Voice Actor Tip: Attempting to Win a Losing Client
Have you ever lost a VO client? We all know, it’s the moment every voice actor dreads.
Or are you seeing red flags that they are perhaps leaving you sooner or later? Maybe they haven’t returned your calls and messages in a while. Or they have been acting distant when you try to pin them down about the next phase of the project. And when you finally heard back from them..
“We’re taking things in a different direction.”
“We’re changing priorities.”
“New business realities.”
“We’ve found a new talent.”
These are the monologues that often indicate you’re losing a client.
It can be a total disaster when a client abruptly ends your relationship. You’ve likely been counting on those revenues, and you may feel personally wounded, as well. Didn’t they appreciate my work? What went wrong?
It’s normal to feel frustrated, until you just accept it and move past the unwanted experience. However, you can still attempt to save the client before you completely throw in the towel and move on to the next audition.
We’ve compiled some effective backup strategies in case you encounter the dreadful experience of losing your voice over client.
Take a breath while it sinks in
Perhaps you may have seen it coming. But many of us are still caught by surprise by the moment of truth because we subconsciously deny the mishap. Consequently, your first reaction may not be a constructive one. If you feel emotional, don’t do anything precipitate that might further worsen your client relationship moving forward. Getting defensive or arguing heatedly about the decision, especially if they indicate it’s already final, won’t do you any favor.
Instead, take a breath literally and then pause for a while to reflect. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to calm yourself first because saying anything because anything negative said on the spur of the moment won’t bring your client back.
Once your initial reaction has subsided, the best initial response when a client says they’re quitting you is to attack them with kindness.
Thank them for the heads up, tell them you need a little time to think about what they’ve said and promise to call them back later. That delay will allow you time to formulate your response instead of giving a kneejerk reaction.
Find out why
Now that you have acknowledged your client’s message and let them know you’ll get back to them, you have the chance to speculate on what had happened, and formulate questions that will help you examine not just your performance but figure out your client’s reasons.
Remember that although it is easy to assume things by instinct, make sure to ask. And do this once you’re calm and able to listen.
It is also important to not always jump on blaming yourself. It is possible that the problem may neither be you nor the client, but the unwanted circumstances that are nobody’s fault.
So here are the following questions the covers every face of the cube.
Does it have something to do with me? — “The federal government cut our budget by 50 percent and we have to eliminate all consulting contracts”
Did I run short in communicating with them? — “Slow replies and difficult to reach.”
“We’re taking things in a different direction.” — What is the new direction?
“We’re changing priorities.” — What are the new priorities?
“New business realities.” — What’s the new business realities?
“We’ve found a new talent.” — What are the requirements from the new talent?
Didn’t I meet their expectations?
Didn’t I comply with the VO direction?
These questions will enable you to determine whether it’s possible to make amends (see below) which could help them hold back with their decision. Too, you will be able to gauge whether there are skills or behaviors you could improve (which will help your business in the future), or this is simply a chance occurrence you have no control over.
Re-assess your performance
With the aforementioned questions, you have now the markers to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats over the period of contract with your client.
This is the perfect time to reflect back from the time you started your relationship with the client and assess things from your skills, performance, voice over tech stack, communication, to your treatment with the client. This is especially useful if the dilemma is with a long-time client.
Questions to introspect for long-time clients:
What are the common denominators of my successful projects with this client?
How was the communication over the recent projects?
Is my pricing aligned to the market standards?
What is my unique point of difference from the other voice overs in the category?
What went well during the last project
What went wrong during the last project
Is my voice quality not consistent?
Am I able to successfully demonstrate the role?
Am I able to deliver the value they wanted during the project period?
Questions to introspect for new clients:
Is my niche valuable to their project?
What sets me apart from other voice actors in the category;
How is this project communicated?
Is this communicated effectively?
What are their standards with their existing/previous voice actors?
Offer amends and propose a new version of agreement
It’s time to get back to the client. Having yourself equipped with your analysis, you’re ready to face them and make your attempt to overcome their decision. The last resort you can go is asking them straightforward, “What can I do to retain this contract?”
If you discover they feel there’s something you could have done differently — rewrite a report they felt was lacking or apologize to someone you’ve inadvertently offended — go ahead and do so. It’s not so bad to compromise a little than to completely lose it all. You may offer to make amendments that favor them and revise your agreement.
At best, it might cause them to reconsider and retain your contract. At worst, they’ll appreciate the effort and may speak well of you to others — or at least won’t badmouth you as they’ll recognize your sincerity.
Reality check: people come and go. And voice over business is no exception to this. It’s a sad reality that no matter how intimate the relationship we have built with our clients even for years, and no matter how confident we are that they are beyond satisfied with our voice over service, things are not certain and we can’t predict the circumstances. But it’s worth the try to negotiate your voice over services, just see to it that there’s no loss in the business transaction. Therefore, while you weigh up the pros of saving a contract, be sure to look past whether or not saving a quitting client is worthwhile.
Have you ever lost a client? How did you try to save them? Share it with us in the comments below!