Business Tip: Following Up After Making the Deal

We’ve all had them. The kind of uplifting conversations when everything you say, the other person on the end of the line intuitively understands and in return say the one word you wanted to hear: “Yes!”

OK, you’ve nailed the deal. Now what?

Too often people negotiating with partners, clients, prospective employees and even their landlords do not take the next three simple steps to insure what has been agreed upon – before the details are lost to vagaries of today’s multi-tasking brain.

First and most crucially, take notes during the call. For reporters this would seem to be second nature, but I cannot tell you how many times I have been on conference calls where after the phone is hung up everyone looks around and says, “You took notes, right?”

Second, draft a quick email thanking everyone for their time and summarizing the general terms and structure of the agreement. Generally this would be in informal language and should be sent as soon as possible after the conversation to capitalize on all that good will. If the deal requires any level of deliverables, timing, dependencies or any type of complexity, I strongly advise letting all concerned know you will be following up with a detailed summary.

I’ve been advised on occasion that such detail in writing can lead to problems down the road if there are legal points or at least, a lawyer should review the summary document before it goes out. Certainly if you have a lawyer on hand this is never a bad thing, but time is of the essence. Too often details shift or minds change when memory meets reality after the fact.

My practice is to layout the key points of the deal including all deliverables expected of either party, the timing of such deliverables, the dependencies upon which each deliverable is expected, and whether a legally-binding contract or Memorandum of Understanding will be required before the deal can be completed.

Remember, emails can always be forwarded, so confidentiality is not something that can be expected in this form of communication, no matter what you call the email or put at the top.