How to Get Visibility into Sales Contracts
Sales teams face a common problem: not knowing the status of their contract once it is sent to the counterparty. Too many systems strip you of control once you have secured the initial deal, creating delays that make it harder to close deals.
Customers expect a smooth experience and often rely on your sales representatives to make this happen. Unless you know where your contracts are, this is incredibly difficult. A lack of contract visibility impacts your ability to drive sales, the customer experience, and overall company success by creating unnecessary delays and inefficiencies.
Effective contract management software helps solve these common problems and improve contract visibility. Tools like an activity feed provide in-depth and real-time updates on a contract’s status. Email alerts automate essential notifications, so you always have critical information at hand. This also helps you develop a good relationship with your legal department to streamline your processes and increase visibility throughout the contract lifecycle.
Learn more about why contract visibility is so important to sales people and how to move your organization in that direction.
Issues caused by lack of contract visibility
It may seem obvious, but it’s challenging to track your contracts if you have no way to know where they are. Too many sales teams face this common problem. Lack of contract visibility is one of the primary reasons for contract bottlenecks that slow down the acceptance process. A sales rep that can’t see where the contract is cannot help move it along.
Lack of visibility makes closing deals harder. Here are some common reasons why:
Waiting on legal for answers
For many companies, sending a contract to legal is like putting it in a black hole. You never know its status unless they tell you, and you may wait a long time for an answer. Often, this isn’t even legal’s fault. Contracts requiring manual negotiation take substantial time for attorneys to review. If the terms aren’t standardized, legal has to review all of them individually to avoid the risk of litigation.
Whatever the reason, legal delays then result in sales funnel delays. You will spend too much time tracking and managing deals in progress rather than searching for new business. This limits your ability to focus on generating revenue and meeting your sales goals. You shouldn’t be limited this way when sophisticated contract lifecycle management (CLM) software can help.
Not knowing where your contract is
Once the contract is submitted to the counterparty for signature, many sales teams have no idea where the contract is in its lifecycle. This lack of knowledge requires you to waste valuable time running down existing contracts, especially since you are unlikely to know whether the delay is with legal, your counterparty, or another internal process.
There is no way to fix a delay when you don’t know what is causing it. Teams that want to improve their processes can’t do so without the information necessary to do the job right. Salespeople need tools—like an activity feed and automatic notifications—to help streamline their processes.
Impact on customer experience
Customers want a smooth experience from start to finish, often looking to the sales representative as their contact person. When you have no visibility in the contract process, you can’t help your customer. This creates a negative experience for customers, who may now be less likely to do business with you going forward.
Contract renewals make businesses successful. However, a customer is unlikely to renew when significant delays and frustrations in the contracting process have negatively impacted their experience. Lack of contract visibility makes it harder for you to keep your customers happy and drive future sales.
Solutions to improve contract visibility in sales contracts
Solving these common problems takes the right solutions. Sales teams can improve contract visibility when they have access to modern CLM software that makes it possible. Specially designed tools and software enhance your team’s ability to track, manage, and even self-service contracts to improve visibility.
Track contract status with the activity feed
An activity feed gives you direct access to where the contract is at any given moment, providing real-time updates to keep you informed and enhance contract visibility. The feed provides updates on what is happening with the contract, including critical events like:
- When documents are updated
- When documents are downloaded
- If any information is edited or redlined
- If any approvals are added or collected
- @mentions and comments by other workflow participants
- Signature requests and completed signatures
These data points and others show you where the contract is and help you identify any hold-ups without manually searching for the contract’s status. It also means you can get the information yourself rather than relying on legal to get back to you.
The activity feed can even let you see entire email threads in a new tab, meaning you see important communications about the contract to help you determine its status. With this information, you can keep your customer informed and even help speed up the approval process.
Receive automatic notifications
You can receive notifications and emails to keep you updated when you are part of the contract workflow. Notifications appear on a notifications page to keep them organized and easily viewed. You can get automatic notifications for:
- Assigned tasks: This could include approvals, signatures, edits, etc.
- @mentions: @mentions occur when another user mentions you in a comment or sends you a reminder.
- Activity: Notifications automatically occur to update you on the status of workflows requiring your attention, including approvals, comments, etc.
These automatic notifications keep you in the loop about where your contract is at all times. Armed with this information, you can reduce delays and spend more time focusing on new deals.
Set up email notifications
You can create email notifications that prompt you when specific triggers occur. Email notifications are often used in addition to or instead of in-app notifications. Some salespeople prefer an email for reminders or a prompt rather than checking their in-app notification section.
You can control your email notifications to specify exactly what you want to get. This helps keep you informed and improve contract visibility customized to your preferences.
Contract repository reminders
The digital contract repository can help you with contract reminders to keep you updated on what you want to be reminded about. This might include key fulfillment dates, renewal dates, and expiration dates. You can stay on top of expirations and renewals and keep tabs on contracts with particular obligations. You can also set up reminders for any contract in your repository to help you stay on top of your agreements.
Once you create a reminder, the CLM system will search and filter every week to make sure you get relevant weekly reminders. These reminders will include:
- Information on up to 15 contracts
- 5 pieces of metadata for each contract
- A link to the repository for any contracts that exceed 15
Strengthen your relationship with legal to improve contract visibility
Legal has ultimate control over most contracts. They determine if agreements are approved, what can be automated, and the terms of your sales contracts.
A positive relationship with legal can make the process easier for your sales team. When you work well together, you can make changes that work for you both. Areas a positive relationship can help include, but are not limited to:
- Automating low-value contracts: Not every contract needs to be negotiated. You and legal can work together to determine which contracts are best suited for automation. Automation can streamline how you get contract acceptance by reducing the need for legal to get involved. Visibility significantly increases when more of the approval process is in your hands.
- Collaborate in a shared platform: Email back and forth or clunky cloud storage makes it difficult to collaborate with legal. You can improve this common issue with advanced CLM software that lets interested stakeholders collaborate easily. You can redline and edit contracts with legal and even involve counterparties to expedite the negotiation process.
- Use data metrics to reduce contract bottlenecks: Contract bottlenecks are spots in the contract lifecycle that slow approval. Legal and sales can use contract data metrics to analyze their processes and reduce friction in the approval process. Collaborative efforts create a positive relationship that helps both teams.
- Maintain accurate records: Legal’s primary focus is reducing legal risk and creating enforceable contracts. Accurate back-end records are central to this goal. A contract repository automatically captures agreements and critical information like version and date to make this happen. When both teams have access to this tool, legal can rely on sales and permit more self-service contracts.
Improve visibility in sales contracts with CLM software
By improving contract visibility, you can also improve your sales performance. Salespeople face many obstacles and delays when they use antiquated systems. They spend a great deal of time searching for their contract status rather than focusing on new sales and growing their numbers. They are constantly waiting on updates from legal for answers to simple questions. This impacts the customer experience and may affect whether the deal closes or renews.
Your sales team can improve visibility with CLM software and its tools. An activity feed keeps you up to date at all times. You can receive automatic in-app or email reminders to keep you fully updated. These tools can also help you develop a more positive relationship with legal to continue to improve your processes.
- Issues caused by lack of contract visibility
- Solutions to improve contract visibility in sales contracts
- Strengthen your relationship with legal to improve contract visibility
- Improve visibility in sales contracts with CLM software
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Ironclad is not a law firm, and this post does not constitute or contain legal advice. To evaluate the accuracy, sufficiency, or reliability of the ideas and guidance reflected here, or the applicability of these materials to your business, you should consult with a licensed attorney. Use of and access to any of the resources contained within Ironclad’s site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the user and Ironclad.