Should I Make My Clients Sign a Contract?

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Should I Make My Clients Sign a Contract?

Encourager-In-Chief: April 18th, 2018

Set the tone for a great relationship.

Years ago, I had the privilege of having dinner with one of my mentors, Don Hutson, who is the former president of the National Speakers Association. Don shared one of the most valuable lessons of my career as a speaker and coach. He told me that any time I do a presentation for a client, to make sure I get a signed agreement.

I know from experience that many of my coaching clients don’t bother doing this with their customers, but I can tell you that is a mistake. Another lesson Don added was, “If there’s a good reason to do so, you can always tear it up. It gives you a chance to show your client that you are gracious and willing to work with him or her.”

For example, I once booked a sales training program with a new client. Three days later, he called me to let me know that he had just been laid off by his employer. Obviously, I was not going to hold him accountable to a contract he couldn’t fulfill. Sometimes your client’s plans change or dates need to be postponed. When you demonstrate gratitude, flexibility, and a willingness to work with your clients, it goes a long way to developing a lifelong relationship between the two of you.

Just as good fences make good neighbors, good contracts make great business relationships. I’ve never used a contract of mine to prevent a customer from doing what he or she wanted. Instead, the contract serves as a place to double check our agreements months later when memories sometimes fade. (Often, in my case, memory fade occurs much sooner than that!)

The agreement allows you the ability to go back and make sure nothing was missed and that you are delivering exactly what the client said he or she wanted. Refer to your original agreement for clarification, pricing, payment terms, scheduling, guarantees, and work description.

If you are serious about being in business, demonstrate it by giving your clients an agreement on which both of you can sign off. A few extra minutes of preparation up front can save thousands of dollars of frustration, heartache, and possible legal action later down the road.

A verbal agreement is not worth the paper it’s printed on.
- Source unknown

This excerpt is taken from my Negotiation Excellence seminar.

Communication Excellence III: Negotiation Excellence

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I encourage you to download my Negotiation Excellence video program, which also includes this lesson in much greater detail.

Negotiation Excellence

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