Monday, April 6, 2009

Crazy client contracts

I had spent a year trying to land a great client. The client contact was a great guy, a real open, honest guy.

We had one last hurdle--the master services agreement--the agreement my company had to sign to become an approved supplier.

To my client's credit, he warned, "If you read this contract and want to change it, I won't blame you, but don't expect my company to change it. And if they do, it'll take so long, it won't be worth it."

If it weren't for my understanding of the client contact, I would have thought he was trying to bluff me into signing it. But he wasn't bluffing, I could tell.

I looked through the verbiage and it was pretty extraordinary. Basically if my company did a bad job, we'd be chewed up and spit out.

No doubt, many supplier companies would send the agreement to their lawyer and after a few thousand bucks of lawyer time, a marked up version would be sent to the client, only to have it sit and sit and sit.

There is no single answer to this situation. But, there is an advantage to the company that signs--they'll have few competitors that are willing to join them in serving that client. So if the client is a good one, you win if you sign. If they're a bad one, you'll regret it.

So then it doesn't come down to the contract after all.

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