Have you ever submitted a proposal to a potential client after spending hours and hours poring over the details, considering the impact of your work on their bottom line – before, during and after completion of the initiative? You finally worked up the courage to press “send,” let out a long overdue breath of air and waited, and waited, and waited for the reply? Did the reply come in a timely manner or did you have to “circle back just to check in” to see where things were in the process? If you did receive a response to your follow up, did you win the business (hooray!) or get a perfunctory, “we’ve gone a different direction?” Harrumph.
I can tell you, having been the recipient of both types of responses, the response in the affirmative, “Yes! We look forward to working with you,” is a whole lot more satisfying than, “we’ve gone a different direction.” More than simply not getting the gig, the trouble with the latter is that it leaves one wanting. Wanting for an explanation. Wanting an understanding of what went wrong (if anything). Wanting another chance to get it right. Whether it was about the process or the output or the explanation of services or the price tag, it sure helps to have some direct feedback so you have a better chance of winning the bid next time around.
Take these ideas into consideration:
- Say “Thank You.” OK, so you were not the victorious candidate. Despite your disappointment, express your appreciation for having been in the consideration set to begin with by thanking the prospect. You never know… the level of professionalism you demonstrate this time may get you a seat at the table next time.
- Ask for Feedback. Though you may not get a response, be sure to ask for direct feedback from the client. By opening the door to input, they may feel you’ve granted them permission to be frank with you about where your proposal fell short. Listen and do your best to learn from the situation. It could help you to improve your recommendation for the next prospective client. Note, if the prospect does provide you with feedback, don’t forget that this is a courtesy, a gift to you, a valuable insight. Take it for what it’s worth and do not try to carry on with the sale… move on. In fact…
- Don’t Wallow. Sure, it’s a bummer not to get the deal. Do the requisite amount of grieving (maybe limit yourself to a few minutes and a good venting session with a trusted friend or colleague), then move on. Time to get out there and do business with someone else for whom you have immense value to provide.
And, remember above all else… you’re one “no” closer to a “yes!”
Separately, if you’re the one on the other side of the table, don’t forget what it feels like to receive that message that says, “we’ve gone a different direction.” Do your best to provide a more constructive, respectful response commensurate with the amount of time the person or organization put into making their proposal to you.