At the company I work for we are required to get at least 3 quotes before we make a purchase.

I have just taken over ordering stock like toners, printers, computers etc.. and the previous person used to share the word of other companies with one specific supplier.

I think this prevents us from getting the best price possible as it looks like the supplier just under cuts the other quotes by a fraction to get the sale.

How can I professionally turn down his request when he asks me what the other quotes are coming in at?

So far I'm just telling the supplier that we don't have any other quotes yet.

  • 5
    Giving out prior quotes would just favor the last person you call. Just say NO.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 10:38
  • 1
    You could call that supplier first and tell him you're doing that. This might motivate him to give the "real" price so as not to get undercut by one of the other suppliers.
    – Brandin
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 14:29
  • 3
    Give him a figure 20% under the lowest quote and see what happens.
    – Snowlockk
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 14:39
  • 2
    Just to point out that in many jobs giving out information about previous quotes would be considered a form of corruption. Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 17:17
  • @JoeStrazzere Yes and he will quickly get the message.
    – Snowlockk
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 7:12

4 Answers 4


I'm not able to share that information.

Repeat ad nauseam.

I imagine the conversation will go something like this:

Supplier: So what are Supplier A and Supplier B quoting you?

You: I'm not able to share that with you.

S: Oh come on, you can't tell me what the others are quoting you?

Y: That's correct, I can't share other companies' offers with you. We have provided you with all the necessary information to send us a quote.

S: But [your predecessor] always gave me this information!

Y: I understand, but we're unable to do that going forward.

That should be all you need to do. Just hold firm and remain polite.

  • "I'm not able to share that information." - yes, this. Or, in the words of Miss Manners: "I'm sorry, it is just not possible." A helpful phrase in many situations in life :-).
    – sleske
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 11:28
  • Another tack would be something like, "Your company was the first source that came to mind, I haven't contacted anyone else yet"
    – DLS3141
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 17:50
  • Bonus points for "That's why he's not here and I am" at " But [your predecessor] always gave me this information!" Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 16:13

Learn the art of negotiation. And a big part of that is being able to walk away from the wrong deal, or the wrong supplier.

As others say, "No" is always a good answer. You cannot go around giving out your companies confidential information - and that's what pricing is.

When the supplier asks the question, you could ask them in return would they be OK with you calling all the other potential suppliers and providing open price information to everyone? I think you'll find that they won't like that.

A tip I learned when I first became a manager; NEVER accept bribes from a potential supplier. That includes anything from a weekend trip, a ticket to a sporting event, dinner, all the way down to a 'leave-behind' flash drive. Because you later have to fend off the calls along the lines of "Remember that trip last week? Great, wasn't it? Anyway, how is the purchase process of that (x) coming on?".

Find the supplier you like working with personally, who gives great service and decent prices, and make them the preferred supplier for a year. Revisit when your contact person changes or when the year is up. It's a lot less hassle, and your accounts department will be happier because it's only one company to deal with.


I work straregic procurement for a multinational and deal with salesmen all day. Procurement departments are far too timid and trusting with salesmen. It's ok to beat these people up! They are generally compensated well and making them work a little is just fine.

My answer would be, verbatim, "show me your invoices so I know how much you paid for what you're selling me, and then maybe we can talk about pricing." If he produced the invoices (possibly doctored), I'd contact their vendor to validate pricing and offer a sourcing contract if our NDA and MSA had no prohibitions against it.

Give him nothing!!! Do not disclose budgets, timelines, time pressures, competition, or the names of decision makers on your side EVER. EVER. He needs none of that information to generate a quote and will only use that information to build a price that is slightly more attractive than his competitors'. Keep them in the dark and make them compete!

If the person who managed these purchases before you actually gave the supplier the info he is asking for, that person should be fired immediately.

The vendor works for you, remember that. Procurement's job is to achieve a sustainable "best value", not make friends.


To be fair, you are getting the best price possible if this one supplier lowers their price slightly below another one.

But to answer your question, you don't have to tell them anything at all. But negotiation is a very big part of getting the best price possible. You don't have to be fully honest either as you're trying to get the best price possible. So when company A offers you $500, company B offers $495 you can say to company A you'll go with them if they go to $475. Perhaps some negotiation can come and you end up with $485, the best possible offer. Do this also with company B and you might even end up lower.

Take control of the transactions you do, you're the one going to spend money, they just want your money, so they'll do what they can to get you to pay. Handing over information how much other companies are offering is handing out control over the transaction.

Basically you need to turn it around. Give them information you want them to give so you can get a lower price, don't give them a "price to beat" like they want it.

  • 3
    If you make this particular supplier guess at what they need to quote, that may result in an even better price than if they had just undercut the competition. So to say you would get the best price from the undercut simply isn't true.
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 10:23
  • If I kept the venue from him his write may have been lower where as if he can see what the others are cutting he can just knock a fraction of their price off.
    – Terry
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 11:33
  • Heh, just dropping in as part of the community QA. Honestly, I think I get what you're saying, but I think the answer might need a little more streamlining and perhaps some formatting to make it more readily accessible. Meanwhile, it sounds like the OP had understood since the OP had been able to leave a comment, so you could also just ignore my comment :). Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 11:37
  • Also, this could work against you if the other suppliers are charging more. Then this supplier could increase cost as well to match.
    – Prodnegel
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 16:12
  • @Prodnegel: I think Rene's point is that once a company has made an offer, OP could try to negotiate a better price with this company. They could take into account the other offers, but don't have to.
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 20:43

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