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 approved by a new client waiting for a signed contract can be a major pain.
Instead of pacing back and forth waiting for their reply, here’s how to ask for a contract to be signed quickly.
How to ask someone to sign a contract
You’ve made the sale. You’ve taken the time to create a contract. But how do you ask a client to sign that new contract?
You don’t want to badger them, so you need to strike the right tone. Remember, it’s unlikely your client is simply avoiding signing the contract. They’re busy people, just like the rest of us.
Start by asking yourself some questions.
Who’s responsible for signing the contract? When do you need it signed by? Are there any outstanding issues you can resolve to clear the obstacles?
1. 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, such as their email or phone number so that 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’s 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, ask other employees which 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.
Tip: Once you identify each decision-maker, remember to add them to your CRM. This means that when the contract needs to be signed, you can easily import their information into the document.
2. 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
If there’s any uncertainty regarding any legal aspects of a contract, it’s advisable to seek legal advice regarding this.
Back-and-forth processes to get the above details right extend the entire sales process and exhaust all parties involved.
You can ensure that you get a written contract signed and have satisfied clients by having a complete and thorough understanding of the company’s needs, goals, and expectations.
3. 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 aren’t 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 shorter 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.
4. 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.
It’s a good idea for all involved parties to have a copy of the agreement so that everyone is on the same page about what’s expected of them.
5. Follow up
Sometimes, the simplest advice is the most effective.
Regardless of the type of contract, whether it’s a sales contract, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), or an employment contract, 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.
6. 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’re 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.
With software like PandaDoc, you’ll reduce the number of sales contracts that go unsigned, and you’ll close deals faster.
How to write follow-up emails for contract signings
Effectively written follow-ups can be exactly what’s needed to get that signature.
It’s vital to strike the correct tone, get the message across, and be true to your brand.
Use this step-by-step guide to craft effective follow-up emails.
1. Who’s your audience?
Think about who’ll read your email.
They’ll be a decision-maker, which means they’re probably a busy person. Use what you know about them to guide your tone.
2. Use an attention-grabbing subject line
The purpose of the follow-up is to encourage action. Keep it short and precise.
Use phrases such as “action required” or “urgent: contract signing”. This lets the reader know they shouldn’t ignore this email.
3. Use appropriate greetings
How you greet the reader depends on the tone you’re trying to achieve. That’ll depend on your brand and audience.
You can address the reader by name to strike an informal tone. For more formal follow-ups, use “sir” or “madam”.
4. Get your message across
The body of the email must put simply that you need the contract signed.
Brief pleasantries are good and help build rapport. However, keep them short.
5. Sign off
End the email by giving your name, company name, and contact information.
How do I ask politely for a signed agreement: Phrases you can use
It can be difficult to decide how best to ask for a signature on a document.
Regardless of whether you’re asking for a traditional signature using a pen and paper or an eSignature, you must be polite but also get a result.
Below are some phrases you can use verbatim or as inspiration. Remember, be true to your brand and hit the right tone:
“Please sign and return at your earliest convenience.”
This is best when you require a formal tone, and there’s no rush to get the signature on a contract.
“Could you please sign and return when you get a chance?”
This is a less formal version of the above phrase.
“Your action is required. Please sign and return.”
This is appropriate if you need to be more forceful while remaining polite and professional.
“It’d be great if this was signed and returned by the end of the day.”
This is a friendly way to give a deadline to encourage action while maintaining a good rapport with the client.
“I need a signature on this quickly to get you up and running.”
This communicates urgency while reminding the client that it’s to their advantage to comply.
Quick and easy contract signing made possible
You worked hard to negotiate your agreement, so don’t let the contract languish.
Using the tips above, get it signed so you can move on to the next deal. The key to this is removing obstacles for the client. That’s where PandaDoc comes in.
If you need a quick turnaround for contract signing, then use eSign.
It’s more convenient for the client and faster for you. PandaDoc makes things easier with user-friendly tools.
PandaDoc does it all from helping you write a business contract and getting it eSigned, to providing you with various contract templates and ways to track document performance.
Originally published June 6, 2018, updated February 14, 2023