Breaking Up is Hard to Do: How to say ‘Thanks’ but ‘No Thanks’ to Vendors

Happy Monday! The “Mondays” are always so much worse after a long weekend. To go along with this theme, today I’m going to discuss one of the less fun parts of planning an event: politely declining a vendor’s proposal. This post is the last installment in a 3-part series on working with vendors. (Click here if you missed Step 1 and Step 2.) Let’s get on with it, shall we?

I hate saying “No.” A lot of people experience this, especially women, and as a professional in a service industry, I have an even stronger inclination to say “Yes.” However, not every vendor is appropriate for every event. So when you’re ready, how do you tell the vendors, “Thanks, but no thanks”?

5 Key Steps to Follw in Order to Decline a Vendor Proposal |

  1. Call the Winner First. Talk through any concerns you had with their proposal and make sure they’re still #1 before calling the others.
  2. Call the Loser(s). Once you are on the same page and happy with your choice and the conditions moving forward, call the others. You can even wait a day or two to make sure you’re not going to change your mind. No matter what, CALL THEM ON THE PHONE. In these modern times, it’s so easy to write an email, hit “Send,” and forget about it. However, like in any relationship, no one likes to get dumped over email or *shuddering* over text.
  3. Provide Feedback.  It’s not necessary to go into great detail or give specific reasons; it’s fine to say you decided to “go in a different direction.” However, if you can offer constructive feedback, the vendor will appreciate it and that you took the time to make the call. Were they too expensive? Did they leave out some items from the proposal that you had requested? Was their product too salty or sweet? Was it not the right shade?
  4. Say “Thank You.” Thank them again for their time and tell them you will keep them in mind for future needs (and mean that). You never know if a vendor will fall through at the last minute or if your needs will change. Again, like in any relationship, it’s best not to burn bridges.

Politely declining a vendor isn’t easy and usually the conversation is much more difficult in your head than when you actually do it. Follow these 5 steps and the experience will be much less painful. And if you missed them, don’t forget Step 1 and Step 2 in how to work with vendors.

Have you had this difficult conversation and how did it go?


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