Sales: Providing Client List to Vendors

Do the manufacturers of the products you rep require that you reveal your client list as a condition to do business with them?

Recently I was getting ready to purchase some packaging products for a client when the manufacturer wanted to know the name of my and how much product they buy from me annually.

Initially, I responded to the email with all of the information that they requested. However, just before I hit the send button, I had second thoughts about this request.

They didn’t give me an ultimatum but on numerous occasions of recent they wanted me to reveal the name of my client when I purchased products.

In the packaging business, there is no exclusivity of products. I can purchase the exact brands from several vendors. In addition, I am under no contract or obligation to buy from only them.

Even though we don’t have a contract, we do have a gentleman’s agreement that we do not call on each other’s accounts. I have always honored this agreement because I respect their position and consequently I expect that they will respect mine as well. Furthermore, I strongly believe that either one of us is shooting ourselves in the foot if we breach that verbal commitment.

This particular supplier does have a direct salesforce who sells to end users. Historically, there have been times when I have provided a client’s name in order to protect my own interests within a particular account. However, I have done this readily because I did not want their sales representatives bird-dogging my accounts.

The bottom line here is that we are not talking about doctor/patient or lawyer/client privileged but in all honesty I do not feel this is any of their business whatsoever to know the names of my customers. What are your thoughts on this?

Peggy P. Edge © 2015