Contract Management for Sales: Eliminating the Friction From Contract Negotiations

Contract Management for Sales: Eliminating the Friction From Contract Negotiations

3rd March 2020

Contract Management for Sales: Eliminating the Friction From Contract Negotiations

By Charles Dimov, VP of Marketing at ContractPodAi

Does your sales team sell complex solutions, high-value services, or large volumes of products? If so, your sellers may experience more roadblocks negotiating contract terms than they do getting their customers to the negotiation table, to begin with.

There will always be a need for human buyers and sellers, of course. They have a superior understanding of the business and legal implications of a large transaction. Yet a contract management system, fully integrated with artificial intelligence (AI), can play a significant role in helping sales, operations, and legal teams overcome significant obstacles.

Let’s take a closer look at how these business challenges are impeding modern sales teams - and the ways that intelligent contract management helps to solve them.

Legal Counsel and Sales Operations Are Flat Out

When publicly-traded businesses find themselves at the end of a fiscal term, and sales teams strive to bring in every deal that they can, sales ops and in-house legal departments often bear the brunt of high demand for contract review. Or businesses may be the middle of the fiscal term when a purchase order arrives but may not pass the revenue recognition review. In either case, delegating the first pass of a contract review to an AI bot instead of an overburdened corporate counsel, paralegal, or sales ops specialist can make all the difference. It means the contrast between a satisfied customer whose project starts successfully and a frustrated client whose project fails.

Technology solutions, like AI-enabled contract lifecycle management (CLM) applications, are purpose-built in order to process thousands of clauses and terms in mere seconds. Based on its programming, a CLM can flag and surface any terms that are potentially problematic and better suited to human negotiation. Taking "friction" out of contract agreements means more customer face time for salespeople

In times of high-volume sales activity, (which, hopefully, is every day in your business) voicemails and emailed attachments can be overlooked. The priorities of most in-house legal teams, however, are dictated by their Microsoft Outlook calendar. By synching alerts, activities, and to-dos with that calendar, your business decreases the odds that a contract review will fall through the cracks.

1. Empower Executives With On-The-Go Approval Capabilities

Corporate retreats, sales kickoffs, and other off-site obligations can’t slow the pace of ongoing business transactions. Distributed sales teams that span across multiple time zones and locations often require contract term sign-offs by executives. These are executives who are a few tiers up in the corporate “food chain” from the sales rep who closed the deal.

Should they need to approve non-standard terms, they can receive approval-request notifications from CLM workflows in their inbox. They can then apply their electronic signature to a contract, keeping their organization’s wheels of productivity turning.

2. Use Contract Assembly With Complex or Non-Standard Terms

Building and maintaining a library of current and historical contracts is especially helpful when you do business with large organizations like government agencies or financial services providers.

If these sorts of customers require non-standard terms that your business doesn’t often agree to, it helps to be able to quickly search the archives in order to see how you addressed a certain requirement before and how the related terms were written. The ability to scan paper contracts, then OCRing them for searchability is a benefit you shouldn’t take for granted.

3. Offer Auto-Renewal and Deal Extensions

In the heat of negotiating a deal, sales reps and even managers may forget to offer auto-renewal of a contract, SaaS subscriptions, or support contracts. Maybe even complementary products that could expand the deal size and increase sales.

By configuring an AI-based CLM engine to prompt users to take advantage of these offers, your business could significantly expand average contract sales value.

4. Mitigate Risk Through Contract Templates and Vetted Terms

AI-based CLM systems play a significant role in helping sales teams overcome obstacles.Many busy sales professionals are veterans of using contract templates and repurposing terms that have met approval in previous deals. Unfortunately, this can lead to the transfer of sensitive customer details if not managed carefully.

But, automated contract assembly ensures that the right terms and templates are used, reducing risk, protecting privacy, and avoiding embarrassment.

5. Integrate CRM With CLM

The management of your contracts and related workflows - using your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform - minimizes duplication of data. It also reduces the chance of input error. Achieving the proverbial “360-degree view of the customer” shouldn’t omit the contracts that bind that relationship.

ContractPodAI® for Salesforce enables users to navigate the full lifecycle of contracts, from creation through to negotiation and sign-off. A single, cohesive experience enables salespeople, operations, legal, and finance to work from a single source of truth.

6. Mitigate Risk With a Bias-Free Contract Review

Typically, there is more negotiation of contract terms from a buyer's or lessor’s perspective. Contracts are generally provided to customers with terms already locked down. But they are open for annotation and negotiation.

Still, a sell-side review of proposed terms, before a contract is ever sent to a customer, ensures that a business isn’t exposed to risks that they aren’t prepared for. When we, humans, review a document that we’ve seen many times, we might overlook small details that have changed. AI contract reviewer bots, on the other hand, review at blazing speeds. But they are coded to seek out anomalies without bias or fatigue.

If a customer requests non-standard terms, users can look through their archives in order to see if their business has accepted those terms in the past. They can also see what the outcome was. Historical and predictive contract analytics like this are effective tools in a sales team’s kit bag.

A virtual contract review is ideal for the fast processing of long contracts. These are chock full of standard terms and conditions. It augments the experience and expertise of your “warm-bodies” in legal, sales ops, and compliance by calling out complex or non-standard terms. Taking the “friction” out of contract agreements means more customer face time for your salespeople. It relieves the stress of all those in your business who work with agreements. Also, it makes them more effective at their jobs.

Are you looking for ways to accelerate the contract lifecycle management in your sales department? Need to ease the burden of complex contract review for your in-house or outside legal teams?

Contact ContractPodAi to start solving these challenges like many of our existing clients. Or request a demo from one of our contract management experts.

AUTHOR:

Charles DimovCharles Dimov
VP of Marketing
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