It happens to all of us.
When it seems like a great business deal is on the horizon and then - all of a sudden - that horizon disappears and we're smacked in the face with a, "Thanks, but no thanks," it can be difficult to wipe the look of surprise off our faces and end with a genuine smile of gratitude.
But, just because closing a business deal wasn't in the cards for you today, it doesn't mean you can't carry on tomorrow. Here are four thoughts on how to cope with losing a client.
Remember: Defeat Is an Education
If you consider all business deals to be an educational opportunity, then you're well-primed for a lifetime of success. We don't just learn from the deals we close. The defeats teach us a thing or two about life, too.
When the deal falls flat, remember this: defeat is but an education. Gather together with your trusted colleagues, and pull out what you did well in the deal (also known as an after-action review process) and what you can improve upon for the next pitch.
Use This Time to Remain Professional
When you receive the bad news, don't delete the e-mail or slam the phone down. Use this as an opportunity to flex your professional muscles and demonstrate gratitude, not frustration.
Thank the potential client for all their time. Express your gratitude for what they've shown you about X,Y, or Z throughout the process.
Encourage them to remain in contact, should they ever require your services in the future. Reiterate the fact that you'd be glad to work with them at any time. Most of all, wish them (genuine) success as they move forward with their business.
Find the Sliver of Light
Ask yourself this question. Did you really want to work with that client, anyway? Would the workload have been fulfilling? Did you connect with the people? If you can't immediately answer yes, then it's time to breathe a deep sigh of relief.
In fact, you may have dodged a bullet! What if that client became one of those "problem clients" and started to suck the life out of you? More to the point, the loss of that client - whether you truly wanted them or not - has left your plate open for the next big (and right) thing.
Hit the Pavement
Whatever you do, don't strike up the band for a pity party. What will wallowing do? It won't force the client to change their mind.
The best you can do is call an internal meeting to see what you did well and what you can improve upon. Then, shake the dirt off your loafers, start the bidding process again, and wait for the bigger, shinier fish to swim downstream.
End Every Business Deal Right
If you want to split hairs, then you could say that I've been using the wrong verbiage here. You can't "lose" a business deal. Rather, you can let the wrong opportunities pass you by so that the right opportunities can come knocking on your door next week.
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agency and My Big Idea®. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.