As a Salesforce.com Admin for the last 4 years at SpringCM, I’ve seen sales reps and sales teams work on a deal for months.

They finally win a deal and then struggle through the contracts process. From contract creation to inserting specials terms, negotiations and challenges with printers, fax machines and formatting; it can be a complete nightmare!

3639157564_9112ed4941_oMy experience has shown that everything that can happen will happen while creating, negotiating and managing a contract.

Salesforce streamlines the sales process but leaves contract management behind

Clearly, using Salesforce.com streamlines the sales process. It helps with the steps of the sales cycle, and gives us one system to view accounts, opportunities and deal notes. But the contract management process is still a frustrating cycle of emails, faxes, phone calls and even text messages, as we try to coordinate schedules and approvals and messages, just to get one contract signed. Sales reps, customers and executives can lose their patience, and deals are often stalled and sometimes lost throughout this process.

The 5 Salesforce contract management risks to avoid

Why is this so hard? This is what I have found that hinders the process:

1. Multiple truths

While working on contracts, sending them around to get approvals and input and negotiating, multiple versions of the truth arise - ESPECIALLY if you are using email, faxes or a basic file sharing tool between multiple offices and departments. It’s virtually impossible to ensure that the most current version is being processed, sent or signed.

2. File Storing

Filing cabinets - both physical and digital (Box or Dropbox) - are dead ends. How much time have you spent searching for contract information, only to later discover that you don’t have the most current version? And storing something online doesn’t make it easier to find it or ensure that it’s accurate.

3. Contract (In)consistency

Storing templates and working from old contract versions is something that sales teams often do. Sales operations teams get contracts back with expired data, graphics or trademarks, and they have to make sure that dates, dollars and information are correct before sending a final version to a client.

4. Data Disasters

Misspelled names, incorrect dates, wrong addresses, missing or incomplete information about a product or service, or a carryover of a special term that was used on an old contract, all slow the process and indicate that the sales rep wasn’t working with a new and fresh contract.

5. Losing Momentum

You finally get “yes” from a client after an excruciatingly long deal cycle, work through internal approvals and send it for signature, only to find out that something has changed – maybe a merger, acquisition, reorg/ layoff or budget freeze. 

Does any or all of this sound familiar? I’ve been through this firsthand, and I know that there is a better, easier way! We augmented our Salesforce.com instance with content cloud services, and the difference has been night and day. Our company had already made the decision to run our sales process in the cloud, so it only made sense to move the contract management process there as well.

The benefits of contract management within Salesforce

By placing contract management within Salesforce.com, we streamlined everything - contract creation, changes, approvals, signatures, archiving and renewals. We eliminated paper contracts, got rid of file cabinets (both kinds) and increased data accuracy. We gave reps easy access to every contract for a given customer, so they spend much less time generating, updating and negotiating contracts and close deals faster and have more time to sell. And we provide them the most up-to-date corporate “blessed” contracts, so they have the fastest route to a successful close.

The reps are happier, but I’m the happiest!

As a Salesforce.com Admin, you have a unique perspective of the sales and contracts management process, and you can use your influence to improve them. You owe it to yourself!

Image Source: istarman on Flickr

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