Category: Sales Contracts
Companies make enormous investments in CRM and enterprise systems. So it’s only natural that they would look to stretch their investment by using those systems for as many functions as possible. The more you use it, the higher the ROI.
Let’s take Salesforce.com as an example. Salesforce is a wonderful CRM system used by over 100,000 companies and recently named by Fortune as the most admired computer software company – we use it ourselves here at Exari. It can be instrumental for salespeople in managing leads and contacts. It can be essential for administrators and marketing professionals. But Salesforce may not be the best platform to address every need.
One of those things is sophisticated Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM).
Using Salesforce for some contract management capabilities may work for some companies who need only base level contract management to support a straightforward and limited contract portfolio. If, however, you require robust contract lifecycle management functionalities (such as negotiation tools, complex data analysis and reporting, and total integration with existing ERP systems) or if you’re planning to scale your company, you’ll have to look beyond Salesforce, which, according to many companies we’ve spoken with, often proves unable to address a high volume or complex contract needs.
For one, using Salesforce for contract management means that all of your contracts must live in the cloud. Particularly now, with experts saying that maintaining cloud-based data storage means greater exposure to cyber threats, it’s vital that corporations have the ability to choose where to keep their contract portfolio. After all, not all clouds are created equal. Furthermore, while Salesforce may be fine for storing sales contracts, your contract portfolio contains a wide variety of other contracts that contain a wealth of sensitive information, which, more likely than not, you do not want every salesperson be able to access. Using Salesforce as your sales contract database would require you to use another, more secure database for sensitive contracts in order to comply with certain client obligations and best practices regarding delicate material. Dividing your contract database inevitably leads to oversight and complications, not least of which is your inability to holistically track and analyze your contracts.
Another significant issue with using Salesforce as a contract lifecycle management tool is that most attorneys won’t feel as comfortable as salespeople do working within it. Lawyers like working with their preferred programs, whether that be Microsoft Word or some other word processor. Companies using Salesforce for contract management complain of poor adoption by attorneys, who often continue to use their own tools regardless of company policy. Poor adoption leads to lack of consistency, inadequate knowledge sharing and, potentially, rogue contracting, which leaves you exposed to a multitude of unknown risks.
Some CM providers, such as Selectica and Apttus, bring improved CM capabilities to Salesforce. These solutions are built directly into Salesforce.com, thus requiring users to pay for users’ Salesforce licenses, which are both expensive and limiting. Being inextricably tied to Salesforce in this way can turn into a major problem down the road when Salesforce’s contract management capabilities prove unable to scale alongside your company. Indeed, Salesforce is far from state-of-the-art when it comes to its contract management capabilities, lacking meaningfully robust workflow, reporting and search functionalities.
So what should companies who have already invested in Salesforce do?
The best solution for many companies is to keep the salespeople where they want to be (Salesforce) and the lawyers where they want to be (a dedicated, lawyer-centric CLM system). With Exari, salespeople can work in Salesforce while the attorneys can keep using Word (or whatever program they’re comfortable with) to draft and negotiate contracts. Exari allows documents to be stored in the cloud or on-premises and integrates fully with Salesforce without requiring users to subscribe. We offer a more robust permission protection system, so that access to your sensitive documents remains restricted. A solution with advanced contract lifecycle management capabilities is the only option for companies with ever-growing and highly complex contract portfolios, and ours are second to none.
We have partnered with InsideCounsel Magazine to survey how in-house legal departments assess the effectiveness of their current sales contracts creation and management processes. The survey launched yesterday and will be open for two weeks.
All qualified respondents are eligible to enter a drawing to win an iPad and can elect to receive the full results report. You can take the 2-3 minute survey here, if you are an inhouse legal professionals.
You like to think you’re efficient- don’t you? Maybe even more so than the next person. These days, efficiency is more important than ever and no where is it more important than in your contracts process.
We’re always examining contracts practices across businesses to understand the processes and technologies in place to address the challenges in contract creation and management, risk management and compliance. So we created this instant, 4 question poll to take a quick snapshot of sales contracts practices.
By participating in the poll, you will see instantly how your sales contracts practices compare with those of your peers and be able to benchmark your performance.
Update: the poll has ended. If you’d like to learn more about automating your sales contracts, check out our webinar.
The legal department generally owns the sales contracts process, but clearly sales management has a stake. While Legal is concerned with reducing risk, Sales is concerned with speed. And other departments are charged with performing analytics on the data contained in those contracts. In this 60-second video, Therese McGee, Exari’s VP of Marketing, discusses these issues and cites the benefits of streamlining the sales contracts process. For more information on this topic, download our whitepaper: Contract Competence: On time and Compliant.
So, you’ve worked hard to get the deal done. Now all you need is to hand over the sales contract for the customer’s signature. That’s it. Sounds simple, right? But it may not be. If you’re not careful with that contract it may not be worth as much as you think it is.
Sales and legal teams are investing excessive time and money creating repetitive, mission-critical documents. Experts indicate that, depending upon the industry, sales people can spend up to 25% of their time creating repetitive documents such as NDAs and sales contracts.
We’ve been talking a lot lately about ways that sales teams can win more deals. And, we’ve noticed that others across the blogosphere are too. Tim Cummins has two recent posts on Commitment Matters that speak to this very issue.
In Empowering Users for Better Decisions, Efficiency, Cummins says “Many contracts, commercial and legal groups struggle with the challenge of ‘user ineptitude’ They complain about the lack of understanding and ‘irresponsible’ behavior that is common within business units and Sales organizations.”
This sometimes antagonistic relationship between sales and legal seems to come down to the sales team being in a rush to receive a contract they can execute to close their sale, and the legal department’s obligation to carefully draft a contract that is most favorable for the organization. These are not mutually exclusive goals, and in fact, can be served by the same solution – sales contract automation.
So, you’ve finally gotten your prospect to say “YES!” and it’s time to nail down all of the Ts and Cs. What’s the next step? You ask your legal department to draft a sales contract. But what if they’re too busy to get to your request right away? What happens to your deal?
If this is an issue you face in your organization, it’s time to look into automating your sales contract process. The Aberdeen Group reported recently that companies who automate their sales contract process see a 15% better team attainment of sales quota.
Using interactive document generation software allows your legal department to provide you with a “self service” way to create a compliant sales contract, often in minutes. For example, the sales force at Dow Jones uses Exari document generation software to deliver customized, compliant contracts in less than 30 minutes, down from an average of 5 business days. By completing a web-based questionnaire, sales people can choose from a list of approved contract terms and clauses to create a compliant first draft.
In a recent Aberdeen Group survey report, Sales Mobility – Quotas Untethered (free registration required), analyst Peter Ostrow explored how supporting a sales staff with mobility initiatives improved their performance. He found that an average of 65% of sales reps in the “Best in Class” performers were achieving their annual sales quota, compared to 54% for industry average.
Survey results also show that top performing organizations share the following:
- 87% enable synchronization of calendars, contacts, events and/or tasks.
- 78% support remote viewing and modification of key CRM sales information.
A contract used to be a piece of paper or parchment or some writing on some thing that outlined the commitments between two parties. The launch of the iPad the other day, however, led me to think about another kind of contract that may be in our future. [Full disclosure: The Exari Boston office is one block from the Apple Store and you couldn’t miss the line outside.]
Couldn’t a contract simply be information about a commitment that has been distributed to the appropriate people at the right time and the right place? A contract as a piece of paper in a drawer or a file in a document management system just doesn’t empower your organization to truly optimize the commitments in your contracts.