How to Negotiate Your Next Telecom Contract

Time to Negotiate a New Telecom Contract?

Great! After reading this article you’ll be ready to negotiate that next telecom contract like a seasoned pro. The first steps to successful telecom contract negotiation begins by simply understanding the key areas which most contracts are based.

Sound simple? It is, so let’s get started!

Telecom Contracts: Do We Really Need Them?

Businesses sign contracts for all types of telecom services. In fact, you may have contracts in place for local, long distance, wireless, voice and data, etc. Keep in mind that the information contained in this article can be applied to just about any telecom contract negotiations.

A telecom service contract is an easy way for a service provider to lock you into a predetermined rate structure and set of conditions for a specified period of time. Having contracts in place makes it easy for a carrier to count customers. Multi-year contracts also help solidify the customer base – in other words, they can count on predictable revenue.

Contracts can also be to your advantage as well. Having contracts in place eliminates the guess work when conducting routine audits of your telecom services. You’ll never be able to verify that your accounts are being billed correctly without using contract terms and rates as a comparison.

The 7 Key Elements Included in Almost All of the
Telecom Contracts You’ll Sign

Listed below are seven common characteristics and elements that will arise when negotiating your telecom contracts. Use them as a “checklist” before you begin. It’s best to know what you want before negotiations get under way.

Keep in mind that the best deals seem to materialize when there is the element of “win-win” involved. Concentrate your negotiations on just two or three critical items that will make the biggest difference and have the most value to you and your company.

1. Most carriers will combine different offerings to maximize overall volume and revenue. Today more than ever, carriers are fighting to be your one-stop shopping for a variety of telecom services. The fact that they CAN offer you every telecom service, doesn’t mean you should follow their advice. Handle one at a time, then see how the overall package can be put together for your benefit and maximum savings for your company.

2. All telecom contracts will require a minimum volume commitment. This commitment is usually in terms of pre-discounted revenue per month. Variations could include annual usage, net revenue amounts or total minutes of usage. Determine your level of commitment based on previous months or years. Be aware that there are often additional sub-commitments included for specific service elements. FACT: The more volume you offer the carrier, the better rates you’ll be able to negotiate.

3. All require a minimum term commitment.
Two or three year terms are most common, but contracts can be written for shorter or longer periods. Like volume commitments, the longer the term – the better the rates. Service providers are usually willing to renogotiate an existing contract , even if only half the contract remains. Before renegotiating an existing contract, be sure that there are no early termination penalties or fees in the existing one.

4. The net rates are usually expressed in terms of specific discounts off regular published rates.
However, some express specific rates in lieu of service guide pricing. Bottom line? Be sure you know which is which during negotiations! Always be sure that you know the EXACT terms of the agreement before you sign on the dotted line.

5. Some published rates may be specifically waived.
Such waivers are common for installation charges and certain elements of private line pricing. Make it a point to ask to have these kinds of charges waived during your negotiations. After all, you won’t get it unless you ASK!

6. Most telecom contracts include a provision that is included for promotional and other credits.
These are applied at scheduled times to off-set costs of converting from other carriers’ services. Be sure to make specific notes of these credits at the time of negotiation so that you can be sure they were actually credited in the future just as the contract reads.

7. All telecom contracts provide for penalties if violated.
Sounds basic but….ALWAYS be sure you understand the penalties and costs associated with violating the terms of the contracts you sign. Penalties and fees can be substantial so make sure all contract information is provided to new employees who will be overseeing telecom should the original negotiator leave the company or is transferred.

Business Downturn and Technology Clauses

While not always offered by the carrier, many businesses are now asking for business downturn and technology provisions.

For example: A business downturn provision would allow a customer to renegotiate the agreement if the company cannot meet its minimum commitment levels due to unforeseen changes in the business itself (i.e. bad economy, layoffs, etc.). Usually a carrier will renegotiate a lower commitment level in exchange for a longer term commitment.

The Technology Clause protects a customer if they decide to change services to more advanced technology, resulting in lowered usage levels on initial services. An example of this is a company moving from a private line network to a frame relay or virtual private network.

Successful telecom negotiation can mean a huge difference in your company’s “bottom line” telecom expenditures. Plan your strategy. Familiarize yourself with the basics, and always remember: Everything is Negotiable!

