What to Do When a Client Mentions a Future Project — And Then Goes Silent

Sometime when you talk to a client or prospect, they’ll mention a new project they’d like to send your way.

Which is exciting!

But it can be disappointing when that’s the last you hear of it.

This happened to one of my coaching clients recently. She had just completed an e-book for one of her clients — a marketing director. The project went really well and the marketing director was happy with her work.

The marketing director mentioned that she would soon have another project for my coaching client. But then nothing happened.

My client followed up, of course. But the marketing director said she was still thinking about the project and would be in touch when she was ready.

Weeks went by. Then a couple of months.

Ugh! This presents my client with a dilemma. Should she continue to follow up (and risk annoying the marketing director) or should she just let it go (and risk losing the project)?

It’s Probably Not You

When a client identifies a project they’d like to do, but doesn’t take action, you can’t do much to create urgency.

Following up constantly is unlikely to move things forward — and will probably backfire.

You have to remember that clients have a LOT going on. So don’t assume they’ve changed their mind about a project. Usually, they just haven’t gotten to it yet.

But at the same time, you don’t want them to forget about you. You want to stay in touch, but in a low-key way that won’t come across as pushy or desperate.

And the two approaches I like best for this kind of thing are the “Lake Tahoe” email and long-term nurturing.

The “Lake Tahoe Email”

I call this approach the “Lake Tahoe email” because that’s where I was going on vacation when I first dreamed it up.

Basically, you communicate your limited availability in a way that motivates clients to commit to starting a project.

The Lake Tahoe email comes in two flavors. The first one looks like this:

SUBJECT: Upcoming vacation

Hi Sally,

Just a heads up that I’ll be out of town on vacation from July 1-July 16.

You’d mentioned that you had a few projects that you were planning on starting. If you’d like to get going on them before I head out, I’d be happy to put them in my schedule.

If not, that’s fine too. I just thought I’d let know that I’ll be away during that time.



Now of course you’re not always going to have a planned vacation that you can leverage in this way. And please don’t make something up!

Use this alternative instead:

SUBJECT: Scheduling your project

Hi Janet,

A quick note to let you know that I’m starting to schedule client projects through the end of January.

 I know you’re probably still thinking through the specifics of your next e-book, but thought I’d check in. If you’d like to move forward, I want to put you in my January schedule before I get booked.

Would you like to schedule a brief kickoff call next week?

This is a gentle nudge to get the client thinking about this project again and to communicate your availability.

In these examples, I’m starting a new email stream. But if you already have an email exchange about the project, add to that stream so your message sits on top. This will help jog the client’s memory about the project.

Your Nurturing Bucket

Of course, you can’t keep sending the Lake Tahoe email to the same client over and over.

If you try it once (or twice, max) and it doesn’t work, put the client in your nurturing bucket.

In other words, continue to connect — in a very low-key way — every few months. Keep this going indefinitely to stay on their radar until they’re ready to proceed.

Stay in Touch, Without Being Annoying

Don’t lose heart if a prospect or client falls silent after mentioning a potential project to you.

It doesn’t mean that the project is dead. It could just mean that they’re busy.

If a client falls silent after mentioning a new project to you, that doesn’t mean it’s dead.

Sometimes you can nudge them along with a “Lake Tahoe” email. But if not, don’t worry.

Just put them in your nurturing bucket so they’ll remember you when the time is right.

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