3 Reasons Why Clients Don’t Choose You



It happens to even the best design firms; you send out a proposal, you have a face-to-face meeting, and then you receive the email.

Thank you for your proposal and your time to discuss our project with us, but we have decided to go with another firm”

Depending on how much time and effort you put into the proposal, this can be a tough pill to swallow. If it is for a project worth less than $1000 to you or your company, it is pretty easy to move on and not be bothered by it. Regardless of how big or small the project is, and no matter how much time you put into the proposal, it is important to always try to understand why the potential client did not choose you or your company.

There can be many reasons why you or your company were not chosen for a particular job, but if you do not find these out or even try to acquire that information, the entire proposal process becomes a complete waste of time. When you receive the “we chose someone else” email or phone call, why not turn it into something that will help you in the future? A simple “thank you” response can be coupled with “Can you please describe some of the reasons why we were not chosen for this project, and what we could have done better? This will help us to better our sales process in the future.”.

If you spent hours on a big proposal, and then you don’t get the job, your emotions naturally want to reply with “Good luck and call me when the company you chose under deliver or screw you!”, but obviously this is not the way to go. Even when you know your local competitors have nothing on you or your company, and could never provide the creativity or expertise you can, it is vital that you keep it positive and professional.

So, you send your “thanks” response, and you hope for a reply. From my experience, a lot of these people will not respond back to our request for more information, and that is fine. You just have to let it go. Others however, typically the more professional ones, will take the time to respond to you and give you some decent feedback. They are the ones that understand the purpose of your email and your request for feedback. This also shows them that you and your company are dedicated to improving all aspects of your operation and services.

If you record the responses you receive over time (hopefully you don’t have many of them because you acquire most potential clients!), you will have the knowledge to better understand what you need to improve upon. With that being said, let’s take a look at 3 of the main reasons why a client didn’t choose you for the project that got away.

1. Price

Depending on your rates, the number one reason you didn’t get chosen for that project was down to the price on your proposal. Many potential clients just don’t understand the difference in quality in services like graphic design and web design. You may have met with them in person, discussed their exact needs, prepared a proposal that contained the perfect solution for them, but they still did not choose you because of the price. It is common in most industries, a lot of people will select the less expensive option, especially if they are unable to differentiate in the quality being offered by each option. Many times a client doesn’t understand that the 5 page web design solution one company offers, is completely different from that of another. They may not understand that a CMS-based website in CSS is much better than a static table-based HTML website. In your meeting with the client, they told you that they really wanted to have control of the content on their website, but after not choosing you, you see the new website that they received from another company, and it barely resembles anything like what the client said they wanted.

This is the main reason why the web design industry has made so many enemies in the general population. So many clients get screwed by half-assed web designers, and they end up spending more time and money within a year to find someone to develop a website that they actually want and need. Clients get screwed by not doing enough research and not understanding the difference in web design quality. They end up hiring the cheapest option and 9 out of 10 times this will not work out well for them.

On the other side, a client may not choose you because your prices are too low! It may sound crazy, but it is true. My company always asks clients why they chose us after we receive their business, and sometimes they respond with the following:

Even though we received quotes from others that were way below what you quoted us, we want to work with you because your portfolio and professionalism exceeds the rest, and that is what is important to us.”

This is a great email to get. It immediately creates the perfect client / vendor relationship. It shows you that this client understands the value of your services, and is able to see the difference in quality between you and the other companies that they spoke with.

2. Professionalism

I’ve discovered that a lot of web design companies (in my area especially) are quite unprofessional. If you receive an inquiry from a potential client and respond back with an email that looks like a 12 year old typed it, this can be an instant turn off. Also, if your phone manner isn’t professional your company image will be hurt during the initial phone conversation with that client.

I personally don’t think it is that difficult to be professional, because you simply understand what clients expect from you , and you provide it. I often make a note of the things that I expect from companies when I purchase services from them, and it makes such a difference when they do their job professionally. You feel much more confident giving them your money, and you also intend to return to give them repeat business.

Every way you interact with the client is reviewed, whether they do it knowingly or subconsciously; they are forming opinions about you and your service. They attach these opinions to your overall brand and that is what they store in their mind each time they communicate with you.

3. Portfolio

Sometimes, you get inquiries from clients that are the type that really want to see that you have developed a website or designed some print advertising for a company in their industry. For example, a client needing a website for their restaurant may only work with someone that has previously designed a restaurant website. Some clients really rely on this, and others don’t. It is all part of the comfort factor. The client wants to feel completely confident that you can provide a perfect solution for their needs, and no matter how good the rest of the work in your portfolio is, if it is not industry related to their company, they may not choose to work with you.

I recently had a potential client that wanted my company to carry out a complete branding of their real estate agent services. They said that they really liked what they saw in our portfolio, and were excited to move forward with us. Before we received the contract and deposit, we spoke with one of the partners over the phone. She voiced her concerns over the lack of real estate related design work in our portfolio. I personally worked in real estate web design for about a year and half as a full-time job, and once I became self-employed I decided that I wouldn’t work with any clients in the real estate industry for a while. I needed the break from it, especially when it was all I did for 5 days a week for over a year.

So, I had to drag up my old portfolio from when I worked for this real estate web design company to try to show the potential client that I had experience in the real estate industry and that my company could provide excellent creative design services for the real estate industry. The difficult part of a process like this is the fact that you, as a designer, are confident that no matter what industry it is, you can design for it. If you are skilled and experienced, and understand different markets and different demographics, you know that you can design anything for that industry. Some clients are unable to see it this way, and it can often be an added “dance” you need to do during the sales process to acquire their business. It becomes your job to go that extra step to give them the confidence to move forward with you.

So, there you go, the 3 main reasons why clients don’t choose you! Obviously there are many other reasons why you may not get chosen for a particular project, like the fact that you smell odd, or that you wore your “Frankie Says Relax” t-shirt to the meeting, but those 3 discussed above are pretty much the main ones.

Do you have any to add from your own experiences?

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