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I just lost a contract. Hooray!

I just lost a contract. Hooray! post image

Have you ever worked hard to win a contract but been pipped at the post? This is for you…

I’ve been working on a long and complex sale with a national organisation that has gone through extreme turmoil and numerous staff changes. Many times I’ve felt like packing it in as the odds seemed stacked against me. Yet, at long last, it appeared that my endeavours would bear fruit.

Complex sales bring the biggest rewards

There were many, many conversations and exchanges between us over 12 months, and we had inched towards an understanding, and indeed a programme of work. I had shared my approach to social marketing in some detail. The prospect had gone from zero knowledge of inbound marketing to an educated position. I had been willing to share a great deal because the project was both interesting and promised great success all round.

After what seemed an eternity, I was told that the project was ‘a goer’, and I would be delivering the work. I was so delighted I ran up and down the stairs several times (and there are five levels of stairs at my workplace!).

Dear John, I just don’t love you any more


I promise not to chop anyone’s head off

But… (you guessed it) my contacts became increasingly evasive and it became clear our honeymoon was over. Sure enough, I got a ‘Dear John’ letter. The relationship was dead before it even started! In fact those people who were happy for me to drive their offices and lay out the foundations of a social marketing strategy didn’t even have the guts to call me to explain the situation. They took the coward’s route and emailed with a vague and inadequate message that clarified nothing.

Bitter, moi?

Now, anyone who has ever lost out on significant work in this way will recall the gnawing feelings of anger and regret that follow. Could I have done anything differently, better? Maybe.

None of us have the automatic right to win business. But we do have the right to be treated in a professional, honest way; to have our input recognised; and not to have our ideas and unique methods ripped off.

Good luck to the agency that picked up the work! Communication and trust and honesty must to be at the heart of all marketing partnerships. My experience suggests the ‘winner’ will face trouble ahead.

Have you ever been stitched up by clients or prospects? Please vent in the comments below!

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Chris Budd 06/06/2011, 10:55 am

    In my experience, this was a relationship that was always doomed to failure, and you’re better off without them. Only work with people who appreciate your skills and talents, and who you actually like, I say. Not only will your working day be more enjoyable, but you’ll end up earning more too.

    So, well done!

  • Mick 06/06/2011, 1:18 pm

    Cheers, Chris.

    I couldn’t agree more! We are all better off focussing on enjoyable, profitable work.

  • Mark 12/06/2011, 10:13 am


    Really sorry to hear this. What a waste of energy.

    But I utterly agree with Chris – and you’re better to find this out right at the beginning of the relationship than months in.

    It’s one area in which I think many corporates and public sector organisations (the big ones) could do with up-skilling their people: how to deal honourably with “partners”. OK, then, suppliers, consultants and agencies …

  • Mick 12/06/2011, 2:59 pm

    Hi Mark, appreciate your thoughts.

    I think some bigger organisations are hamstrung by procurement protocols. These procedures are sometimes used as justification for buying in services from larger agencies—and I believe this is what happened in my case.

    You live and learn.

    (Really great to hear from you BTW!)


  • Matt Beech 26/10/2011, 5:52 pm

    Hi Mick,
    You know I know how frustrating this is. I’ve had a couple of jobs fall through this way. If it’s a matter of expense and competion then it’s fair enough, it’s the ones that blatently lie, make you jump through hoops to get the work, let you know you have the work and then pull out at the end after loads of waisted time, errrgh!!! As the others say who needs that kind of work, all though frustrating at first, it really is better to let someone else deal with the head ache.
    One for experience, two for joy!
    All the best,

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