This is it! The email you’ve been waiting for has finally landed in your inbox! And after all the work you’ve put into attracting this client, creating a customized proposal for them and holding follow up calls to answer questions, you just know that they are going to be as excited to work with you as you are to work with them.
You click to open the email, ready to do a fist pump when you read the news.
What the?!? Instead of reading “let’s do this!” the email reads something like “Sorry, but we’ve decided to go in another direction…”
If you’re good at what you do (and I know you are!), I’ll bet you hear a lot more yeses than nos. But every once in a while, it doesn’t work out that way.
So, what do you do when a “no” does land in your inbox?
You’re probably disappointed. And frustrated. And tempted to hit DELETE so you can move on. But there’s one little thing still left to do for this client who doesn’t want to work with you.
You’ve got to thank them.
Leave a lasting impression
I know what you’re thinking. Why do you have to thank this person for not hiring you?
Because it’s not just your time that went into this discovery process, it’s theirs too. If you made it to the stage where you were presenting a proposal and doing follow up meetings, they were probably taking a pretty close look at you and your services.
And just because they didn’t choose you for this project, this time, doesn’t mean they won’t choose you for another project in the future.
Need another reason? Here’s one — it will make you unforgettable.
It’s incredibly rare for someone to follow up with grace and gratitude after you tell them no thanks. I was recently hiring a copywriter to add to my team. We had 40+ candidates and a handful of those completed interviews.
Of the people I decided not to hire, only one reached out to me afterward to say thanks for going through the process and make a strong case why she would be a good choice in the future.
I hire copywriters pretty often, so it’s likely I’ll need to hire again in the near future. I bet you can guess who’s at the top of my list.
What to write when you don’t get the gig
Ok, so you’re convinced that something needs to be said after you hear a “no”. So, what the heck do you say?
- Keep it short and sweet
- Be real, but keep it positive
- Show gratitude
- The end
Steal this template
[Client first name],
While I’m disappointed to hear that I am not the right choice for this project, I also know you put a lot of thought and consideration into this process. I’m honored to know I was among the top candidates you were considering and grateful to have had the opportunity to share some ideas with you.
I enjoyed getting to meet you and learn more about [their company]. I wish you the very best as you [do whatever it is you were going to do for them]. You have very big things ahead for you!
I hope that we have an opportunity to work together sometime in the future.
Gratitude is part of your long game
Following up with a prospective client that didn’t hire you and showing gratitude may not gain you a new client in the short-term, but it is one of the most important pieces of your long game marketing strategy.
I moved to San Diego about 6 years ago and started looking for a job. If you remember anything about 2009, it wasn’t a great time to be doing a job search!
I finally landed an interview for a job that was perfect for my skills and background. I nailed the interview and I thought I had the job in the bag. I just knew I’d get a call that said “You’re hired!”.
Well, that call never came. But they did call to tell me they’d selected another candidate. I sent a thank you note much like the one above.
Fast forward a few years to when I was starting my business. I got a note on LinkedIn out of the blue from the same guy who had interviewed me for that job. He had since moved to a different company and wanted to know if I’d come in and meet with his team about doing some marketing consulting.
That follow up email I sent after not getting hired for the perfect job turned into the best decisions I ever made for the future business I didn’t know I would start!
I got the gig. The gentleman who interviewed me way back when became one of my largest clients to date and gave my business a serious kickstart. All because of one little email when I didn’t get the job.
It reminded me that at the end of the day, business development is about people, not projects.
Now it’s your turn
How do you respond when prospective clients end up hiring someone else? Leave a note in the comments and let me know!