NO! It’s generally a devastating word to hear. Well, maybe that’s bit dramatic. But, when you have made a proposal and it is not accepted the question is “what can you learn from this?” I was working with a client today who had just received a NO on a big RFP… request for proposal. She was very enthusiastic about what she learned and I would like to share her insight with you.

First of all she was delighted just to have been invited to the “party.” That means she has a foot in the door. There will be a “next time.”

She learned more about making a better presentation: The message needs to be much clearer and focus more on the benefits for the client.

She would build her presentation team much more carefully next time. She would build her presentation team much more carefully next time. (She overheard someone say…”He sucked the air out of the room,” about one of her colleagues.)

Yes, it’s hard to get that rejection notice, but what matters is what you do with it. After licking her wounds she sent a “Thank You” email to her contact… and immediately received a kind phone call in response, asking about personal things and agreeing to share some of the things that could help her land the work next time. She built a relationship with someone who wants to see her win, it can’t get better than that!

It’s generally not personal. Many factors go into choosing counsel. So, learn from every experience. And make the next one better. I keep a pad of lessons learned on my desk and look at it periodically to make sure that the lessons are remembered. When I was young and received my first big promotion my mentor said… “Now, go make lots of mistakes!” As you can imagine I looked at him with a puzzled look on my face and he proceeded to explain… “But, only make them once! Because if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not pushing yourself and thinking outside the box.” I have never forgotten his advice.