You’ve just hung up the phone and you feel the stone just whacked you in the head.

You were excited. This person wanted to work with you and they were ok with the money you asked for.

But after reading your contract, they said “NO”.

You’re wondering why the client didn’t sign the contract.

It might be that it looked scary. To be honest, you’re not comfortable with it either. But it was written by a lawyer and that’s why you just sent it in the onboarding process.

As you sent the contract in the welcome package you tried to sugarcoat it by writing: ‘Well it’s just one of those things we need to have to protect me. Don’t worry about it, just sign it.’

In this post I’m going to share with you some practical tips and insights that will help you face such situation if it happens and (even more importantly) prevent it in the future.

Over a decade I’ve helped hundreds of teams as a lawyer, mediator and teamwork coach to hear each other and to collaborate with ease. Teams became more comfortable having ’those’ difficult conversations and it made their collaboration smooth. I let you know this not to boast, but so you know you’re in safe hands with me.

The good news is there are certain things you can do to get the contract signed and start the smooth collaboration you both want. I’ve written a blog post on Onboarding Clients for Smooth Workflow that goes deeper in the Onboarding process. In this post I’m going to share 3 strategies that will help you face the ‘No, I don’t want to sign this contract’ and overcome it.

1. Don’t stop there. This is only the beginning!

VA’s often tell me they just don’t know what to say after they hear ’No, I don’t want to sign this contract’. For them it’s the end of the conversation. If you’re like them, it also means the end of collaboration (before it actually begun).

Let’s see how you can turn this around and sign a contract and enjoy fruitful collaboration.

After the phone call, you keep on wondering why they said no. This is draining your energy, self-confidence and your precious time.

Please, don’t do this to yourself (and your business)!

Get your peace of mind by having a conversation about it. Ask the right questions so you’ll really understand why she /he rejected the contract.

There may be many reasons for them to feel uncomfortable signing that contract.

Find out what is their reason. (And don’t just assume it, but actually ask the client!)

Was your contract rejected because:

  • the client didn’t understand it?

((But maybe the client would understand it if it was written in plain English! Find out if this is the reason they said NO. Then you can explain the contract in words he/she will understand. You can guide them through the contract and explain why some parts need to be there. All this will help them understand the contract, give them reassurance and show that you care. They will know what they can expect and why things are there.

  • the client didn’t agree with the content

((But maybe you would agree with a slightly adapted version of a contract! Find out why the client doesn’t agree with this specific provision. Why is this so important to him /her? Maybe you can adapt it in a way it is ok for both of you?)

  • the client didn’t want to commit to the obligations in there

((For example they don’t want to commit to deliver their materials on time. If you can’t work with clients who are late delivering the materials, you probably don’t want to work with such client anyway.).

Having this conversation will help you get the clarity, so you can say ‘OK, now I understand you’. Only when you have gathered all this information and answers can you start negotiating about the contract or decide to keep it as it is or adapt it.

Having this conversation will also help your client get heard, build trust and connect with you on a deeper level.

Isn’t this the best way to start working with a client?

2. A contract is not an obstacle, it should be a bridge between you and your client

Are you using a template contract, full of legal jargon that not even you fully understand? A contract like that might add uncertainty and be perceived as an obstacle between you and your client.

A contract should be just the opposite of that!

A contract is actually a confirmation of everything you agreed on.

Having a conversation about your expectations and concerns before even starting to work together might sound awkward to you. I get it. It’s a bit like talking about plans for the future with a new boyfriend 🙂

But if you lead this conversation skill-fully, you can easily find out if you’re rally sharing same core values, vision and intention. It makes the next step so much easier and cuts down the chances for disappointments.

By having a conversation about the content of your contract, your client will feel heard. You will both better understand each other’s expectations. It will be easier to write it down and define how you want to collaborate in the future and how you would like to resolve any issues that might occur.

The written form helps you remember what you wanted to achieve at the beginning of your collaboration and creates additional safety for both of you.

A clear and personalized contract works as a bridge between you and your client. It connects you. It also helps you both feel more secured and this builds trust for your future business collaboration.

3. HOW can you find out what is wrong with the contract

Here are some practical tips you can use right away. After the clients said ’No, I don’t want to sign this contract’, you can ask something like:

‘What exactly is making this contract difficult for you to sign it?’

Listen to their answer carefully. Be ready to hear their concerns.

If they say the contract is too complicated, you can ask something like:

‘Would it help you if I walk you through the contract so we both understand what it’s there and why it’s there. If we find things that don’t want to be there, we can delete or adapt them. Would that be ok?

If they say they don’t agree with the contract, you can ask something like:

‘Which sentence would you like we take a look at? What is your biggest concern here? Let’s find a way how we can solve this, ok?’

When you ask questions, be curious. And listen to what they say and what they’re not saying out loud.

You can do this!

Having those conversations might take some practice. The more you practice, the more you’ll be comfortable having them. I needed to learn this. My clients want to learn this and they practice with me daily. They feel so calm and proud of themselves when they lead those conversations like a pro.

Think of all the benefits you, your client and your business will have from having such a conversation. It will give you both clarity, peace of mind, true understanding about expectations, mutual trust and strong commitment. This will make you ready for a successful start of a great collaboration.

To skip such a conversation in your thriving business is not an option.

If you feel you’d like some additional support to become more comfortable as you have those conversations, join other VAs in Cool Conversations Club. There you will get ready for such conversations, practice asking the right questions and learn the art of fair negotiation so you can thrive in your business.

Your business needs this. You need this. Your clients need this.

SUMMARY

Hearing a ’No, I don’t want to sign this contract’ from a potential client is not the sentence that ends that conversation. It’s actually opening a whole new conversation for you. Get ready for it, ask the right questions and negotiate so you can both make the informed decision that’s best for you and your client.

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