Don’t Dig a Hole

Loren Feldman of 21 Hats has presented me with another topic: What do you do after you lose a couple of large clients in a row?

The first thing is don’t get down on yourself.

The second thing is analyzing why things went wrong and you got fired.

You lost them for a reason, possibly a not very good reason, but you need to do some soul searching.

  1. Were your fees too high in relation to performance? If so, what could have been done to improve performance? Did the assignment generate more in profits (or will it) than its cost? Does the client understand this?
  2. Were you a good fit in the client’s culture? Did you work well with the people in the company that you were supposed to?
  3. How receptive was management to what changes you were proposing?
  4. Did you do an ‘after action’ debrief with the client to find out why they fired you?

There are probably more questions that could be asked, but it’s key to get back up on the horse and ride. Don’t fall in the pity well and not recover.

You might have to make changes in your outlook for example, when I started marketing consulting, I did lose  two large clients in a row. One for financial reasons, one because the CEO was difficult to work with and had underestimated how much capital he needed to launch.

I determined several things:

  1. Broaden my consulting focus towards smaller companies;
  2. Don’t do startups, which may not take your advice and may be underfunded;
  3. Broaden my consulting services to, in my case, owner consulting, which because the major focus of my practice for 20 years and was more successful than the marketing consulting, because I was able to pioneer a market in Phoenix, rather than be an entrant in a already crowded market.

So, go out and have a margarita for lunch and think about what happened, why it happened  and what positive things it portends.

Accentuate the positive.