Do You Give Out The Exact Model Number When Asked?

We are bidding on a project against an incumbent. I know the customers manager would rather use the incumbent. The customer now emailed us asking us for the exact "specs and brand on both the cameras and NVR".

We are offering Hikvision as well as Avigilon. With avigilon I dont mind giving the exact model as it is hard to price it out. But regarding the Hikvision, I would give the specs, but nervous about the model number as it makes it much easier for him to check exact pricing online (which will bring up all the chinese versions) as well as make it easier for him to go back to the incumbent.

What would you do?

David, this poll and discussion should be of interest to you: Should Quotes Include Line Item Price Breakdowns?

Net/net: a lot of integrators do not, for just the reasons you mention.

However, in your case, since the customer is directly asking for it, it makes it harder to say no and not lose credibility or confidence from them.

Have you determined what the customer's manager likes about the incumbent? Have you pitched the manager directly to overcome that?

The manger likes the incumbent because they are old drinking buddies. I did pitch directly but I don't think it made a difference.


Rule #1.

Determine why are they now asking another firm for pricing when they have an incumbent integrator. Until they tell you the truth, and the rumor is some customers may lie, I'd avoid any specifics. Hopefully they tell you the truth is they are unhappy with the incumbent, and then discuss everything that's gone wrong, what's been the impact, how did this impact his/her position in the company, (did they choose them), if they were to begin buying equipment from you, will this included pre-sales engineering, installation and support? Then what do you as a company need to do to make sure 12 months from now, they are not doing the same shop-a-thon again.

If they must get 2nd or 3rd bids - say thank you and walk..

If the truth is as I describe, you'd be happy to visit, and discuss an agreeable pricing structure for equipment, and fee schedule for services, all bound to master service agreement / confidentiality agreement....(optional)

If they must get 2nd or 3rd bids - say thank you and walk...

What reason do you give?


I would agree with John, if they are directly asking for part numbers I would provide. If they are asking for "exact specs and brand on both the cameras and NVR" go one step further and email them a .pdf datasheet on the products you are using.

If they can't share any pains with the incumbent, and you get the "We must get 2nd & 3rd bids", then the obvious answer is "We're first and foremost a service / support company" and move on.

"We're first and foremost a service / support company".

"That's fine with us, we can get the materials. What are your rates and how long will it take?"

A forum thread isn't a sales training course, I'd suggest you consider professional sales training...

A forum thread isn't a sales training course...

So true.

Did you say Hikvision?

Give'em the short number like ADI does!

It makes you wonder how much the customer is sharing with the incumbent, what the incumbent is whispering back.

There are lessons learned here, such as "create the design" so anyone simply bidding against you just validates your proposal, build the value you and your company offer - up front and repeat if necessary.

When a customer tells you they "need 3 bids" they are telling you that there is an outside requirement inhibiting them from making their choice.

If they're an existing customer we will provide whatever they want, if it's a new customer and they're bidding out. We provide specifications with an internal model number along with a letter showing we're an authorized dealer and warnings from the manufacture of purchasing through unauthorized sources. This clears a lot of air.

If they can't share any pains with the incumbent and if you get the "we must get 2nd & 3rd bids" the obvious answer is "We're first and foremost a service / support company" and move on.

This is really clever I must admit.

We're first and foremost a service / support company

IMHO, the unspoken coda is, "but we are only interested in fat product margins".

If that statement isn't true in your company, then I understand attitude, and appreciate your willingness and ability to chase any business opportunity.

Ben Franklin said, "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." You can substitute service in there too.


This is a challenging scenario and there really isn't a silver bullet. Since he is directly asking you, I doubt you'll win the job by refusing to give it to him.

I think your best step would be to offer the Avigilon information freely, but tell him that you'd like to meet to discuss the HIK Vision cameras. Be transparent that the model numbers can lead to confusion online, but you'll be able to explain everything and save him some time. Yes, he'll have the information, but he'll be better informed and you'll have some time to illustrate why you're different.

If he doesn't go for that, then you probably don't have a choice but to give it to him. If he doesn't agree to meet and it requires a lot more effort, then you should consider walking away from the job.

Moving forward, either eliminate this prospect from your target list or develop a strategy to differentiating your company from his buddy's.