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July 24, 2018

5 Ways to Say “No thanks” to a Proposal

Twice in the past few years, I’ve written a blog post about the frustration that I (and all people involved in business development) feel when not hearing back from a potential client after submitting a proposal… a proposal that they requested. I wrote about how any answer – even a ‘no’ – is better than being ignored. With a clear answer… at least I’ll know how to move forward.

Sadly, the practice of ‘responding with silence’ from potential clients continues to this day.

So, on behalf of all small business owners who do the selling, seller-doers and professional salespeople everywhere, I’ve taken the liberty of writing out actual email scripts – based on several different scenarios – that you can use when responding to proposals you don’t want to accept. I hope these help:

General lack of interest:

“Mike, we’re not interested in what you’re proposing. In fact, we never were. Asking for a proposal was just our way of getting you off our backs for a few days.”

Off-target proposal:

“Wow! You really missed the mark with your proposal. You don’t have a clue about our business or what we need, do you?

Too costly:

“Mary, your prices are 30% higher than any of the other proposals we received. How gullible do we look? And with those prices, how are you still in business?”

Personality conflict:

“Joe, you’re a complete jerk. Nobody here likes you… not even a little. And there’s no way we’re gonna do business with you. Ever!”

Quality concerns:

“Alice, we asked around. You’re like a one-star rating on Yelp! None of your clients ever want to do business with you again!”

OK, maaaaaaybe my suggestions are a little over the top. But at least they’re direct and to the point. And that’s really what all of us in business development are looking for.

So, do me a favor… when you ask a potential vendor for a proposal, please respond to it (maybe a little more politely than the comments above) in a timely fashion with an honest statement about where they stand.

On behalf of biz dev people everywhere, “Thank you.”

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