Setting Expectations in a New Contract Relationship

Two men discussing contract terms

Have you experienced the loss of a vendor relationship due to bad contracts and misaligned expectations? After hiring and managing hundreds of employees and negotiating hundreds of marketing services contracts, we’ve identified two areas that are most often responsible for bad contract relationships.

Lack of specific service deliverables

Depending on the type of employment or outside service you are contracting for, there are usually a set of specific deliverables associated with it: amount of content to be created, products managed, ROI, budget spent, etc. A lot of times these items are discussed verbally but never make it into a contract.  This is really on the owner, since employees and most companies default to leaving this kind of detail out of contracts so that they have more wiggle room down the road. Some key points to think about when entering a new contract are:

  • Ways to quantify the work that is being done by the vendor. What specific work and/or activity is expected to be done every month.
  •  Understanding the timeline of work. After the first phase of implementation, what are the things you will be receiving on an ongoing basis?

Once you have agreed on monthly deliverables in the contract you can focus on setting accurate expectations for communication.


Lack of specific communication expectations

This is a big one. How often will they talk to you? What is the timeline for the project? In our experience, the best outside companies have regular, planned communication with clients which allows them to update you on progress and learn about any new developments on your end that may impact what they’re doing. Vendors who say they are there “when you need them” or that communication “depends on what’s going on that month” may be sincere, but being specific up-front sets the tone for a productive long term relationship and creates a clear expectation that can be referenced if there are problems with the account manager later down the line Some key points to think about when setting communication expectations are :

  • Understand who your primary contact is. Who will you be talking with on a regular basis? How often should you expect to communicate with this person?
  • What can your team do on your end to compliment the relationship? What can your team prepare for these scheduled calls to make them more productive? What information from your end would be helpful to your account manager?

A great business owner/ vendor relationship starts with good communication and knowing what to expect during the campaign. Being clear about your expectations up front will reduce headaches and improve results over time.