By Andrew Neitlich

Getting back a lost client — a case study in “try, try, and try again”

By Andrew Neitlich


This is a follow up to a blog way back in June, called “You are always selling the engagement — even after you have sold it.” In that blog, I told the story of losing a client AFTER we had agreed on a deal.

Here is an update:


I successfully re-sold the engagement.

Here is how:

1. I played the “righteous indignation” card and let the CEO know that it was not appropriate or professional to terminate an engagement that we had agreed upon. I offered to shift the focus if their needs had changed, but still expected the company to move forward with their agreement.

2. I went around a mid-level employee who had been creating a rift. This employee did not like my being hired, because to her I was a threat to her job description. So I went to an ally of mine in the company, someone much more respected than her, and influenced him to be an advocate for me with the CEO. This was easy, as it turns out the mid-level employee had a reputation for being politically (instead of results) oriented.

3. I tactfully made the case that the company continued to NOT make any progress on what had been my engagement, and that I could step in and quickly get things back on track. This proved to be an important strategy as senior leadership got sick and tired of not seeing results.

So just as you are always selling an engagement you have won, you can also re-sell an engagement you have lost, and get right back in the saddle.

Lessons here:

– Focus on power and influence in your clients. Develop relationships with influential people — before a problem comes up.

– Don’t give up. There is almost always a way to regain lost ground.

What other lessons do you take from this?

  • Lesson 3: Have a friend respected in the company and half the problem is solved :)

    Seriously, it’s all about knowing MANY people.

  • Eric Vitiello

    It’s not about who you know, or what you know, but both. Although the who plays at least half of the cards.

  • Anonymous

    – Learn to recognize persons who will attempt to hinder your relationship with the company for personal gains and evade them without tarring your image.

  • – Always pay attention and study well the terrain of battle, for you shall never know what may prove useful later.

    “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every enemy gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

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