How one simple addition to sales flicks the switch from pressure to productivity
By Marc Breytenbach, Enterprise Account Executive, CLM, DocuSign
Sales teams often thrive under pressure. There are deadlines to meet and targets to hit. Opportunities to explore and deals to seal. The list goes on. This pressure can be positive, helping to drive momentum and energy. Too much, though, and it turns to overwhelm and gets in the way of productivity.
In today’s tough macroeconomic environment, there’s more pressure than ever. Anything sales leaders can do to alleviate this pressure is sure to have a positive impact on overall performance. Given the fact that 71% of sales reps say that they spend too much energy on data entry, there’s clear room for improvement.
No wonder 61% of sales leaders say that improving the effectiveness of their teams is a top priority.
Pinpointing the pressures in sales
What does the day-to-day pressure look like in a sales department? Of all the tasks and activities that need to get done, one stands out in the high-pressure stakes. It’s at the pointy end of the sales process — that is, the critical period from preparing a contract to getting it signed. At this stage of the sales lifecycle, there’s a lot of urgency. If the process isn’t seamless, everything slows down … and the pressure to meet monthly or quarterly targets mounts.
This slowing down of deal velocity is a huge problem in sales. The longer it takes to get issues resolved in a contract, the greater the chance of things changing and the higher the risk of the deal being lost. Your customer may have been raring to go, but if there’s a delay in getting the contract finalised, or if there’s too much to-ing and fro-ing, then they could cool off or change their minds altogether.
Clearly, there’s a good reason for the saying, ‘Strike while the iron’s hot’.
What slows the process down? It’s often due to manual processes and information silos. As soon as you have manual interventions — such as relying on people to send emails between countersigning parties or departments — minutes stretch out into hours and days. Emails can easily get lost in people’s inboxes and with no visibility into the status of the contract this can result in unnecessary delays.
The problem is compounded when new stakeholders are introduced into the sales cycle. For example, if a legal team is brought in towards the end of a deal, they may be coming in fresh. With no visibility of what has transpired up until this point, it takes time and effort to bring them up to speed.
Going digital to release the pressure
So, what’s the solution? How can sales teams accelerate deal velocity by getting contracts out in a more timely and accurate manner? Contract lifecycle management (CLM) is an effective way to eliminate manual steps in the contracting processes — and the less manual intervention, the better.
For example, with CLM (Contract Lifecycle Management), it’s possible to automate key workflows in the contract lifecycle. Not only does automation give more time back to busy sales professionals, so they can focus on nurturing high-value relationships, but it also leads to greater visibility across the sales process.
CLM also enables sales teams to self-serve standard contracts. That is, they can easily generate something like an NDA at the click of a button, knowing that the clauses in the contract come from an up-to-date library that has been legally approved. You can set up governed processes for self-service contracts so that, for standard agreements, there’s no need to get other parties like legal involved. It’s quick and easy. Most importantly, it means that contracts get to customers faster.
This governance and automation can extend to non-standard contracts. Say there are a couple of customisations that need to be made to a contract. With process workflows in place, it’s easy for sales to identify if and when it needs to be sent to someone else for approval. It means the salesperson doesn’t have to run around trying to figure out who to contact. Instead, they can focus on the day-to-day.
Another big win with CLM? Integration with the tools sales teams already use. For example, if your team uses Salesforce, then they’ll want the easy ability to set up contracts that automatically pull in all the relevant customer information from their Salesforce account. No rekeying or data entry required.
Tips to get started with CLM
Think about where your biggest bottlenecks are right now in the sales process and ask, how can we speed up the process? Also look back on past performance. When, where and why have deals slipped? When were targets not hit?
You may start to identify patterns that point to problems. And these problems may be easily solved with automation using CLM. Focus your energy on one or two issues to start with, and introduce change to your team in small, bite-sized chunks. And remember, anything you can do to bring better tracking and visibility into the sales process, or to empower sales teams to self-serve, or to mitigate risk for sellers, is ultimately going to help your whole team close deals faster and more often.
If you’d like to learn more about how DocuSign CLM helps alleviate the pressure on busy sales teams, while adding value to the contracting process, get in touch today.
Marc Breytenbach leads the DocuSign CLM sales function for Australia and New Zealand. With a strong focus on customer collaboration, Marc works closely with strategic CLM customers in the region to understand their contract management processes, identify pain points, and deliver the quickest time to value while addressing those challenges. His role involves inspiring customers to embark on and accelerate their contract management journeys and maximise the value they receive from the DocuSign CLM platform.