There are few things more satisfying than landing a new client – and then getting a monthly support contract on top of it. There are also few things more demoralizing than when that client seeks outside advice to refresh their project. How do you deal with that, with the need to be professional, and still admit your personal feelings?
Well, you blog about it, of course! And in the preparation for blogging, you have to come to realize that there is literally nothing bad about this situation. Nothing at all.
First, you still landed the client. Take that win! Second, take a moment to look over the relationship with your client. Did you do all you could, within the scope of your contract, to make them happy? Did you behave in a consistently professional manner, and always remember they are the boss? Did you complete tasks in a timely fashion? There are a lot of things like this that you can look back on, and maybe see a pattern – and if you did all this, and can honestly say to yourself that you did the best you could, then you need to move to the next step, and this is the hard one.
Accept it. Be gracious. Seek to learn.
Hard to do – accepting it less so, as it is likely a done deal, but still not easy. Being gracious is not to be understood as being subservient or allowing people to walk all over you. Being gracious is part of being a team player. Even if you are no longer on the team. It may be hard, but this is the professional response. Be useful too – you know things that the new person doesn’t, and by being gracious, you also make a new contact – one who is not responsible for your client looking elsewhere. Lastly, seek to learn – we all have different skills and foci. By learning from a new person’s work, you can increase your own ability, and in the long run make yourself more marketable.
In the end, this situation happens for one reason and one reason only. Somewhere, somehow, in some manner you failed the client. You may not ever know how, it may be something happened that is wholly out of your control or influence. It may have been a miscommunication, misunderstanding, or whatever. Honestly, in the end, that isn’t so important (still worth some searching to find why, to make yourself better or to understand the situation better). You still failed in some way.
And that’s ok. Failure isn’t an option, it’s a requirement. By accepting this, you become better at your work, stronger as a candidate for future work, and you know what can happen, and what to avoid.