Built Visual Studio for Microsoft. 20 years consulting for Accenture and CapGemini. CIO for 1B transportation company.
If this creates any friction during my sales, I start by explaining that they are paying for services not products. Like all services, once reserved or provided, I have no way of recovering costs if the client has any issues with payment. It might not have be nefarious non-payment, or anything to do with satisfaction, it could simply be cash flow or adoption issues the client experiences. So much like booking a seat on an airplane, I need to be able recover costs unrelated to the customers ability or desire to pay.
So by focusing on the idea that they are reserving services and capacity, it aligns my offerings with comparable services that have established similar payment arrangements. I find this common sense comparable usually does the trick to allay any concerns. If it doesn't, it alerts me that this client might not become problematic in other ways and I should exercise care.
As a trained negotiator, I can provide more approaches and techniques for proactively removing this type of friction from your offerings and sale fulfillment process. Schedule a call if you'd like more in-depth discussion.
There is some great advice in previous answers about how to make sure you qualify the vendor, take incremental steps, and have frequent communications.
One thing that I would point out is that working with a distributed team rarely ever requires "minimal effort". No matter how good the team and qualified the resources you employ, everyone needs guidance and feedback to be effective. The more communication, the clearer your expectations, the richer your feedback, the better quality work you can expect.
If you want to be able to create meaningful software solutions, someone will need "own" that solution and be accountable to keeping everyone pulling in the same direction. In some organizations this is a product owner, or product manager or development lead or some other title. But that individual needs to have a high-bandwidth connection into the mind of your users and stakeholders. This is hard to get from someone who doesn't work for your company, or doesn't interact with the audience and stakeholders frequently. At least not without you investing time in that relationship so that they can understand your priorities and vision and how to balance all the competing voices. In my experience, if you are playing the product owner for your passion, you need to expect that it will require a lot of time and focus from you to act as that guide. You will have to spend the energy to spell out the expectations, review the work, and give meaningful and detailed feedback. If this isn't you, expect to hire someone who works for you and guides the team on your behalf. That individual will still need your support and mind share as the journey unfolds.
If you don't fill this gap, your solutions will suffer, you will spend more than necessary, and it will likely be painful.
I sum this up with a saying we have in my company, DewMaker Design.
"Understand the who and the why before the what, or you will end up building nothing for no one."
The individual that shepherds your solution from idea to reality is the one for whom this most true. And it requires full focus and a deliberate will to create elegance.