01 Jul Starting the Contract – Or Not
Starting the Contract – Or Not
Tenacity Commandment #2: “Start the contract according to the client’s expectations.”
The second commandment given to Moses was all about idolatry. (God is against it, of course.) It’s really easy for we humans to worship the wrong things. But in the client relationship, expectations are so central to a successful and sustainable outcome, that we should, at the very least, pay them reverential attention. The beginning of the contract will set this tone, either for good or for suffering.
Simply stated, we can’t be certain we are starting the contract according to the client’s expectations, unless we’ve completed a successful Transition Meeting. As you recall, this meeting takes place before the contract is signed and before operations have begun. That is the point where we enjoy our highest amount of “Relative Power” (see blogpost dated January 21, 2013 http://clientretention.com/the-blog/page/3/).
When we facilitate “Right Clients Right Terms®” sessions with our clients, we urge them to include two standard defining criteria:
- The client will pay all invoices on time and in full, and
- A successful Transition Meeting will be concluded prior to contract signing.
The Transition Meeting defines and prioritizes client expectations for the first 30 days of the service agreement and again at the conclusion of 90 days. The operations team is given the opportunity, through their active participation, to provide their input to the expectations set and the scope of work. This start up period is such a crucial time – in fact, Chapter 6 of our first book “What Your Clients Won’t Tell You and Your Managers Don’t Know” is devoted entirely to this subject.
We urge – no, make that plead – with our clients – “If you can’t start the contract according to the client’s expectations – DON’T START!” And, why would you? Experience tells us again and again, that things are not going to get better from that point forward. The disconnect has begun.
Of course, the other salient benefit of the Transition Meeting is seizing the opportunity to present our expectations of them, as our new client (see blogpost dated June 11, 2013 http://clientretention.com/the-blog/). This is equally crucial to set the stage for successful value creation and a functional corporate relationship.
You’ve probably heard us say it before, but wisdom from Doug Ivester, former CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, profoundly supports this 2nd Commandment:
- 1. “Communicate Precisely”
- 2. “Activate Aggressively”
- 3. “Follow-up Relentlessly”
Steve & John