B2B differs from dealing with end-users or retail buyers; in this scenario, you are not dealing with regular customers but with business people who know how to play the game. As a consequence, utilizing the most appropriate marketing approach and negotiations can be a challenge. In every business process, there is the possibility of misunderstandings, even when an agreement has already been signed. For example, you could send the wrong product or be unable to make timely payments. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your business relationship remains cordial and mutually beneficial. For this reason, you need to implement a set of terms and conditions (T&Cs) that both parties will respect and follow.
What should typical B2B T&Cs include?
Your terms should set out the conditions that both parties have to comply with to send/receive the relevant products and services successfully. Even if you own a small business, the agreement should be in writing to avoid any misunderstandings.
To help you, here’s an article on how to write terms and conditions for B2B companies.
1. Make a step-by-step list
Any agreement should be based on your business process and ideal clients. You can break this down by considering various factors, such as:
- How do you provide quotations to your clients?
- How do you perform your services or deliver your products?
- What are the obligations that your clients should know about?
- Can clients cancel and if so, how?
- How do you receive payments?
You should consider all these issues and make a note of them to formulate terms and conditions that all parties will find fair and reasonable.
You can also talk to your clients and ask them what their expectations are in relation to the transactions. You may even discover a better way of selling your products and services. Most importantly, these interactions can bring you closer to your customers.
2. Take account of likely or worst-case scenarios
Your T&Cs should also set out what will happen if something goes wrong with the transaction. For example:
- What would you do if things go wrong?
- How could you protect yourself from an annoying or frustrating client?
- What possible reasons would customers have to complain about your products and services?
While you may well be dealing with people who understand your industry lingo, it is still wise to write the agreement in plain but clear English.
Remember, even if it’s a B2B deal, your client still has more rights than you. Therefore, it is best to avoid situations whereby they could claim that they didn’t understand the agreement. If you need to include complicated terms and jargon specific to your industry, think about providing definitions in a separate clause. The best place to put all the terms and their meanings is before the first crucial part of the agreement. Furthermore, to make them more understandable, use clause numbers and titles to illustrate their meaning and significance.
Other items to consider
It is also a good idea to include how and when the contract is formed. This should indicate the timeline or the effective start date of both parties’ contractual obligations.
Incorporating these details in writing will help in cases where claims may arise, such as for breach of contract. The courts or legal authorities will be able to enforce your T&Cs since the existence of your agreement has been established.
Whenever doing business, it is imperative that you avoid misleading or lying to your customers. Also, you should never use terms and conditions that take advantage of them. If your clients discover that you are less than completely honest, they may refuse to do business with you in the future. Worse still, they could use social media to tell other people about their bad experiences with your company, which is just the type of advertising you don’t need!
As you are running your own business, you will naturally be aware of the need to build and maintain trust with clients. Therefore, it pays to ensure that your T&Cs are all above board.
Consult a legal expert
It is possible to write your own terms and conditions by using free contract templates or by copying other similar businesses. However, the freebies are often out of date when it comes to recent changes in the law. Moreover, copying your T&Cs from your competitors may seem like a good idea at first, but unfortunately, they may contain specific clauses that do not apply to your business.
Furthermore, this strategy could even damage your company if you don’t understand the content of the agreement. This is why it is always a good idea to talk to a lawyer or a legal consultant. They will be able to help you create a contract that is both legally up to date and tailored specifically to your company. Experts will also be able to protect your business from any legal and practical problems.
Of course, terms and conditions are vital for most businesses, but you need to ensure that they are also legally enforceable. They should include your company’s full registered trading name, registered address, and other essential details. Although you can write your own terms and conditions, if you wish, it is much better to consult with legal experts as they will be able to help you design the most appropriate agreement and check that the content will hold up in court.
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Guest blogger - Kerry Gibbs is a legal expert at BEB Contracts and Legal Services. BEB provides small to medium-sized businesses with legal and contractual support.