Can companies with outdated terms of business prosper?

I mentioned yesterday that more than ever, your company needs to look more attractive than its competitors if you’re to get even that initial sales enquiry. It’s hard to believe that with so much competition, companies with outdated terms of business can prosper much longer.

For example, we were talking to a manufacturer before Christmas who complained that the company could no longer afford to use one particular outside supplier to do certain work for them because “the retainer had got too high”. Somewhat naievely, I assumed that meant “retainer” in the legal sense of a minimum commitment to work each month, which is fair enough in many circumstances. However, in this case the term “retainer” had somehow morphed into “a regular amount which has to be paid over and above any work actually done”. Surely that’s a practice which service providers aren’t going to be allowed to get away with indefinitely? With every supplier in the world now at a prospect’s fingertips, there’s increasingly less need to use ones with misleading or poor value terms of business.

I make sure at this company, we only charge for what we do, and we don’t insist on any commitment from the client. If your way of working is more attractive than competitors in your sector, make sure you don’t waste that vital selling point. Some prospects may not even realise your way of working is available.

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