Chapter Fifteen - The Deal is Never Done Until the Check Clears - Lee S. Johnson
"We Wish We Had Known - Everyday Tips from Consultants to Grow Your Business"
"The Deal is Never Done Until the Check Clears"
Lee S. Johnson
Partners in Development, LLC
Founder and Principal
How do you put a price on the loss of a business relationship, let alone a friendship?
Several years ago, a colleague asked me to assist with a project that involved the design and delivery of a training program to one of his clients. My colleague and I had worked together for years and had become personal friends.
My colleague had established a relationship and agreement with the client regarding the project deliverables. When my colleague was called out of the country for an extended time due to a family matter, he asked me to step in. After explaining and asking for my help, of course, I agreed. Once my colleague left the country, I began working directly with the client.
As things progressed, I learned the client had a different understanding of the expected deliverables. In the absence of my colleague, I made decisions based on my experience with other clients. These adaptations required additional time and scope to meet those expectations beyond my initial understanding.
Following the training delivery, the client was pleased and commented the program exceeded their expectations. In following up with my colleague, I shared the client’s comments and presented him with an invoice. My colleague later called saying that my invoice was larger than expected and he would only pay half.
Without further story details, you can likely guess its moral. Always put business agreements in writing!
Let’s Make a Deal
It’s been said, “If two parties want to do business together, they’ll work out the details. If one of the parties doesn’t want to do business, the details won’t make it happen.” Once the two parties agree to do business together, now is the time to work out those details to ensure mutual success.
Create a written agreement that spells out:
· Project deliverables, responsibilities/expectations of each party, timeframes, contingencies and payment terms. (For projects over an extended period, build in installment payments based on scope and partial deliverables.)
· Include a debrief at the end of the project to discuss results, provide mutual feedback and follow up, if desired.
· Ask the client to review the agreement and return a signed copy (written or electronic). If there are questions or changes, resolve them and create a final agreement.
· Secure final signatures of all parties and provide copies.
Establish regular status updates to discuss progress, obstacles, and options to address. Rarely does everything go as planned. When working virtually, misunderstandings and misinterpretations are not uncommon.
· Share feedback as agreed. Ask your client for feedback and adjust as needed. Consider having the client sign off on work completed.
· Invoice promptly.
At the completion of the project:
· Conduct the debrief, including any follow-up actions and observations of potential additional needs.
· Promptly submit the final invoice.
· Thank the client in writing, with an expression of your appreciation and desire to collaborate in future opportunities.
Final Note: While these recommendations may sound like common sense, I have learned that common sense isn’t always common practice. Apply these practices and make your common practice permanent.
LEE S. JOHNSEN
Lee is the founder and principal of Partners in Development (PID). The motto of PID, “Closing Gaps in Workplace Performance,” acknowledges that there are many reasons why organizations and their team members either do or don’t achieve their expected results. Lee works with them to discover all the reasons for performance gaps and applies solutions to close them.
Lee specializes in helping virtual team leaders and members feel like they’re working in the same room – even when they’re not. For over 10 years, he has become an expert at building the performance of organizations with global virtual teams and a hybrid workforce. In 2019, he released the second edition of his book, “Literally Virtually, Making Virtual Teams Work” and has spoken to audiences internationally.
Strengthening the skills of organizational leaders and team members is Lee’s passion. He has designed, developed and delivered face-to-face and live, online training on topics including leadership and management, coaching, leading virtual teams and organizational development. Previous projects have included employee engagement surveys, strategic planning, executive coaching and team interventions. Previously, he held officer and management positions in Fortune 500 corporations and government agencies.Lee is a published author coauthoring the book “Real World Teambuilding Strategies That Work.” He has served as an adjunct instructor at five universities. He has the international distinction of being one of only a few who are certified by three international human resources organizations.