Telling a Vendor Your Project Has Stopped

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One day your project’s on track, humming along. The next day, due to corporate changes, the project has basically stopped. It’s got a faint pulse, there’s talk of a “holding pattern until next quarter”, but you know that pulse is fading fast. The problem is that there have been several vendors involved in your project and they were hoping for some healthy first quarter revenue recognition once the technology solutions were chosen and the contracts were signed.

Breaking the news to your vendors that the project has stopped will suck. On top of this, expect them to be frustrated. So, this is something that needs to be handled carefully. Recognize that the vendors you’re breaking this news to will have probably worked on this potential deal for a year, maybe more. They’ve spent time on the road, away from their families, staying in hotels with bad beds, eating fast food, and basically reacting to your company’s every whim in hopes of closing the sale. You may be thinking, “yeah, but that’s what salespeople do, what’s the big deal?”. Well, it’s a big deal to them, and in breaking the news to them, let them know that things have slowed down and that it doesn’t look like it’s going to work out. Most importantly, don’t give them false hope. Now, if a vendor disrespectfully yells, curses or generally acts like a horses rear-end during the discussion, well…better to find out now then in the middle of your project.

The silver lining in all of this is that the good vendors will be frustrated, but they’ll hang in there with you. They may not return your call within five minutes of receiving it when you call next time, but they’re not going to blame you for issues that were out of your control. When the chips are down, you’ll know which vendors you can count on. The vendors that only cared about the sale and not you as a client will walk away. The ones that know their worth as a company, believe in their product and know that you’ll be an awesome client will stick with you through thick and thin.

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