No Second Prize: How do you tell suppliers they were not selected?

June 12th, 2015

June 3 blog

I have been managing over 300 RFPs over the last eight years, and I still find it incredibly hard to tell suppliers that they were not selected. By the end of the process, they have put so much time and resources into their presentations and proposal. Some of them go through a few rounds of presentations, flying their teams across the country or continent to meet potential clients. There are no second prizes. You either win the business, or you don’t.

And all those that don’t win can do is reflect productively on the experience, adjust (if required) and move onto new opportunities.

Jennifer Duane recently joined our team to support our growing number of biotech clients that require more support to manage RFPs. Jennifer has spent most of her career (an impressive 17 years) in strategic sourcing at Millennium Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda Oncology).  Her experience is also helping us shape and refine tealbook so it continues to add value to both clients and suppliers.

Jennifer has had a lot of experience sharing tough news with suppliers that were not selected. Here are a few of her tips to help anyone deliver bad news a little more easily:

1.Be sure to set up time with every supplier who participates. It is a time investment to bid for your business, so be sure to give them time to speak to you and share feedback after the decision is made.

2.Share what went WELL! There is (almost) always something positive to share after a company bids for business. Be sure to share that, as well as the reasons they are not getting the business.

3. Be honest but constructive. The toughest feedback to give is often about chemistry with your company, or another intangible. Let them hear what you have to say, but beware of rebuttal. Try not to get into any back-and-forthing. Deliver the feedback and close the conversation.

4. If the company was a solid candidate, offer to stay in touch from a procurement perspective! Things change in this business, and you never know when your paths may cross again. Be open to the company checking in with you in the future.  If there could be a fit down the road, consider staying in touch via LinkedIn.

With tealbook, we help clients quickly find and validate a short list of candidates, so that only a small number of suppliers participate in potential opportunities that are a good mutual fit. But despite our best efforts to improve the process and encourage suppliers to spend more time on opportunities that generate greater ROI, only one company wins. And all those that don’t win can do is reflect productively on the experience, adjust (if required) and move onto new opportunities.

As always, I welcome your feedback. Please contact me and my team if you are interested in seeing a demo or learning more how tealbook can help your company build an intuitive supplier database with greater perspective from employees and aggregated industry peers (


Stephany (

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