There will come a time when someone tries to "sell you this pen" or make an "offer you can't refuse".
Whatever your job is, you will face pitches, sales emails and cold calls trying to sell you the latest and greatest trendy thing. But if you're not interested, how do you say no without upsetting or offending them (or their ego)?
Being able to politely decline business offers, quotations, bids, products, and proposals is a crucial skill we all need, and the good news is that you can learn it.
What's in this article?
This article shows you how to decline a business opportunity without damaging a relationship, destroying your reputation, and leaving the door open for future opportunities.
In addition to explaining how to decline a business offer politely, we provide some evidence-based tips to help you write decline emails for partnerships, contracts, vendors, and services.
We also give you 10 examples of how to politely decline a service offer that's not the right fit for you and your company.
Finally, we'll introduce you to Flowrite's offer rejection smart email template that helps you politely turn down offers that are too good to be refused, like so:
What is a business offer rejection email?
A business offer rejection email is a professional correspondence that tells someone you are not interested in their proposition. The principles are the same, whether they're trying to sell you a new product or policy, quote for work, or propose a new relationship. A business offer rejection email politely states no, offers reasons why, and sets boundaries for future correspondence.
"An email declining a proposal is written to express disappointment that a company didn't meet the criteria or the necessary guidelines to be awarded a project or business deal," says content specialist Jim Blessed.
Why decline a business offer by email?
Declining a business offer by email is the polite and professional thing to do, whether the approach was expected or not. These two types of emails are called solicited and unsolicited emails. Here's the difference between the two:
- Solicited emails are official correspondence responding to an opportunity to bid, an open invite to quote, or offering a product to you. Solicited email is one you're expecting to receive.
- Unsolicited emails are those that you aren't expecting. Also known as 'cold-emailing,' unsolicited emails can come out of the blue.
There are an almost infinite number of reasons why you wouldn't want to take an opportunity forward. Still, they typically break down into three categories, says Megan Ranger, making messages easy to create.
- You don't need the suggested product/service/solution
- You don't have the budget for it
- The investment isn't a wise strategy
Should you always respond if someone sends you a business offer that you're not interested in and you haven't asked for? Yes, say the experts.
If you've asked for proposals, you're duty-bound to respond. While unsolicited emails can be time-consuming and annoying, you should respond to them too.
But, as we all know, writing a rejection email is tough and many of us avoid making contact altogether. It's a risky strategy that can affect how you and your business perceive, warn experts. "Because it's unpleasant, too many of us put it off or don't do it at all, essentially letting our silence do the talking, "says Sarah Green Carmichael in the Harvard Business Review. "That's a missed opportunity (and rude)."
There is an opportunity to improve your professional reputation by responding politely. Moreover, while this business proposal may not be suitable, some other options in the future could be, so a polite email provides the basis for maintaining a positive relationship.
In some cases, you may not be interested in taking an opportunity further at any stage. Still, by not responding, you leave the door open to future correspondence. A polite email declining a business offer will shut it (gently). If you reply politely but firmly, you'll be less likely to receive unsolicited approaches in the future. However, ignoring an email is likely to lead to follow-ups in the future.
Declining a business proposal politely and professionally is quick and straightforward – if you follow our tips and use our templates.
10 tips on how to decline business proposals politely
- Thank the person for their time – You may not have asked for the sales email (and may not want it), but someone has taken the time to write it, so thank them for their time.
- Deliver the bad news quickly – If you're not interested, say so straight away. Most readers won't go further than this, so stick it at the top of your email.
- Provide some reasons – You don't need to go into detail. Still, a brief explanation of the reasons why you're not interested is essential. It turns a soft 'no' into a hard one.
- Keep things brief – Nobody likes to read lengthy emails to learn they're being told no, so keep it short.
- Be polite and professional – Sales emails can be annoying and intrusive but stay positive, courteous, and professional, and you'll protect your reputation.
- Set boundaries – Some salespeople won't take no for an answer, so if you aren't interested, say so. Be clear if you don't want to receive future emails, letters, or calls.
