“68% of customers leave as a result of perceived indifference”

By Tony Picciano

This is a frequently quoted statistic from CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) that originated from a study conducted in 2008 by John Gattorna – a visiting professor at Macquarie Graduate School of Management.  (Information sourced from CSAT website)

The following figures were published on why businesses lose customers:

  • 4% Natural attrition (e.g., moved away, passed on, etc)
  • 5% Referred to a competitor by their friend
  • 9% Competitive reasons (e.g., price)
  • 14% Product/service dissatisfaction
  • 68% Perceived indifference

A staggering statistic that 68% leave because of perceived indifference! When you combine – what I will call – the perceived reasons (excuses?) from the sales team of why customers leave (the info on the CRM) – competitive reasons (price – 9%) and product / service dissatisfaction (14%) are the most cited in my experience. Indifference (68%) is 3x more likely the reason that an account is lost than the reasons usually cited in CRM’s.  (Have you ever heard, read or written this: “I lost the account because I ignored them and did not call on them for the past 8 months. They apparently don’t like to be ignored.”)

This statistic is a two-edged sword. A defensive edge and an offensive edge.

Offensive edge: If your title includes the word “sales” in it, at least 50% of your time should be devoted to acquiring new business. When making prospect calls, have the mindset that the chances are that the prospect you are contacting has a high probability that their current vendor is indifferent about their relationship. They most likely will not come out and tell you this as soon as you contact them.  So – how do you surface that problem? Discovery and asking the right questions.

  • Your discovery process needs to uncover both overt and covert problems – framing your discovery questions around their degree of satisfaction with their current vendor would be a great idea.
  • Differentiate (position) yourself and company from the entrenched indifferent competitor (the devil the prospect knows). Answer the prospect’s top of mind question(s): “Why are you different?” “Why should I do business with you?” “So what?”
  • Provide proof of your differentiation. Case studies, references, involve other team members…etc.

See below ideas: From my eBook “Top Sales Success Reference Guide to Discovery Questions”


Question phrasing is key to asking impactful questions. Do not ask questions in such a way that would potentially undermine your efforts to win your prospect’s business. Don’t just ask your prospect “What do you like about your current supplier?” What if they are extremely happy with them and rattle off all of the great things, they do for them. Try to avoid asking a question that you don’t have an idea of what the answer would be. (Law school 101 – never ask a question that you don’t know the answer to…) There are better ways to get the information without undermining your efforts. “Would you share with me the ideal qualities you look for in a vendor?”

  • “How does your ideal situation compare to your current situation?”
  • “When you originally selected this vendor, what were your selection criteria? In what ways have your criteria changed as you evaluate your needs today? What would you like to see happen in the future?”
  • “If you could enhance one thing about your vendor’s qualities, what would that be?”
  • How would you rate your current vendor relationship on a scale of 1 to 10? (When the customer states a number, urge her to elaborate.)

Defensive edge:  What about the other 50% of your sales time?  Knowledge is power.  Knowing that the odds of a current account leaving are because of a perception of indifference, YOU and YOUR team can control how you treat and service your customer.  This activity is well within your Circle of Influence.  Current customer management is extremely important.

  • Be proactive with the customers that you have long term relationships with.  Here is a simple question to ask a long-term customer to solidify the relationship:
    • What do you feel we/I am doing right to sustain our business relationship? (Proactive with current accounts – see additional question ideas below).
    • How about sincerely saying “thank you for your business”.
    • Have the attitude of every night is opening night.
  • When reacting to current customers – Respond with a sense of urgency.

See below ideas: From my eBook “Top Sales Success Reference Guide to Discovery Questions”


The majority of business relationships that end is the result of the customer being indifferent toward their supplier. In other words, both the seller and customer take each other for granted and see no value in the relationship.   A sales strategy that every Business-to-Business sales entity must have is to earn more “spend” from current customers.  The dynamics that exist in current and especially long-term relationships is a fascinating topic that will be detailed another time. The next set of questions work best when you already have a relationship in place and want to take the next steps in growing and expanding your business with them. Being proactive to uncover and discover what your current customer’s issues or feelings are before your competitor does is key to solidifying your relationship.  Ask the following:

  • What do you feel we/I am doing right to sustain our business relationship?
  • What could we be doing differently in order to ensure that you achieve your goals? What should we do more of? Less of?
  • Are you pleased with your company’s sales performance? Profit performance? Would you be interested in exploring new income opportunities?
  • What is most important to you for us to keep focused on your objectives?
  • If you could enhance one thing about our business relationship. What might that be?
  • How can I make your life easier?
  • If a prospective customer were to ask you to explain why you do business with us, in 10 words or less, how would you respond?

Key takeaways:

  • Be proactive with current accounts.
  • Have confidence when prospecting that you can offer a solution to the prospect’s current vendor’s indifference to their business.
  • Relationship building never stops.


Please share your thoughts and insights!

Copyright 2021 by Anthony A. Picciano All rights reserved



Tony Picciano is the founder of Top Sales Success Group. TSS is the result of the unique experience and lifelong ambition of Tony. For over forty years, Tony has worked in sales and sales management with a wide range of businesses from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Tony is not only a sales expert, but also a marketing practitioner with expertise in strategic planning, new product development, new business launches, and collateral material development.


EMAIL: Tony@Topsalessuccess.com

PHONE: 440-497-0335

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