How Docusign Legal Operations Accelerates Sales Contracting

Sales agreements are everywhere, crossing industries and continents and serving as the lifeblood of businesses. When the full burden of sales contract creation, negotiation and organization falls on the shoulders of the legal department, attorneys become overburdened and crucial sales functions can slow dramatically. The answer?  Digital agreement tools to automate and accelerate the contracting process and promote positive, productive partnerships between legal and sales, and, in turn, sales and customers.

To get an inside look at how Docusign has transformed operations between our legal and sales teams, we spoke with our own legal operations department leadership. See how Docusign technology fits into our daily workflows, removes roadblocks, boosts visibility and empowers our sales teams to move business forward with confidence and legal alignment.

“We use Docusign solutions because we need to run our business. And in order to do that, we need the best enterprise software tools out there. Docusign CLM (contract lifecycle management) and eSignature are really the best products to meet our business needs,” says Sandy MacDonnell, senior manager of legal operations at Docusign.

MacDonnell and her team cite five areas where Docusign solutions accelerate quote-to-cash processes and ease sales and legal workflows.

Accelerates new customer relationships and agreements

As our resident legal experts, the Docusign legal team is tasked with negotiating complex contracts while keeping business moving quickly. The pace of sales is largely dependent on the pace of contracting. When contracting is solely in the hands of the legal team, sales representatives have to wait for attorneys to draft contracts and internal stakeholders to review, slowing revenue and creating the impression of the legal team as a roadblock to their goals. To reduce contract completion time, our legal team uses Docusign CLM to enable a self-service sales experience, increase visibility and drive contract consistency. They also work closely with their sales peers, enabling them to streamline administrative tasks with pre-approved templates and terms and manage as much of the agreement process as possible on their own.

The process begins in Salesforce. Docusign CLM integrates seamlessly with the sales platform and provides sales representatives with access to pre-approved contract templates. From there, sales reps can easily generate non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)—usually the first contract in the sales cycle—master service agreements (MSAs), SOWs and beyond, pulling in Salesforce data and toggling through different term and clause options. Finally, sales can send out the agreement using Docusign eSignature and automate routing to stakeholders, allowing for a quick review process and easy signing.

For sales, the capabilities are empowering, helping them to move forward with opportunities on their own—all within systems they already use. They can work on their own schedule and in their natural workplace, Salesforce, without worrying about when legal will be available to advise them. “Any implementation is tough when you’re telling someone to do something different. So being able to have it all in the Salesforce ecosystem has really been key for adoption,” says Katherine Grout, legal counsel at Docusign. 

Gives sales teams the tools to drive contract negotiations

The Salesforce integration and pre-approved document templates are a major time saver when customers sign standard sales contracts. However, if they want to negotiate terms, sales teams are faced with the intimidating prospect of going back and forth on complex legalese. Before implementing Docusign CLM, sales teams would have to hand the whole negotiation process over to legal counsel. Today, Docusign CLM provides the ease of use and self-service experience that sales teams need to lead negotiations.

When our legal team showed sales representatives how they could alter agreements themselves, the process proved exceedingly straightforward. Starting from an approved template, the sales team can revise terms and modify MSA clauses using pre-set options and controls, then send out updated drafts for signature—without leaving the platform, understanding complex legal jargon or requiring step-by-step attorney involvement.

Through a combination of technology and process improvement, 95% of MSA negotiations are now completed in less than five days, including both internal and customer reviews. Additionally, the new capabilities give sales representatives a crucial opportunity to expand customer relationships. Many of the issues discussed in negotiations are not legal issues—they’re business issues. By conducting negotiations directly, the sales team can take proactive measures to discuss those issues with the customer, answer questions about services, subscriptions and other terms and escalate any potential risks to legal.

