It’s not something people want to talk about. It’s like a loss or a failure. It does happen and it is something that we have to learn from otherwise history will repeat itself and you’ll ask yourself the same questions. I am hoping that by addressing it that I will not only learn from the mistakes and the early warning signs, but that I can also help others in whatever industry learn the do’s and don’ts and lessons learned from losing a client.
Since going out on my own, I have actually found it more challenging to maintain a positive attitude when it comes to building relationships with clients. Before I single out the lessons, I would like to give you the background story but sorry to those who want me to name and shame, I choose to just refer to them as this lady and the company.
So, our first meeting was in late February 2017. I came prepared, did my research on her brand and I was ready to tackle any questions she had as well as explain exactly what I do. At this point, I was pretty confident in my work because it wasn’t my first time conducting a pitch meeting. I started off introducing myself, explained my philosophy and lastly where I know I can take her brand to.
The next day I sent her a quote and my proposal and after back and forth negotiations, we settled on a service fee, I had stated when she should expect a content plan for approval. After receiving a deposit, I started working on the content plan. 5 days later, I receive a frantic call from her stating that I am wasting her money because I haven’t started posting on her social media pages. After explaining, everything went back to normal. One month later, we are at the termination of our contract and I could not be more relieved.
This loss led me to gain a lot of insight. At first it was a knock to my ego. I never fail, I never lose a client. So here are some of the lessons I learned:
- Communication: This is more of a two-fold. There are two different ways that I wished I could have communicated better to not set unrealistic expectations. The first is to ensure that I repeatedly set deadlines instead of just saying “a week” etc. The second is to let them know over email and telephonically of my absence from communication if I am travelling and remind them. It was not a problem for my other clients but clearly it was for this one.
- Not all business owners are the same: I can’t be treating them with the same understanding. My first client understood the marketing process which made my job a whole lot easier whereas others took a lot more explaining and lastly, like this client I lost, there are those who, no matter how qualified you are, question your work, expect miracles and don’t have a clear and open communication path.
- Never under value your services: When I found this client, I was still working full time and even though I explained that to her (many have refused to work with me because of that) she continued to state that she is giving me chance as a BLACK person.
Today, after continuously giving discounts and working tooth and nail for this brand, I have had my character assassinated and it has been difficult not to shout and scream at her. And I have lost a client. Not only does she makes things personal, she also continued to make the assumption that I needed her as a client. Yes, I am starting out and yes I do need all the retainers from all my clients, but I am not desperate for clients. I would like a relationship with my clients that is bourn of trust, respect and appreciation of not only the brand but of my services too.
So I need it to be a lesson for me because I want Digital Dialogue to grow. I want more clients and I want them to last longer then 2 months.
I always knew that I would lose a client, but never did I ever think that it would be under these circumstances or that I would feel so emotionally beaten up by her words.