Reaching a deal with a new client is challenging enough.
But getting a new client to actually sign the contract they’ve already agreed to can be even more difficult.
We’ve all been there: We complete the proposal and send it over for approval. They respond, “It looks great!” We ask them to sign it and send it back, and then…
We don’t hear back from them. For some reason, they drag their feet.
How do we move from verbal agreement to written confirmation? Once we understand why they’re not signing, we can implement a process that makes it simple.
Why Your Clients Aren’t Signing
There’s a reason your client hasn’t signed yet.
We can imagine all sorts of motives for their hesitation:
Maybe the deal isn’t actually going to happen?
Maybe they’re not happy with the price?
Maybe they’re stringing you along?
While those may (or may not) be factors, there’s usually an underlying reason they haven’t formally committed:
They don’t respect the process you have in place.
Signing the document is somehow incongruous for them.
Often, this occurs because a salesperson tries to execute the contract. To the client, that feels inconsistent. A salesperson works hard to build a relationship with the client. Now, because of the friendly, personal relationship, signing a contract suddenly feels too formal.
Our rush to be informal and comfortable with our clients makes it easier for some clients to become difficult buyers. They think, “You’re just the salesperson. I don’t need to sign a contract with you — we’re friends, right?” A salesperson is not a credible executor of a contract.
If a salesperson relationship isn’t the hindrance in your situation, look for other reasons your client isn’t following through with the formal confirmation. What other reasons might they not respect your process? Is it confusing or over-complicated?
Identify the real cause. Then, you can work to overcome it.
Closing the Deal: Simple and Easy
To close the deal (now or in the future) we need a way to confirm the engagement more formally — either through your medium of collecting documents and deposits or by designating a person who asks for them.
A common method that works for many companies is to assign a person to the role and title of Contract Manager. This person sends the contract materials and a list of next steps to the client directly. When a contract manager (not the salesperson) sends these documents, the formality of a signed contract seems more appropriate. It looks official, and it provides a clear means of conducting business and finalizing the transaction.
Also, consider how you might make the contract a more integral part of your business process. You could create an online landing page the customer visits to electronically complete the necessary forms and pay their deposit via credit card.
Wouldn’t that be simple and easy?
Consider what works well for your customers. What kind of process would they best respond to? Maybe you’re asking them to join a process that’s harder than it needs to be. If you make the steps simpler, perhaps they’d be more willing to act.
We need contracts. Your operations manager, accounting department, and owner all need the confirmation that a contract provides. A contract says, “This deal is actually going to happen.” It confirms you will eventually cash the check.
If you’re experiencing customer hesitancies in contract commitments, identify the breakdown. Is it the person collecting the documents or the way they’re collecting them that’s the problem? Once you know their dilemma, assign a contract manager to follow up or start collecting the documents through a different medium.
If you’re having difficulty getting those contracts signed, maybe it’s not them. Maybe — even hopefully — it’s you. That means you have the power to fix it.