Nurturing No: How To Win Back Architecture Clients

December 10, 2023

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

We've all been there, right? You present your heart out, showcasing the best of your proposal, only to be met with a 'No'. It's like hitting a wall at full speed.

But here's a thought – maybe that 'No' isn't as solid as it seems. Perhaps it's just a temporary barrier, one that can be overcome with the right tactic.

A ‘No’ now doesn’t mean it will be a ‘No’ later.

Post-rejection, the usual drill is to jump right onto the next lead. It's like we're on autopilot – pitch, rejection, next. We've all done it. It's a natural reflex.

But rushing past a 'No' without a second glance is leaving money on the table.

Pause for a moment and think – have I ever changed my mind about something? Of course I have. Sometimes it takes 1 minute and sometimes it takes 1 year, but I change my mind all the time.

Changing your mind is a human condition. Feelings change. Context changes. Circumstances change. For you and your prospective clients.

Every 'No' carries stories, reasons, and feelings. Understanding these can turn what feels like a dead end into an open door.

Revisiting 'No's

So, let's change the narrative. Those 'No's you've collected over time? They're not rejections; they're opportunities in waiting. Here's how to bring them back to life:

01 // Catalog your 'No's

Dig out that list of past rejections. Who said 'No', and more importantly, why? Understanding the 'why' is key – was it timing, budget, or something in the proposal that didn't click? Knowing this sets the stage for your future communications with them.

02 // Start a conversation

It's time to rekindle these old flames. Reach out with a message that starts the conversation. Perhaps you’re sharing an new project that’s similar to their interests or simply saying that you were reminded of them when driving by their home or office recently. Or, better yet, pick up the phone and give them a call to start the conversation.

03 // Ask for feedback

If you didn’t get the chance earlier, now is the perfect time to ask why they said 'No'. This can be simple, “We’re in the process of reviewing our work for the year. I know I didn’t ask you before but I was wondering if there was a specific reason that it didn’t make sense for you to move forward?” Was it something in your approach, or perhaps external factors on their end? This is about gaining insights that can reshape your future proposals.

04 // Nurture

This is where you play the long game. Keep these prospects engaged with regular, insightful updates. Maybe it's a firm newsletter, a quarterly check-in email, or an invite to an exclusive event. The idea is to stay on their radar, subtly reminding them of your presence and expertise.

05 // Be patient

Turning a 'No' into a 'Yes' is a marathon, not a sprint. It's about nurturing these connections with patience and a long-term perspective. Don't rush it. You're not just chasing a quick win; you’re building relationships that bloom over time. Your respect for their decision and timeline can significantly build trust and rapport. Let these relationships naturally evolve in business partnerships.

06 // Systematize

Get organized and strategic about managing 'No's. Set up a simple tracking system – think a CRM segment or a dedicated spreadsheet. Log each 'No' with details like the date, reason, and any client-specific notes. Then, plan regular, meaningful touchpoints like your newsletters and regular check-ins.

The aim is consistency without overwhelming them. Regularly review what's working and what's not, and tweak your approach for better results. By streamlining this process, you're building an evergreen pipeline of known relationships that could bring you a project at any time.


A ‘No’ now doesn’t mean it will be a ‘No’ later. Stay engaged with all of your past and present prospects and play the long game.

  1. Catalog your ‘No’s

  2. Start a conversation

  3. Ask for feedback

  4. Nurture

  5. Be patient

  6. Systematize

In fact, I’d be surprised if you don’t have a past ‘No’ that’s ready to say ‘Yes’ right now. Prove me wrong! 😉

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