Do you face contract phobia?

In his latest blog, IACCM’s Tim Cummins touches the raw nerve every in-house lawyer is aware of. We have all encountered it: the last minute engagements, the unrealistic expectations; the push-back when we identify significant risk in the terms presented, being labelled as the ‘sales prevention department’…
The good news is, we may very well have the key to breaking through that stalemate in our own hands.

Steps we can take

We may not always be able to influence external agreements to the degree we wish to, but we can do our best to ensure that our standard terms of business can be readily understood by our colleagues in sales. After all, they have to go out and sell our company’s goods and services to clients, and must be able to explain the conditions of sale to our clients. Not only that: we need to make an effort to understand the company’s overall business objectives, but also the work and drivers of our colleagues in sales and related disciplines.

Let me explain. We may be able to draft an agreement in such a way that it is easily understood, but that is only the first ‘leg’ of the total business process. We need to understand how the document is intended to be used (method), by who (users), for what purposes (purpose) and in what circumstances (situation).

We need to understand how the intended users of the document will use the document, by what methods and for what purposes. The form of the document needs to facilitate those methods and purposes, and it needs be flexible enough to facilitate future change. This means we need to work closely with colleagues who have the requisite knowledge of operational processes and IT systems in our organisation.

The pay-off

If this seems like a lot of hard work, think about the return on investment: the change in perception.

By engaging with colleagues from other departments across the organisation and demonstrably taking their views on board, you can begin to turn around that dreaded sticky label of ‘sales prevention’. What’s more, you’ll now be in a position to sit down with your colleagues in sales and agree concrete business process changes with them that lead to your advice being sought at the earliest stage of potential new business.


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