Accelerating Remote Sales During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Across the globe, organizations are changing the way they do business to accommodate at-home workers, but even with those new workflows, agreements are still the core of any sales process. From generating a quote/proposal through contract redlining/negotiation to closing signature, sales teams can spend a lot of time on contract paperwork. Through the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re seeing the amount of effort at each stage amplified. Despite the pivotal role these documents play in conducting business, many organizations are still using manual sales contract processes. In a workflow with a significant amount of remote workers, that setup isn’t practical; it might even be productivity impossible. In our State of Contract Management report, 65% of business professionals say their contract process has caused delays in closing deals. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Best-in-class sales organizations are using technology like Docusign Agreement Cloud for sales to gain an edge by automating processes that otherwise consume reps’ time with paperwork and status tracking. By removing the manual aspects of agreements, your team can create a high-velocity sales process that increases revenue and scales your company amid coronavirus disruptions.

A look at the B2B sales process

Salespeople are tasked with one of the highest-pressure roles within their companies: generating revenue. As soon as they discover sales opportunities, they must manage nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) and generate price quotes. Once they’ve engaged the customer, they must draft a contract or proposal, which is often followed by multiple rounds of redlining and legal review. In many cases, typos or errors cause more rework and delays. All of this activity takes time away from selling and causes delays in the deal cycle. 

Even once the contract is signed and status is “closed won” in the CRM, the sales process doesn’t end there. A signed agreement only triggers another series of actions that directly impact revenue—payments, purchase orders, renewals, contract amendments and more. The agreement process then moves to invoicing, payment authorizations, financing agreements, etc. The method of storage for documents impacts sales down the line, when the customer is up for renewal or account maintenance is needed. 

The most successful remote sales tools and processes have salespeople focusing on closing deals and interacting with customers instead of completing paperwork. When contracts get bogged down in manual tasks, the sales process can’t proceed and business comes to a halt. Drafting, editing, sending and managing contracts takes away valuable selling time. During a pandemic, that’s not something any organization can afford.

Benefits of a digital sales contract process

1. Shortened remote sales cycles

Speeding up the agreement process means digitizing each stage, from start to finish.  A modern system of agreement automates each step in the sales contract process:

  • Document generation and prep time 
  • Contract negotiation and redlining
  • Obtaining signatures (sending and receiving signed agreements)
  • Automatic prompting of next steps in the workflow once papers are signed (payments, fulfillment, etc.)
  • Management and storage of the agreement 

Automating your sales contract process speeds up these steps, enabling remote selling while also resulting in shorter sales cycles and increased revenue. Integrating the sales contract process with the systems where your customer data already lives (Salesforce, Google, Box) allows reps to prefill contract fields with accurate data and avoid duplicate work. This can save hours and even days of administrative work for sales teams, which frees up time to work other deals. 

A modern system of agreement connects agreement events—most notably, the completion of an agreement—with downstream business processes. A signed agreement can be automatically stored with the proper customer record in your CRM system. A billing system can be automatically notified, even including verified payments as part of the completion process. Most importantly, reps do not need to spend time executing or monitoring these tasks; they can get back to selling. Even redlining of agreements and amendments can be done quickly from practically any device, which reduces back and forth, ultimately speeding up the process. 

2. Document security and visibility 

All eyes are on maintaining security and control standards as organizations shift to remote work. Document storage and management is no exception. Since storage occurs at the end of the workflow, it can easily slip out of sight and out of mind. However, easy navigation and access to stored contracts are critical, especially for billing and renewal purposes. 

A modern system of agreement enables centralized storage, visibility and intelligent searchability of all agreements from anywhere. In the same way that Google gives users a single interface to search the internet, there should be a single interface to intelligently search an organization’s agreements using keywords and phrases.

Robust search capabilities can also be used to analyze data within the contract. This process should create an administrative framework that saves time and resources for your company. Mitigate the risk of lost or wrongly executed contracts by implementing the right agreement technology.

Many companies do not have an established storage system for important agreements. Having contracts saved in multiple different locations poses security and compliance issues. Inadequate storage also results in a lack of accurate reporting and visibility into sales stages that delay business. Overall, properly storing documents eliminates confusion and enables more productivity in sales organizations.

3. Reduced costs

Inefficient processes are not only time-consuming and impractical, they come with added costs. Obtaining signatures using paper-based processes can cost organizations an average of $36 per document. Obtaining electronic signatures saves days or weeks and avoids revenue slowdowns due to delays in the signature collection process. 

When time is wasted on agreement turnaround, it bleeds into other deals that could have been advanced during that fiscal period. The $36 cost per agreement factors in administrative time and resources spent managing paper documents. That cost also accounts for the price of physical agreements, which include printing, mailing, tracking and storing. 

4. Frictionless buying experience

Customer loyalty is a hot topic for businesses right now, especially those with a monthly recurring revenue model (MRR). It’s less expensive to keep current customers than to acquire new ones. The goal then becomes making it as easy as possible for customers to do business with you. Having a digital agreement process creates a simple, pleasant experience for customers, ensuring repeat business.

This smooth buying experience is often called “frictionless selling”—a buzzword circulating in the sales community right now, as sales leaders aim to remove the obstacles and frustrations standing in the way of selling. A frictionless sales process occurs both internally and externally. A technology-infused agreement process eliminates manual steps like locating the correct document, printing it and mailing it in paper form. Both the sender and receiver benefit from an automated process.

To accelerate the remote selling, sales teams are modernizing their agreement processes. By implementing a full document solution, your organization can manage the contract lifecycle from start to finish, all in one place. By automating document prep, signature retrieval, and the subsequent workflow, salespeople are freed from manual duties and can focus on customer interactions and closing deals. The more time and resources saved by a digital agreement process, the more there will be to reinvest back into profitable sales activities.