The relationship started really well. We know the travel and tourism industry inside and out. We had exquisite experience and were able to demonstrate the great results we had achieved for similar clients. Our ideas were spot on. And the presentation went as well as it could have. We were on fire.
But we lost a great big piece of business.
And the worst part of it was that it was all my fault.
Do you want to know why?
We were meeting with the client after the pitch. They were blown away by our presentation and we were negotiating next steps. They were fine with our pricing and had no issues with the contract itself. They liked the account people we were assigning to their business and the creative people who would be working on their account. In fact, they were so pleased with the team that the CEO complimented me on assembling such a great group of professionals to work for them.
“Thanks,” I answered. “With such great people working on your business, there’s almost nothing for me to do. And you know, I’m always willing to do less.”
The CEO stared at me dumbfounded. And although I didn’t realize it at the time, everything went downhill from there.
Here’s the worst part:
I was kidding.
Really. I. Was. Kidding.
There was actually a lot of work for me to do. And I was very excited about doing it too. But the little comment that I thought was amusing – “I’m always willing to do less” – was exactly what our new client was worried about.
You see, it turns out that her last agency had apparently done a great presentation with talented senior level people, too, but after that they staffed the business with entry-level employees. They never delivered the work quality they had promised and the client’s sales had suffered.
She was concerned that history was about to repeat itself.
Of course I had no way of knowing that that was her concern, but ignorance is never an acceptable excuse. My attempt to be cute cost us a showcase client and a lot of money.
Last week I found a story online and posted it on Facebook. I am not the original author but I think an edited version is important enough to repeat here:
Two dogs walk into the same room at different times.
One comes out wagging his tail while the other comes out growling.
A woman watching this goes into the room to see what could make one dog so happy and the other so mad.
To her surprise the room was filled with mirrors.
The happy dog found a thousand happy dogs looking back at him while the angry dog saw only angry dogs growling back at him.
What you see in the world around you is a reflection of who you are. That goes for your outlook, your business, and your life.
I saw funny.
Our client saw lazy.
Who was correct doesn’t matter. We lost a great big piece of business.
Learned a lot, though. I hope you did too.