Contracts set the tone for the relationships you have with your clients moving forward.
Too relaxed and short and it is hard to take you seriously. Too long and hard to read, it makes it seem like you only care about protecting your own interest.
In this episode of Inbound Sales Journey we break down our recommendations on how to write retainer contracts and how to present them.
Length of Commitment
Throughout our 7 year history with GuavaBox the typical retainer expectation would be 12-months. This seems like a widely used amount of time across the industry and one that we think is fine.
The length of time isn't the issue. How you present it can be the problem. Locking a prospect into a 12-month commitment without working with them on a project beforehand is dangerous for both you and them.
That's why we recommend setting the expectations at 12-months but only holding them to a 3-month agreement. Inbound takes time and 1 month is often not long enough to see results. That is why we recommend 3 months as an acceptable timeframe.
If either party would like the back out of the arrangement after 3 months, by all means they may without penalty. As agency's we are there to provide value. If we don't provide value, then we shouldn't be working for our clients. I understand there are down months and hopefully your relationship is good enough to talk your client through those, but keeping an unhappy client on just because they signed a contract is a bad idea.
Don't Make it Your First Contract
I mentioned before that signing a 12-month contract is dangerous for both parties if you haven't worked together before. But what if you have worked together?
The first contract we have a new customer sign isn't a 12 or even 3-month commitment. It's a 1-month commitment. We start the client committing to an Inbound Marketing GamePlan.
The GamePlan allows us to build a relationship with the client first before asking for a larger contract. It allows us to each make sure we are good fits for one another.
If you are wanting to sign up a client and make them commit to a 12-month contract, I highly recommend first committing them to a GamePlan and upsell the commitment from there.
In next week's episode we are going to include some links to some different tools you can use to create awesome contracts.