All sales professionals know the thrill that comes along with closing a deal that provides exceptional value for your client, and ultimately, money for your small business. But, what if you don’t have the opportunity for a copy of the contract to be signed in person, or if there are still various contract details left to complete?
When you need a document signed by a new client quickly, waiting around can be a major pain. Instead of pacing back and forth waiting for their reply, here’s how to ask for a new contract to be signed.
Identify top decision makers
When working on a brand new agreement or sale, the last thing you want is to talk to an individual who has to get permission from “higher-ups” before signing. The single most important detail in learning how to ask for a contract to be signed is to identify decision makers from the get-go. Once you know who they are, get their direct contact information, their email or phone number, so you can reach them personally.
This allows you to cut to the chase and ask for a decision and signature rather than inefficiently bumping contract requests from employee to employee. If you don’t know who is responsible for the final decision, you can’t anticipate objections or determine additional opportunities to add value to the deal.
If access to the decision makers is limited because of the company’s organization, inquire with other employees about what individuals need to be involved in order to make a final decision. With this information, you can prepare a desirable, value-forward presentation with the most important details included upfront.
Have a clear understanding of the client’s goals
It’s a bit frustrating when you go to a restaurant, order a meal, and get the wrong plate, right?
The same is true when sales teams deliver an imperfect contract to a potential client. When preparing a contract to be signed, make sure you fully understand your client’s needs and goals.
If you deliver a contract that doesn’t align with their needs, timelines, and objectives, the client will likely reject it. Your contract must include the right information, like:
- Products and services included
- Payment terms
- Deadlines, timelines, and/or relevant time period
- Next steps
- Any and all legal agreements required
Back-and-forth processes to get these details right extend the entire sales process and exhaust both parties involved.
You can ensure a signed contract and satisfied clients by having a complete and thorough understanding of the company’s needs, goals, and expectations.
Set expectations and a firm deadline
Oftentimes, failure to receive a signature from a potential client is the result of a communication error. If expectations about the contract process are not clear, the individual may feel as though they have time to deliberate.
Plus, if you don’t have a clear understanding of when the client would like a solution in place, you may end up taking your time putting together a contract, too.
To remedy this, ensure you have a set timeline in place for the sales process complete with a firm decision and signature deadline. Help your clients through the decision process by also including benchmark dates in the proposal.
For instance, if they need to determine which product or service package to learn more about, include a smaller deadline for this in the timeline.
With this deadline in place, you won’t need to ask for the contract to be signed — it’ll happen automatically.
Deliver all promises
Depending upon the nature of a deal or sale, you may have promised the client additional deals or values such as:
- A product demonstration;
- Fee/cost transparency;
- More information about the product or service;
- Educational resources designed to help the client identify a solution.
Without following through on your promises, the client may not feel ready to sign a contract and is waiting on your deliverables. If you have committed to additional tasks prior to closing the deal, do your best to follow through on these efforts and help the sales process speed along.
Sometimes the simplest advice is the most effective.
If you’re waiting around for a contract signature and the deadline has passed, follow up.
Following up is as easy as sending over a quick reminder email or giving the decision maker a call. Often, they became overloaded with work and didn’t have time to sign the contract.
However, before you send the follow-up message, use technology to your advantage. If you’ve used contract software, check the analytics and document activity to determine if the client has viewed it.
If they have, send a follow-up. If the opposite is true, consider what may be keeping them from opening and viewing the document. Also, check to see if you’ve sent the contract to the correct (decision-making) members of the client’s team.
Review your message
If you’ve followed all the steps above and are still wondering how to get your client to sign the contract, the problem may be in your message.
Review the language you’ve used in your contract, email communications, and phone calls. Are you being too pushy and putting too much pressure on the client? Or, are you being too passive and leaving room for possible confusion with regards to deadlines, responsibilities, and deliverables?
Consider revising your approach to client communication if you are still waiting on the final signature.
How to ask for a contract to be signed: 6 easy steps
To review, your process for gaining the client’s signature should include the following steps:
- Identify decision makers;
- Clearly understand the client’s goals;
- Set a firm timeline and deadline;
- Deliver on promises;
- Follow up;
- Review your message and contract language.
As you navigate this process, find a contract management tool that works best for your sales goals and needs to assist you. With software like PandaDoc, you’ll reduce the number of sales contracts that go unsigned and you’ll close deals faster.
What tactics have you used to get a contract signed by a potential client? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.