Why a contract is not a gift for life

Every service delivery contract changes hands at some point. Whether that’s into your new and improved hands, or someone else’s hands, is really up to you.

In our personal lives, most of us have contracts that we would rather not put too much effort into. These often roll over automatically, or are renewed with very little effort on our part.

I once went three months before I realised that my phone was out of plan and was therefore still paying for a handset that was fully paid for. I had to call my phone provider to get my rate reduced and my money back. Likewise, when insurance is up for renewal, we are often happy enough just to pay the invoice, rather than researching other options.

The consumer businesses we buy from understand this and set things up that way. Good for them – they are the ones in charge.

But when you are the supplier and selling to procurement, the situation is very different. The buyer sets the contract and the terms. Even when there is an option to renew, it’s their option – not yours.

Because of the way we see contracts operating in our personal lives, we sometimes tend to assume that ‘renewal’ means ‘rollover’, but this is a mistake.

Procurement has an obligation to go to market; not necessarily every time a contract expires, but regularly enough that they understand what the market is able to offer. Things change rapidly, and buyers are responsible for getting the best deal for their organisation.

For incumbent suppliers, winning again means accepting that we need to continually improve our service delivery models.

Think of your contract end date as a “use-by” date – a hard deadline to deliver a compelling strategy that will win the customer all over again.

This is an extract from Robyn’s new book Winning Again: a retention game plan for your most important contracts and customers. To order your copy, go to http://www.winningwords.com.au/winning-again/