SitePoint Sponsor

User Tag List

Results 1 to 22 of 22
  1. #1
    SitePoint Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    20
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    None of your Business!

    Hello...

    I am a partner in a small but growing company specializing in software development and sales, I find myself uneasy when off topic questions are asked about the company, like for instance:

    " How many customers do you have now"
    " How many employees"
    " Sales Volume"
    " Can I see examples of your client sites"
    etc.

    I know that this is our business and this info is ours to know only, but how do you kindly say..That is none of your business? without saying exactly that and avoid sounding like a big shot and insulting the potential client.

    Any experiences similar..? Advice?


  2. #2
    SitePoint Evangelist bronze trophy Derek Sheppard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    566
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    "I'm sorry, but you must realize that's proprietary information and I can't really discuss it."

    Though I can't see how examples of clients sites are off-topic. Surely you have a portfolio.

  3. #3
    busy Steelsun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Houston, Tejas; Future Capital of the World
    Posts
    2,474
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Due Diligence in selecting appropriate vendors/suppliers often causes many companies to ask and receive ansers for those types of questions. If you do biz with a big company like Verizon, Walmart, etc, you'll have to answer those and more to even be
    considered.
    It's harsh.
    Brian Poirier
    SunStockPhoto: Stock Photos, Fine Art Photos, Event Photography

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    2,676
    Mentioned
    10 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by ELT
    " How many customers do you have now"
    " How many employees"
    " Sales Volume"
    " Can I see examples of your client sites"
    The only one I'd have a problem with is sales volume. Other than that, I would be happy to answer any of the other questions - why would you want to keep these a secret, they are all vald questions people may ask, especially if they are about to drop 5 or 6 figure sums. And asking to see previous client's sites is just about the most fundamental thing a web developer should be offering any potential client!

    Derek's response is spot on for the suspect questions though. But basically, you are in business and are dealing with other businesses, so expect people to check you out. A lot of companies may even request your comapny records from Companies House (in the UK, I'm sure there's similar all over the world).

  5. #5
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Denver, Phang-Nga, Thailand
    Posts
    4,379
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I don't see that any of those questions are suspect. Sure, you don't need to reveal your revenue for every client, but you'll have to for the bank, some creditors, DNB, etc. I don't really see why it should be a secret unless you have something to hide - usually indicating that you overstated your revenue, for example.

    I get these questions a lot, and I answer them.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
    Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+

  6. #6
    i'm a girl silver trophy Toni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,022
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Those questions are just the mark of an educated client -- and that's not a bad thing. Any large company I have ever worked with asked those questions and much more.

  7. #7
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Denver, Phang-Nga, Thailand
    Posts
    4,379
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Agree. And when I ask a new client (or vendor) about their revenue and they refuse to answer, I assume that their revenue is lower than they want to admit.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
    Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+

  8. #8
    Visit docquesting.com docquesting's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Georgia USA
    Posts
    1,264
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Due to client confidentiality we are not authorized to provide such information. However.......

  9. #9
    i'm a girl silver trophy Toni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,022
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Oh yeah, and it's best to be honest anyways.

    When I informed one of my largest clients for (a public company to boot) -- they were impressed that I was a single mom, shuffling clients around, and hiring independant contractors from around the world to complete projects. You never know what answers clients want to hear for such questions -- so just keep it open and honest and someone will love you for it

  10. #10
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Denver, Phang-Nga, Thailand
    Posts
    4,379
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by docquesting
    Due to client confidentiality we are not authorized to provide such information. However.......
    If I asked a vendor what their annual revenue was and they responded like that, I would interpret it as:

    "I don't have enough revenue to be comfortable sharing it, and I don't know enough about business protocol to know what a strange answer this is"

    Large, successful companies usually have references. It's rare that ALL of the clients would be under NDA, etc. I can only reference about 25% of my clients, but that's still something. As for the revenues, big companies usually make such information public anyways.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
    Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+

  11. #11
    SitePoint Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    20
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thank you, all of these points make sense. Yes, I suppose it is understandable these questions would be asked. We certainly do not have anything to hide, and Yes, most clients that ask are fairly large companies.

    It is just hard these days to weed out who may be potentially harmful to your business, such as competitors or small frys who wish to drink from the same fountain.

