Beyond the deal desk: how to shorten the sales cycle
The best sales operations teams constantly look for ways to improve efficiency in their organization, even if that means challenging the status quo.
One of the best ways to do just that is by identifying and correcting frequent bottlenecks in the sales process. With the right data, you can confidently evaluate deal quality sooner, better predict outcomes, and drive more accurate sales forecasting to level up your entire team and become a sales ops MVP.
When deal desks aren’t enough
Deal desks are a giant leap forward (and significant investment) when it comes to helping sellers manage complex deals. But you may still find yourself frustrated with delays in the sales cycle caused by inefficient negotiations and having to chase down signatures. Add in rogue contract changes and people ignoring internal processes, and you can see there’s still room for improvement.
Plus, deal desks often overlook the next-level insights needed to simplify the sales cycle. Even a software-based deal desk doesn’t synthesize the metadata from contracts, meaning you still have to spend hours digging through individual documents looking for information while coordinating with various business stakeholders. So even though a deal desk provides you with up-to-date information, it can’t inform improvements and overall efficiency gains—which is where the right set of contracting tools can help you get an edge to close more deals, faster.
The power of contract data
The solution is to empower your sales organization with a contract lifecycle management (CLM) platform that gives sales operations and front-line sellers the tools to:
- Set deal structure best practices when launching an order form
- Streamline revenue recognition by maximizing average selling price (ASP)
- Reduce unnecessary negotiation cycles
Your sales team is the engine of the business. When you’re hampered by limited visibility, you can make misinformed decisions that impact the entire organization. But when you’re empowered with contract data, you can recognize opportunities to improve the sales cycle and take on bigger deals.
See the impact—and measure it, too
Contract data helps you illuminate deal blockers so you can forecast sales more accurately. When you measure metrics that matter to sales, you can analyze:
- Redline impact to sales win rates
- Negotiation cycle lengths and deal velocity
- Deal sizes from sellers using non-standard deal terms
With Ironclad, you can see in real-time where deals stand in the approvals process. And supplemented with data from a CRM, you can further anticipate:
- Which deals are likely to close
- How to best facilitate them
- Ways to reduce the stress of tight turnarounds
When your contracts move fast, your deals move fast, which means you rely on getting valuable insights from each deal which ultimately helps you scale.
Besides maximizing your sales team’s productivity, using a data-driven solution helps you and your sellers save time. The reality is, manual contracting and contract management are a continuous time-suck. On the flip side, the context, data, templates, and communications readily available in a digital contracting tool can shave hours off your traditional processes.
Our goal is to have our account executives be the quarterback of their own deals and not block on other teams. That wasn’t the case before Ironclad, since all contract requests had to go through the Deal Desk, even if they were standard, non-negotiated agreements.
5 tips to get more from your contract data
Sales and sales ops need solutions that empower both teams: sales to move deals through the pipeline, and sales ops with the data about those deals to inform process improvements. The right contracting (CLM) software provides insights and the ability to act on the data, adding transparency and value from deal flow.
Here are five steps to help you and your teams run like pros:
- Identify your blind spots. What have you always wished you knew about your sales and contract cycles? Establish the questions that would help you do your best work, so you can extract the answers through data analysis.
- Consolidate resources. Getting a handle on where your contracts are stored, who has access to them, and who needs access is a great first step to identify your company’s critical data. Consistent and reliable data comes from consistent processes, so getting all contracts under one roof will improve both data and team performance by providing access, visibility, and better contract management workflows.
- Manage the change. Managing change to new solutions must happen intentionally. People quickly get used to what they’re taught and resist change, even when that change clearly benefits everyone. So when managing a systems change, remember that a little friction is inevitable.
- Don’t get stuck at “we tried that once.” It’s a classic mistake for companies to roll out a contract management (CLM) tool only to find that it fails to integrate with their customer relationship management (CRM) systems. You can be blocked without even knowing it, lacking usable data to provide guidance and make data-driven decisions. This results in a poor return on investment, and frustration all around.
- Introduce Ironclad. Ironclad empowers you and your sellers with data-gathering and utilization tools to drive more informed decisions and business outcomes. With our best-in-class Salesforce integration, real-time updates and clean contract data, deals move seamlessly through Ironclad and sync directly to Salesforce.
As a sales-focused company, we know where sellers are spending the majority of their time—not in contracting tools, but in their CRM. That’s why we invested in best-in-class integrations that enable sales and legal to work with the tools they’re already using, while still moving in lockstep with each other.
In the end, sales come down to relationships with customers and internal partners. With a tool like Ironclad, your sales and legal teams will spend less time jumping between low value negotiations and spend more time making confident decisions grounded in data.