What are the best follow-up techniques to use when you lose a creative pitch or proposal?
January 12, 2011 8:10 PM   Subscribe

What are the best follow-up techniques to use when you lose a creative pitch or proposal?

In my line of work, we send out dozens of quotes and creative proposals every week. Sometimes the project gets killed, sometimes we never hear back from the prospective client, sometimes they tell us they've gone with another provider/agency. Usual stuff - We're in the art/design field.

I'm trying to figure out the best way to word follow-up (usually via email) with the lost opportunities without coming off as desperate and looking to hear what has worked for anyone in similar situations.

We genuinely want to use the feedback to make changes to our business. Were we too expensive? Was it a creative decision? Did our paperwork seem daunting? etc etc. The tricky thing is that these are usually quick back and forth correspondences and enquiries that in some cases go out to multiple providers, not huge pitch or tender processes etc that would normally facilitate a traditional debrief in that regard.

As a sub-question for anyone else who works in the field and deals with the same issues, how do you put yourself in the position where you can deal with the situation up front, ensuring that issues that might cause a proposal to fail are actually brought up to us directly without coming off as a total pushover? I.e, we always try to explain that our prices are flexible depending on certain variables, but it never seems to actually open the dialogue.

posted by anonymous to Work & Money (1 answer total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
In architecture (where we respond to a lot of RFPs and go to a lot of interviews) we lose our share of work. The most common way that I have seen partners in my firm handle this "debrief" is when they are notified that they did not get the job, they will ask their client contact if they can schedule a phone call in a few days to get feedback/input. (This gives the client time to settle out selection of the winner, and just let things sit for a while and gain some distance from the selection process).

I see a phone call as being a much more flexible medium fo this sort of discussion, where you want a frank discussion that neither side may want to put down in an email. Also, there is a bit of a feedback loop to tell how honest the discussion can really be, which you do not get on email at all.

The process is something of an art, but it is possible to get some really great info and insights. And I do think you need to swallow your pride to some extent. It may be more helpful to frame it less as "why weren't we good enough" and more as "why weren't we a good fit" or "how could we have communicated our strengths more clearly".
posted by misterbrandt at 9:34 PM on January 12, 2011

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