Archives For terms and conditions

Boundary stones have been used since the beginning of time as a way to identify property, whether private or when dealing with borders between countries and other local administrations.  Made of stone and often marked by owners, they stand as a reminder of past purchases, conquered land, and other formal agreements.  The old adage, “Remove not the ancient landmark” stands as a warning to those who would change the boundaries set up by constituents.

While most of us are not going to spend the money on lawsuits when dealing with smaller projects, formal agreements, like these boundary stones, must be put in place regardless company and deal size.  They should be placed in easy to see (read) locations, and agreed to by all parties involved, as pictured in this ancient land marker above.

More clients are lost over poor communication on agreements than I will ever be able to count; usually with regard to scope or price.  When deals are done without an agreement, two excuses are often raised:

1. The sales team fears putting it into writing, thinking it will slow down the sale or draw attention to elements of the agreement that may not sit well with management (on either side).

2. The client refuses to sign anything binding, usually because they don’t have the authority to do so, or don’t want to be locked into anything long term.

There may be other reasons, but these two pop up often, and as you can see, both spell trouble down the road.  It is definitely faster and easier to agree on a hand-shake and get started, vs. draw up a formal agreement and getting a signature.  But what happens after the project or service begins:

  • The client thought they were also getting ____________
  • The client expected the price to be _________

And notice, it is always in the client’s favor!  I can’t remember too many clients coming back and saying, “Oh, I think we owe you another $10,000.  We’ll send it over right away.”

So, if you’ve been reading the last several posts, proposals may be landfill, but agreements are boundary stones.  Without them, there is no proof of what you’ve agreed to and the client is always right.  Push the issue, and you are likely to be out of a client.


That’s right – Long Proposals Make Great Landfill…if you attended Friday’s teleseminar you’ll be receiving an audio copy of it shortly, but a few points for everyone are in order…

The Wall Street Journal reported just a few days ago, we are in the “texting” generation, and those writing proposals might take note here; people want it short and to the point.  The days of writing lengthy documents to close a deal are long gone, and long documents are destined to be delegated downward to the lowest common denominator.  But don’t expect that group to read it either.  Some tips on keeping it short:


  1. Cut out all company overview commentary.  By the time they buy from you they will know who you are.  Plus, it’s all online.
  2. Don’t bother writing about your client either.  Why an executive would need to read about their own company in your proposal is beyond me.  If they don’t know what they do, you’re selling at the wrong level.
  3. The more technical specifications you include, the more likely the reader will require IT personnel for interpretation.  Instead, focus on bullets that outline the proposed benefits and leave it at that.
  4. Your longest section should be your options.  Make them easy to understand and building upon one another.  Stop at three of four options, all stated at a high level.
  5. Price based on milestone and avoid lengthy explanations on how your prices are computed.  When asked, be ready with a concise answer.
  6. And to really make this simple, avoid proposing until there is a verbal agreement.  At that point your document becomes an agreement.
  7. Make the signing page big and easy to read, but cut down on terms and conditions which may be pages too long.  If you don’t plan on suing your client, you don’t need every detail covered.  Limit your liability and cover your ability to fix things if not acceptable to the client.

© 2010, David Stelzl