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Ironclad Is for Closers Pt. 3: How Digital Contracting Powers Sales

November 6, 2019 5 min read
Melanie Wong, Ironclad Account Executive

In Part Two of Ironclad Is for Closers, Ironclad VP of Sales Damon Mino explained how Ironclad closed 22 deals in just two days at quarter end using our digital contracting platform, including a multi-national, multi-counsel contract with a global financial services provider. Now we go deep with Ironclad Account Executive Melanie Wong, who quarterbacked the deal, which went through a baker’s dozen versions. Adding a workflow wrinkle midway through negotiations, Melanie, a licensed attorney who formerly worked at Box and Intercom, went on maternity leave. But she still managed to watch over her big deal.

Mel, ironically, we’re talking about a deal that took about nine months to complete. What impressed you about the whole process?

Right! When you need context “in the moment,” a digital contracting platform distills and brings together the most critical deal elements — and stakeholders — no matter the complexity, no matter the details. 

That’s so important. Sometimes, the hardest part of an AE’s job is simply communicating with your internal team, especially at the end of the quarter, when the stakes are highest and things can get tense between Sales and Legal. Believe me, Ironclad takes some of that edge off.

I truly believe Ironclad helps people and teams work collaboratively and, just as importantly, professionally. That pays off. After all, on Day One of the new quarter, you’re back seeing the same people you may have been negotiating internally with the day before.

Damon touched on some of the particulars of your financial services provider deal. Can you add more color and nuance?

Actually, before we even kicked off the contract review, we were in conversations for six months with the prospect, a Fortune 200 company. As Damon noted, we used their paper, which is pretty common with large enterprise clients, who have a lot of sway in negotiations with their partners.  Fortunately, it’s easy to work on third party paper in Ironclad. 

We uploaded my customer’s template sales agreement into Ironclad in the spring of 2019 and automatically looped in our GC, Chris Young, based on rules we set up in Ironclad. One great thing about Ironclad is being able to attach email threads with my customer so reviewers like Chris have immediate context about the deal. This allows him to get up to speed quickly

Chris was able to redline the agreement and easily upload his comments in Ironclad, which I then shared with my customer using our Share Draft capability. With Share Draft, the counterparty gets an email with the attached document to review. They can reply to that email, attach a new version of the contract with redlines and send back to me. It’s then automatically threaded back into the contract workflow in Ironclad, reducing much of the manual back and forth. 

From March to late July, things got serious on the path from legal review to final negotiation. All told, we went through 13 drafts of the contract, all of which I was able to track in Ironclad and have full visibility into the status of the deal. I’ve been at companies where this process is done manually, and I missed critical information that was siloed in emails between counsel.

Here, my GC, VP of Sales and I were able to work closely together, making sure we were rowing in the same direction at the same speed until we closed the deal, just days before the end of our Q2. 

It sounds like a game of pinball, language and asks bouncing from one bumper to the next. How does Ironclad handle all the context?

Many ways. Besides our Share Draft capability, the Ironclad Activity Feed really helps. It’s effectively a chatter channel, logging internal communication and keeping track of drafts for us. This lets stakeholders jump in when they need to and get quick updates, absolutely critical for Sales Leadership and Legal. I just love that!

There’s another way. After Damon kicked off the contract, we notified other reviewers here with simple @mentions, including our Head of Customer Success, a solutions architect and our VP of Engineering. As I noted, a centralized digital contracting platform helps frame the deal context for everyone, especially for Chris, who also engaged our outside counsel for their advice. 

Finally, everything gets memorialized and time-stamped in Ironclad, so you have a permanent record. Historically, Sales and Legal did all this over email, phone or someone’s shoulder at their desk, with nothing formally tracked or centrally collected.

Having a single source of truth must be essential for negotiations coming down to the wire and keeping everyone in the loop. 

Yes. My deal was part of a 56-page document. Without a digital contracting platform, it’s hard to keep track of versions and the differences between, for example, V.10 and V.12. With Ironclad, you don’t have that problem. It’s easy to preview and compare redlines between various documents. That’s an extremely powerful capability. 

The power of Ironclad also becomes evident during negotiations in high-level deals when you need buy-in and approval from many parties, including senior counsel. Without everything captured in one place, the deal’s account exec — me, in this case — might be left out of the loop. Not with Ironclad.

It gives me a direct line to Legal, even during a long contracting process. 

You came back from maternity leave in June. What happened while you were out? How did you keep tabs?

Damon helped drive the deal, including legal review. From home, I was able to participate and get the full picture when I needed. As I said, If you’re tracking the deal in Ironclad, you can get up to speed quickly, even if you’ve been away from it. 

While I was on leave, I passed a lot of my open deals to my colleagues; however, I kept this one because I was so invested in seeing it through to close. From home, I simply popped into Ironclad when I could and checked the Activity Feed. I’d see company stakeholders, for example, Damon or our Head of Customer Success, weigh in on open issues, and I was glad that I could contribute from home as well. 

Having a permanent record and repository for the deal must be invaluable, especially if the deal makers move on. 

Right, the information doesn’t go away if someone leaves the organization. Here you don’t have execs wondering, “How did this or that deal get done? What was the context? Why did we use this language? How did we position the deal to Legal?”

This context and knowledge sharing is critical as teams scale. New execs can review colleagues’ deals as they develop, learning from each other. At one point here, I was a team of one. Now, we’re a team of 45 and growing.

You never want to silo expertise.

To close this out, how would you summarize the value of a digital contracting platform? 

Having visibility into how contracts get done and how teams work together helps level up account executives. Internal negotiation and approvals aren’t lost or siloed in email threads — they’re maintained and visible in Ironclad, the good and the bad! 

Ironclad makes sure you’re not missing steps. In the end, you know what contract version you’re on, what notes still need to be shared and with whom, and how close you are to closing. 

Remember, you never want to be that AE who hasn’t given everyone the right context and ends up being a deal blocker! I’m fond of saying, “If it’s not in Ironclad, it’s not happening.”

In Part Four of Ironclad Is for Closers, we wrap everything up with the Legal POV from Ironclad GC Chris Young, no stranger to moving fast and furious at quarter end, yet always as a responsible, collaborative and risk averse partner to both Sales and the business. For more on powering the Sales and Legal partnership, download our guide Dealmaker to Dealbreaker

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