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Shhhh!

Can holding your tongue help you gain big-name clients?

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This story appears in the May 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Precise Strategies is a four-employee O'Fallon, Illinois, executive search firm that staffs positions for large financial companies. The firm is in a strange situation--a growing number of its customers require secrecy. Precise Strategies isn't allowed to mention these customers in its marketing materials, on its website or in the media. Founder Glenn Smith, 37, estimates 5 percent of the company's customers now require hush-hush around deals.

The trend toward silence clauses in vendor contracts is driven by competitive threats and a desire to protect intellectual property. Big companies are also clamping down on vendors who exaggerate. "The big company doesn't want the appearance of giving the seal of approval to a vendor," says Trey Cox, a partner at Lynn Tillotson & Pinker LLP in Dallas.

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