Client Rejection – Why No Means Nothing
We’ve all had it happen before – you put a ton of work into a fantastic idea, proposal, and/or meeting with an awesome potential client and it goes swimmingly. You’re excited, they’re excited, you’re even more excited since they’re excited. The endless cycle of excitement is the best right? When this situation has a fairytale ending paved with productivity, a portfolio builder and some cash, it’s awesome!
But, how many times has that excitement turned into disappointment when further talks go nowhere? Next thing you know, the client has simply said “No” or “Sorry, we’re no longer doing this project” or even the classic, “We’re going with someone else on this one”? Well, whether you’re in digital design, marketing, or any sort of sales, it has probably happened more times than you count. The client rejection is the nature of the beast, but what does a rejection really mean? No means no, or does it?
You can take “No” the way everyone else does…
Taking a “No” as if it means “No” goes something like this: The client opportunity falls through, and you inform your support system. You know, friends, family, Twitter, your significant other, whoever. Your friends and family will tell you it probably has nothing to do with you and that the rejection happened for a reason. Your colleagues will tell you that the client wasn’t worth working with anyway and that your time is coming.
As laughable as it is, your significant other will be the one to come up with as many negative things to say about that potential client no matter how ridiculous they might be – come on, admit it, you’ve been there! Some of what your support system tells you will be true however, most of it is just a pillow for your ego to land on. Oh well, they said “No”, right? Wrong.
You can take another “No” approach…
Similar to how a toddler takes the answer “No” and finds a way to change the answer, there is an approach that seem crazy but can seriously work. The approach? Ignore the word “No”. What does this mean? Well, it doesn’t exactly mean ignoring the word “no” and doing the client work anyways without their consent – it means, “try again”. They’ve said no to your first plan, so you’re going to send them something new.
You’ve already poured hours upon hours into the proposal, so simply send them something adjusted based on their reason for “no” or your gut feeling for what went wrong. If they actually liked your proposal but it was something as simple as budget, see where you can cut costs, and send them a new revision. If it was relevant references, see where you can dig up some more references through clients of clients or even someone you might have missed. If it was a portfolio problem, see where you can respond with other capabilities or more work that might weigh on their decision. If you feel like the client felt you were not capable, send them a compelling one-pager addressing their concern upfront and prove yourself.
Did I mention budget? Sometimes, the budget can “fix” other problems, if you know what I mean. If you were too expensive and the portfolio simply can’t justify, but your idea was really solid, you may find that the client is more willing to take a small risk at your lowered pricing. Cutting monetary corners isn’t just something you can do as a offensive move – cutting monetary corners is a defensive move potential clients can do to get the job done at a lower risk from a 2nd choice contractor.
Nothing to lose, everything to gain
As mentioned above, you’ve already put the work in, so what do you have to lose? The only thing you need to do is figure out a new approach and give it another shot. What’s an hour of contemplating your bottom line, making a few calls, or putting a couple more pieces together? Certainly don’t try a second time if you were certainly off-base, but don’t miss an opportunity to make things right if you felt like you were almost there. With nothing to lose, you’d be making a huge mistake and missing an even bigger opportunity by not trying again. The worst that could happen is another “No” which you’ve already digested once – is it really going to hurt the 2nd time? The best that could happen is that you’ve got another client under your belt and a huge opportunity to prove yourself.
The odds of success
Ignoring “No” and trying again does not mean you’re betting on a sure thing. In fact, you might not even get a response. It’s more like a game of roulette – it’s a black (let’s talk), a red (another no), or a green (straight up yes). If you know about roulette, you’ll know hitting green is rare, but hitting black is nearly 50-50. If your services or ideas were spot on and the potential client has a lot of candidates to chose from, you’ve got a great shot.
You’ll find that more often than not, a client is willing to listen if you got something new to show them especially if they liked you. Like your family said, it’s nothing personal – they should give you a 2nd listen. Take a chance. Your odds are great, in fact, not sending a 2nd try is just as bad as not sending a first.