    However, competition is good for business

    Thanks again.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,686
    Mentioned
    19 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Sagewing is dead on here. If you aren't willing to disclose some basic details about your business, I'm not willing to engage with you long enough to find out if you can design me a single banner, much less an entire site. Only revenue questions can be avoided, and even then you're going to need to answer them if dealing with a client thats sizable that you would like to have them. It's fine to explain you are privately held and don't disclose this or that, but you should be ready to provide a general answer or other means of solving the client's question.

    Unless you don't mind not getting that particular client you really can't avoid explaining your position, history and stability to a prospect.
    - Ted S

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Malaysia
    Posts
    104
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by ELT
    Hello...

    I am a partner in a small but growing company specializing in software development and sales, I find myself uneasy when off topic questions are asked about the company, like for instance:

    " How many customers do you have now"
    " How many employees"
    " Sales Volume"
    " Can I see examples of your client sites"
    etc.

    I know that this is our business and this info is ours to know only, but how do you kindly say..That is none of your business? without saying exactly that and avoid sounding like a big shot and insulting the potential client.

    Any experiences similar..? Advice?

    I can tell you, but I will have to kill you

  14. #14
    Non-Member QiSoftware's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    U.S.
    Posts
    366
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Potential clients want to see your portfolio or examples of your work. This maybe the reason for what appear to be invasive questions.

    Q...

  15. #15
    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    5,840
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by ELT
    It is just hard these days to weed out who may be potentially harmful to your business, such as competitors or small frys who wish to drink from the same fountain.
    It's not going to hurt you if your competition knows who your clients are, or how many employees that you have so long as your customers are satisfied with the work you've provided.

    It's a lot easier to get a "fresh" customer then it is to poach a satisfied customer from someone else.

  16. #16
    A Smarter Way to Web! zivo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    433
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Question Depends on who's asking

    It depends on who's asking. If it's a family member, I will not answer any questions about money or volume, but I will show them all kinds of client sites. Or come up with some sarcastic answer!

    If it is a potential client or partner, then I show them some information, and if they want some more specifics, I may ask them to sign a non-disclosure.

    mp/m

  17. #17
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Denver, Phang-Nga, Thailand
    Posts
    4,379
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Well, if someone asked me what my PERSONAL income was I wouldn't tell them. There isn't much reason to do so. But, if they wanted to see how much revenue my company brings in, they can just check my biz credit and my financials are right there in my Equifax!
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
    Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+

  18. #18
    SitePoint Evangelist
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    428
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Just be honest. Don't pretend to be something you're not. If you're small, be proud of being small. Clients like honesty and it makes your life soooo much more easy.
    George Skee
    Follow me at GeorgeSkee.com

  19. #19
    SitePoint Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Poland, Gdansk
    Posts
    63
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Two years ago I have completed 8 pages questionaire for our client containing really difficult questions type "what makes you different comparing to your competition". It was necessary for them to register us as vendor, just because of their ISO 9001 procedures. Of course, ISO 9001 procedures in general are disaster, but it was usefull for me to summarize our strategy.

    Regarding revenue question, the most important is revenue/employee, therefore it is not shame to be small while having this ratio in nicesize.
    Good luck :-)

  20. #20
    Twitter - @CarlBeckel busy's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Richmond, VA, USA
    Posts
    819
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I remember being asked those questions by my first lead.

    I just smiled and said, "You're going to be my first client. I'm actually very excited about it."

    I still manage their site and have gotten repeat work from them since then.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,686
    Mentioned
    19 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by busy
    I still manage their site and have gotten repeat work from them since then.

    I had a similar client once. I went in, we chatted a bit, I told them what I do, they explained what they need. Given their requirements I recommended finding a larger firm; they disagreed and I got the contract. I worked with them for 3 years until I decided to move on and pursue other opportunities. Just goes to show you -- being open does not necessarily end badly. Ultimately it's far better to let your clients know what you do and who you are upfront, rather than having them find out at a bad opportunity.
    - Ted S

  22. #22
    Non-Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    337
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by ELT
    " How many customers do you have now"
    " How many employees"
    " Sales Volume"
    " Can I see examples of your client sites"
    etc.
    There is nothing wrong with those questions. If I needed someone for a job and was going to spend my money, I would ask any questions I need to ask before awarding him the job.
    Remember, he is the client. He just wants to make sure that you will do a good job for him. He isn't asking you about your family or your personal life. He is asking business questions that may impact his project and he has all the rights to.


Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •