Pre-contracts for outsourcing: before the real contract!

Talking on the phone is a great way to find out what your new business associate is really concerned about (money? time? the level of skill of his workers? whether you are a good fit for his company?) If the other person won’t talk about the proposed terms of the contract or the person wants to talk only through an attorney or legal department, you already know you are on shaky ground. Ditto if you are not willing to talk on the phone!

1) Write down the details while you are talking with the representative from the other company, and ask him or her if you may send an email that summarizes your conversation. The other person will respond, and the two of you will already have gathered some of the details for the written contract. Remember, any understanding between parties must be written down in order to be enforceable … so when you have an understanding, write it down!

2) People tend to show their true colors in a second interview or a second meeting [ ] Have a second conversation to hammer out more details you want in the outsourcing contract or call center contract. If you hear something that is a deal-breaker, tell the person you will get back to him. If all goes well, again, make notes and exchange emails. After two or three conversations, you should have the entire contract pretty much figured out.

3) If the written outsourcing contract comes back without these details, or with significant additions that ignore the meaning of your conversations…it’s not going to get better. The final written contract must reflect the spoken, agreed- upon details. Otherwise, you already have a problem.

IN SUM: If the other person is not willing to exchange a few emails with you–and if, after the first conversations, you simply get a reply with an attached contract drafted by a company attorney or legal department–your relationship is already questionable or meaningless. Sending a standard contract at this juncture is rude, and renders pointless the pleasant conversations that took place. The other person has just been humoring you–or, the legal department has more control over the company than the person you have been conversing with. These are sure signs that your relationship will be short-lived.

Better you find out now than after paying for services for an extended period of time! In sum, don’t continue in a relationship that is obviously not based on a real meeting of the minds and some effort on both sides. If someone is not listening or communicating at the beginning, signing a contract will not make the situation work. Walk away.

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