I’m Sorry the Plans Have Been Canceled…
Sunday afternoon a little after 2 pm, I get one of my favorite emails: “A new lead has been assigned to you.” Which is how my CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software lets me know that a potential client has inquired about working with me through the online contact form on my website. If you own your own company you know that every single request for a photo shoot is like a job interview.
You know the rest of the drill: a couple of emails and phone calls to get all the details of the shoot, how many photos, usage, scope of production, etc. Estimates are written, dates are set and preparations are made. Ten days later I confirm the shoot date and am looking forward to another happy client.
Then I get my least favorite email first thing in the morning on the following Wednesday: “I’m sorry, the plans have been canceled.” Rejection. Remember that this can mean anything, project got axed, client’s needs changed, their business partners had other ideas or – like in this case – he’s found a cheaper photographer.
How do you react? Do you demand your deposit anyway? Call the client and let him have it over the phone? Do nothing? Cut your rate? Curl up into a ball and cry? I’ve not found that any of these solutions work particularly well. Usually what I’ll do is write a nice and polite email response, thanking the client for considering me to create his photographs and (almost always) I will contact them down the road.
In this case, though, I get a phone call at 10 am the following Monday (the day we had originally scheduled the shoot): “Are you available to shoot now?” [nextpage title=”Shoot now … (next page)”]
The client had flown into town and discovered that the cheaper photographer was not able to get the shots he needed. The other photographer was also asking him for more money – so much for being cheaper.
Long story short, I scrambled, shot the job and now have a client who’s thrilled with my work. I’ll let him tell you what he thought:
Not being professional when you lose a bid – especially those that (you thought) were sure things can only hurt you. There are many reasons why you lose bids – I lost one because another vendor made a $25,000 mistake and my client had to throw out the complete photography and video package I had been approved to produce. Staying professional and understanding ensures that you’ll have a seat at the table for the next opportunity.
There are rare times when it doesn’t make sense for me to contact a client after losing the bid – like the one time where a client wanted 100 product shots for $40 – not per shot, forty bucks in total – ok so to be fair I didn’t except their bid. Other times it’s just not the right fit and that is not always defined by the money that’s on the table.
Circumstances change, budgets are increased, projects become more important, an art director who likes your work get’s hired or there are images or videos that need to be created that are totally in your wheel house and you’re back in business.
Yeah, it’s not fun to lose a bid and yes sometimes not getting the job turns out to be a blessing in disguise, but more often than not the best way to deal with losing a bid is to take a deep breath and go after the next one.
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