Let’s face it. Building and sending contracts isn’t exactly capital F “Fun”. It’s a step in growing your business that needs to be done, but it’s a whole lot of work, time, and often stress to make sure they’re done right and fairly. We’re comfortable saying that 9 times out of 10 your client will sign your contract, no questions asked. But that 1 other time, you’re gonna get a client who wants changes. Changes can be scary. But they aren’t necessarily bad! You just need to go into them with your head on straight! That’s why we’re giving you the lowdown on how to negotiate your contract like a BOSS! Here’s how.
Review Your Contract
Before you consider any changes, dive back into your contract and really look at it from the other party’s perspective. Is it one-sided? Does it cover all of the important points, like scope of services, cancellation and rescheduling, payment terms...what could they possibly be after? If you take the time to look, you should come up with a thought or two that will help support you when it comes time to come to the table, as it were. But before we dive in any further, know that even when you and your new client come to the perfect contractual agreement, you’ve always got more to do on your end to stay properly protected. You can read more about why contracts alone are not enough. Ok. We feel like you’re in a safer space now that we’ve said that. Time to negotiate.
What Might be Negotiated?
There are a number of clauses and items that might be up for negotiation. Go through them and see where you may or may not be flexible so you can be prepared for any questions or demands from your client relating to these big-ticket items:
- Scope of services - what, exactly, is your client needing from you!?
- Cancellation/rescheduling - what happens if an event is rained out? Or you are hit by a bus/sick etc.?
- Payment terms - how much and when? Is there a percentage upfront? Or are there milestone payments or an instalment plan?
- Who owns the IP - This. Is. Big.
- What will they receive and when - drafts for review, final job, how much time in between?
- What kind of edits you will do? For example, is it basic or full-on airbrushing?!
Once you’re prepared for the possibilities, get ready to be in the room.
Be a Good Listener...Then Ask the Right Questions
If your potential client has come to you with concerns or concessions, it’s time to listen. Don’t talk too much, let them put what they need to put on the table. Consider their reasoning, their ‘big’ points, and why they’re asking, so you can respond appropriately and fairly.
Then, ask the right questions. Is there another price that can still work for you? Offer an instalment plan if you don't wish to reduce your pricing. Parties are unsure if the contract should renew? Then offer up a fixed term with an option to extend/renew. You don’t have to agree to a discount in pricing, but if it becomes a problem and they aren’t willing to negotiate a rate that benefits both parties, or what you’re offering is not being valued, it may be time to consider walking.
It could be a simple conversation that gets you both across the line. If more is needed, we’ve got you:
Outline Your Non-Negotiables
Like our dear friend Kenny Rogers said, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em…” you get the idea. Be clear with the other party what contractual clauses you aren’t willing to wiggle on. Both sides will have them. In most cases, the wiggle room on each end will allow for a fair solution for both parties. But if one of your non-negotiables is a hot button for the other party, then you need to be ready - and willing - to walk. So what are you willing to concede? At what point in the negotiations will you honour yourself and your business and be willing to walk away?
Be really clear on these within yourself, so that you don’t get pressured to back down when you know in your heart there are a few golden nuggets you just can’t sell. That metaphor is shite. But you get what we mean.
When you’re in a negotiation, there may be times when you feel like you’re getting pushed to roll-over, or you don’t like their first offer. That sucks. But don’t be an arse. That isn’t an excuse for sly remarks or raised voices. Negotiations need to stay courteous and professional. This doesn’t mean there is no room for kindness or humour - in fact, these things make you way more human, which is what you WANT in a negotiation, to allow the other party to realise you have their best interests at heart! That being said, be sure you can back up what you have to say, and trust that they’ll respond in kind. If they don’t, maybe they aren’t the best people to forge a relationship with to begin with…
Don’t Always Accept the First Offer
We’ve seen it happen. You’re super stoked to get this contract signed and start this beautiful relationship. But they want to negotiate. And you want them. Badly. Don’t let stress and fear force you to just say YES to the first offer they put on the table! Take a breath. Negotiations are just that. They’re an opportunity to put out options and reasons, and talk about them - so you can come to a decision that ultimately makes both parties walk away feeling good. More often than not, they’re not going to expect you to say yes right off the bat, anyway! Talk it out. Find common ground. Stay level-headed. Be fair. You’ve got this! Now go negotiate your contract like a boss!
If you need legal advice regarding any contractual discussions and negotiations, don’t forget that you can hit us up for your CONSULT. Annnnd if you’re new to the contract game, we’ve got loads of industry-specific, custom contract templates that you can easily customise for your needs.
Now that you have your contract and you know how to negotiate, how about Grow Clients on Tap?
Riz McDonald is an e-commerce business owner, business coach, podcaster and a lawyer for over 16 years. She’s also a mum and a lover of good wine...she only ever drinks the cheap stuff when she’s stoney broke.
***Disclaimer. Please read!!***
This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance. It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice.
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