Enable Remote Sales Agreements When You Can’t Meet with Customers

5 effective ways to manage agreements from a distance

Across the globe, organizations are changing the way they do business to accommodate at-home workers. New workflows are helpful, but agreements are still the core of any sales process. From generating a quote or proposal through contract redlining and negotiations to closing signature, sales teams spend a lot of time on contract paperwork. How do effective sales teams manage remote sales agreements?

Throughout COVID-19 work disruptions, physical distances have amplified the amount of effort needed at each stage, especially for businesses that rely heavily on paper processes. Despite the essential role documents play in conducting business, many organizations are still using manual sales contract processes. That setup isn’t practical, and it might even make productivity impossible.

In this State of Contract Management report, 65% of business professionals admit 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 sales agreement processes that would otherwise consume reps’ time; processes like locating the most recent version of an agreement or status tracking.

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, the paperwork begins. Sales reps must manage nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) and generate price quotes; once the customer is engaged, they draft the proposal and ultimately the contract. The agreement undergoes rounds of reviews, redlining, and legal. All too often, typos or errors cause rework and rerouting. All of this manual activity takes time away from selling and causes delays in the deal cycle.

A signed agreement moves to invoicing, payment authorizations, financing agreements, etc. Once the contract is final and status is “closed won” in the CRM, the sales process doesn’t end there. A signed agreement triggers another series of actions that directly impact revenue—payments, purchase orders, renewals, contract amendments and more. Each stage requires document management and signatures. The storage method you choose for your documents impacts upsells, cross-sells, renewals and account maintenance. Customer contract information needs to be found quickly and easily.

The most successful remote sales tools and processes let salespeople focus 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. Delays erode trust in your organization and can cost you valuable opportunities. Drafting, editing, sending, and managing contracts eats up valuable selling time. That’s not something any organization wants – even at the best of times.

5 benefits of a remote sales agreement process

  1. Shortened remote sales cycles

A modern system of agreement automates each step in the sales contract process:

  • Document prep time and generation
  • 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

A digitized, automated sales contract process supports remote selling and eliminates the delays that manual contract management brings. Importantly, it also results in shorter sales cycles and increased revenue.

  1. Connected processes

A modern system of agreement connects agreement events—most notably, a completed contract—with downstream business processes. For example, a signed agreement can automatically:

  • Store the new customer record in your CRM system
  • Notify Billing, even include payments as part of contract completion
  • Trigger onboarding
  • Notify all stakeholders
  • Report a new deal alert
  • Activate sales commission

Integrating the sales contract process with the systems where your customer data already lives (Salesforce, Google, Box) avoids duplicate work by pre-filling contract fields with accurate customer information already on file. This can save hours of administrative work for sales teams. Because it's automatic, reps don't need to initiate these tasks so they can spend more time growing the business.

  1. Improved 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. The right agreement technology mitigates the risk of lost or wrongly executed contracts and allows easy navigation and access to stored contracts that are critical 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, the best systems allow for a single interface to intelligently search an organization’s agreements using keywords and phrases. Robust search capabilities can even be used to analyze data within a contract.

Many companies do not have an established, central repository for storage of agreements and other important paperwork. Saving documents in different locations poses security and compliance issues. Irregular storage also makes accurate reporting difficult and limits visibility into sales stages that delay business. Centralized, secure document storage eliminates confusion and enables better productivity in sales organizations.

  1. Reduced costs

Inefficient processes are not only time-consuming and impractical, they come with added costs. Obtaining signatures with manual, paper-based processes can cost organizations an average of $51 CDN per document. That cost also accounts for the price of physical agreements, which include printing, mailing, tracking and storing.

Using electronic signatures saves time and avoids hidden revenue loss due to delays in collecting signatures. When time is wasted on agreement turnaround, it bleeds into other deals that could have been advanced during that fiscal period.

  1. Frictionless buying experience

Customer loyalty is a significant business concern, especially to those with a monthly recurring revenue model (MRR). It’s less expensive to keep current customers than to acquire new ones, so the goal is to make it as easy as possible for customers to continue to do business with you. Having a digital agreement process creates a simple, pleasant experience for customers that safeguards loyal relationships and encourages repeat business.

This smooth buying experience is often called “frictionless sales”—as sales leaders aim to remove the obstacles and frustrations standing in the way of reps selling and customers buying. A frictionless sales process occurs both internally and externally. A technology-infused agreement process eliminates internal manual steps like locating the correct document, printing it, and mailing it in paper form. Externally, buyers benefit from a secure, hassle-free digitized processes that can be executed anytime, anywhere.

Effective, remote selling calls for a  modern sales agreement processes which removes the manual aspects of managing agreements. By implementing a full document solution, your organization can manage the contract lifecycle remotely from start to finish, all in one place. Automated document prep, signature retrieval, and connected workflows, free salespeople from manual paper-pushing to focus on more valuable customer interactions, like closing sales.

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