Friday, June 18, 2010

Reasons Why You Lost The Project—That Have Everything To Do With You.

On Wednesday I wrote about reasons why you might not hear back about a quote or proposal you’ve submitted to a possible client—reasons that aren’t your fault. But there are reasons you might not hear back that do have to do with you—and might be fixable.

You’re too expensive. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about this. Your prices are professional but fair, and the prospect is just not used to professional prices. But if you get this feedback all the time—and from prospects you’d think could afford you—it might be time to take another look at your prices.

If you’re on the high end, it doesn’t mean you necessarily have to reduce prices. It does mean you need to be aware of that—and sell your expertise more aggressively to prospects to get them over the price objection. Are you charging a lot more than other writers in your field? And are you failing to sell yourself as worth every penny even if you’re way past the high end? Check your resources—your freelance writer buddies, the latest copy of Writer’s Market--to see where you are in the industry price-wise and if maybe you should think about reducing your prices—or doing a better job of selling them.

You didn’t listen. To give an accurate quote, you need to understand exactly what the client needs. Sometimes they really aren’t sure what they need—and the process of questioning to get at an accurate quote can help them define that. But misunderstandings are possible. Did you quote them a flat rate on ten pages of website copy when what they really wanted was an open-ended price structure to allow for a more flexible project? Even if this is easily fixed, the prospect may question your ability to understand their needs if you get it wrong the first time.

Your experience doesn’t fit the project. Maybe they were expecting a lower price from you because you’re not strongly experienced—or you don’t have a lot of samples in their industry. Or maybe, after weighing your proposal against others’, they chose to go with a writer who has expertise that fits the project better. This could mean you really do have to reduce rates to break into a particular industry—if you’re a beginner—or that your efforts would be more profitable if focused on a different industry altogether.

If you don’t hear back about a proposal after a month or so, it couldn’t hurt to ask why. The prospect’s feedback may help you identify areas where you can improve—and help you spot trends in the reasons why people say no. This could help you plug the leaks in your sales process—and ultimately land more projects.


Lori said...

Oh, this is great! And so true.

I remember a particularly awful client meeting in the city in which I wasted an entire afternoon for nothing. Because a PR contact recommended me for her company's project, I knew relatively nothing about the project. She described it one way. After I'd written a proposal, outlined the project, bought a suit jacket to match my new dress and shoes, busted my hump to clear the better part of the workday, and traveled to the office via car, train, and foot, I found out in the first three minutes that they wanted someone with actuarial experience to teach their actuaries how to write. Huh? I thought it was a corporate writing course for execs.

I didn't fit. And worse, I'd wasted tons of time and money trying to win the job.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Ack! I've done that too. One time I went to TWO meetings with a client, bought new shoes and a new binder, and spent endless hours on the phone. And after I spent all that time basically consulting with them on how to approach the project and proving my expertise, after I sent the proposal, it turns out they wanted me to do a few pages for free to prove I could do it. Ugh.