Salesforce is the backbone for thousands of businesses. The online portal handles core business functions from marketing to billing and customer support. If all of your company’s services are integrated into the same platform, interdepartmental actions are much faster. Customer service is more seamless and records are almost automatically complete. Integrating department-specific tools makes the interface even better. If your company has a lot of friction between your contracts administrators and salespeople, optimize Salesforce to let both departments work out contracts.
Prevent bottlenecks caused by interdepartmental communications.
The vast majority of your sales should be standardized: salespeople use the appropriate pricing, there are no requested changes to the terms and conditions, and there are no SLAs or truncated service terms. Integrate your Salesforce platform with a contracting tool so these regular circumstances don’t require any interdepartmental communications. If an opportunity is standard, you can equip salespeople with the ability to send off a contract with the push of a button.
Your administrators can create a template order form that gets filled with the customer information, term dates, pricing, and units stipulated in the opportunity. Once salespeople have received the necessary approvals (which should be none or only that of their supervisor in a standard situation), the integrated DocuSign or Adobe Sign tool will send an envelope to the customer for signature. Once it’s signed, the salesperson can close the opportunity as a success.
This means salespeople can send out contracts faster. It gives customers fewer opportunities to lose interest or to be approached by a competing service. This automation also means your legal department can focus on customized terms and conditions, vendor contracts, and larger legal issues that your company needs to be handled.
Keep track of one-off exceptions to your standard terms of service.
Customized terms and conditions aren’t just expensive to negotiate. They can change how you do business. If one customer has a termination for convenience clause, then the customer can cancel their contract with the agreed-upon thirty- or ninety-day notice.
Investors need to know how many of these contracts you have because that harms the forecastability of your company’s profits. Salespeople and customer service representatives need to be able to see at a glance if a caller has this provision without combing through the fine print. Even contract administrators need to know which customers have this, because franchises belonging to an entity with that termination clause may also be subject to it. Administrators also need to find the lawyer-approved language so they can add it to order forms as requested.
Integrating Salesforce with your contracting tool doesn’t just help keep communications tighter and more accurate. Your administrators can format particular terms and conditions to be bullet points on the order record’s summary. You can pull out the term start and end dates, terminations for conveniences, penalties for poor service, and even changes to the governing state so everyone can see those crucial details.
Ensure that discounted pricing, modified agreement terms, and SLAs are approved according to standard operating procedures.
Salesforce automates internal communications. If a salesperson submits an opportunity with massively discounted pricing, it doesn’t just need to be approved by their immediate supervisor. A financial director or even the CFO needs to weigh in. If a customer requests an SLA, a lawyer and the CTO also need to approve customized requirements. Salesforce can filter these changes and additional factors so the right exceptions are sent to the right approvers.
The tool even sends an email alert to approvers, lets others at the same level in the corporate hierarchy approve for people out of the office, and lets salespeople send a reminder at a click of a button for stagnant approval requests. Even removing the need to send an email, which people may put off or feel uneasy about, helps the approval process.
Archive signed documents, even in the event of buy-outs and mergers.
Legal contracts are an essential part of establishing a customer’s history. But when those contracts were printed and signed offline, shipped to various offices, and stored in file cabinets, it was hard to keep track of them. Even more modern systems that allow for scanned PDFs and retaining email attachments can be easy to lose and full of holes. This is bad news for smaller companies, especially in the technology sector, that are often bought by larger companies or that merge and form partnerships. Those companies aren’t just buying your entity and retaining some of your employees. They’re buying your existing customer relations and business.
Integrating Salesforce with a contract tool means that the paperwork is never lost. You have the opportunities that generated the order forms, the integrated envelope tool that requested customer signature, and the closed order record with the fully executed agreement. Whether your company is in negotiations or plans on being independent for the foreseeable future, you need airtight records without lost files and incomplete archives.
Keep track of negotiated terms of service negotiated between your company and large parent companies.
Salesforce even includes a tool that allows you to organize customer account records according to parent-child relationships. For example, if your company provides a service to a major corporation, your attorney probably negotiated an MSA with their headquarters that established everything from pricing to contingencies to service guarantees. But that document itself might not entail any particular sales. Instead, that MSA will be referenced in the specific order forms when you make sales to their individual franchises and properties. Instead of trying to explain that relationship every time you secure a new client under the relationship, just attach each new customer account as a ‘child’ type account to the central corporation.
This mitigates the risk of lost legacy knowledge.
The attorney that originally negotiated the MSA knows all of the details. So do the salespeople who made the first few accounts. But those employees may eventually leave your company or might not be available to explain the details and routine procedures other salespeople should follow. Using an intuitive structure means new salespeople and contract administrators can understand previous set-ups and replicate them with few errors. It also means that external auditors and third-party service providers can quickly get to work without asking a lot of questions about the difference between account styles.
Streamline your approvals process.
If you wanted to secure a major corporation with hundreds or thousands of smaller entities, you probably offered them discounted pricing: instead of a few instances of higher profits, you’re getting a stronger promise of multiple instances of lower profits. But their pricing schedule is probably unique to this Company A and its participants. It may even violate discounting guidelines, and, in other different circumstances, those rates would have to be approved. Instead of letting Salesforce opportunities for Company A-style customers stagnate in the finance director’s approval queue, you can set up Salesforce to recognize special pricing lists. If an opportunity is earmarked as under Company A, the pricing has already been approved and set in stone by the MSA. Salesforce can automatically ‘approve’ the pricing and send the order form out for signature.
If you want to get order forms out the door as soon as the pricing is negotiated, make sure your instance of Salesforce has all of the functionality the legal and sales departments need. Not only will this help smooth out the initial contracting process, it will improve your procedures for audits and renewals.