Productboard’s One-Woman Legal Team Tamed Their Sales Processes In a Month With Ironclad

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Salespeople like that they can search for a deal and pull up the full history. When we went through diligence for our series D (funding round), it was easy to pull out our bigger agreements and go through them. The sales team seems to love Ironclad.

Natalie Niadj, Associate General Counsel, Productboard

When Natalie Niadj joined Productboard in 2021, she was the company’s first legal hire. By contrast, the sales team behind the company’s product management software was already big. Really big — and really lacking for process, to hear Natalie describe it. “We had a hundred-something people on the sales team. People were sending documents back and forth for redlines through Slack,” she recalled. “There would be like a Slack thread called ‘X customer,’ and the approvals process was everyone just attaching things in the Slack thread.”

Before long, the situation became overwhelming. “I would just get pings all day on Slack,” Natalie said. Sales reps were changing contract terms without approvals, and then attaching their modified agreements to messaging threads. Without any sort of version control, Natalie couldn’t see what had been changed in a given document. Her frustration mounted with each new incoming Slack.

From her prior roles with other companies, Natalie knew there was a better way. She did her research, consulted with Productboard leadership, and made the call to adopt Ironclad’s contract lifecycle management platform. Within weeks, she had Ironclad up and running, and the impact spread across the company nearly as fast. Processes, approvals, deal tracking, and even same-day redline turnarounds were suddenly the order of the day.

How’d this legal team of one get everything from contract approvals to executive reporting into shape so quickly? It’s a story of the right person for the job finding the right tool to do the job with.

The Joys of Version Control and a Clean User Interface

Natalie was familiar with document management tools from her previous job, so she set out to find a tool to put some process around Productboard’s documents. “Everyone in the space could do either the data aggregation really well or the redlining and version control really well,” she said. “But I had trouble finding a solution that could do both and was easy to use.” She needed a tool her sales team could pick up easily, but also one that played nicely with Productboard’s existing Salesforce setup.

When she discovered Ironclad, the clean interface and easy to use features caught her eye. So she ran it by her stakeholders. “I brought people in to help evaluate at different times,” Natalie said. First finance, then sales ops, and then the SVP of sales. Everyone agreed Ironclad offered  a much better way of handling agreements. “Mainly they liked the approvals process and the threaded view,” Natalie said. “They could go into any one deal and see the history of communication.”

Ironclad Repository gave Productboard a single, searchable source of truth for contracts. Unlike a general purpose file sharing tool, Ironclad offered a plethora of features designed for legal and sales professionals. Natalie’s colleagues took to them right off the bat.

Salespeople like that they can search for a deal and pull up the full history. When we went through diligence for our series D (funding round), it was easy to pull out our bigger agreements and go through them. The sales team seems to love Ironclad.

Turning Contract Data into Actionable Insights

Ironclad also helped Natalie understand how long Productboard was spending going back and forth on redlines with customers. Seeing the milestones within a deal — when the workflow started, each redline and turn, when the deal finished — let Natalie get a handle on how long approvals actually took, and where there was room for improvement. “One of the biggest questions that came out last quarter was, ‘are we sending documents to customers too early?’” she said. “ I figured that out because I could see when the workflow was started.”

Sharing that data with her executive leadership team helped Natalie tighten up Productboard’s processes all the way around. “Ironclad helps us really understand what we need,” she added.  From payment terms to auto renewals, Ironclad surfaced Productboard’s relevant contracting data for Natalie to review with leadership, finance, and sales teams. The data helped Productboard train sales reps on strategic points, like the right time in a deal cycle to talk to customers about documents, when to confirm customer buy-in, and making sure to get internal approval from finance before sending out vendor agreements. “We found out that sales reps were adding custom terms like longer payment periods and unusual termination rights,” Natalie added. Building a new approvals process in Ironclad cut down on one-off contract terms, and eventually let Productboard route all signatures through Ironclad, eliminating the need for other eSignature software entirely.

Since implementing Ironclad, Productboard’s average time to return redlines has dropped to same-day. By comparison, Natalie said it usually takes customers anywhere from nine days to a month to turn redlines back around to her. Productboard’s newfound efficiency is a testament to how Ironclad has helped the company tighten up all around.

Ironclad helps me understand what the cadence is in the sales cycle. I can tell that it's working mostly because the turnaround times from us are so low.

Easy Implementation, Fast Results

Productboard saw results with Ironclad fast. With a little help from her SVP of Sales, Natalie got Ironclad up and running in just about one month’s time. “We got the tool, went through three weeks of set up and onboarding with an Ironclad rep, and I hired a legal ops person to help transition our data into the system,” she recalled. Designing custom workflows for the company’s more complex agreements took a little time, but even so implementation was quick. “From end to end it took us about one month to implement, and get the training together for the sales team.”

Natalie handled most of the training herself, even creating a step-by-step playbook for sales reps to follow as they got used to the new system. From there, her biggest tasks may have been nudging her colleagues out of their old Slack-centric habits. “Everyone got access and if they tried to message me with a deal, I was like, No, you have to go through ironclad,” she said.

Now, Productboard uses Ironclad to track deal sizes, redlines, turnaround times, and approval processes. With so much data at her fingertips, Natalie now presents an insights report at the company’s quarterly risk committee meeting with leaders from the C-suite and engineering team.

They’re mostly interested in liability data, so I pull from Ironclad Insights to show all of the individual data points, and then aggregate it at the end to understand total impact.

Ironclad helped Natalie and Productboard go from a hundred sales reps attaching contracts to Slack messages to same-day redline turnarounds and comprehensive reporting on all sales and legal activities. All in a month. Need to tame your own sales processes? Just ask what Ironclad can do for you.

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