The rubber hits the road when you get to the CONTRACT stage of the sale, the halfway point of the business development lifecycle. Well done!
The first half of the customer lifecycle goes from ‘everything is possible’ to ‘this is what we’re actually going to do’ ‒ a move from the subjective, happy-clappy, aren’t we such good friends, to a serious, contractual business relationship. Rather like negotiating a pre-nuptial agreement, moving from proposal to starting work is a tough transition. I tell customers it’s the low point in the relationship, but that it gets better when we start to work together. Just know you have to deal with it – you can’t shy away or compromise to your own disadvantage.
TIP: Contracts are an important part of the customer’s experience of you. Don’t do business without one. At the very least, you need something in writing and signed by the customer that captures what you’re going to do, what they’re going to do, what they’ll get and what you’re going to be paid and when. This is one of your most important control mechanisms. If you start work without that agreement, you lose your leverage and regaining it is difficult.
Next Up: Handling the After-the-Sale Process