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I was meeting with a client to review the subcontract template I had been asked to prepare.  Clients often tell me that they want to be protected, but that they also want the contract to be fair to both sides. This fits in perfectly with my philosophy in that I dislike contracts that try to hide onerous terms in a thicket of legalese.

This meeting, however, was different. My client had asked me to make sure the contract was fair to both sides, but his concerns went beyond that.

What he was talking about was empathy.

He told me, “The subcontractors I work with are good at what they do, but they don’t usually have lawyers on call.”

Then he asked the question that was really bothering him:

“How do you think my subcontractors will feel when they read this?”

You see, my client knew that the terms were standard in the industry and that no one could accuse us of including harsh or unfair terms. But he was looking at the way the terms were expressed.

  • Were they accessible?
  • Even if they were fair, could they be easily understood by someone without a law degree?
  • Would the subcontractors feel compelled to get their own lawyer, thereby increasing the cost of doing business with my client’s company?

My client recognized what very few companies do. Specifically, that:

Every interaction is a part of sales.

And this points to the litmus test we all should use: Will this interaction make the other person want to do business with us?

It doesn’t matter if the interaction is a contract, a sales call, an invoice, a customer service inquiry or a visit to your website to get contact information, you need to ask if the interaction makes the other person want to do business with you.

Yes or no?

Even in drafting a contact intended to protect his business, my client wanted to make sure the answer was “yes.”

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Eliot Wagonheim shares business insights that help companies stay on course. Get our latest blog posts sent right to your inbox. Subscribe using the sign up form to the left of this post.