Improving Outdated B2B Sales Workflows with Contract Lifecycle Management

Modern sales teams are undergoing digital transformations to increase agility, efficiency and customer satisfaction. Completing sales agreements faster means revenue comes in sooner, buyers are happier and internal projects can be completed on time. At the core of that transformation is the sales agreement process. These contracts are core to the way a company generates revenue and offer an opportunity to lead the way into the digital age. There’s a clear need for modern organizations to take a holistic approach to managing contracts, especially as agreements get more complex, involving more reviewers in sales, legal and other functions.

One of the easiest ways to meet the needs of complex agreement processes is to replace inefficient, outdated manual systems with a streamlined end-to-end agreement platform. Today, business-to-business sellers can utilize Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) tools to accelerate the pace of business, simplify compliance efforts and improve the experience for every party involved in the agreement.

Today’s B2B sales workflow

To understand the problem of modern B2B sales processes, we first need to examine how business is being done today. Here’s a simplified overview of the steps involved in a standard B2B transaction:

  1. A seller generates an agreement and sends it to a prospective buyer
  2. The prospect reviews the contract, suggests revisions and sends it back to the seller
  3. The seller accepts/rejects the prospect’s revisions and conducts a legal review then returns the agreement
  4. The prospect reviews the new contract language, accepts/rejects where necessary and returns to the seller
  5. The seller applies necessary signatures and sends to legal teams, executive teams and any other team that needs to endorse
  6. The prospect signs the agreement, completing the deal
  7. Once the prospect’s signature is confirmed, the seller confirms the deal as closed won 
  8. The seller processes the order and delivered the good/services to the buyer
  9. The seller enters the buyer’s information into a billing system to collect revenue
  10. At the expiration of the agreement, the seller initiates a renewal or upsell with the buyer and the process starts over

Over the lifespan of an agreement, the document is handed off from team to team and company to company several times, with various reviews and edits along the way. If those handoffs are managed manually, each one is an opportunity for unnecessary costs, mistakes or delays. As deals get more complex and the number of involved parties increases, the potential for error increases dramatically.

The challenges of manual agreements

The modern B2B sales process is often an inefficient patchwork of disconnected systems. To be productive, businesses need to prepare documents, send them for signature, act on the final terms and manage the agreements. Rather than focus on elevating the entire process, too many organizations stick to siloed point solutions tailored to just one step in the workflow. The result is a series of technology gaps that have to be filled manually by sales reps. 

Generating quotes and contracts

Without an agreement system to connect CPQ and CLM tools, there’s a process gap between quotes and contracts. To fill that gap, sales reps have to create manual workarounds. A common way for today’s B2B sellers to prepare a contract is to copy an existing document and replace the original content with details about a new deal. This process is a quick way to populate a contract, but it also opens the door for a range of errors—incorrect data entry, reuse of outdated language or terms, repetition of previous mistakes, etc. 

Negotiating agreements

In a traditional contract negotiation, multiple independent reviewers can all be working on their own version of an agreement at the same time. Too often, a word document or PDF is emailed as an attachment and reviewers edit their own local documents before sending all the edits to a single source for consolidation. Parties from different companies or even from different teams at the same company are working on entirely separate documents.

Obtaining signatures 

Without a modern option to collect electronic signatures as part of a CLM solution, there’s a disconnect between agreement preparation and management. Sales contracts have to be sent via mail, completed with ink-and-paper signatures, scanned, faxed, photographed and/or mailed back. Even with an electronic signature platform, businesses are forfeiting value if they don’t connect that tool to technology that generates agreements and acts on the final terms.

Leveraging data from completed agreements across systems

Once all parties have signed an agreement, the final terms need to be reflected in other relevant business tools, including a CRM platform, CPQ solution, a provisioning tool and a billing system. Without an integration to automate that process, sales reps have to spend time manually updating those systems. This manual workflow slows down the whole system, resulting in delayed revenue collection and decreased customer satisfaction.

Replacing outdated agreement tools with CLM

Contract Lifecycle Management solutions fix the problems of disconnected systems of agreement. These tools use technology to create a single end-to-end platform to automate tasks, efficiently orchestrate complex workflows and eliminate unnecessary risks. The result is a shorter sales cycle with lower costs, fewer errors and increased visibility. 

As the leader in electronic signature technology, Docusign offers a secure cloud platform that streamlines the workflows for agreements, cutting the sales cycle by as much as 75%. It’s an easy way to optimize sales operations and improve collaboration between internal teams, prospects and customers. Learn more in our eBook: Accelerating Business-to-Business Sales Agreements with Contract Lifecycle Management.