You've just been to your third new business meeting in a month, and you've written about four proposals so far this week, but you're still not seeing people sign up for your services.
So where are you going wrong? Why aren't enquiries turning into paying clients?
There are many reasons why we might miss out. And it's understandable why we take it personally and wonder what we're doing wrong. Losing out on new clients and projects can certainly knock our confidence.
But instead of letting it get us down, let's investigate some of the reasons why clients won't hire us and how we can tackle them to ensure we get those customers next time.
Your price was too high
One of the main reasons to lose out on new business is money. Your rates might be too high. We all want to get a good deal and companies will often 'shop around' before deciding who to hire. It could just be that you've lost out to someone a lot cheaper than you.
How to tackle it? Do some research in your local market and see what others are charging. Also, make it clear that you're flexible on price and prepared to work to their budget wherever possible.
Your ideas were taken elsewhere
It's frustrating when you've spent hours working on a proposal, only to have a prospective client turn you down. What's likely to have happened is that they'll take your ideas and apply them on their own or they could hire someone cheaper to implement them.
Therefore, when considering drafting up proposals for prospective clients, consider whether they're worthy of your time. The best piece of advice I can give if you think someone is just after your ideas for free? Keep your proposals vague and intriguing. Don't reveal all your tips and tricks until they've signed on the dotted line.
They forgot about you
So someone got in touch, or you've been to a meeting, but you've not heard back from them in weeks? It's likely that they're just busy and have forgotten about you.
It does not harm to drop them an email and remind them of your services. Sometimes it's even best to pick up the phone and say you'd like to 'touch base' and see if they're ready to go ahead.
They found someone else
The business world can be fickle, and clients can choose to go elsewhere. I wouldn't take it personally if they do. It might be that they know someone at the other company or have worked with them before.
How do you avoid this happening in future? Make yourself as flexible and available as possible. And be easy to work with. Clients want a hassle-free service, so if you come across as someone they'd enjoy working with, you'll keep those competitors at bay.
You're not big enough
Many larger firms will often go for the larger agencies rather than smaller businesses or freelancers. It could be a matter of 'reassurance' and the misconception that big is better. Don't take it personally if you lose out to a larger company.
Take steps in future to highlight your areas of expertise and the people that you've worked with during your career.
You came across as rude
People don't like rude people, and if you gave a wrong impression during that initial meeting or phone call, you most certainly wouldn't get hired. That's whether you were late, talked too much, or didn't listen.
Next time, be as respectful as possible; follow basic but essential manners; listen very carefully to what the client has to say and respond with more questions; allow the client to do the talking and most importantly, respect their authority.
You were under-prepared
Going to see a potential client for the first time is a bit like an interview. If you come across as clueless and disinterested in their company, they won't want to hire you for the job.
Before any new client meeting, do your research about their industry and business. Buy their leading trade magazine if necessary and read up about what's happening in their sector, sharing some of the things you read during that meeting. You'll come across as keen, knowledgable and professional.
You were too pushy
So you've been to a meeting, and you thought you sold your services well, but you came across as too pushy and forward. The 'hard sell' technique never works with most companies.
Try instead to master the 'undersell' – a technique whereby you come across as friendly, open and professional and are not desperate for the work. Make the potential client want to hire you by almost playing hard to get. If you go into a meeting without any expectations, you'll come across as laid-back, and that can be very appealing to people, especially in a world where everyone is trying too hard to win business.
They expected more
Sometimes, clients expect a lot for their money. They want to be impressed with what you plan to do for them. If they don't hire you, it might be because you didn't meet their expectations in your initial proposal.
Next time, go above and beyond to impress a potential customer. Get excited about their brand and come up with some original ideas that will get them excited as well. Make yourself the best thing since sliced bread, and they'll snap you up in an instant.