That is right, I got rejected, actually, I came in second place but technically, that is still being rejected. Not everyone wins a promotion, speaking engagement or consulting assignment. In the process, I got a great gift – constructive feedback!

Being a consultant is very similar to being a job hunter. You have to get used to rejection because it happens all the time – in varying degrees. And just like the job hunter, when a consultant fails to get the engagement, they want to know why.

So, the story is a few weeks ago while I was on vacation, an Elephants at Work reader contacted me about doing a speaking engagement for 75 sales people for a regional meeting. I have tons of experience working with sales groups and knew I would be able to deliver a quality presentation that would resonate with each attendee.

I had just delivered a program a few weeks earlier – Leading with Your Strengths for 30 people. The program was a huge success – my feedback scores were very high with four major themes:

  • Unique way of identifying my core strengths through group interaction
  • Helped me to rebuild my lost confidence
  • Exposure to the HBDI model
  • I wish we had more time

Any presenter will tell you that these comments are like music to our ears.

A few weeks go by and the sales group’s decision maker tells me I am one of two people being considered for the speaking engagement. I had pitched the Leading with Your Strengths program as one option. They wanted a two-hour presentation and I pressed for an extra hour – especially given the group size and interactivity of the session.

The decision was going to be made on a Friday. I did not hear anything. You know the feeling. I sent a note on Sunday asking about the decision and received this response on Monday:

My apologies for not communicating with you on Friday.  As you said, “schedules flex” – but I had several business issues crop up that required my immediate attention. 

I wanted to let you know that we have decided to go with another speaker for our upcoming meeting in September, and I would like to provide the rationale – because it was a tough decision:

We (my director and co-chair) loved your presentation concept – and found many of the objectives to be very relevant to our group.  However, we were just not able to devote the agenda time that we thought would be required to fully bring these concepts to fruition.  We didn’t want the presentation to feel rushed and therefore diluted – because there is a lot to be learned by our group!

I enjoy your blog, and would like to raise awareness of my local representatives (from Rochester/Buffalo, and myself) to any opportunities that you might be speaking at.  You had mentioned a video that was going to be posted – so I’ll keep my eye out for it.

This is a new group, so as learning opportunities present themselves – I definitely would like to keep you in mind for the future.  I appreciate your availability to discuss and answer my questions over the past several weeks.

Some people would be really upset they did not the speaking engagement. I won’t lie; I was disappointed because it would have opened the door to a potential new client. At the same time I was elated! The decision maker conveyed the decision and provided great constructive feedback. I was so excited I called her up and told her so (much to her surprise)!

When you get constructive feedback, it is easy to take action. I know where I fell short. They had a time constraint and I was pushing them for more time. When I develop proposals for clients, I always give them three options. I need to do the same with my speaking engagements – a one hour program, two hour program and a three hour program that takes things to a workshop format.

Thank you for the feedback – I really do appreciate it!