What is one of the most important things to know before starting a SaaS contract negotiation?
A crucial factor is timing. When does this contract need to be signed? What happens if the contract is not signed by that date? What is driving the deadline?
Timing will inform your negotiation strategy. A fast-approaching firm deadline means focusing on reaching consensus on only the most important issues. A flexible deadline out in the future means being able to consider each point carefully and working with the other party to reach favourable solutions.
From the supplier perspective, timing is usually driven by financial year ends or quarter ends as the company tries to make its target sales. In any case, sooner is always better because “time kills all deals”.
From the customer perspective, timing is usually dependent on project timelines, which in turn are dictated by a number of factors – announcement of a strategic initiative, a sunsetting legacy application that needs to be replaced, regulatory requirements that need to be met by a certain date. Or, in some cases, the supplier drives the timing to align with its financial goals.
So first, get a handle on timing. Understand its significance. And remember, time is not always on your side.