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How to write a rfp rejection letter

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How to write a rfp rejection letter
November 12, 2018 Wedding Anniversary Wishes 4 comments

A proposal rejection letter is a letter businesses, companies, or organizations write to reject a bid. These are common letters in the business world that act as.

I have a friend who appraises antiques — assigning a dollar value to the old Chinese vase your grandmother used for storing pencils, telling you how much those silver knickknacks from Aunt Fern are worth. He says the hardest part of his job, the part he dreads the most, is telling people that their treasure is worthless.

I can empathize. I feel like I do that too, every time I tell a prospective HBR author that their ideas, research, or writing just isn’t good enough to make the cut.

Rejection letters aren’t easy for any of us. Whether you’re telling a job candidate that he didn’t make the next round, an entrepreneur that you’re not going to fund her project, or a vendor that you no longer need his services, these are emails most of us dread crafting. 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. That’s a missed opportunity (and rude). Though painful, rejection has benefits: research by Linus Dahlander at ESMT and Henning Piezunka at INSEAD has found, for example, that when organizations take the time to explicitly reject (rather than just passively ignore) crowdsourced ideas, it both increases the quality of the ideas they’re being offered and increases the engagement of the crowd.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in a decade at Harvard Business Review — during which I’ve rejected literally thousands of ideas, pitches, and drafts — it’s that a quick no is better than a long maybe.

Writing a Basic Rejection Letter

Writing good rejections does take a bit of time — especially at first. But one of the benefits of learning to write a good, clear rejection letter is that it forces you to think clearly about what it is that you want from other people, and what it is that your organization really needs. For example, I can categorize most of my rejections for HBR into one of five categories: too broad (and thus not very useful to readers); too repetitive with stuff we’ve already published; too jargony; too self-promotional; not supported by enough evidence or expertise. Knowing this, we were able to distill a set of guidelines for prospective authors that encouraged them to avoid these common pitfalls.

That said, rejection letters need not be long, and the reason you give for the rejection need not be super-detailed. If you don’t have much of a relationship with the person — you never met them, maybe just traded some emails — the entire letter might be just a few lines. I looked back at some rejection letters I sent, and realized that I usually follow a pretty simple format:

  1. Say thanks.
  2. Deliver the news.
  3. Give the main reason.
  4. Offer hope.

For example:

[Their name],

Thanks for your patience while I reviewed this proposal. I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass. We’ve published a lot on cybersecurity lately, and unfortunately the proposed piece overlaps a bit too much with other articles we’ve published. I hope you find a good home for it in another publication.

All the best,

[Your name]

If I were giving bad news to someone I’d interviewed for a job, I might tweak it a bit, but the basic format would stay the same:

[Their name],

Thanks for making the time to talk with me last week. While I enjoyed our conversation, I think we need someone with more hands-on project management experience for this role. I hope you find the right job for you in the near future.

[Your name]

If you can’t think of any hope to offer at the end, then don’t. “Do not say anything that will give the recipient the impression that the door is still open,” Joceyln Glei advises in her new email writing guide, Unsubscribe, “Such clarity and finality can feel cruel, but adding additional language to ‘soften the blow’ only serves to create false hope. Say your piece and sign off.” False hope is crueler than no hope. False hope just encourages the other person to waste more of their time, and yours.

If the idea of ending with an unsoftened rejection makes you unbearably squeamish, you can close with an extra thank you. Consider this example of a rejection letter to a vendor:

[Their name],

Thanks for your detailed proposal. Taking a look at the materials, it seems like your firm’s key strengths don’t quite overlap with what we need for this project. Thanks again for taking the time to put this proposal together for us.

Best wishes,

[Your name]

Writing a Detailed Rejection Letter

But what if the pitch (or person) was really close to being a good fit, and you might want to work with them in the future? Or you have more of a relationship with them? In those cases, the above messages are probably too cold and too vague. When rejecting people I want to encourage, I keep the format much the same, but am generally much more detailed in my reason for rejecting and more explicit in encouraging the person to try again. (In the study I mentioned above, Dahlander and Piezunka found that providing an explanation about why an idea was being rejected bolstered the beneficial effects of rejection — eg, motivation and idea quality.)

