Read the Fine Print and Negotiate.
In business, there is never a shortage of things to negotiate. The key thing to remember is that EVERYTING is negotiable. This includes:
- Contract terms;
- Liability clauses;
- Start dates;
- Delivery dates;
- Termination clauses;
When a vendor asks you to sign their agreement they are starting with the upper hand. The person who supplies the agreement has initial control of the negotiation after all, the terms and conditions of the agreement have been written with their best interests in mind.
As a business executive, you need to carefully read through any such agreement with your best interests in mind. Frequently, there will be differences in expectations. It is your responsibility as the person planning to sign the agreement to ensure you are comfortable with and fully understand all of the terms and conditions. If not, you need to take steps to understand the agreement and then negotiate the terms and conditions.
Let me ask you a question: If you were going to buy a new car would you consider walking into a dealer, finding the car you liked, and offer to buy it for the MSRP or initial asking price? No way. Well this is exactly what you are doing if you just sign an agreement without reading through it, understanding it, and pushing back where necessary.
Don’t be swayed by a sales rep’s response of, “It’s standard industry practice.” Sometimes standard industry practices are just plain crazy and if you don’t challenge them then by default, you are accepting them.
If you don’t take the time to read and negotiate you may find that:
- You’ve locked yourself into a 5 year agreement that can’t be changed even if your business needs change;
- You’ve agreed to unlimited price increases as the vendor sees fit;
- You’ve agreed to never hire a staffing agency employee directly without paying a substantial fee;
- You can’t sell certain products/services that compete with a nearby tenant.
- Your profitability is affected.
The above are just a few select examples of potential ramifications. There are countless more.
Now whether a vendor wants to negotiate with you or not is up to them but whether you want to accept the deal or not is up to you. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. When it comes to negotiation though, the question is, “Do you want to lead?”
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President, Stellacon Solutions