If your company does business in the U.S., registering your company’s trademarks and service marks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an essential investment in your business. Trademarks and service marks are the names or symbols by which a company – and its products and services – are known in the marketplace. They serve to distinguish one company’s products and services from those of another, and become imbued with the qualities that define the reputation of the company and what it sells in the minds of consumers. For example, when one sees or hears the terms Facebook® or Disney® or Wells Fargo® or Trump® – all registered trademarks or service marks in the USPTO – one has certain thoughts, positive or negative, which ultimately affect the commercial fortunes of the companies that sell goods and services under those marks. (The terms “trademark” or “mark” are used from this point forward to refer to trademarks or service marks. The former applies to goods and the latter applies to services. The same legal principles apply to each.)
Most organizations today manage their contract management function through a combination of skilled lawyers, processes (either manual or automated) and contract management technology (ranging from simple contract repositories to sophisticated enterprise contract management systems).
Often, organizations manage contracts in silos, with each business unit utilizing its own systems, language, workflows and processes.
It’s in a company’s best interest to shorten the sales cycle, close deals quickly, and make room for more deals and more revenue. This, along with reaching quota and commission, is the ultimate goal for a salesperson.
The salesperson is in control of the contract through most of the sales cycle. It’s their responsibility to usher the contract through each step of the contract lifecycle. So you can imagine things can get tense when Sales needs to hand the contract off to another stakeholder, like Legal, for contract reviews. Contract reviews will take all the time that is necessary to identify risks in a contract, but this time-frame can derail a salesperson’s plans to close the deal.
My job goes far beyond data input. As a finance professional, I wear many hats.
I consider myself more of a problem solver, paying attention to the tiny details within financial agreements and making sure all the numbers add up. Failing to do so could mean lost revenue for the company, or inaccurate financial reports that could make it difficult to make business decisions down the road.
Finance must be in the loop with other departments like Sales, HR and Professional Services. We need visibility into deals being closed, new or exiting employees or any other expenses being incurred at the company. This requires crystal-clear communication across departments.
So how can Finance streamline that communication?
Do you have someone (or some people) in your life whom you interact with every day on a friendly basis, yet you consider them the bane of your existence?
Whether it’s friends, family or coworkers, we all have frenemies.
Family issues aside, frenemies are common in the business world. The stakes are also higher, with revenue and reputations on the line.
This couldn’t be more true in the contract process, with salespeople leading the charge to close the deal, and legal teams identifying risks within that contract. This “sales friction” can slow down contracts and limit your revenue stream.
In order to get on the same page, it’s important to understand each side’s different needs and concerns:
Companies depend on their contracts to bring in revenue, so it’s imperative that they are carried out and managed legally, and at minimal risk to the company. Typically, companies rely on lawyers or legal teams to mitigate risks within a contract, but not all companies can afford legal backup, especially the smaller ones.
A legal contract contains these elements: an offer, consideration, acceptance, and an overall collaboration of terms. When sealing the agreement, or signing the contract, you must make sure it’s done legally to ensure the terms are carried out and the company recognizes revenue from that deal.
When signing contracts, it’s not always clear what is acceptable and what is not. In court, a judge decides the validity of a contract based on “reasonable-person standards,” meaning “how would a reasonable person interpret this?” With that in mind, here are some methods of signing that are commonly brought to question:
Companies big and small are looking for ways to trim the fat and save money in their contract processes to increase their overall revenue.
When it comes to cutting the cost of contract management, one common denominator is time. Time affects everyone involved in the contract lifecycle, so this blog will be the first of three that will explain how companies can optimize their time and reduce the cost of contract management, beginning with one of the most expensive parts of the contract process: the legal review.
The negotiating phase of a contract is often considered the most important. In a process known as redlining, both parties mark the contract to show additions, deletions, approvals, rejections or any other changes.
This is a critical phase, because any wrong detail can twist the meaning of the contract and cost a company more than it was expecting. While it’s important to check and double check the details of a contract, it all must be done in a timely manner, to ensure customer satisfaction and allow sales teams to move on to other deals.
Since there is little room for mistakes in this phase, here are 5 best practices for redlining contracts to ensure you are successfully mitigating risk in a timely manner:
September 29, 2015 Legal
A legal team’s role in the contract process is to hyperfocus on allocating risks and responsibilities within a contract. During that phase, there is a lot of back and forth communication between the legal team and the customer. That’s also where the contract process begins to slow down.
A slow contract process forces a company to push deadlines back to the next month, quarter or year. This throws off the entire company’s expectations for revenue in that time period. When a contract sits idle, it’s essentially giving the customer more time to explore alternatives to your current contract.
Of course everyone would like to see a contract quickly move through the negotiation process, closing the deal and moving on to the next one. In fact, Aberdeen Group has estimated that 24% of registered, close date-committed opportunities unexpectedly slip into the next selling cycle. But the risk of a bad contract can be more detrimental than any benefit from closing the deal faster.
There are ways legal teams can speed up their process, without sacrificing any time or effort in mitigating risks within the deal:
September 28, 2015 Legal
In a recent survey, general counsel identified two concerns as their primary focus for the coming year: (1) managing regulatory risk, and (2) ensuring value for their legal spend. Both are important, but the first one is critical, as no GC wants to be associated with massive fines or a damaged reputation for failing to follow regulatory requirements. To begin to manage risk, you must first efficiently find it, and make decisions to effectively control it.
Risk can come from a myriad of sources, including ever-changing regulatory requirements (particularly for multinational companies), organizational changes (such as acquisitions, spin offs or reorganizations), litigation, and contractual provisions within legacy agreements. Each of these sources of risk can be intertwined, with a great example being a material regulatory change necessitating enterprise-wide contractual review, analysis and modification.