I also often end with a question, to try to signal that I’m genuinely interested — not just making an empty, softening-the-blow promise. For example:

[Their name],

Thanks for your patience while I reviewed this proposal. I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass. We’ve published a lot on cybersecurity lately, and unfortunately the proposed piece overlaps a bit too much with other articles we’ve published. For example, take a look at the article we published on August 6 by Professor Joe Schmo, and the August 16 article by the CEO of Acme Corp. Although we won’t be able to publish this particular piece, I really enjoyed your writing style and the way you supported your argument with extensive research; would you be interested in pitching us some other articles in the future?

All the best,

[Your name]

For the job interviewee, it might look like this:

[Their name],

Thanks for making the time to talk with me last week. I’m sorry to say that your candidacy did not make it to the next round; we’ve had a very competitive pool for this position. At this point, our organization really needs someone with more project management experience. However, I really enjoyed our conversation and think you could be a good fit here in the right role. Please do keep in touch — and is it OK with you if I let you know about roles that open up that might be a better fit?

All the best,

[Your name]

Now for the vendor:

[Their name],

We were lucky to get some strong proposals in on this and we deeply appreciate all the info from your side — and for your patience. After a lot of careful thought, we have decided to go with another firm for this project. While we certainly have no doubt about the superior quality of your team or that you could deliver on this skillfully we decided to use this project to expand our bench of development partners and, since this is part experiment for us, this was a good opportunity to do that.

We’d really like to continue talking with you about future projects we have coming up this year. I definitely look forward to collaborating in the future.

Thanks again for your help and your time,
[Your name]

The more specific you are about the way you reject something (or someone), the more information you give them. A smart rejectee will use this information to come back with a stronger pitch the next time. I’ve actually had a few people thank me for rejection letters I wrote to them, because it gave them the kind of concrete, specific feedback they needed in order to make a better pitch in the future. It’s a good reminder that people do value receiving criticism, even though most of us dread giving it.

Writing a Rejection Letter When You Disagree with the Decision

It’s especially tough to pass along a rejection decision that you disagree with. Maybe you fought hard for a job candidate everyone else was unimpressed by, or championed the cause of a vendor that the executive committee thought was too expensive. I know I’ve argued for articles that other editors thought weren’t ready for prime time. It’s not a good feeling.

When this happens, it’s tempting to hide behind passive voice or other people — eg, “It has been decided that we won’t  be pursuing this” or “The bigwigs have decided to go in a different direction.” Resist that temptation. It’s not any easier to get rejected in that fashion, and writing that way undercuts your authority as a decisionmaker.

If you’re the one issuing a rejection, own the rejection. It’s fair to say something like, “After a lot of discussion and back-and-forth, we’ve decided X” or “It was a really hard decision, but we’ve ultimately decided Y.” But say “we,” not “they.”

A rejection letter in which you’re hiding behind someone else’s skirt inhibits your ability to give useful feedback. It also makes your organization look fractious or contentious, which undermines other people’s desire to work with you in the future.

Writing a Rejection Letter After a Ton of Back and Forth

The other kind of rejection that’s really tough to deliver is the one where you’ve both put in a lot of time and effort to make the thing work — but it’s still not working. Now, despite the sunk costs, it is time to cut your losses and move on. In some cases, a phone call is the best way to deliver this kind of news — use your judgment. But if you decide to write an email, it’s OK to keep it brief. Usually, at this point, you and your counterpart will have spent so much time talking about the problems with the project or the piece that your counterpart will already know the reason behind the rejection; you just need to recap it briefly. Here’s an example:

Hi [Their name],

Thanks for taking another stab at this. I really appreciate all the time and effort you’ve put in. Unfortunately, despite both of our best efforts, I think [problem X still applies] and we’re still not hitting the mark. At this point, I’d say let’s set this one aside and move ahead.

[Your name]

The other thing I try to do when delivering this kind of tough news is position myself on the same side as the person I’m rejecting: We have made a good faith effort; and despite that effort, we have fallen short. This isn’t just window-dressing; if you’re rejecting something after a lot of involvement, then some part of the failure is yours, too. (And maybe a sign that you should have sent a quicker rejection sooner in the process, when it would have been less painful for both of you.)

