If you’re like any business leader, you’re always looking for new and inventive ways to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase both net new sales and recurring revenues from happy customers.
Yet, for most organizations, the way they administer contracts—creating, distributing, managing, and executing—is often what’s holding them back from breaking through with greater success. The tools a company uses for its contract lifecycle management (CLM) can be very telling about the organization’s opinions of contracts—they dictate the speed and efficiency of the contract negotiation process, how connected the company is to technology and innovation, and what hoops the customer will have to jump through to finalize a contract. In other words, choosing the right CLM solution is a key element in gaining the efficiency, insight, and seamless experience internal users and customers alike have come to expect in today’s hyper-competitive, rapidly-evolving business landscape.
So, as you evaluate your current CLM operations and seek out tools to improve them, here are some best practices to keep in mind when purchasing a new CLM solution. Encourage Guided Selling Sales reps already have a lot of their plate, and a good CLM system should make their jobs easier. A CLM solution that supports guided selling—a step-by-step process for navigating the entire sales and contracting cycle—can help take the guesswork out of constructing airtight proposals, quotes, and contracts. An integrated CLM platform brings together pre-approved contract terms and conditions, service levels, warranties, prices, and other options in one place to simplify and accelerate the entire sales process from end to end. Integrate multiple systems As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. In the sales world, that means pulling a deal together has to happen quickly to have the best shot at winning new business. CLM processes that require sales reps to navigate multiple systems like Salesforce, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool, and standard productivity tools such as Word and email, needlessly slows things down and opens the door to more confusion and mistakes. Integrating various components of the sales process into a single platform helps keep team members more organized, enables faster and more in-depth collaboration among sales and legal teams to generate approved contracts faster, and dramatically improves data accuracy by automating many of the manual processes that lead to potentially costly mistakes.
Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) technologies are solely focused on the tail end of the sales process and, in particular, on the negotiation portion of the cycle. Sales and legal teams often have a difficult time keeping up with the velocity and pace of negotiations when they’re relying heavily on manual processes or disparate systems, and CPQ helps sales produce and accurate, timely quote. Automating the various steps of contract negotiation that follow—redlining, version control, and collecting signatures—also helps teams gain the speed they need to meet customer expectations and deadlines, without sacrificing accuracy that puts the company or the agreement at risk of failing.
Get all departments involved One of the biggest advantages of a CLM solution is that it benefits everyone in the organization. Sales teams can navigate the quote and proposal stages faster. Legal can accelerate review of the terms and conditions. Even teams like procurement and IT get visibility into the process, helping them prepare to fulfill the promises in the agreement and deliver an exceptional customer experience that helps the business grow.
Getting each department’s input on what would make their jobs (and lives) easier will help narrow your search to find the solution that best meets the demands of your entire business, not just a few individuals or one department. In general, most companies will want a tool that automates time-consuming manual processes, improves collaboration among internal teams and external parties, and simplifies every stage of the contract process—from proposal to signature—by integrating all the tools and systems they use on a daily basis. Learn more about how Conga’s Contract Automation Suite can make your entire organization more efficient, agile, and responsive to evolving customer demands.