Nicola (not her real name) was really angry when she emailed me. With her permission, I’d like to share her story with you. And a powerful business lesson, too!
Nicola had spent a ton of time over the past 2 weeks, looking after the needs of a prospective client. (She’s a web designer). The prospective client told her he desperately needed a new website. He understood his current site was ugly and hurting his reputation.
After a morning-long meeting at the prospective client’s office, a chunk of time spent creating a proposal for him, then several further emails and some phone calls, he finally told her:
He knew he urgently needed a new site. He knew her work was great. He knew her fee was reasonable. But he just couldn’t justify the expense to himself!
Nicola said she was “really, really angry” and asked me what she was doing wrong.
Now, I don’t know Nicola. She’s a reader. And said she’d emailed me out of anger and frustration. The guy sounded so keen. She was expecting a new project. And the disappointment was clearly hurting her.
It’s entirely possible that Nicola has lousy marketing. If she had professional marketing help, she’d ask them what wasn’t working. Rather then me. So yes, it’s possible her prospective client wasn’t motivated to become a paying client, because she handled it poorly. I have no idea.
However, there’s a super-valuable lesson here.
Here’s what prompted me to share this with you
A lot of small business owners wrongly blame their fees, their marketing or their negotiating skills, when they fail to land a new client. Yes, getting it wrong in any of those areas will lose you business. Lots of business.
But sometimes, it’s the prospective client’s mindset. And I believe this is a perfect example, which is why I wanted to share it with you.
Going back to Nicola’s original email, I noticed something interesting. The prospective client explained that he knew he urgently needed a new site. He also said he knew Nicola’s work was great and her fee was reasonable, yet he couldn’t “justify the expense” to himself.
I think it highly probable that this guy was simply one of the unbelievers.
He knew on an intellectual level that he needed her services, but he didn’t believe it on an emotional level. And as emotions drive decisions, he was never going to hire her.
He sounds like many small business owners, who have an employee mindset when it comes to investment in their business. They know they need expert help, but on an emotional level they’re scared to invest. They believe it’s safer to do nothing. They know… but fear stops them from doing what they know they need to do. Note: He called her fee an expense, not an investment
It’s not your fault
It’s often not your fault when a prospective client walks away.
If you’re using professional marketing, rather than dabbling. If your prices or fees match your promises. If you’re offering real value, and they still decide not to hire you or buy from you… it’s very probable you never had a chance.
So don’t be too hard on yourself, the next time an unbeliever decides to waste your time. It’s them. Not you.