After months of negotiation finally leads to an agreement, it can feel like the hard part is over. The contract still needs to be signed, however, and many promising deals fall apart at the closing stage. If you're unsure, this is the last opportunity for you to back out of an unfair or risky agreement. For sales you want, this is the time to follow through and finalize.
Regardless of your ultimate goal, the contract is going to be key. It's important that the contract is both arranged and written beautifully. Poor wording and shoddy presentation are both warning signs that can sabotage the final deal.
The ideal contract is clear and simply written. It's easy to understand what is expected of you and your counterparty and there's no vague language. Unfortunately, this is not always how business contracts are written. Sometimes contracts are based on pre-written templates that don't always match the specifics of your situation. In other cases, contracts are simply not written very well. This can have serious repercussions for your business. It's easy to forget important responsibilities and details years into the partnership if they aren't written down. If the dispute goes to a lawsuit, judges will interpret the contract as it was worded, not by what you meant to say.
Always ask for clarification if any part of the contract is unclear to you. Don't be afraid to retain a lawyer, request rewrites, or even rewrite passages yourself until the contract says exactly what you intend it to in no uncertain terms. If your counterparty is unwilling to work with you, there are many examples of companies walking away from bad deals to continued success. Google was offered a lucrative partnership with Yahoo search engine in its early days and chose to turn the offer down — the asking price wasn't enough, and Google's technology was far better. Closing every sale isn't everything.
Compared to the content, the appearance of a contract may seem unimportant. Presentation, however, can strongly influence how the contract and the deal it represents is received. Poorly arranged contracts can give your counterparty a negative perception of the agreement. They can cost you in court if they give the judge a bad impression. Particularly bad contracts can even be difficult to read.
When presenting a contract to your counterparty, always make sure it looks great. The paragraphs should be neatly spaced and a reasonable length. Be sure to use an easy PDF compressor to make sure the file is small enough to send via email. No detail is too small. The better the contract looks, the better the impression you make on your counterparty and the more likely it is that you'll get a signature.
Before the contract is signed, your agreement may not be fully binding. Contracts provide reassurance and guide partnerships that could last decades. Making sure that the contracts you receive and present to your counterparties are clear, easy to read, and look amazing should be a top priority at the end of every negotiation.
For more business advice and negotiation tips, join your local chamber of commerce. They are there to connect you to other leaders in your area and help you grow your business.