Although there are many key elements to running a successful business, few can outweigh the importance of successful contract negotiation. This single element can determine everything from a businesses’s profit margin for each transaction to the legal recourse that a business owner may take if a client or partner infringes on the company’s intellectual property. As such, it is critical that company owners understand the elements of effective business contract negotiation.
Examining the Five Elements of Contract Negotiation
An effective business contract should do more than simply state the terms of an agreement; it should detail a reasonable arrangement that mutually benefits all involved parties, and it should clearly define the environment and conditions under which the parties are willing to operate. To reach such an agreement, business owners are encouraged to implement all five elements of contract negotiation, which include:
- Prepare for the Negotiation Process - To create a mutually beneficial contract, you must first prepare for the negotiation process. Start by determining their strengths and weaknesses and determine how they might use these in negotiations. Consider your own strengths and weaknesses as well, and determine your aims for the contract (what do you want to accomplish?). Also, know your deal-breakers and decide what you are willing to compromise on during the negotiation process;
- Clarify the Details - Once you have an idea of what should be in the contract (these are the terms under which you are willing to operate), it is important to ensure you closely examine all of the details. Are your conditions and expectations clear? Are the financial terms easy to understand? Is there any verbiage that may confuse your potential client? When does the contract come into effect, and when does it end? What happens if one party defaults on their part of the contract, and is that clearly stated? For best results, have your attorney examine the details and wording of the contract, as they can help you avoid potential loopholes and confusing or cloudy terms or details;
- Exert Pressure to Encourage Contract Signing - Parties typically only sign a contract when they feel confident that they can benefit from the contract and its terms – but a successful negotiation should take it one step further. The other party should feel as though they are losing something by not signing the contract. Know your market, your other options, and ensure you have a seasoned attorney to assist you with this element.
- Offer Concessions (When and Why) - Concessions are not an automatic element in contract negotiations. Instead, they are usually added at the end, when parties feel a deal is possible and they are ready to close. Try to offer concessions that provide a great deal of benefit to your partner at a low cost to you, and determine if the concessions offered by the other party are beneficial enough to your company;
- Close the Deal - Once all the parties agree on the major aspects of the contract, it is important to close the deal. By not asking when you are truly interested and see a possible future for your partnership, you leave money on the table.
Contact Our Wheaton Small Business Lawyers
At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we understand the challenges that small businesses face because we are one ourselves. Backed by more than 40 years of experience, our seasoned DuPage County small business attorneys can protect your company’s interests during contract negotiations, and we can assist you in closing the deal. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule your consultation with our offices to get started today.