Most Sales leaders will agree that the most highly anticipated part of the sales cycle — when a deal moves into contract stage — is also the most critical. Time kills deals. Every extra moment spent searching for the latest contract version, waiting on legal approval or going back and forth on negotiation is an extra chance for the deal to fall through. At the home stretch, how can Sales leaders eliminate roadblocks to reach the finish line faster? According to research by Arberdeen, organizations that build a streamlined contract process shorten their contract approval time by 82% and their sales cycle by 24%. The secret sauce? Leveraging contract lifecycle management (CLM) software. Here’s why Sales leaders are adding CLMs to their tech stack:
1. Quickly generate contracts for new opportunities
When a deal moves into contract stage, sales reps typically request for a contract to be drafted by legal. At this point, delays often occur for various reasons: Legal doesn’t get the complete information they need or there are competing priorities. This slows the sales process down and increases company risk when sales reps bypass legal to get their deals done faster.
To help avoid congestion and frustration, the best CLM software provides contract template and clause libraries that empower non-legal teams to generate self-serve, legal-approved contracts in seconds.
On Outlaw, these contract templates are created within Draft, our proprietary template management system. Using our best-in-class legal authoring tool, Legal teams can easily build customized, repeatable templates that Sales can use to generate contracts. All Sales has to do is select the template they need and fill in the blanks. This eliminates legal bottlenecks and reduces the contract creation time from weeks to minutes.
“We rolled out a new Sales contract that included flexible pricing and specific clauses for each discount type. Because this contract is so complicated, it would have been impossible for our Sales team to generate quickly without making tons of errors. Outlaw’s Draft tool has been instrumental in helping us create a master template that included guardrails set by conditional clauses. Our Sales teams love it because they can easily create accurate contracts without taking a ton of time.”Sergey Mann, Sales Strategy Manager at Beyond Pricing
2. Expedite internal approvals and optimize organizational collaboration
Gathering internal approvals has always been a headache for sales especially when multiple approvals (from legal counsel, VP of Sales, Finance Head, CEO etc) are needed before a contract can be sent out. According to Forrester and Aberdeen, it takes an average of 3.4 weeks to get a contract approved, but using CLM software reduces that time by an average of 82%.
CLM software enables sales reps to set granular permissions and run automated approval workflows directly in-app. Notifications and email reminders help to keep the review task in front of approvers and keep deals moving forward. On Outlaw, each contract smartly locks to prevent additional changes until each approval process is completed.
Additionally, the best Sales leaders use CLM software as a tool to eliminate internal silos. By having all departments collaborate on one digital environment, conversations are centralized, teams stay in sync, and deals get closed faster while maintaining proper oversight.
3. Streamline contract negotiation and issue resolution
The negotiation stage is typically where deals get messy. Sales leaders are no strangers to the vicious back-and-forths between prospects and Legal. And most times, negotiation and contract changes can happen in more than one place (in person, over calls, emails, etc), making it difficult for Sales to keep on top of the negotiation process and drags out the sales cycle.
CLM software implements online redlining, threaded commenting, real-time status tracking and cloud-based version histories in a single, collaborative digital environment. Email notifications alert relevant stakeholders, prompting quicker issue resolution. This minimizes the back and forth of emails, comparing between multiple document versions and hunting down who made what changes, reducing sales cycle time.
4. Automatically track deal progress with real-time audit trails and alerts
Without a proper system in place, it can be a huge headache for sales to deliberately track and follow up on each deal’s progress throughout its lifecycle. This not only slows down sales cycles but takes away valuable time Sales reps can use to work on new deals.
Outlaw’s deal environment Flow automatically tracks all deal interactions and changes in a cloud-based audit trail. All contract updates send email alerts to relevant stakeholders, and everyone can see exactly where any deal stands and what steps are still required. This helps all contract stakeholders stay on top of contract progress and keeps deals moving forward seamlessly.
“We’re able to negotiate and change contracts on the spot while talking with a customer. They’re able to see the changes in real-time and execute without even needing to go back through our legacy workflows that used to add days, weeks or months to our sales cycle. With Outlaw, we now bypass multiple internal approval flows that used to take days. This has allowed us to win more deals and reduce our sales cycle dramatically.”Edmond Cassidy, Global Solution Sales Manager at Intrado. Read case study.
5. Automate contract workflows even further with CRM integration
Customer relationship management (CRM) software, like contracts, is the lifeblood of any sales organization. Teams rely on it as the source of truth for all vital customer data. When integrated with a CLM, Sales leaders can set up automated workflows to further accelerate their contracting process and shorten their sales cycle.
For example, rather than spend time creating a contract from scratch with info that’s already present in their CRM, the smartest Sales leaders integrate their CLM with their CRM to automate contract creation when an opportunity moves into contract stage. In addition, this integration ensures all contract changes are fed back into the CRM in a bi-directional sync, allowing for data hygiene and consistency within the organization.
On Outlaw, integration capabilities are enabled via Connect. Thanks to our suite of APIs and robust integration capabilities via Zapier, customers can rapidly deploy no-code integrations to hundreds of sales tools seamlessly. Sales leaders can even integrate Outlaw with their cloud-storage tools like DropBox and Google Drive, or eSigning solutions like DocuSign.
“Working closely with the Outlaw team, we were able to easily integrate the platform with Salesforce. Now, we can auto-generate contracts quickly from Salesforce without the worry of errors and outdated information.”Ethan Arnowitz, Sales Operations Manager at Voxy. Read Case Study
CLM software is a sales leader priority
With all that said, integrating CLM software in the sales tech stack should be a high priority among Sales leaders looking to increase efficiency and efficacy. Sales contracting contributes to a significant 18% of the enterprise’s sales cycle, and poor management of this process can make or break whether a company hits their quarterly and annual goals. The ability to increase revenue by minimizing delays in contract settlement is therefore imperative for any modern sales leader. Learn how you can implement CLM software into your Sales tech stack to close deals faster today.