Especially working for myself, I can get extremely bummed when I lose a client. Even when it’s for an “it’s not you, it’s me” reason, I tend to take the severance a bit personally at first. In my head, I draft a witty retort to being cut loose, making sure it’s clear that business (and life) will definitely not go on for this person without my greatness. Then, I send a note that’s a little more constructive. A quote from HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me (2007) comes to mind; a therapist shares with a client the insight that she believes it is important to take as much care ending a relationship as was spent beginning one. I spent time back and forth on email, 45 minutes on an introductory call to learn my client’s objectives, time setting up her campaign and walking her though it, driving times to meetings, etc. I might as well spend a few minutes wrapping things up with some care.
Here are points it’s key to hit when you close the door on a working relationship:
What you did (routinely)
Tactfully explain what you were doing on a daily and weekly basis, both to the client directly and behind the scenes. I wasn’t sure my client knew I monitored her Twitter follows, @ mentions, and DMs in real time and answered every inquiry between about 9 am and 12 am within the half hour. Pointing this out highlighted a nice value add that not every consultant may be committed to including.
What you accomplished (already)
Real facts and numbers here. “I was pleased with our progress, adding 20 new Facebook followers and building a Twitter following of 530 in three weeks. The 35 submissions to our contests showcased the interest customers have in your brand.” Focus on you’re accomplishments and what they mean. Show you are meeting your milestones, and that you’re thinking about them to draw conclusions.
What you were going to do
It’s worth reiterating what you had discussed for future action plans, especially highlighting any commitments you had. If you’d come up with something new since your last meeting, mention it here. If you had a contact you were going to intro for some networking opportunities, drop the name now. Maybe even be disgustingly nice and share the name anyway. No hard feelings, right?
What you could do to salvage the relationship
If this breakup hasn’t brought to light a new aspect of your client that’s less than ideal (i.e. she asked you to invoice her two days ago, and then backs out without warning and you question her to stick to an agreement) and you’d like to continue working together, grovel a bit to salvage the partnership. Were you dropped because your rate was too high? Lower it(if that makes sense and it’s what you want). Did your client opt for a competitor whose rate or scope of services you could match? Communicate that.
What you’ve learned
My last client dumped me by saying the corporate office brought on an account executive who would be contributing sales help and had the background to help with social media marketing, rendering my role obsolete. I told her that our company’s not equipped to offer sales support, but it was food for thought. Every business needs sales to succeed, so maybe we could integrate some of that work into our marketing packages.
If you’re open to working together again…
Thank your client for your time together, and close with a mention on how you’d like to reconnect in the future if that makes sense for both parties. Check in periodically if this relationship could benefit you later, and you’re not too pissed. : )
And, just for fun- enjoy Queen singing about these woes.