I just found out one of my best clients gave a major project to a competitor. The worst part is that I never had an opportunity to even bid on it. How do I diplomatically address this with the client? – Cayce in Aurora, CO
LYNN: Cayce, these situations are painful. I recommend an in-person meeting, such as going out for coffee or lunch as well. Let your client know that you are concerned you let them down in some way, or are not meeting their needs and expectations. Ask them how you can improve. Ask what you could have done differently to be considered for the project. Be absolutely sure not to be defensive or aggressive. You genuinely need to hear your client’s thought process. When done right, this will not only strengthen your relationship, but you’ll learn a valuable lesson for the next project and other clients.
TINA: I believe that the best way to approach this is to be direct with your client. Personally, I would inquire as to the scope of the project and, if it is something that would have been a good fit for your company, ask is there was a reason you were not included in the bid process. There are a number of reasons why existing suppliers are not included in new projects: the client does not want all the business under one roof and prefers to amortize the risk factors; there may be interdepartmental relationships which involved this particular project; your company may not have been considered as your client may not have thought the parameters were a fit.
Communication is key in this situation. I would caution that the tone of your conversation is one of concern rather than that of utter disappointment. Leave the door open for future opportunities and discover ways in which to learn more about your client and their company to be proactive of their needs in the future.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.