Rejection: Is there an upside?

Jim Bierfeldt

Jim Bierfeldt is the founder and chief strategist at Logistics Marketing Advisors, a marketing firm that helps logistics businesses define and communicate their value, and then translate that value into revenue.

NoI recently accepted a trial offer to download stock images for free for a short period.  As a rule, I try to avoid stock, but they’re necessary at times and, after all, free is a good deal.  My experience with Bigstock Photo was great.  Finding and downloading images was fast and easy. But what was most interesting was the series of messages that were triggered on their website when I clicked “cancel my trial” a few days in.

“Before you cancel, did you have a good experience?”   My positive response yielded a follow-up prompt:

“Aw thanks, we’re blushing.  Go on, tell us your favorite part.”  This prompt came with an option to post the comment on their Facebook page, which I declined.  Next prompt:

“We’re not ready to part ways yet. Things were just getting good.”  They then made a very attractive offer to reduce the price on a longer term subscription, which I declined.

“Are you sure you want to end your subscription?”  A final “yes” from me.

“(Sad trombone) Why are you leaving and what could we do better?”

In reading, they may come across as a desperate suitor refusing to let go, but it all happened in seconds and I happily participated in this rejection dance because Bigstock approached it with humor and humility. I actually felt better about this company as we parted ways (hey, they were engaging, funny people who gave me stuff for free).  Most important, I’ll probably remember the site if and when I need a stock image down the road.

Rejection and Logistics

One of the tough parts about pitching business in the logistics space is that we lose more than we win.  How are you managing these rejections?

Do you get angry?  I’ve seen it, particularly in situations where the prospect demanded detailed pricing but was just looking for leverage against a current provider. It’s a human response, but there’s nothing flattering in it.

Do you simply mark them as “lost” in your CRM and quickly move to the next opportunity?

Or, like Bigstock, are you using the rejection to set the stage for future opportunities?

Unlike lovebirds or wolves, shippers and logistics service providers don’t mate for life.  Also, shippers can have different needs that trigger new opportunities for different services or geographic areas.  Leave your prospect with a “hey, I’d like to work with these people someday” kind of feeling.  Sure, it’s tough to get rejected after you’ve invested so much time and energy to craft a great solution. But swallow your pride and make another investment, this time in understanding why, when and how the customer came to the decision she did.

If you don’t have one already, design a formal process to solicit feedback on lost opportunities and use this feedback to improve your operations, improve future proposal responses, adapt your pricing strategy and, ultimately, improve your close ratio. Bigstock’s web-based approach won’t work in logistics; you’ll need to get up close and personal with your prospect.  Most will assent to a short discussion with the suppliers who invested considerable time in the bid response.

Being rejected is never easy. But handle it well and it could pave the way to future business.

By the way, check out my new paper on marketing logistics services.

Not interested in the new paper?  Figures.  I can’t believe you people.  I go to the trouble of writing this blog post and you won’t even download a simple article on 3PL marketing.  Do you think I have nothing better to do than to write these posts?   (Told you… not flattering.)

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