“Technology like CLM allows sales and marketing teams to have more visibility when it comes to revenue projections, leading to more accurate sales goals. This is already possible with an AI-based CLM platform. Still, more enterprises need to mine their contract data for useful sales and marketing information that will allow them to negotiate better deals in the future,” says Steven Coulange, VP of Solution Engineering, Agiloft, in an exclusive interview with TalkCMO.
TCMO Bureau: Months into 2021, what is the biggest challenge that sales teams are still facing?
Steven Coulange: Some of the biggest challenges today are from fragmented processes across sales enablement, contracting, and post-sales. Many weaknesses in these areas have been exposed during the last year due to the shift to a more decentralized, remote workforce and the economic downturn, putting extra pressure on marketing and sales teams to meet their annual quotas.
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The sales process across enterprises has been put to the test and organizations with the most consistent ROI use AI-powered Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software to negotiate and close deals. This is because CLM uses pre-built AI functions to classify, extract metadata, and analyze documents such as standard offers, invoices, quotes and agreements. Once contracts are signed, the post-sales team can ensure that contract renewals and other important deadlines don’t “slip through the cracks.”
TCMO Bureau: How have the sales and marketing teams endured the “do more with less” business strategy post-pandemic?
Steven Coulange: To meet sales KPIs during the pandemic, sales teams and in-house legal counsel must make sure that they are minimizing revenue leakage from contracts. With a CLM system, the software keeps track of performance obligations, contract end-dates and renewals so that the employees can focus on closing new deals rather than spending precious time on maintaining current contracts.
In addition, it can automatically alert sales representatives when contracts are coming to an end in order to begin the resale or upsell process and ultimately speeds up the contracting process. CLM tools also ensure that invoicing is accurate and share recommended actions to maximize revenue from current contracts.
TCMO Bureau: How does Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) fit into a sales team’s strategy?
Steven Coulange: CLM should be on every sales team leader’s radar since it’s a technology that increases efficiency for sales, procurement, and legal while also reducing the resources needed for contracting. In recent years, many sales and marketing teams have turned to automation in order to streamline time-consuming tasks such as the contracting process.
CLM integrations with CRM platforms enable sales teams to instantly generate sell-side documents like proposals, Master Services Agreements (MSAs), and other agreement types. Then in one click, the team can create contracts and automate approval processes through email or SMS messaging, and kick off the e-signature process so that the company’s salespeople can close deals from anywhere.
TCMO Bureau: How effective has the AI-based CLM system been in the industry?
Steven Coulange: AI is a critical aspect of an enterprise CLM platform because it has the capability to sort through massive amounts of data, including hundreds of thousands of contracts. With this type of visibility, sales teams can easily track their KPIs with real-time data, empowering them to meet sales goals.
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It is also important for the post-sales team to have accurate customer data and custom workflows to increase time efficiency. With an AI-powered CLM system, teams can customize dashboards and reports to track specific KPIs like risk and contract value. Then, if certain performance metrics are not being met, the system can issue an alert by department, individual, or customer.
TCMO Bureau: What are your future expectations from technology that can help brand marketing and sales perform better?
Steven Coulange: Technology like CLM allows sales and marketing teams to have more visibility when it comes to revenue projections, leading to more accurate sales goals. This is already possible with an AI-based CLM platform. Still, more enterprises need to mine their contract data for useful sales and marketing information that will allow them to negotiate better deals in the future.
Contracts aren’t just static documents anymore; contracts are critical business data that represent a single source of truth in commercial activities. If enterprises use CLM to extract and organize data from their contracts, it can better inform every decision and aspect of the business.