Reduces tedious legal tasks while enhancing oversight

Without an automated contract management system, many companies face a vast imbalance between contract tasks and legal manpower—where there are never enough attorneys to manage the agreement pile up. At Docusign, contract oversight and exception workflows allow legal professionals to focus on more complex, strategic work and spend less time on repetitive tasks. Docusign CLM allows them to put controls in place that ensure sales teams only need their go-ahead when absolutely necessary. For example, the Docusign legal team has implemented an exception that only triggers their involvement when deals exceed a certain revenue threshold. Instead of personally overseeing each phase in the contracting process, agreement technology positions legal as the contracting quarterback, providing the tools the sales team needs to take initiative and avoid costly delays.

For smaller revenue deals, CLM’s exception request workflow has reduced the volume of MSAs reviewed by legal by more than 20%.

“Because it’s a closed system that has an audit trail, you can see what’s happening and where the document is in the process. That’s really helpful for us not to have to monitor the whole time, but also feel comfortable that it’s being done correctly,” says Peter Rae, director of contracts at Docusign. Additionally, version control provides the peace of mind that the correct version of each document makes it through each stage in the agreement process.

“A lot of the tasks I would have done at previous companies that I’ve worked at,” Grout shares, “the sales team is now empowered to do. Generating an MSA from a template or sending out documents for signature—we really empower our sales team more than other companies I’ve been at. They’re able to do tasks without meeting with legal.”

Eases post-signing workflows, from contract searches to reporting 

Document organization is a notoriously complex task. Especially in large companies, even the most well-intentioned filing practices can translate to time-consuming document searches that reduce productivity and increase frustration. With access to a secure document repository and AI support, our legal team is able to accelerate post-signing workflows and shorten the time it takes to find any given agreement.

Once a contract has been finalized, Docusign AI in CLM acts as a valuable assistant in associating meaningful metadata with each contract—tagging attributes such as the counterparty, effective date, contract type and other terms. The final contract with validated attributes is then sent to CLM’s native document repository, where it follows standardized naming conventions, is organized by company type, put in alphabetical order and designated as either a commercial or non-commercial agreement. Even buy-side contracts benefit immensely. Whenever Docusign purchases anything from another company, the legal team can automate vendor contract storage to the secure repository for easy reference.

The result is a smoother post-signing experience on the front end—as well as faster document searches and reporting on the back end. Legal counsel and sales teams can search for specific agreements using the associated variables, easing obligation tracking and saving time in contract reviews. And with rich metadata tied to each agreement, our legal team can run contract reports on specific attributes; for example, analyzing the number of agreements with nonstandard limitation of liability clauses.

Using Docusign AI in CLM to facilitate tagging and reviews, we reduced review time by 65%.

Opens up opportunities to optimize our products for a better customer experience

Using our own Docusign technology for drafting, sending and managing contracts also has important benefits for product improvements. As an internal customer of our own products, legal operations act as an important test case to ensure the practical effectiveness of our solutions. The Docusign legal team often meets with the Docusign product team, providing new feature feedback about what works and what doesn’t to better meet customer needs. When there’s a need for improvement, the two departments collaborate on product changes through our open feedback loop and continuous approach to growth.

MacDonnell reflects, “We provide a lot of feedback to the product team. We’re able to tell the story of how we use our products, how it helps our business and all the benefits we’ve seen from it. Conversely, we also say what could be better or what we wish the product did.”

Digital contract management: replacing legal ops silos with sales partnerships

As they move forward, the Docusign legal team has many ideas for further applications of CLM’s capabilities—from expanding the implementation into underpenetrated geographies to adding more use cases and contract templates. However, highest on their list is providing other departments—like security and finance—with enhanced visibility into non-standard agreements that may need additional approvals. By meeting them in the apps they use every day, such as Slack, these teams can increase collaboration across the agreement process.  

When legal departments take advantage of digital efficiencies, legal operations, sales and other cross-functional teams sync better. And with seamless collaboration and oversight, new agreements can flow freely from inception to storage with minimal delays—and business growth can progress at a rapid pace.

Learn more about how your legal operations could benefit from agreement technology.

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