Handling Rejection
Handling Rejection

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.

Fizz by Cathy Perme
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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 in 2017.

rich set of suggestions
Cathy's marketing and selling background makes for a rich set of suggestions for getting business and building one’s brand. I think it is rare ...
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Barbara A Tuckner
Cathy's marketing and selling background makes for a rich set of suggestions for getting business and building one’s brand. I think it is rare for an independent consultant to "give away" so much of their business engine and expertise. That adds up to a heap of generosity; something that is remarkable in the "friendly" competitive consulting world.
rich set of suggestions
Barbara A Tuckner
down to earth and practical
Down-to-earth, practical, and provides plenty of tools to use to develop your independent consulting business. Cathy takes a constructive look at how to succeed by ...
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Meghan Jost
Down-to-earth, practical, and provides plenty of tools to use to develop your independent consulting business. Cathy takes a constructive look at how to succeed by intelligently marketing yourself, engaging others, and keeping it all in balance with your personal life.
down to earth and practical
Meghan Jost
dozens of ideas
Cathy gives dozens of ideas about networking effectively, making sales calls and using social media and she doesn’t minimize the effort that has to ...
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NES
Cathy gives dozens of ideas about networking effectively, making sales calls and using social media and she doesn’t minimize the effort that has to go into it. It’s a reality check for anyone who thinks they can just hang up their shingle and become a consultant, but a great guide for anyone who’s willing to put in the hard work to be a success.
dozens of ideas
NES
from a to z
Cathy will take you from point A to Z on how to successfully become an independent consultant.
Charles Bever
Cathy will take you from point A to Z on how to successfully become an independent consultant.
from a to z
Charles Bever
methodical steps
For those that take the leap, Cathy's methodical steps will surely be helpful in achieving success.
Kevin Walsh
For those that take the leap, Cathy's methodical steps will surely be helpful in achieving success.
methodical steps
Kevin Walsh
recommend to anyone
I recommend to anyone starting a business.
Patricia Jayne Keefer
I recommend to anyone starting a business.
recommend to anyone
Patricia Jayne Keefer
years of lessons
Cathy shares years of lessons and a broad breadth of practical consulting and business experience in a very clear and engaging guide for starting and ...
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Ted Clark
Cathy shares years of lessons and a broad breadth of practical consulting and business experience in a very clear and engaging guide for starting and developing a successful consulting company. Highly recommended.
years of lessons
Ted Clark
I appreciate Cathy sharing
I appreciate Cathy sharing what she’s learned over the past 30 years about how to succeed as an independent consultant. Her advice is straight forward, ...
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Amy Brown
I appreciate Cathy sharing what she’s learned over the past 30 years about how to succeed as an independent consultant. Her advice is straight forward, thoughtful, organized, and easy to follow.
I appreciate Cathy sharing
Amy Brown
Learning Experience Face
This has been a truly learning experience and has helped me grow both personally and professionally.
Anonymous
This has been a truly learning experience and has helped me grow both personally and professionally.
Learning Experience Face
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drove to closure horse
Took a very complicated and dynamic set of realities and personalities, surfaced underlying issues, facilitated a robust and healthy interaction, and drove the process to ...
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Anonymous
Took a very complicated and dynamic set of realities and personalities, surfaced underlying issues, facilitated a robust and healthy interaction, and drove the process to closure and action.
drove to closure horse
Anonymous

Cathy Perme