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Your Silent No is Hurting Your Reputation. And you don't even know it.

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

You request for proposals and quotes from vendors. What do you do when you find that you cannot follow through with them?

If you were like most client-side executives that I have come across, you probably would have done nothing. You might have even ignored the courtesy follow up email the vendor sent you.

What you really want to say is, I am not going to buy your product/service. But what you did was just give, what I call, a Silent No. We have all given the Silent No to sales calls. But those were unsolicited calls that you did not request nor were you interested in.

A Silent No is particularly rude when you sought out vendors and asked them to submit a proposal. It would be like inviting someone to your house and then not opening the door when he arrives. Just because everyone seems to be doing this doesn’t make it is right.

I have asked fellow business owners as to why this bad habit is so prevalent in Singapore. Here are some reasons I have collated.

1. You don't want to lose face because you can’t afford their product/services.

2. You are just looking for three quotes to fulfil your procurement requirements. You probably already have a vendor in mind.

3. Your management has changed the plans yet again. It's too embarrassing to tell the vendor that.

4. You feel that it would be rude to reject an offer. Better to just stay silent. (Really?)

5. You feel that if you say no, then you are obliged to give an explanation. So better to just keep silent.

How Your Silent No Hurts Your Reputation

1. The vendors feel ignored and disrespected. They have put in time and effort in coming up with the proposal based on your request. The message you are sending is that their time is not as valuable as yours.

2. It seems like a lot of executives in Singapore don’t realise that it is their company’s branding that gets hit. Say you are working at a company called Widgets. Vendors will probably be saying to fellow service providers, “The people at Widget are rude.” As conversations go, he says it to two others. Then, each one of them says it to two of their contacts and so on. It won't be long before people come to believe that dealing with Widget is not going to be a good experience.

3. Vendors will probably not take your request for quotes and proposals seriously the next time around. Vendors who have been in business for some time know that it is better to use the energy to court another genuine prospective client than to deal with your company again. If they bothered, you might get a quickly put together proposal. That is not what you want.

4. You will probably attract vendors who are new to the market and thus are still able to entertain such behaviours. This may not be so bad; you might think. Think again.

The vendors who have been around for some time brings with them technical and industry knowledge that new vendors may not have picked up. Their insight can save you a lot of time, energy and money by advising you on the best path of action.

What then is the way around this? Just learn how to say no in an authentic and respectful manner. I shall elaborate in my next post.

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