CEO, TimeLinx Software, Inc.
Project & Service Automation
Let's consider this situation from a couple of perspectives. It could be that the corporate project manager who you thought was helping land a large project decided not to choose you. Or maybe you were working with a consultant trying to land a client for a one-off project, and the client who initially seemed very interested walked away away after a few rounds of negotiations. You're thinking "they are walking away from a great opportunity over $2500... What cheapskates!". I just had that happen to me about 5 minutes ago for the umpteenth time, and every time you want to yell back at them "your loss!". But you don't, of course. You realize that somewhere along the line you failed to show that the return on investment of your offering was best. Ultimately, that's on you.
So what do you do? Here are a few ways you can try to earn back that potential project or the client that went away. I've used these to successfully... and you can as well.
Show them proven success. Show them how you've managed similar project budgets before. Show them the task and time management tools you used to capture critical data on projects accurately and efficiently and how that translates to good project management and high percentages of project success. Customers are always - ALWAYS - concerned about the financial side of the project. Show them you are "on it."
Give them something of noticeable value for free. Anyone can toss in a meaningless freebie. But you're reading this because you're interested in getting back a client of importance. So give them something good such as a valuable deliverable, an assessment, a review of the project plan for free. Put some thought and effort into what would be appreciated by the client and demonstrate your skills at the same time. Just don't give away so much that your project proposal is now not profitable. This should not be articulated as a discount, either, or they will ask for price consideration every time thereafter.
Be persistent. You must walk the fine line between persistence and annoyance. Know and recognize the difference and look for signs of irritation. Back off if you see that getting them onboard for this project will never happen. But I've had several project customers tell me that they liked and admired my persistence and eventually chose my project management skills or consulting services because they knew I was out there and could handle what they needed right away. Keeping in touch with newsletters, helpful tips, or forwarded articles show your interested in working with them in the future.
Always follow through. Beyond persistence and the freebies is the follow through. If you said you were going to get a revised proposal to them by next Tuesday, don't miss that date. Missing a meaningful date will reinforce their original position to bypass your offer. Give them no new or additional reasons to reject you – make your promptness, persistence and accuracy make them want to do business with you.
Summary / call for input
The bottom line is this... you can't make a client choose you. But if you offer enough and show enough value, it's likely that they will eventually give your services or project expertise a go. The effort may have outweighed the value of the agreement you eventually enter into so you have to be careful there and know when to walk away. It's always your call.
Readers – what's your take? What measures have you taken to gain or win back a lost client? Please share and discuss.