- Use correct email etiquette – Politely declining a business opportunity means following the proper email etiquette. Use the correct email introduction, structure, and sign-off.
- Never (totally) close the door to an opportunity – A polite email won't close the door to opportunities in the future. Failing to respond or being rude could cost you future opportunities.
- Request to be taken off a mailing list (if you want to) – Your email address shouldn't be kept on any list unless you want it to. Companies have a legal duty to do this, so don't be afraid to ask.
- Check spelling and grammar before sending – If you're responding, do the decent thing and ensure you spell check every email before sending it.
10 samples on how to politely decline business offers
We've provided the basics of saying no politely and declining a business offer. Still, it's easier to see this in practice. We've created 10 samples to illustrate how you can say no to a business offer while maintaining your reputation. We show you how to find the right tone in an email, ensuring your rejection is as positive as it can be.
1. How to decline a quotation politely sample
Knowing how to decline a quote politely is essential. The critical decision in how to turn down a quotation politely is whether you want to shut the door forever or invite the business to contact you in the future. Here's an example of how to reject a quotation but maintain a relationship.
2. How to politely decline a vendor
Vendor proposals are usually received when you run an open tender process. So the sender expects (and deserves) a reply. In this example of how to decline a vendor, we illustrate how to reject a vendor while ensuring they're still interested in responding to future call-outs and opportunities. You could call it our 'how to let a vendor down easy' email.
3. How to respectfully decline a bid
Companies invest time and money in developing bids, so politely declining it is a show of respect. It's also crucial to provide some reasons why. Again, using bullet points is an effective tactic. Here's our example of how to respectfully decline a bid.
4. How to politely decline a service offer
Similar to the example above, it's essential that you explain the reasons behind your decision. In this sample letter to decline service proposal, we provide insight into our decision making process. Learn how to decline services politely with this example.
5. Letter to decline insurance proposal
Insurance proposals are commonplace in business, but many find it hard to say no. So here's a quick and precise way to decline an insurance proposal.
6. How to politely decline a real estate offer
Declining a real estate offer, often called a real estate rejection letter, is an integral part of the sales process and essential for securing the best price for your property. When deciding how to politely decline a house offer, you'll need to consider whether you want to continue the conversation (and encourage them to up their offer) or not. Here's how to decline a real estate offer but keep them interested.
7. How to decline a sales offer
Learning how to say no to a sales pitch is essential for anyone with a business email address. We've created a short and unequivocal example of how to reject a sales proposal politely, setting boundaries that protect your business.
8. How to refuse a business proposal politely
There are several reasons why you may want to turn down a business proposal, but only one solution: a polite proposal rejection email. In this example of a business proposal rejection email, we show you how to politely turn down a business proposal without burning bridges or harming your organization.
9. How to reject a contract proposal
A contract proposal can be unsolicited or solicited. Still, in this example, we'll assume that the person is contacting you in response to public notice. However, this sample on how to reject a contract proposal is short and straightforward.
10. How to decline a partnership proposal
Declining a partnership proposal is a sensitive subject that must be handled with care. Suggesting a partnership is a significant step in a relationship. You must show respect while being resolute in your refusal. Here's a template covering how to decline a partnership proposal.
How to politely decline a business offer template
Flowrite is an AI writing software that turns your instructions into ready-to-send emails and messages.
Our Chrome extension and web application cover the email format, capitalization, grammar, spelling, punctuation. In other words, you can focus on the message, and Flowrite will take care of the delivery. We dare to claim that it's the fastest way to write rejection emails.
Our AI template collection features dozens of email templates to help you. To grasp how easy and fast it's to write a successful email pitch with Flowrite, check out how to politely decline a business offer template below.
As we've explored in this article, there's a skill and a structure needed when deciding how to decline a business offer politely.
As well as outlining the basic principles of politely declining bids, quotations, contracts and more.
The 10 samples covering how to decline an offer such as services, partnerships, and vendors will give you a starting point for saying no in any situation you might come across.
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