Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) is defined as a methodical and established approach to managing a contract from post agreement origination through fulfillment, compliance and renewal. CLM is easily shuffled to the back burner during initial implementations of Salesforce and other CRM SaaS. Understandably so; it’s a process that is usually so tedious and ingrained that the parties responsible for the contract lifecycle can be resistant to even discussing it, let alone open to changing it. Start typing “How do I resolve a contract dispute” into your favorite search engine and the results will likely be what you expect. Legal problems aren’t the only issues that can arise from a complicated or antiquated contract life cycle management process. You can leave customers frustrated and your executives wondering why your closed deals look fantastic on that new Dashboard you created, but the revenue just doesn’t seem to match up.
Having survived multiple new CRM implementations, I have come up with a variety of creative ways to translate closed opportunities into legal documents, fulfillment orders, and billing notifications. I’m recently certified with Apttus’ CLM product and was blown away by the impact a trained and certified CLM expert can have on the contract lifecycle. Certified CLM experts create solutions that rectify broken and complicated processes into seamless transitions – from closing a sale to having signed documents and happy customers. In a previous position, I created a process that required email notifications, manual contract creation by users, attachments, and a very gracious accounting and finance director. We modified it 8 different times in the course of 3 months and it still wasn’t finished. Documents changed hands too often, were in the wrong place, and were often incomplete. Does this sound familiar to you at all?
So, why do you need CLM?
1) You have customers who confirm deals but do not receive the applicable paperwork until 2 weeks or longer after they’ve confirmed a purchase.
This is obviously frustrating for your customers and it impacts your all-important bottom line. If customers aren’t getting things in a timely manner, they could forget all about that deal they agreed to. At a minimum, they will start the post-sale relationship frustrated . The most valuable customers are return customers; and the first impression you make on first-timers often determines whether or not they return. Timely fulfillment of delivery obligations will be impacted by an inefficient business process and cause your teams to rush orders out, resulting in costly mistakes.
2) Your legal department has to spend hours reviewing complicated legal documentation to make sure they have caught everything that your customers have red-lined or changed.
CLM applications aren’t free, but the time your lawyer(s) are spending and billing for hours reviewing paperwork can be streamlined into your CRM application and changes can be reconciled automatically. They can be alerted when specific clauses are changed or removed, and a history of all document versions is available at their fingertips.
3) Your sales or sales supports are re-creating documentation each time they sell a deal.
We love salespeople because they are ruthlessly efficient at closing deals. They thrive on competition and will do whatever it takes to close a sale. Sometimes this can be detrimental when they make concessions that leadership may not be so comfortable with. Every hour a salesperson has to draft an agreement is one less selling. It also causes Legal or Sales Support to expend additional hours revising their work.
4) You fax, scan, or snail-mail documents to clients or other departments.
First off, who still has a fax machine? It’s 2017 y’all. Get rid of that antiquated clunker and step into the digital era. Scanned or Faxed documents do not look professional at all. Often times these documents become a headache to manage during the redline process as handwriting begins to blur. Contracts that are hosted in the cloud are easily accessible for your various teams and customers. CLM integrations into CRM are the ever-approaching future. The modern generation of worker and decision maker expect a seamless digital experience that they can manage on the fly.
If any of these points struck a chord with you, it’s time to think about letting a CLM certified consulting partner help you evaluate some options. Your sales, fulfillment, legal, and accounting departments will thank you for it, particularly if any of those departments are the same person. I am a firm believer that everyone needs CLM, and I’d be more than happy to work with you and your business to find ways to mitigate the headaches caused by a broken CLM process.
About the Author
Josh Sangster is a certified Salesforce Administrator and Apttus CLM Consultant at Statera. With four years of CRM administration and consultation experience across multiple verticals and different sizes of businesses he understands the headaches that plague users and administrators. He is currently working on advanced Salesforce and Apttus certifications in an effort to better serve his clients. He is a recent transplant from Atlanta, GA residing in Denver, Colorado and enjoys to hike, camp, swim, bike, exercise, and explore his new home state. He is an avid New York Football Giants fan and can often be found wearing blue and white from head to toe on Sundays in the fall. Go Big Blue!