What do we do if we win a pitch for business but never hear from them again?
Aahh, the eerie silence of The Curse Of The Phantom Win…
It’s when you’ve carried out your victory dance, geared up for the incoming project, told your Mam about it and then six months down the line you still haven’t heard a word from the client and most definitely haven’t received a penny for your time.
It’s an exhausting and gut-wrenching experience for anyone no matter what sector you’re in, but can be especially damaging to small companies. When faced with new business, it’s common for companies to resource accordingly by hiring additional staff or even turning down other jobs in preparation for the big project that has just been won, so a phantom win can sometimes have devastatingly detrimental effects.
The truth of the matter is, the phantom win is always going to be with us. Without introducing harsh, up-front contracts, bang on the table demands and cold steel terms and conditions that are enough to make any future client run for the hills, for one reason or another most businesses will experience the phantom at least once.
So how can you help your business deal with such a thing?
First things first - communication is key. This might sound extremely clichéd coming from a communications agency, but we speak from experience. Setting out clear expectations from both parties at the start of a new business win can be game-changing and avoid any confusion or cold feet further down the line.
It’s also important to not let a follow-up give you the frighteners. Remember, whoever gave you the work was impressed with your pitch and your ability. You’ve done your half of the bargain and you have every right to ask when they’ll be doing theirs. They agreed to use your services so don’t be afraid to send another email and give them another call.
Following up is important and should be part of your business DNA, but it’s equally important to know when to cut your losses. If you’re one un-answered email short of blocking up their inbox for the rest of eternity, it may be time to step away and focus your energies on other business leads. Set yourself some boundaries – five failed follow-ups? Time to move on.
As frustrating and damaging as a phantom win is, you need to keep your cool, keep it together and keep it professional. Exercise your will power to resist an angry phone call you might later regret. The client’s reasons may be something beyond their control and it’s always best to leave the door open. You also never know when or where the same client may pop up again and you’d rather not have said something that could come back and bite your behind. Google cute puppy images and repeat after us, “Keep your cool, keep it together and keep it professional.”
In danger of sounding even more clichéd, there is a lesson to be taken from almost everything. The next time you’re asked to pitch for work, make sure you do your research on the potential client and weigh up the pros and cons of pitching. Also keep an eye out for any red flags you may have experienced before, such as long delays in communication and vague answers to direct questions. And if the phantom still returns, remember cute puppies…
Do you need some assistance with your marketing, PR or design? Do you need to review your strategy or do you want to know how we can help your business? Talk to us. Email your questions anonymously to us today firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet us (not so anonymously) @SilverBulletPR .