What do you do when you lose a potential client? A few weeks ago this happened to me. I was disappointed but it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time that I hear the words, “I’m sorry but…”. However, over the years I’ve learned to see this as an opportunity and not as a loss. Let me explain.
I thanked my client for her interest in my services and proposed several inexpensive ideas that could still allow her to capture something of her father’s life. I pointed her to a previous blog article of mine, How to Write Your Life Story in Twenty Statements. I suggested this could be a jumping off point for her father to reflect on his journey and document his thoughts with a digital voice recorder.
I also proposed that perhaps a grandchild armed with some questions and a recorder could interview the grandfather and capture something of his story.
I felt better being able to offer some alternatives and she felt good about her experience with me. And that’s crucial. While I won’t be working with her on this project, who knows what the future holds? Perhaps one day she might want me to document her life story. Or she may pass my name on to a friend or colleague who’s looking for a personal historian. It’s planting seeds that can grow into future work.
So what might you be able to offer potential clients who turn you down? Here are some suggestions for saying, “Thank you for contacting me.”
- Provide a list of “How to” books and web resources on recording life stories.
- Give out your “50 best life story questions”. [You've written this, right? ]
- Provide the names of local personal historians who are starting out and might be willing to work for a lower fee.
- Present a copy of the Association of Personal Historians book, My Words Are Gonna Linger.
- Provide a book on how to record life stories such as Legacy : A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Personal History, How to Write Your Own Life Story or Keeping Family Stories Alive.
- Give a subscription to a magazine such as Family Tree Magazine.
If you put your mind to it, it’s not hard to come up with some simple, inexpensive ways to say, “I appreciate your contacting me. I’m sorry we can’t work together, but your desire to record your loved one’s personal history is important. And I want to honor your commitment.”
Photo by Jean-François Bauche
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