This post was originally published July 2015.
Whether your business sells a SaaS product or plastic widgets, your sales people probably use some sort of paper order form to close deals.
Even if you have attempted to move the entire sales process online, some of your deals will probably still close offline. As if managing contracts wasn't already difficult enough, the combination of online and offline sales make it much more difficult to keep track of sales contracts. However, with a little planning and the right tools, you can not only make this process easier to manage, you can also streamline your entire sales process and increase your sales velocity.
Step 1: Streamline your SaaS sales agreements by putting applicable legal terms online.
Strip away the legal mumbo jumbo in your SaaS sales contract and put it all on your website. This is important because:
- It simplifies your paper order form - maybe even allowing it to be a single page long (sales people rejoice!).
- It ensures that your online orders and your paper orders all reference the same set of legal terms and conditions (more on that below).
- Your legal team can update your standard legal terms and conditions without forcing sales teams to replace sales contract templates and potentially reprint order forms. Even if sales is using an eSignature solution to execute order forms, putting your terms online still makes it easier on your sales team, and gives your legal team more control over legalese.
The key here is to make sure that the online terms and conditions of your SaaS sales contract are easy to find (give them a simple URL) and read, and the published and effective dates should be clearly notated. Also, ensure that prior versions of the legal terms and conditions are available at that same URL.
Step 2: Clearly reference your online legal terms in a simple order form.
The order form should be as simple as possible, and should include customer information, pricing, and information specific to the product being ordered (features, seats, support, etc). That information should be detailed, non-ambiguous, and an accurate description of the order. There should then be a very clear and obvious incorporation of the legal terms and conditions by referencing the URL for those terms.
You should also include some carefully crafted language that leaves no doubt that the online terms and conditions are part of the agreement, along with a representation that the customer has indeed reviewed those online terms and conditions.
Step 3: Bind your customers ordering online to the same legal terms and conditions.
When you create your sales order form online, make sure that your customers are accepting the same legal terms and conditions that your paper order form customers are accepting.
It is important that you keep proper records regarding the who, what, and when of acceptance. Also, consider emailing your online customers a copy of what they just agreed to. Putting a durable record of the agreement in their hands is always a good idea.
The net effect of all of this should be that you have a streamlined and unified sales contracting process ensuring that all of your legal terms and conditions applying to any sale remain consistent. To really tie a bow on things, you should consider scanning in your paper order forms and attaching those to a digital record that would drop into the flow above. This would truly unify all of your offline and online sales contracts.