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I Cocked Up

I cocked up

By Brad Barker

Have you ever had this situation with a client – where everything is going well, you know it’s great, and it all just feels right? You have found their big emotional driver, they are an ideal client for you; your solution is catered directly to their needs; there is great rapport, and they are as excited about working with you, as you are to be working with them.

And then comes the proposal.

You have put the wrong price, or the wrong deliverable on the proposal, or it got out too late. You cocked it up. You have to go back to the client and say, “There is a big mistake.”

What did you do? Did you cover it up? Did you make excuses? Did you blame someone else for the mistake? Maybe you spun it a little to not make you look so bad?

There is another alternative – owning up to it.

Well, I had this recently. I put a proposal together, and did not check the pricing correctly, nor did I have someone double check it for me like I normally do. I was too excited to get the proposal out as soon as possible.

As it turned out, I quoted a price $15k short of what it should have been, and the small project would have been done at a loss had of I stayed with the price. My heart sank as I began to think of all the different scenarios that I was faced with, and what the best way to move forward was. In the end, the best solution was to go back to the client and tell them the truth, that “I cocked up. I am sorry”.

In a world that is so driven to appear perfect, and all together, we have been losing the art of - what someone once told me - to just be human.

As it turned out, I had built enough rapport with the client to get over this hurdle.

Rapport is important for all aspects of business, and can help you get through challenging circumstances. The purpose of rapport is trust. Had of I tried to cover up my mistake, that rapport, or trust would have been jeopardised. Once you lose trust with a client, they are far less likely to do business with you.

At the end of the day, the client wanted the right person, and the right solution doing the job for them. Price was a secondary factor. I never once broke trust with the client, and maintained my standing with them by being myself, and being human.

Yes I was embarrassed, as this was not like me, and nor had I made a mistake like this since I was a junior. I did stay true to myself though, and it was a great opportunity for me to show my humanity to my client – warts and all.

So, the moral of the story is – Always stay in rapport with the client. Be honest, be yourself, and if all else fails, be human.

Fortunately I did not lose the work. I did have to offer a different price for them that worked out for both of us, and we are both still excited to be working with each other. If anything, it has helped break down a barrier sooner in our relationship.

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