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One of the more recent developments in contracting (relatively and comparatively) speaking) is automation, a technology that continues to improve the sales process by reducing the number of touch points before an agreement is signed. In contracting, automation can take several different forms, including:
No matter how automation fits into your contracting ecosystem, the result is a faster and more efficient process with higher acceptance rates than traditional agreement methods.
There are many reasons to not want too many people handling contracts manually. First and foremost, the time requirement is enormous, especially as your business scales. The cost of continuing to supply the effort required to process contracts as volume increases can be inhibiting.
Hands-on contracting also creates more opportunity for human error with each additional touch point throughout the process. The beauty of automation is that it’s accurate every time; as long as the initial setup is performed correctly, no one needs to double check its work.
Finally, passing contracts back and forth between departments takes ownership away from the legal team, who should have ultimate control over contract details. With automation, legal can deploy updates and manage terms without holding up the sales process or waiting on execution from the product team.
In terms of volume, the vast majority of the contracts you issue on a daily basis are good candidates for automation at some level. However, automation may look different for each type of contract. The degree of automation will depend on the amount of personalization needed, number of contracts issued, delivery method used, and more.
Below are two examples of how automation can work in several different contracting environments.
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Example 1: Your sales team is currently stuck waiting for days or even weeks to get contracts back from the legal department, sometimes missing out on sales in the process. With automation, they can pull pre-approved contracts on demand and send them to clients instantly without waiting for a personalized document. Since legal has full control over terms from the back end, there’s no need to approve each document.
Example 2: Your call center has been doing a great job of selling this month’s service special, but before enrollment can be finalized, customers need to sign a service agreement to make things official. There’s just one hang up. Currently, employees are sending agreements by email after ending the call, which a large percentage of customers fail to sign and return. By integrating automation into your existing CRM tool, they can send agreements directly to the customer’s phone to accept instantly while they’re still on the line.
The crucial difference between true contract automation and traditional signing methods is the acceptance mindset. Signing a contract is a labor-intensive process that requires negotiations and revisions. The acceptance mindset shifts away from this attitude and frames the contract as a pre-approved set of terms that simply needs to be agreed to.
Without automation, the acceptance mindset is not possible. The manual work that goes into procuring contracts on a one-to-one basis turns each agreement into a separate process, leaving both employees and customers in the signing mindset.
If you haven’t started using automation in your contracting process yet, there are plenty of ways to start. Automation eliminates unnecessary steps in the sales cycle, bringing better efficiency into the process as a whole by shifting towards the acceptance mindset.
Where can you use automation to speed up contracting in your sales cycle? Will customers respond well to text-to-sign agreements? Is self-service a better fit? Keep in mind that different types of agreements are better suited for different types of automation.
If there are certain points in the sales cycle that employees are issuing contracts manually, consider taking the task off their plate with automation. With one less mindless task to worry about, your sales team can focus on building better relationships with the customers they serve.
Most contracts should be accepted, not signed. Work on adjusting expectations internally first to unite sales and legal teams behind click-to-accept contracts as a primary way of doing business.
There are so many ways to adopt automation within your sales process to meet and beat your growth goals. By automating standardized contracts using clickwrap transaction platforms, you save time and effort on closing low value deals. For more ways to improve your sales process, check out our eBook, A Salesperson's Guide to Beating Growth Goals: Contracts that Close Faster.