Negotiation Strategies – Bracketize the Offers

During March Madness sports fans affectionately refer to the NCAA Basketball tournament as “bracketology”. It’s a 65 team playoff, over 18 days, single elimination (winner keeps going, loser goes home)…one ultimate winner. I think it’s the best event in sports.
In negotiation, we sometimes pride ourselves on “thinking on our feet” or “winging it.” Don’t fool yourself. There is a better way. It’s called “bracketizing.”

The best chance for Negotiation success comes from what we call “Aggressive Preparation”. In the Humble Confidence Negotiation Workshop we dive into the 6 Stages of Negotiation Preparation. Stage 5 is what we call “bracketizing” our offers. We prepare and bracket 4 offers:

1) The Best (better than expected)
2) The Realistic (what it should be)
3) The Fallback (acceptable range of backup)
4) The Alamo (don’t go there…call a timeout!)

Bracketizing means we project ahead and determine a range of offers. We gain the discipline of staying within the plan, or “bracket”. We never “wing it” or freelance deals at the table. Never.

Now that’s not to mean we’re rigid or “un-creative”. Not at all. But it does mean we control our emotions and don’t get caught up in the euphoria of deal-completion. Sometimes we just want to be done…be careful not to let your desire to finish drive a sub-par outcome.

Bracketizing is just one stage. There are 5 more in “Aggressive Preparation”. We call it “Aggressive” because you have to drive your team and yourself to embrace the process. And remember, 90% of a successful negotiation happens in this stage, before you even get in the room!

Presentation Skills: Tips For Overcoming A Fear Of Public Speaking – Part 1

Are you frightened of speaking in public? You’re not alone. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can genuinely tell me they weren’t very nervous before their first couple of presentations. Being nervous is a good thing as it gives you a pool of energy you can harness to perform at your best. The trouble arises when you are so nervous that it inhibits your ability to function and remember what you were going to say.

This is the first in a four-part series of tips for overcoming a fear of public speaking. In this article we look at rehearsing, memorizing the first few minutes and having key points to remind you what you are going to speak about. In later articles we look at ways to stop the feeling of panic, memory techniques, asking for help and having back up plans for the worst things that could happen.

Tip #1 Rehearse

The more confidence you feel when you walk onto the stage, the better. You can get this confidence from the real thing (giving presentations) or by rehearsing. Practice your presentation in front of friends, the mirror, a video camera or alone. Every time you rehearse, you will identify areas to improve upon and begin to feel more confident about giving the presentation.

I find that if I am practising by myself or in front of a mirror that I tend to waffle a lot more than I do in front of an audience. I also speak much more slowly during rehearsal than I do for the real thing. So if you are practising to make sure your timing is right; keep in mind this difference in speed.

Tip #2 Memorize the first 2 or 3 minutes of your presentation

Most people usually feel extremely nervous for the first few minutes of a presentation. Once you are into it, your nervous energy settles down and you become focused more upon the task than upon worry. To help you get through this first 2 or 3 minutes, it may be useful to memorize the start of your talk.

Tip #3 Have some key points to remind you what to say next

One of the key fears presenters have is that they will forget what they have to say. There are a few things you can do to overcome this challenge:

  • Speak in terms of ideas rather than trying to remember words. If you are speaking about an idea, the words you need to use will flow more naturally.
  • Use the notes pages from your PowerPoint presentation rather than your written paper. On the notes part for each slide put some bullet points about the major topics you were going to discuss for that slide. Don’t write down all the details, just the major points. If you write down all the details, the writing will be very small and you may start to panic trying to look through the tiny writing to find where you are up to.
  • If you would feel more comfortable using your written paper, beware of the fact that it is harder to find where you are up to in pages and pages of writing. Highlight the key points you will need to focus upon. Don’t highlight whole paragraphs, just key words or phrases so that you can quickly and easily skim to find where you are up to.
  • You will find it even easier if you can turn your presentation into a story. Stories have their own natural links and logical process. By telling a story, rather than giving a presentation, you can almost guarantee you won’t forget where you are up to.

The first three ways for overcoming your fear of public speaking were to rehearse, memorize the first few minutes and have some key points to remind you what you are going to say next. Other great ways for overcoming your fear of public speaking are provided in the next three articles in this series.