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How to Write Training T's and C's That Sell, Not, Repel.

"Shoplifters will be prosecuted."

"Trespassers will be shot."

"Cancel your course enrollment without 10 days notice and we'll gouge your eyes out."

Why do training companies who profess to love their customers take an adversarial, untrusting tone in their T's & C's? Perhaps because they harbor secret sadistic tendencies. More likely because they delegate this important assignment to their least customer oriented people.

Why does it matter? Because T's and C's come into play at the most sensitive moment of your customer relationship -- when purchase decisions are made. And hostile language and one-sided policies can mark you as an arrogant supplier that's difficult to do business with.

Tough talking T's & C's are also an invitation for customers to pit their legal eagles against your legal staff in an extended (and expensive!) War of the Words. Next thing you know, that done deal is done in by a torrent of insults, threats and guilty-until-proven innocent legalese that would take a Supreme Court justice to unravel.

Unreasonable T's & C's can also tear apart your own organization -- when your customer service people attempt to enforce them -- only to be made to look like heartless cretins when senior management inconsistently overrule them in a perversion of "bad cop, good cop."

There's a better way to go about crafting T's & C's.

Here's how:


Try and confine your T's & C's to the business critical issues that are most susceptible to potential misunderstandings and bad feelings. Don't obfuscate things with far-fetched scenarios that are easily resolved by common sense or existing laws and regulations.

If you feel you must protect yourself against a kitchen sink of calamities and criminal intentions, consider developing a Master Business Agreement that you and your customer only have to come to terms on every few years or so.


That's right, if a policy isn't good for your customer, then it's not good for you. So your T's & C's should read like good news and you should sell them as a competitive advantage. Let's examine three of the most common training-related bones of contention and see how this plays out.

  • You decide to impose conditions on enrollees for canceling late or no-showing at your public course events. Why is this a customer benefit? Because you are helping to ensure enrollees who do show up that the class size and learning environment will be ideal -- and that they will not be inconvenienced because a class must be cancelled at the last moment for lack of attendance. Also, because highly populated classes make efficient use of your facilities and instructors -- helping you to keep tuition fees to a minimum.

  • You forbid customers to re-use or copy your student materials without paying a supplemental per person fee. This is a customer benefit because you would otherwise need to pass this cost through to them as a substantial up front enterprise license fee. Also, because unauthorized use would require you to charge more to customers who do protect your intellectual property. Finally, because widespread indiscriminate copying would preclude you from investing in new courses for your customers altogether.

  • A customer doesn't achieve their annual purchase commitment, so you take back some of the discounts and other concessions you would otherwise have awarded. This is a customer benefit because it treats all customers in an evenhanded way. You wouldn't want some other customer getting a bigger discount than you are getting unless they earned it, would you?


There's little advantage in threatening severe penalties if a customer doesn't live up to the letter and the law of your T's & C's. Chances are you won't be willing to risk the business relationship enough to apply them. Better to offer palatable options that acknowledge many transgressions are simple mistakes or bad luck. Try offering a choice of options. It will help your customer feel more empowered.

This is a test:

John cancels out of your public course at the last minute because of a "family emergency." Should your T's & C's: (a) require John to forfeit his entire tuition no matter what; (b) insist on a notarized letter of excuse from a physician or clergyman; (c) offer John the choice of applying his tuition to another course over the next 30 days or receiving an immediate 50% refund.

Acme Industries falls $20K short of the $100K threshold they committed to in order to receive a 30% discount because "expected hiring didn't take place." Should your T's & C's: (a) require Acme to immediately purchase $20K worth of training materials whether they need them or not; (b) insist that Acme make up the entire difference between what they paid and list price; (c) call for a court-appointed auditor to verify Acme's hiring history; (d) allow Acme the choice of a reduced discount based on actual purchase volume or 3 additional months to achieve their original purchase volume.


"Violators will be prosecuted." "Non compliance may lead to fines and penalties." Too many training company T's & C's read like something out of an IRS field agent manual.

Remember, you're dealing with Fortune 500 companies, not drug runners and money launderers. So don't use loaded words like "violation" "breach" "willful negligence" "misconduct" "infraction" "criminal activity" "fine" "penalty" and "dereliction." Stick to words you'd use in a friendly discussion.


Yes, by all means, solicit the collective wisdom of all of your people in constructing your T's & C's. Let all of the Cassandras and the tough-on- crime types have their say. But assign the final cut to your best marketing person and make sure they know you are looking for sales promotion, not sales prevention. You'll be glad you did!

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