It’s me; not you. The heartbreak of losing a client 1

You don’t have to be in business very long before you have your first experience of getting fired, being let go or doing the letting go. Either way it’s a painful experience that never gets easier. But you can learn to handle it well.

From Catherine Barr, one of our technical experts…

It’s a Friday afternoon and I’m tending to emails from the week marking what needs to be followed up and what can be filed away.  The weekend is looking good since I plan to get out for one last kayak of the season before winter hits.

Then it happens.   *Ping*

A new email shows up in my Inbox from a client that I’ve had for about 8 years.  Uh oh.  It starts out with the dreaded, “You have been great to work with over the years but…”  The client was breaking up with me.   My mood goes from positive and happy to dazed and confused.  I get that horrible instant feeling of my stomach in knots.  It takes a few minutes to soak it in as I read the email three times.  It’s a simple email stating that they have decided to hire another IT firm and the overall tone states, “It isn’t you, it’s me.”

We’ve all been there

Any service consultant has been here.  And if you claim to never have lost a client, then you are either just starting out or you are telling a lie.  One of the unfortunate truths in any industry including IT consulting is you will lose clients.  Let’s be honest.  It sucks.  You can tell yourself till your blue in the face that business is business and that it isn’t a personal attack.  But we all know deep down it stings.

There are plenty of articles on the Internet about what not to do in response to the “breakup” such as don’t sabotage their network, hurl insults and write bad reviews.  I’m sure you’ve read some of them.   They all have good points but the purpose of this blog is not to preach to you.  We are smart cookies.  We are adults.  We know that exemplifying polite respectful responses is truly the way to go.

I decided to write about the loss of a client because I recently went through it and I am not afraid to admit it.  It’s okay to lose clients.  I stopped beating myself up over it years ago.  Don’t get me wrong, it still hurts to lose one but it happens.  When it happens to you, take comfort knowing that you are not alone.

Moving on

So how do you move on from losing a client?  Here are a few things that I do when it happens to me and my company.  Maybe some of it will help the next time you face losing a client.

  1. Scream and yell. Yes, that’s right!  Let it all out.  (Well maybe not in a public place unless you don’t mind the stares.)  It’s okay to get upset and angry.  If you work with a team, let them voice their frustrations too!  Don’t hold anything against your team.  It’s healthy to have a vent session when it happens.


  1. Don’t act right away. I find this one important.  As much as I want to reply right away or call them right away, I give myself time to let it sink in and plan a response.  Who knows.  Maybe you will decide that the client isn’t worth trying to win back anyway.


  1. Take a bit of time to analyze the overall situation. Think about what may have triggered them to consider moving elsewhere.  Sometimes it’s about price, level of service, knowledge consistency or simply just personality conflicts.  Is there something you could do in the future to improve?



  1. Pump yourself back up. Remind yourself of times when you won contracts and brought on new clients.  As you know, it’s an awesome feeling knowing that a company has confidence in you.


  1. Keep the door open. I like to ensure the client knows they are always welcome to call on me in the future no matter what has taken place.


  1. Keep the “break-up letter” and read it once in awhile. This might seem a bit morbid but I like to remind myself of the past.  I agree that we shouldn’t dwell on the past but we shouldn’t bury it either.  It helps keep me sharp.


  1. Remember that clients come and go and some clients are good to be gone.


About Third Tier

Established in 2008, Third Tier only works for IT Professionals by providing them with access to advanced support services. No one can know it all these days, so we give IT pros a place to go to get the hands on support they need in areas they normally don’t work in or problems they’ve never encountered. We also work on projects, fix their accounting practices and do many, many migrations and other installations. Our staff covers a wide range of technologies.




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One thought on “It’s me; not you. The heartbreak of losing a client

  • Stuart Crawford

    The law of attraction comes into play here…get rid of a client and it creates a vacancy for a new and sometimes better client.

    Stuart R. Crawford
    MSP Marketing Consultant
    Sebring, FL