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My Client Rejected My Proposal!

Rejected by clients

Whether it’s an existing client or a potential one, being rejected hurts. But sometimes it’s for the best.

I’ve been rejected by potential clients for various reasons. Cost. Not understanding the value. One woman said she didn’t like the tone of my blog posts. C’est la vie.

Shouldn’t I change to get sales?

I used to try to compensate for the those rejections. I tried changing the tone of my blog posts to the point that it wasn’t even me writing anymore. Or I would go down in price to avoid rejection for cost of services.

But the thing is, if I am not my authentic self as a business owner, then who am I? And if I leave it up to others to decide my value and my pricing, everything would be free and I would never be respected!

I was losing my sense of self, my sense of value in my work, my sense of purpose, and of my personal values. In the end, I was unhappy and going broke.

It is difficult to be rejected. It feels personal and it feels like it’s my fault. If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you have experienced rejection.

Perhaps you heard the grievance of a customer and it didn’t bother you. You heard what they said, decided whether it called for a change or not, and if it did, you made the change and moved on. Fantastic! That’s how it should be.

But rejection stings.

Rejection comes with a growing business.

The fact is, you will not please everyone. Not everyone will like you (whether it be you personally or your business). And that is okay. In fact, it will be a regular experience in your business life and you have to come to terms with it.

If you were to go by the 1 percent rule, you have to make 100 sales calls/touches to get 1 person to even give you the opportunity to present your proposal to them. That’s 99 rejections. Yup. Rejection is an integral part of owning a business and if you’re not being rejected, you’re probably not growing.

A sales rejection can be a good thing.

If someone rejects you, perhaps they are not your ideal client. I guess that seems to go without saying, but I’m saying it. Think about it. They may have just saved you hours of grief trying to make that relationship work – at your expense. I will also say, that sometimes they come back. They may not have been ready to hear about your service when you first contacted them, but then when the time is right, they call.

What if an existing client rejects me?

STORY: I had a high-level client with whom I got along famously. We worked well together, and they loved my service. But one July I went on a very rare vacation to visit my sister in Hawaii for a week. I announced this to them and said I would periodically be checking emails and could do a little work while away. Mind you their project was not rush work.

During my visit, they proceeded to email me every day with edits and page additions they wanted done immediately. I started devoting my vacation time to work.

It’s a long story but ultimately they decided I wasn’t reliable enough nor was I “nearly as good as they thought” up to that point.

Why did this happen? Why was I great before but not so much now?

Because I didn’t set boundaries.

I deserved a vacation, and as my own boss I knew I hadn’t had one for a long time. I really needed that down time. But I ultimately let myself and the client down. I let them think I could work for them during this time, and I made myself work on my vacation. Both of which were wrong.

I was so angry. I was angry at them for not respecting me, my vacation, and all the work I had been doing for them. And I was mad at myself for letting it get that far.

Set boundaries and stick to them.

Ultimately, it was up to me to set boundaries. If I don’t value myself, my time and my services, then who will?

The client was an important one and I didn’t want to possibly lose them by going on vacation and being out of touch, which is why I was responding to emails and requests. But I lost them anyway.

Listen, we don’t know what’s going on in other peoples’ lives. They could be under a lot of stress, maybe problems at home or health issues. We don’t know. But sometimes relationships end. Stay professional through the whole experience, learn any lessons from it that you can, and move on.

Stick to your core values.

Whether that client was at a high level in their industry or not, I really should have been a better leader of my business and myself.

I had a business coach who always asked me, “who runs your business?” And I would answer, “I do. I run my business.” No one else does. I serve my clients but they don’t run my business.

If what I have to offer is not good enough for a potential client, is not valued enough, is seen as too ‘expensive,’ or they simply don’t like my personality, then we probably are not a good match for a working relationship.

If rejection comes because you are sticking to your personal and business core values, then that really is for the best. There are plenty of people who want you! Who want just what you do and how you do it.

I read a great quote from the singer, Jewel.

“You have to get rid of how you hope people perceive you, and you just have to be willing to be perceived.”

Now as business owners we have a brand and do marketing in hopes of managing how our business is perceived. This should all be in alignment with our personal and business values. And there is nothing wrong with going a little ‘extra’ for your customers. But that is your choice, not theirs.

If a client doesn’t treat you with respect, and value what you do then why are you working with them? For the money? That is an answer. But let me know if that money is worth it when you’re pulling another all-nighter to meet their demands and they’re still not pleased. Or they complain about how expensive your services are so you discount your price. Or you have so much scope creep that you feel like you’re actually losing money on the project!

Unless you’re getting a lot of reliable feedback that you are overpriced, do not discount your work.

If you’ve been in business for even a short time, you have probably learned first-hand what is often said: the people who pay the least want the most.

I have had a few potential customers go “a different direction” when I gave them my quote for their project. They said my price was too much. First, they don’t know my business enough to say that. It’s not up to them where I set my pricing.

Second, it’s not that my pricing is too high; it’s that some don’t see the value of what I offer. Or they simply have in their mind that it should be half the cost. And the funny thing is, many times those people are very wealthy. In the past I would drop the price until they would stick around, and I ALWAYS regretted it!

As I stated earlier, you can get plenty of customers who do see the value in your services. They are open to your ideas, are respectful of you and your work, and they trust you. Isn’t that what you want? It’s so much easier.

People only buy from those they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST.

5 ways to achieve this.

  1. Have a regular presence in the Linkedin and Facebook groups where your potential clients hang out.
    Make comments. Ask questions. Don’t sell! Just be present so they get to know you. Offer helpful suggestions. Don’t hit anyone up for work right away. After time, you may see someone asking if anyone knows a person who does exactly what you do. Then you can respond and have a conversation privately. You can post articles on topics you work with that will be helpful to that particular audience. Just be present.
  2. Blog to your chosen audience.
    Speak directly to them, not the world. Speak their language. That builds trust that you understand them. You can also show your knowledge and gain followers.
  3. Whenever you communicate with a new or existing client, get to know them.
    Clients and leads are not dollar signs. Yes you want to get business from them, but the people on the other end of your call are humans. They deserve respect, and appreciate when you take an interest in them and their business. Grow a relationship.
  4. Help people without trying to sell them anything.
    It is so easy to help others with some advice, a link to an article that helps with a specific problem, a direct message to talk about an issue they are having. Even a check list or a list of resources. Just make sure it’s helpful for helping’s sake. This will grow a relationship that could turn into future business.
  5. Even if someone treats you poorly in a conversation or in a discussion group, respond with professionalism because that’s who you are.
    Plus there are some industries where everyone seems to know everyone. Whether they are an influencer or someone just starting out in their business, a simple, professional and even kind response is best. Or if it makes more sense, no response at all. Just do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


About Cathy Sirvatka

Cathy Sirvatka is the founder of Sirvatka Creative Services Inc., and owner of Voice Over Web Design and Web Design For Speakers. Cathy has been designing and developing websites for almost two decades. She brings all her experience and knowledge to your project.

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