A common complaint among in-house legal teams is getting sales teams to provide the right information during the intake process. When creating new contracts for new or existing customers, there is a direct relationship between sales and legal teams. And it continues from intake through deal management – involving everything from contract creation to review to execution to renewal.
Although sales teams are generally tasked with starting the contract generation process, they aren’t necessarily good at intake. It’s tedious, boring and can get in the way of closing the deal and earning a commission. To further complicate matters for a sales representative, there are often subtleties that have been pre-negotiated that may seem totally innocuous to sales, but are legally significant. These facts may be left out all together on an intake request.
To reduce the work required to create new, accurate contracts, some lawyers create customized templates to capture all the information they need. But those ad-hoc solutions often fail as incorrect data gets inputted, the whole process is ignored, or the template is hastily completed.
One example of a common roadblock can be highlighted by examining the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) drafting and signing process, often required for business to move forward. The first question to address is whether an NDA exists with any given customer. If so, where is it? If none exists, what will it take to get one created and signed? People spend too much time hunting down the NDA with a flurry of back-and-forth e-mails. Wouldn’t it be nice if this standard document was included in the process and easy to access from the beginning?
Intake challenges also include the input of incorrect information – everything from the use of outdated templates to unreviewed legal language or repetitive or obviously unnecessary errors or omissions. These issues simply frustrate the lawyers who are tasked with ensuring each contract brings with it minimal exposure to risk for the business.
In most sales circumstances, both sides will have a champion –a sales rep on one side, a buyer champion (sometimes called Sales Point of Contact, or SPOC), on the other. Both sides will work with their own legal representatives, who will offer comments and red lines. It’s not unusual for this process to happen again and again, wasting everyone’s time and resources. It’s the sales rep’s responsibility to manage the process – even though most don’t enjoy doing this and aren’t particularly good at it. Often, to move the process along, both sides will engage their own legal representatives in a phone or video conversation, an expensive and time-consuming exercise that often dissolves into a barrage of e-mails that can introduce errors into the whole process.
Each one of these cycles can be its own “mini-intake,” and can be subject to all of the above problems and frustrations that come with it.
One solution is to enlist the help of deal desk software – preferably one that is driven by artificial intelligence (AI) so it can continue to learn from all the changes and significantly improve the process. For example, Advocat offers a platform that enables collaborative redlining by centralizing all activity so that it’s easy to access and use.
Using software offers simple solutions to these problems that come up during the intake and deal management process. Here are some things the software can do, leading to significant returns on investment for companies that employ this evolving technology.
How deal desk software can help
- Coordination: A virtual deal desk solution allows everyone to see the same information at the same time, avoiding cumbersome and time-consuming communication chains. This allows for a single source on negotiated documents, eliminating the many different versions of Word documents that users attach to emails and circulate around, getting messy and out of sync.
- Overcoming issues: Deal desk software provides tools that make it easy for the legal team to show what they have done so it’s easier to approve changes.
- Empowerment: A virtual deal desk empowers everyone involved to leverage all features embedded in the software, allowing all employees to use the tools to quickly move deals forward.
Essentially, intake problems are a symptom of bad incentives, confusion, and dis-empowerment. Adopting deal desk software can solve these problems by increasing communication, reducing confusion and overcoming disempowerment. When adopted correctly, deal desks can not only reduce frustration among and between the sales and legal teams, it can save the company time, money, and increase revenues by allowing deals to close quicker.
This is a collaborative effort, requiring support from all stakeholders involved.
Here are some examples:
- Highlighting areas of confusion when redlining documents reduces the number of areas that don’t matter and allows resolution without escalation. This also points directly to things that actually DO matter and require escalation. AI can tell the difference, allowing the legal team to focus on what is truly important.
- AI can unify the sales playbook with guardrails set up by the legal department. Frequently, everyone has a different view on what the ideal contract result should be. By aligning those views early in the process – and allowing the software to help – internal processes will be improved.
- Deal desks allow shared and transparent timelines. The sales team may want to close a deal before the end of the quarter or around a buyer’s budget cycle. But the legal department may have a three-month backlog of work, frustrating the sales team, which may covertly try to avoid the legal process and create contracts on their own. It’s imperative for both sides to understand each other’s timeline to avoid conflict or risky actions such as the execution of non-vetted contracts.
Deal desk software empowers employees on all sides of the deal to quickly and easily solve problems by putting everyone in the same virtual room – both synchronously and asynchronously – to manage their time in an efficient way.
If you’re on the sales side, don’t let intake and deal management challenges get in the way of closing your next deal. If you’re on the legal side, be confident your sales team is working in the most efficient and legally prudent manner. Consider employing a virtual deal desk to improve your processes and bottom line.