One of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century was the Post-It. Created completely by mistake by the awesome folks at 3M, I’m sure all of you use them on a daily basis. In the last few years, 3M has continued to innovate with the Post-It, tape flags being an excellent post-Post-It product. The tape flag style I use most is the “Sign Here ->” flag.
I love these little pieces of cellophane for the sole reason that they help get my documents signed. Yes, really.
One would think that contract signatures would be a no-brainer. That somehow folks would understand that without a signed contract, there is potentially no contract at all. But alas, such is not the case. In almost every organization I’ve ever worked, there are almost always a slew of documents that are sitting in the contract files, but aren’t signed.
When I ask about these documents, I get a variety of answers.
“Oh, we only need THEIR signature…”
or my personal favorite:
“Well, the work was already done, so what did the document matter? Who cares if it was signed?”
I care. I care because I know what can happen when there’s a dispute and no fully executed agreement. I care because I understand that people forget things with time. I care because details matter… and the final steps of closing a deal are just as (and perhaps more) important than those at the beginning.
Get your contracts signed.
Use tape flags, smoke signals, bribes. My most successful method is to hold up payment until I have the fully-executed document. This technique even works from both sides, as the vendor wants to get paid and the customer wants to not be late with payment. So, whomever is “slow” with signature will be prodded by the other for you.
Oh, and as long as you’re doing that – get originals, not faxed or e-mailed/scanned copies. Nothing is better in your hands to know that you have your ducks in a row. And if you’ve got your ducks lined up and quacking in unison already, start asking for signatures in blue ink so you can always distinguish originals from copies. Then scan your originals after full execution into a searchable contract management system.