Delivering bad news is tough, and in different companies or cultures these examples may sound either overly harsh or too nice. You’ll need to find your own language depending on the context and the culture. That said, remember: don’t soften the blow just for the sake of blow-softening. False kindness just gives people false hope. And there’s nothing kind about that.

A rejection letter is oftentimes very tough for any of us, whether you are the bearer or receiver of such bad news. While many of us think that it is only used to .

Reject a Bid or Proposal

how to write a rfp rejection letter

Rejection Of Proposal



Tom Atkinson
14 Edith Street,
Hackney West,

Dear [NAME, ex. Tom Atkinson],

I was pleased to receive and examine your proposal of [DATE, ex. June 10]. Thank you for your interest in [NATURE OF PROPOSAL, ex. rendering cleaning services at our construction sites].

I regret, however, that we are unable to accept your proposal. [STATE REASON(S), ex. Although I find the services outlined in your proposal to be of high quality, we are currently under two-year contract with Jerry�s Disposal for similar services.] {IF THERE IS A POSSIBILITY OF DOING BUSINESS IN THE FUTURE, MENTION SO, ex. After the contract expires, however, we will be pleased to discuss the possibility of doing business in the future.}

Thanks again for your proposal. I do appreciate your time and effort and wish you the best in the future.


[YOUR NAME, ex. Tony Montana]

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How to Politely Decline a Sales Offer Without Burning Bridges

how to write a rfp rejection letter

Being the bearer of bad news is never an enjoyable thing to do. However, it’s an important part of running a business. Sending a bid rejection letter to another company or individual to inform them that their bid was unsuccessful is a necessary task many business owners need to complete. While writing a bid rejection letter can be uncomfortable, you can still maintain a business relationship with that company if you remain courteous and honest.

Write a Courteous Bid Rejection Letter

It’s vital to establish a polite and considerate tone when writing your bid rejection letter. Whether it’s a regret letter for a quotation or a rejection letter to a response for an RFP, make sure that your letter is respectful and well mannered. Be sure to send the rejection letter as soon as you have made a decision and finalized your plans.

Write your letter in formal business language. Use block style and format your bid rejection letter so that all the text is aligned to the left side of the page. Single space your content and include a double space between paragraphs. Address the recipient of the rejection letter formally using “To” or “Dear,” followed by their name.

Be Direct with Your Reasons

Avoid including complicated excuses in your bid rejection letter. It’s better to be direct and honest and provide specific bid rejection reasons for why your company cannot accept their bid. Don’t assume the recipient knows why their bid was rejected. Instead, provide a clear reason such as cost, scope or schedule. This helps the recipient to better prepare their bid for the next time.

For example, “We are not able to accept your bid for front-of-store signage as the cost is considerably higher than the other bids we received,” tells the reader of the bid rejection letter why your company cannot do business with them. Now that they have a better idea of your budget, their next bid to you may be less pricey and within your cost limits.

Maintain Business Relations

Even though you are rejecting a bid, you can still maintain a cordial relationship with the company. There is no need to sever ties completely. After all, networking in business is vital to success. Making contacts in other industries is beneficial. When you expand your business network, you expand your potential market. That company could end up providing you with important business connections that lead to future sales.

Invite the recipient of the letter to bid on future projects your company may do. This tells them that you value them as an organization and are not opposed to working with them in the future. For example, you can say, “While this bid was unsuccessful, we invite you to bid on future projects for our company.” If you know you will be inviting additional bids at a future date, you can include that information in the letter so the company can prepare for the next round.

Contract Rejection Letter Sample

Thank you for your company’s bid to provide office cleaning services for our business. We appreciate the time you invested in preparing such a well-constructed plan.

After considering all our options, we have decided to work with another company to procure cleaning services, as their bid was more in line with our organization’s budget. The other company was also willing to work within our tight schedule that we need to maintain due to our complex operations.

While this bid was not accepted, we welcome you to bid on our other locations as they will require cleaning services in the future. A Request for Quote will be posted in the coming weeks.

