Has anyone ever lost an engagement after they thought they “closed the deal?”
It just happened to me. I was slow getting started with the client, and some of the internal people were resistant (afraid of losing their jobs or exposing their own lack of knowledge), and they won the political battle.
I forgot my own advice: You are always selling an engagement, even after you have sold it.
In consulting-style professions (including Web design and development), clients constantly get cold feet and wonder if they are getting their money’s worth. Some sales courses call it buyer’s remorse, and I’ve seen it happen to professionals at the start, middle and even end of a project.
Sometimes it is due to unscrupulous (or savvy) clients who pull the plug when they get enough info and can save money by doing the rest of the project themselves.
But most of the time it is because we fail to continue to show value in every communication and action step, especially during the ramp up process. That’s when clients are watching most carefully, and when it is hardest to show immediate momentum and value for the money.
I should have done a better job communicating every day (or whatever frequency was appropriate) with the CEO about my interactions with her staff, along with issues I was having getting information and support. Instead, I kept pushing forward with mid-level staff, while they resisted and then claimed that they didn’t need me.
My bad. Lesson learned (again!).
(P.S. I hope you don’t mind my sharing my own failures in this blog. Even though I consult on marketing and sales, I’m not perfect by any means. If you are looking for the infallible blog writer on this topic, you will have to look elsewhere — and they are probably lying.)