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In today’s competitive telecommunications environment, we advise clients not to wait until existing contract terms expire to negotiate a new agreement. Companies who take the lead in managing and controlling such activities gain significant advantages and opportunities for improved pricing and support from suppliers. In terms of assessing the opportunities for proactive contract negotiations, key questions include –

 

  • When do my current contracts expire?
  • Is there sufficient time to conduct a competitive bid and consider alternative services and/or suppliers?
  • Has my organization grown since the last contract agreement? Can I leverage volume commitments?
  • Have I documented my requirements in sufficient detail to undertake a formal RFP process?
  • How do my current rates for individual services and products compare with current market pricing?

 

A well developed RFP takes time and effort – a reason that many organizations wait too long to initiate the process. However, a well executed competitive bid always yields better pricing and supplier attention than not conducting these activities. Many leading vendors (e.g. AT&T, Verizon…) have established special staff organizations that are focused on RFP and negotiation activities. These groups have the skills to respond to detailed RFPs, and the authority to conduct formal negotiations, leading to contracted rates, terms, and conditions. There is demand for these services, so getting in queue is important. A first step in preparing for contract discussions is the creation of a service forecast – or “demand set”. This information will be important in negotiating lower pricing per unit. An understanding of current service utilization and future business requirements will need to be documented.

 

If your current network provider response is not competitive, leverage other network providers. The cost of termination and migration may offset what you are currently spending, or better yet, the other network providers may be willing to pick up the cost. The vendor’s initial RFP response should never be considered a final offer, best pricing, or most favorable information necessary to conclude a contract. Everything contained in an RFP response should be considered “on the table” and subject to question, challenge, and negotiation. If the vendor account teams conducting the negotiations do not appear proactive in seeking to reach accommodation, do not hesitate to escalate. Depending upon the complexity, negotiations in pricing, commitments, and other terms and conditions can take from several weeks to months to complete.

 

Most important advice is to start early. Patience always works to the client’s advantage!

 

Contact us today to learn more.

 

 

Telecom Contract Negotiations
‚ÄčBy Glorimar Hickman and Sherman Murphy


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