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Recently I was obtaining quotes for language translation from several companies I had located online. Most of them are based on the East Coast of the US. The translation was required for the HMI (Human-Machine Interface) of a machine we were building for shipment overseas. We don't do many international builds so don't have much experience with translation services.

It came down to two companies, one of which was about 40% cheaper than the other; both gave me the same sense of quality. While on the phone with the more expensive bidder, she told me she could come down in price but not that far, and I explained that I appreciated the time she had spent to talk through the project with me, but given we didn't have previous history with either company, I would have to go with the lower bid.

At one point she asked me what the name of the other company was, and I declined to provide the name. The call ended courteously.

Obviously, this question can apply to many different situations. When is it appropriate/inappropriate to disclose to a supplier the name of their competitor who you choose to do business with?

My gut feeling is, in this circumstance it may not have mattered since there are thousands of translation companies out there and we don't have a relationship with any of them. Whereas, in our local market we are typically more careful about our relationships with our common suppliers (for things like motors, actuators, sensors, etc).

  • normally I would just answer it when asked or send it in the decline message if the reason is a non relation decision why you choice the other company – Raoul Mensink Jul 15 '16 at 16:03
  • It can have a lot of upsides and not many downsides. – pmf Jan 9 '18 at 12:30
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While it may be in their best interest to know who you're going to, it's not necessarily in yours.

If you were publicly pitting two major competitors against one another in order to get the best quote (assuming they were both desperate for your contract), it would be one thing.

If the industry you're in was very niche, again, competitors may end up in an intense race to win over customers.

However this situation is completely different, and I don't think you have anything to gain by revealing this information. In fact, if the losing firm is unprofessional enough they may try to ruin your deal somehow (crazy people are out there).

In situations such as these you absolutely did the right thing, and should continue to do so.

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I have been on both sides of this equation as a buyer and as a vendor and the answer, as usual, is a firm "It depends".

The default of not telling the other vendor is perfectly fine, and they should appreciate that.

On the other hand, if the vendor is making an honest attempt to identify weaknesses in their product or pricing, then it can provide valuable information that results in an improvement of their product. An improvement that you may find useful in the future.

It boils down to how much you trust the vendor and who you are talking to. If it's a Product Manager or Senior Exec, that is typically less problematic than a sales person. One thing I would never disclose is the pricing you were offered by the successful vendor.

  • +1 but I'd add that negotiations often go something like: "We really love your offer, but we've an equivalent competing that is 40% cheaper. Can you match its price?" (And apparently this is precisely what happened here.) It's standard sales practice to then ask who the competitor might be, and then probe into how the offers differ in order to make sense of how they manage to be so much cheaper. – Denis de Bernardy Jul 17 '16 at 13:58
  • If there was a reason to expect you might be doing business with the company in the future, I agree it makes sense to give them some constructive feedback, but I don't agree that necessarily includes the name of the competitor. "You were 40% more expensive and as far as I could tell your services were equivalent." is enough information to let them know that they are either over-priced or not communicating their added value well enough. – ColleenV Jul 18 '16 at 12:41
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From my understanding nothing good ever comes from sharing this information. Either the response will be neutral or negative. You did the right thing.

I had a co-worker share which competitor got a bid and get a 10 minute rant about how the company we chose.

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Unless there is some NDA preventing you from saying who you went with, it doesnt matter. However, in my personal opinion, it is none of their business. They do not need the information, nor giving that information benefits you in any way. Although unlikely, giving the information can only harm the situation.

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Lot of good answers that are all no. And I agree 90% of the time.

Here is where it might help you. They know the weakness of the competitors and will tell you. It is something you can check out for yourself. They may be more for good reason.

Some times it is a competitor they want to shut out and will match the price.

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The question shows inexperience but a willingness to learn and grow.

Professional services are about more than pricing. You can get a good translation or a bad translation or unreasonable delays or surcharges for the translation to be reviewed by a linguist. It all depends. You need to make sure you are comparing apples to apples and not falling for the lowest bid with a lot of change orders to come

  • This doesn't answer the question When is it appropriate/inappropriate to disclose to a supplier the name of their competitor who you choose to do business with? – ColleenV Jul 18 '16 at 12:33

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