Your sales team works hard to provide a smooth customer journey that starts with a potential client’s desire for a product or service and then transitions to brand awareness, contract negotiation, and hopefully a sale. The journey can go a lot smoother if a contract lifecycle management (CLM) tool is used to accelerate the approval process.
On average, contracts will take 3.4 weeks to get approved according to research by Forrester and Aberdeen. Using a robust CLM solution can reduce that time by up to 82%. If you could get a contract signed in four days instead of 20, think of the time and money that would save. The customer experience would be improved and could lead to further business transactions.
What’s the holdup?
Not all customer journeys are smooth. Things can slow down due to negotiation conflicts between decision makers or pricing and budget concerns. The last thing you need is for the contract management process to be the bottleneck. If the contract process forces the deal into the next month, quarter, or year, it can take time away from other deals in the making and opportunities to engage with other customers.
Manually managed contracts are to blame for the biggest contract-management bottlenecks, typically. If the contract and its iterations are bouncing around in multiple emails or worse—on paper and via “snail mail”—it’s going to add considerable time to the sales process. It’s hard to discern where the contract is in the review and approval process and to locate who the contract is currently with so that person can be prompted to act. It’s also easy to have the wrong version passed around, wasting more time and effort in the process.
Efficiency is the true closer
An expeditious delivery of products or services and a positive customer experience is always the primary objective of a sale. That is why choosing a CLM solution that can help organize the process and enable employees to work more efficiently is a worthwhile investment.
After prospecting for potential clients and preparing for the sales pitch and approach, which typically requires salespeople to earn trust and build a rapport to entice clients to do business, it’s time for the drawing up of contracts. These CLM features will help you improve the sales cycle and close the deal faster:
- Demonstrate and persuade—Expedite the sales process and don’t give prospects the opportunity to entertain any doubts. Employ a robust CLM that will enable a faster, compliant, contract-writing and approval process. Look for CLM solutions that offer the use of template and clause libraries for the swifter creation of common contract types and quick clause changes. If the solution also offers an app that will enable the swift uploading of signed contracts and supporting documentation into a central repository for easy search and improved efficiency, that will save considerable time in the long run.
- Handling objections—With so many different parties involved in the CLM process, it’s important that the CLM solution offers intuitive version control and other collaboration tools that will ensure a smooth contract creation, review of terms, and negotiations process. A CLM that assures only authorized parties can view the latest version of the document—and which guarantees the version viewable is always the most recent version—will help minimize confusion during the contract drafting and editing phases. Make sure the CLM also offers an archive for previous versions of the contract document and related notes for audit purposes. Being able to quickly address concerns and make contract revisions on the fly will further serve to comfort clients and impress them with the ease of the process.
- Closing—The ideal CLM will make it an easy matter to assign the contract manager and other subject matter experts to tasks in the contract lifecycle. Customizable alerts will ensure the right person is notified in a timely manner to get the necessary next task completed and to keep the contract moving through the right gates until closing. The CLM you choose should also work effortlessly with electronic signature software such as DocuSign to keep every aspect of the contract creation, negotiation, and completion together in an easy-to-access and use software application.
- Follow-up—The deal doesn’t end with the signatures on the contract. Once the ink is dry and the deal is in motion, your CLM should help you oversee the contract throughout its lifecycle. Find a CLM that will provide a real-time, at-a-glance overview of all the statuses on contracts the contract manager(s) must oversee. It’s imperative that managers be able to see all the impending renewal deadlines so nothing important is missed down the road. A smooth relationship between the sales team and the client could help earn more business later on.
Finding these CLM features in software that is intuitive and that will easily integrate with your existing internal IT systems will go a long way toward improving efficiency and closing sales deals faster. Speak with your IT department and find out what type of system software will work best, then investigate solutions that offer these features to assist in the deal cycle. Your sales team will thank you.