Years ago a repeat client of mine asked me to provide a proposal for a much coveted project. I never knew it was a bid situation ... silly me; I didn't ask. (Lesson One: ALWAYS "ask"). My client informed me that he had decided ... yes, you have heard this, too, haven't you? ... to go in another direction. Translated: you didn't win this piece of business. My reaction? I went into mourning. Life came to a halt as I repeatedly questioned myself with "what did I do wrong? or "what could I have done better? Those questions haunted me for days, and they would have haunted me a lot longer had I not had an eye-opening conversation with my friend, John Wood.
When I told John about my great loss, his response was (in a nutshell), "move on. Don't dwell on this job or you'll just be exuding negative energy. Put your time and effort into finding a great new client and a fabulous new project." He told me this because that's what HE did. He closed one door in order to open new ones.
There are so many politics (personal and professional) involved when bidding on a job. Like a good suit, sometimes it's just finding the right fit. Or like a good meal, the right recipe. It's not that yours is bad; it's just that another one fits the bill better at that time.
Okay, that's all very philosophical. But what are practical and action steps? You just received THE CALL ... or email ... or in today's world, rejection by text. Oh, the dreaded rejection. Do you just accept it? Well, don't.
So, How Do You Deal with It?1. Find out if that door is really slammed shut. Has a contract been signed with another company? If not, ASK for the business and sell yourself by being the consummate professional you are. Ask probing questions and look for the needs of your potential client and then offer specific answers to those needs. NEVER undermine a competitor, just state your value and your commitment to being a team player who sincerely wants their business and believes you are the best fit. Sometimes this will salvage a project; other times it won't.
2. Okay, the door IS definitely slammed. Do you forget about this project? NEVER! But you don't spend time mourning. You throw your hat in the ring for the next time with them, and then you move on, putting all your positive energy into new clients and new projects.
3. At this point I can hear the "easily said, but not easily done," because your ego and your wallet are at stake. Look at it this way. Put away thoughts of the client who didn't value your offer and put all of your energy into the client who will. Look at it this way; you are no longer wasting the time that can be put toward finding someone who appreciates your talent and skills. That's a true positive, isn't it? It is the ultimate opportunity. One client has actually opened up the door for you to spend time with another that you might have missed had you not been rejected.
4. A lesson in perseverance. Thank you, Janet Elkins of EventWorks. When she was receiving an award for an event she created and produced for a Chinese client, she told me that she had called him only to be told that the bid for the project was no longer open but if she was ever "in the area" she should call on him for the future. Janet didn't take that as a no, so she and her team flew to Hong Kong to meet the client and present their capabilities. The client re-opened the door, and ultimately Janet and her company were awarded the business, did an amazing job, and now have a long-standing relationship.
I learned from that, and when the opportunity for a major project came up I invested time and money to fly half-way across the world to show my level of commitment to a project that I coveted. It went a long way to ultimately winning a major piece of business for me. Again, Janet, thank you. I am never too old to learn.
So, my friends, in all of this, what is the lesson? It's all in how you look at things ... it's attitude ... the choice is always yours to make. Sometimes detours make the best sightseeing.
Andrea Michaels is the founder/President of multiple award-winning Extraordinary Events and the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower –Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. To learn more about her and her company, visit http://www.extraordinaryevents.net. Andrea may be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.