorrow’s desirable target, or when the primary contact person at an unprofitable account will be hired by a profitable prospect.

Regaining a lost client can be a long process and it usually requires consistent, strategic effort. There’s no issue, though, when a company loses clients on its own schedule, working from its own priority list.


Quadrant Five taps the full potential of strategic customer relationships to build both today’s profitability and tomorrow’s exit value. We make the critical connection between internal financial drivers and the value perceptions of A-List customers, generating returns for clients who must:

  • Identify the shortest path to stronger profitability.
  • Build enterprise value in advance of a liquidity event.
  • Develop a strategic plan that can be implemented successfully.
  • Perform customer/market due diligence on an acquisition target.
  • Accelerate profitable integration of a merged business.
  • Protect against customer turnover or lost sales.
  • Recoup the cash that is wasted on unprofitable marketing/sales initiatives.

To learn more, please contact Michael Rosenbaum ( or visit our website (



Written by Michael Rosenbaum on April 10th, 2016. Posted in Performance Improvement, Strategic Insights

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