Rejection is a lot harder to handle as a consultant. After all, you are marketing yourself and not just a “thing-a-ma-jig” with no emotional attachment. But you are not going to win every contract and that is reality. So how do you handle it?

First of all, don’t take it personally. This is not an indictment of your self-worth. There may be lots of reasons why you did not get the business, such as:

  • Your proposal did not meet the perceived need
  • It is not what the client had in mind
  • It is more than they wanted to pay
  • They wanted certain people assigned (or not)
  • They lack confidence in your ability to deliver
  • It may not be politically expedient
  • They may have already decided to buy from someone else but not told you.

It is always fair? No, but that is life, and that is business.   So how do you deal with it productively?

  1. Check your own sales process.
    • Did you really listen to what the client said the issue was and what they wanted to see happen? Or did you try to impose your own objectives for the work?
    • Did you check to see what their experience with consultants was in the past? And what process those folks used?
    • Were you clear on what they wanted from you as a consultant?
    • Did you ferret out their objections and handle them well?
  2. Ask for feedback to improve your product or service.
    • It is important to ask, although they may not want to tell you for fear of lawsuits.
    • Sometimes I have phrased this by asking, “What did you like about the other consultant’s proposal that was not in mine?”
  3. Don’t close the door on the relationship.
    • Tell them you are sorry it did not work out this time.
    • Ask if you can check back in X amount of time to see how they are doing, and if there is anything else with which you can assist them. Most of the time, people will say yes.

have gotten business after an initial rejection and it was even sweeter because of it.  So the next time someone says no – and that is their final answer – respect that it was not a good fit, be graceful, learn well, and try again later!

Cathy Perme is the co-owner of Perme & Peterson Associates, LLC.

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Catherine Perme

Fizz! How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant author Cathy Perme also wrote Confucius in My Cubicle: Practical Wisdom for the Leader in All of Us, released by Wisdom Editions.