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How to respond to client rejection

I had invested hours into understanding a potential client’s needs, we had been exchanging emails, and having phone calls. I had put in the effort to demonstrate my expertise and value. Just when I had assumed that the deal was sealed, they hit me with the dreaded line: “I found someone cheaper.”

I’m certain that every business in the service sector knows this frustration all too well. This situation tests our patience and professionalism, challenging us to remain composed and focused on delivering quality.

It caught me off guard to say the least. I had assumed they had already price shopped and were ready to go ahead with the project. I questioned the point of our previous conversations. I was flustered and had to mute the call just so I could compose myself

After composing myself and analysing the situation. I chose to approach the situation with as much patience as I could muster and a sense of curiosity. I genuinely liked this potential client and felt like her project would create an impact. “Could I still win this sale by having an open dialogue?” I wondered.

Here are some ways to address this scenario:

1. Keep your composure: Your business reputation is on the line, don’t jeopardise your good standing by using language or a tone you may come to regret later.

2. Ask questions: Allow them to give you clarity. Perhaps there are some deliverables your competitor can produce that you can’t.

3. Genuinely listen: Understand your client’s decision making priorities.

4. Empathise with their perspective: Empathise verbally, the client is not your enemy. They want to save costs but achieve the best results. Saying something along the lines of: “I understand where you are coming from” or “I see your point there” may allow them to feel at ease elaborating their pain points. As they elaborate you can gain insight towards providing solutions.

5. Provide solutions quickly: Your business exists to solve others problems, the cheaper option is not always the better option. Consider offering the next best alternative that works for both parties.

6. Highlight your value: When a client is swayed towards another offer due to lower prices, focus the conversation towards value. You may even include past achievements in regards to the quality of your work. That could sound like, “They might be cheaper but here is what you get with our service…We are confident that we can provide the results you are looking for within the budget we have provided…We have won the award for best xyz 3 years in a row…”

7. Allow them to respond: At this point in the conversation they will have most likely concluded if they are willing to go ahead with you or your competitor. Clients have a right to choose who they work with.

8. Consider charging a fee for discovery calls: Depending on where you are in your professional journey this may or may not work for you but it is worth considering. By implementing a fee for discovery calls, you not only ensure that your time is respected but also set a precedent for the value and professionalism that clients can expect from your services.

No matter how low your price is or what industry you are in there is always a cheaper option available elsewhere. Depending on where you are in your business journey you may choose to lower your price for certain clients or in certain circumstances too. If you happen to not win the client’s business like I did in this case. Wish the client well and let them know your door is always open and you would be happy to serve them in the future.

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