If the enterprise sales cycle was a football field, we’d bet that almost every fumble between legal and sales happens at the 10-yard line. Sales wants to close as fast as possible. Legal knows that rushing a deal invites compliance risk and clerical errors.
When there’s tension between these teams, the final stretch of a deal gets littered with bottlenecks and difficult tradeoffs. Although this happens in every sector, it might be especially true for enterprise tech. In-house legal has to work extra hard to maintain compliance within changing privacy regulations. Sales teams at enterprise tech companies face long deal cycles, complicated even further when they offer multiple pricing and deployment models.
Sales efficiency and legal due diligence are often at odds, but they needn’t be mutually exclusive. In fact, sales teams could stand to learn a thing or two from legal. Adopting a few best practices around contract drafting and contract reviewing would benefit both parties. Legal no longer gets stuck as the gatekeeper while sales gets to accelerate time-to-signature.
The big secret to reducing deal-time bottlenecks might just be to break down the silos between sales and legal. To improve sales efficiency at the finish line, enterprise sales teams should learn the following areas of contract management: self-servicing contract creation, improving visibility, and automating contract management end-to-end.
- Self-servicing Contract Creation
The inefficient sales process: Picture an enterprise with a huge legal department that does nothing but churn out contracts. Sales requests a contract, legal pieces it together manually, and hands it back to sales to redline or act on.
The bottleneck: Sales and legal need each other, but there are far too many handoffs in a process like this. Sales helps secure the revenue growth that ensures everybody has a job. The longer they wait for contracts, the longer the business waits on revenue.
Worse case, if legal doesn’t churn out the papers quickly enough, the sales team might lose the deal completely. If they decide to circumvent legal for the sake of time, they may end up closing on risky or non-compliant terms.
The sales efficiency model: The best way to close this bottleneck is to empower sales with a self-service contract creation tool. This kind of software provides templates and workflows for nearly any type of contract with a library of clauses and terms pre-approved by legal. Salespeople can generate a contract within seconds so it can be acted on immediately.
- Improving accountability
The inefficient sales process: Contracts are negotiated via legal and sales emailing back and forth. Sales is in charge of manually updating data, keeping track of the right version, and nagging everyone for signatures.
The bottleneck: Think of the hundreds of business documents sales teams generate in a week: NDAs, proposals and quotes, letters of intent, and not to mention goods or service contracts. Now think about the quality control and visibility they need to run a tight ship. The hours of manually tracking who’s reviewed the document and what changes they made. The headache of digging through your inbox to resurface the right version and format.
The sales efficiency model: A leaky contract approval process is an obvious roadblock to sales productivity. Establishing a system of record creates visibility and accountability to fill the cracks. For many sales organizations, that system of record might look like incorporating audit trails into pre-signature review.
A sales rep should be able to log into a contract management platform and immediately identify a contract’s owner and status. Sales teams might also consider collaborating directly within the platform for an extra level of accountability. They can leave comments or request a review knowing the changes will be visible to the rest of the team, not lost in an email.
Lawyers are masters of compliance. If they emulate nothing else from the legal department, sales should learn to cover their bases. A platform with automatic version tracking prevents rework, duplication, and clerical errors. Bring accountability to the low-visibility areas in contract review workflows proactively protects sales teams from missed opportunities and compliance blunders.
- Automating contract management end-to-end
The inefficient sales process: Activity ramps up at the end of a particularly busy quarter. But sales hasn’t communicated with legal about the volume of deals in the pipeline. Legal gets bombarded with paperwork and sales gets frustrated at the delay.
The bottleneck: Collaboration is the root of this bottleneck. Legal could have better-supported sales if they’d been flagged to the high contract volume early on. With end-to-end contract management, legal teams would be able to leverage data from existing agreements to guide future contracts. For example, they can instantly search through the repository for similar contracts, review the terms, and inform these in-flight deals.
Of course, the workload shouldn’t just fall on the legal department. Equipping sales with automated contract generation and review tools can help them offload some of this crunch time weight.
The sales efficiency model: Having insights into the sales pipeline is great. Building a business process around contract management is even better. Here’s an example of what an end-to-end contract workflow might look like.
Let’s say you manage a big client but don’t have an Enterprise Licensing Agreement (ELA) yet. When you do pursue the ELA, you can get signatures much faster with tools and visibility from the contract management system.
A self-service contract generation platform not only templatizes agreements for easy drafting. It also standardizes processes. In the case of an ELA, the right reviewers (in the right order) will be built into the workflow.
Every comment and point of negotiation takes place inside of the platform and gets tracked with an audit trail. If the approver from finance forgets to sign, the platform sends them a reminder and notifies the sales team of the hold-up. From redlining to e-signature, keeping the whole approval process in one centralized location ensures smooth transitions between internal and third-party stakeholders.
Balancing between speedy deals and rock-solid compliance ultimately requires sales and legal to prioritize communication. Sales teams can break open many bottlenecks by learning how to draft contracts and shepherd them through review without legal’s hand-holding.
By treating contracts as a cross-functional project, sales teams can begin to create a system that saves time and uplevels sales effectiveness.
Working to streamline the entire lifecycle of a contract improves sales productivity at every level:
- Automating contract creation reduces admin work and accelerates time-to-signature
- Automating contract review eliminates human errors and versioning confusion
- Automating contract management identifies post-signature revenue opportunities
Evisort’s Contract Lifecycle Management platform helps sales teams streamline workflows with a project dashboard they can toggle without leaving Salesforce. Sales teams can quickly see the status of all contracts in motion, and use pre-set workflows to send documents to the right reviewers. The platform also automatically creates an audit trail and notifies reviewers if they’ve fallen behind.
The Evisort contract generation tool standardizes pre-approved clause language in templates sales teams can easily act on. A sales rep can self-service contract generation in seconds. This allows review, negotiation and signature to get started much faster, while giving legal peace of mind that the contracts are compliant from day one.
For more insights on streamlining time to a signature, read our guide to automating contract creation, workflows and compliance.