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What to do when you lose a client (or multiple clients) and you want to cancel everything

What to do when you lose a client

It’s happened. That big client you knew was a major portion of your revenue, and possibly a big risk to take on, has left. Or cancelled. Or gone out of business.

Or, you’ve lost several clients all at one time – and most likely, as far as you can tell it’s not from anything you or the team have done wrong. Sure, you’re not perfect, but you serve the clients well. And they’re grateful and appreciate you and you’re good at what you do. And yet one client went out of business and another client had major family or health issues and another client lost a lot of THEIR customers.

And you’re in a scary place and you want to just cancel everything. Literally anything you signed up for, contract or no, you just fire through at top speeds saying “i can’t do this, it won’t help me, I have to batten down the hatches and Do Everything I Can To Save Things”.

Marketing is going to be one of those things you want to cancel. It won’t be the only thing – you’ll tell yourself it’s not just marketing, it’s this app and that service and this coach or that membership group – but really what you’re doing is trying to feel safe and protected, and pulling back.

Now, I don’t for one minute pretend that if you literally can’t feed your family or pay your mortgage, that you need to keep everything you signed up for a year ago or two months ago.

But the truth is: all you need is one or two wins to get you back on track.

You don’t need to cancel everything, panic, or hide. You need to step up.

And you know it: this is your motivation to do it. Some of us are motivated by this kind of pain – we start sending emails and writing posts and recording videos and Doing Everything We Can – and some of us pull back. For at least a little while, to sort of think straight and try to figure out what to do.

Either way, there are some small things you (and your team) can do which will make a big difference towards getting those new clients in – because you will, absolutely, do it. The wins are there. You’re maybe feeling worried that they’re not, but they are. They’re hidden under something, or aren’t visible right now, but they’re there. You will get them.

So, don’t panic.

Pause for a moment. Read this. Watch the video. Talk to people you trust. Gather all the help available to you and pull it together to use as motivation. Go through this list of small practical things you can do – and do them. Every single day.

(Oh – and do use this as an opportunity to check your systems, your processes, your team, your work, to make sure you’ve literally done everything possible NOT to lose this client. If you haven’t done that yet, then item number 1 will bring that out.)

1. Start with clients first. Always.

It’s really tempting to do more “prospecting” and get more leads and be more visible so you can replace the clients you lost. Those are good actions too (see points 4-6), but never at the cost of your existing clients.

Keep it really simple: Call them up, email, text, ask how they’re doing. That’s it.

They’ll either be grand and be grateful for you calling, or they’ll be struggling and need help but haven’t asked for it yet. The happy clients will thank you and be grateful and that helps your motivation. The clients who are struggling will get help from you (and possibly even more services) and that helps not only your motivation, but also your revenue growth, which is what you’re working on right now.

2. Your team: connect with them more.

When there is a problem or a crisis in the firm, they’ll feel it. Pretending everything is okay and shouldering it all yourself won’t fix things. Be honest with them, listen to any challenges they have, talk it through together.

For those of you already working with PF in any capacity, use us as your marketing team. Message us, ask questions, send us a video, ask for a call. (Even if you’re not a PF client, you can still reach out to us and ask for help in a particular area, and we’ll send you all the free resources we’ve got on that topic.)

Share the load.

3. Follow up any old prospects – no matter how old.

This is one of the fastest ways to move sales forward. I can almost guarantee there are people who enquired with you in the past, who never ended up working with you because…something came up. They got busy. THEY had a big issue with a customer or several customers. They had unanswered questions. There was a family issue, or a health issue, or just time went by and it felt less important.

No matter what the reason, you won’t lose by simply checking in. How’s it going? How’s the business? You don’t even need to follow up the proposal necessarily (if it was a year ago, they’d need a new proposal anyway), but just to…say hi. Ask how they’re going. Look back at one of the issues they mentioned which was a real burden, and ask if they got that sorted.

Just be kind and human. You might not even need to ask about the business – maybe just mention you loved the photo of their new offices or their family holiday and so glad they got one. Make the human connection. It will take a few minutes and if every single one responds with “all is great here we’re all set”, you’ve still built some goodwill. And if even one responds to reconnect, you’ve skipped a lot of prep work and can get to the proposal more quickly.