Thanks again for your time,

Rejection Of Proposal, Free sample and example letters. Sample Letters for Rejection Of Proposal - iSampleLetter.

5+ Sample Proposal Rejection Letters

how to write a rfp rejection letter

July 4, 2018

Mr. Todd B. Harley
357990 South Mapple Drive
My Town, AL 56982

Dear Mr. Todd B. Harley:

Thank you very much for presenting a very well thought out design for our new Operating Room Waiting Area. I especially appreciate the way in which you incorporated existing aspects of our facility.

However, after we carefully reviewed all the other proposals we did not choose your design. This in no way takes away from the creativity and thoughtfulness you incorporated into it. The selection panel had two primary reasons for selecting a different design. First the fabric choices met the national healthcare requirements. Second the overall cost met our goals.

Again, Ms. Flexington, we appreciate your submission and the time you took to provide it.


Glen D. Dickerson

January 5, 2011

Mr. Arnold A. Smith
356723 Johnsonville Avenue
Amis, CO 89021

Dear Mr. Arnold A. Smith:

I truly appreciate the offer to join Donaldson Hotel and Resorts as Finance Director.

I was able to evaluate your offer in great detail. I was very impressed with the team I had the pleasure of meeting with during the interview process. I was equally impressed with the solid financial position your Company is in even though other similar Company’s are struggling.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to accept your job offer at this time due to personal reasons that have made it impossible for me to relocate now.

However, I expect to have this situation resolved within the next twelve months and would be very grateful if you would continue to keep me in mind for future opportunities.


Gary W. Quincy

Sample Business Rejection Letter for a Job

Business Rejection Letter for a Job Offer

April 25, 2011

Mr. Alan R. Harrison
16 Prince William Sound Drive
Target, Main 76509

Dear Mr. Harrison:

I appreciate that you are offering me the position of District Manager for Marriott Corporation. Marriott is known for being a leader in the hospitality business unfortunately I must decline this amazing opportunity.

Although I am certain it would have been a very rewarding experience I have accepted another offer from a local company. This will allow my older son to finish his junior and senior year at the same local high school where he began.

Again, Mr. Harrison, I appreciate your confidence in my abilities and I would like very much to be reconsidered in a couple of years when my son graduates.


Tony T. Thompson

Business Rejection Letter for a Job Offer

May 14, 2011

Ms. Trudy W. Iverson
45 Oak Tress Place, Suite 234
Brooklyn, NY 98501

Dear Ms. Iverson:

Although I am flattered that you have offered me the position of Sales Manager for Colby Industries, I must decline. The salary and commission structure you presented does not meet my requirements.

I was truly looking forward to a mutually rewarding experience.

I wish you and your Company nothing but success in the future, and again thank you.


Frank F. Frederickson

How you treat your business partners and probably candidates of a particular field matters a lot. Sending a business rejection letter to any concerned party is not an activity that most individuals look forward to. It is however an extra and positive step that must be taken so that you can continue with other undertakings successfully. The way you do it matters since you have to build a good reputation with the partners in the short run regardless of the decision made.

A follow up call is mostly very important. This is a call made to the concerned party informing them of the decision reached. When you make this call you have to politely indicate that you have offered up the position or deal to someone else. You should also take that opportunity to thank the applicants or parties involved for their time and interest.

The next step is to write the person or party involved. The information you had given on the first step of the phone call should be therefore included in the letter. You should also ensure that the party feels welcomed and appreciated for the time. Trashing efforts is not ideal since you need each person for the success of your operation.

Personalizing the letters is also important. The concerned parties should feel that they are being addressed. There should also be part of it that encourages them to apply for other positions if you strongly believe that they qualify. Letters that sound professional are ideal. They should however have a humane touch where the parties concerned are appreciated.

Reputation can be irreparably damaged if the let off letters are not ideally written. Writing a business rejection letter should be carefully done with someone who understands the elements contained therein. Writers should not puncture the hopes of concerned parties by being so negative.

Good Luck and May God Bless You!

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Appreciation Letter

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Sample letter to contractor or vendor for rejection of business proposal sent against your advertisement or requested in a letter.

how to write a rfp rejection letter
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