4 .Whatever your top social platform is, be more present on it.

If the kind of clients you want more of are on LinkedIn, use that. If they’re on Instagram, use that.

You don’t even need to be posting your own stuff as much as simply stepping up your visibility. Post a few things yourself, sure. But also comment. Like others’ posts. Send messages. Share others’ content. Praise others. Promote others. Follow others.

Interestingly, sometimes the greatest growth comes from connecting with others, because it reminds them you’re around. It shows you’re not about being salesy and only connecting with people “to get business”, but it helps build trust. Yes, it takes time – trust isn’t built in a day or two or certainly with one LinkedIn message, as we all know only too well – and yet these little daily steps will absolutely make an impact over time. Especially when you combine them with all the other of these 7 steps!

5. Share and re-share content you’ve created before.

All of these actions are going to be supported by your previous foundational marketing work. Any blogs you’ve written, videos you’ve recorded, social posts or articles you’ve shared, webinars you’ve been part of, whatever it is, don’t let it just sit there. Get it seen – again. Remember social media especially is like white water rapids: things rush by, rush by, rush by….so just sharing them once isn’t enough.

Share it again. Reshare it, with a different caption or thought. Share it on multiple platforms, in an email to clients and prospects.

You can also repurpose old content. Take portions of a blog post, clips of a video, quotes from a webinar or event.

Use and keep re-using what you’ve created in the past. People won’t mind: they’ll appreciate the opportunity to read what they missed the first time! And it will keep you top of mind.

I do, still, recommend continuing to create unique content based on the questions and issues your clients and prospects have. Marcus Sheridan recently shared that people sometimes tell him they “don’t have time to produce content”, and he tells the story of how he wrote fresh content for his website every single night FOR TWO YEARS. And that’s the “long game”. If you’re not creating content at that level – either just you, or you and your team together, or you and your team and your marketing agency – it’s going to take you even longer. Make it a priority because it works.

6. Make a list (or revisit the list) of people you want to work with. Connect with them.

Some of you have a literal list of the people or companies you wish you worked with. That business, that person, who would be absolutely amazing (or you’d like to find out if they are).

Pull that list out – or start creating it – and follow steps 4 & 5 for these specific people. Follow THEIR platforms. Like THEIR content. Show an interest in them as people and as a company. Be curious. Be interested. Be helpful.

You might even send them something in the post – a card, or a congratulations on a win, or something to show connection. Use your judgment – if it would feel weird to send something like a card, send them a message or comment on a post they’ve shared. Begin the connection – because you’re not going to get to work with them if they have no idea you exist. The worst that could happen is you discover they’re not your type of people or client after all, or they say no.

7. Do the thing that relieves you.

You’ve got a lot weighing on you right now, and pushing harder and doing more and taking actions and chatting to the team is right and it’s also exhausting. So, do what you need to do to relieve some of that burden.

If you need a run, go for a run. Or a walk, or a swim. Play with your kid. Drink your favourite coffee. Eat a doughnut. Call a friend. Call nobody and sit quietly. Go to the beach if you can, or your happy place. If those aren’t available to you right now for some reason, make plans for it. Block out time in future for that happy thing.

The more open and rested your mind, the better you’ll be able to do all of these things: the more motivated, the more hopeful, the more enthusiastic. And enthusiasm shows. (As does stress and worry.)

 

I still stand by the “long game” of the marketing map we’ve preached at PF since day one. You still need marketing learning – yourself, and your team. You still need a good solid brand that reflects your firm well, and a website with the right messaging and calls to action and client journey. You still need consistent content, created for and by you, on a regular basis – blogs, videos, social, assets.

You still need all those things. And those things will help you immensely when you hit a difficult point like this. But if for some reason you don’t have them all yet, focus on these 7 items – and then remember to come back to these foundational areas once you’ve won the clients back you need. Because they are what will help protect you from this happening in the future – or will at the very least support you and turn you back round quickly even if it does happen again.

You’ve got this.

The wins are coming.