A verbal “yes” to a sale can feel exhilarating. But as sales professionals, we all know there’s never a reason to celebrate until you get a signature on the dotted line.
Unfortunately, once the contract leaves your hands, the ball is no longer in your court. At this point, any radio silence can be deafening.
Instead of pacing back and forth, waiting for your contracts to come back, how can you take back control of this process to get your sales contracts signed faster?
#1. Identify All the Contract Stakeholders
So far, you’ve likely been dealing with the decision-makers of the sale and have established a groovy relationship.
That’s great! But more often than not, you’ve not been introduced to the other stakeholders who’ll be involved in approving, editing, and actually executing your contract.
These are the people who’ll greatly affect your time-to-signature. Contract managers, in-house counsel, finance heads, etc. are common contract stakeholders in the b2b sales process.
As a best practice, always ask to be introduced to the people handling contract changes so you can deal with them directly to save time.
This allows you to cut to the chase rather than dealing with middlemen or constantly asking the wrong people questions they don’t have the answers to.
Further, by including more people in your communication threads, stakeholders are more inclined to follow up quickly since there are more eyes around your deal.
#2. Set Expectations and a Firm Deadline
One common mistake sales reps make is not setting expectations with their prospects at the start of the contract process. Most reps worry that setting a signature deadline might come across as pushy and risk the deal. But that’s far from the truth.
If you aren’t setting clear expectations from the start, your clients might think they have time to deliberate further and take their time to sign. But time kills deals.
Every extra moment they hold off on a signature is an extra chance for the deal to fall through. For bigger deals, where sales contracts have to be reviewed first by the legal department, a lack of a firm deadline might cause your contract to be placed on the backburner.
A clear timeline for the contract process will create a sense of urgency around your contract and push your prospects to keep moving it forward.
You don’t want to come across as aggressive or like you only care about yourself (especially in today’s world). So, frame this deadline in a customer-centric way.
Ask when your prospect’s aim to implement your solution and leverage that date to set a signature deadline you both want to work towards. For example, if their goal is to start implementation by September 1st, use this language when sending out your contract:
“As discussed, once we agree to terms the week of August 20th, I’ll make the introduction to our onboarding team, and we can get you up and running by September 1st.”
Following up is another simple tool that is too often overlooked. Again, refer back to their preferred implementation date. Like this,
“Per our agreed upon start date of Sept 1, I want to make sure we’re on track for signatures. Do you have time for us to connect mid next week?“
#3. Use a Contract Overview
Another way to help speed the sales process along is to make the contracting process as easy on your prospect as possible. Resolve their uncertainties by providing clarity and guidance before, during, and after the contract process.
Highlight the terms in your contract that matter most to them.
Are there certain clauses that they should be aware of?
Are the key conditions they’ve negotiated for included, and where?
Help your clients cut through the noise and put all this critical information in an easy-to-understand overview.
One of our sales leader clients who share the same sentiment about this practice had this to say:
“We always attach an overview page when we send out our sales contracts, and this has helped our prospects sign faster. Not only does the overview make it easier for our prospects, it also enforces a good sales process. Because when you first present a contract to someone, it’s good practice to first walk them through at a high level. This way, they feel more comfortable and can ask the right questions, and the overview really pushes them to do that.”
#4. Use Technology to Your Advantage
In addition to helping your prospects understand your contract, orchestrating a seamless experience for your recipient is also key.
For example, one of the biggest roadblocks to getting your contracts signed is the endless, haphazard, back-and-forth negotiation-and-editing process.
After review, it’s not uncommon for your prospects to come back with a laundry list of changes and questions which you then have to bring back to your legal team for approval.
And more often than not, this laundry list would have to be wrung a few times before the issues are completely resolved. This all extends the time-to-signature, and it’s exhausting for both parties involved.
CLM tools centralize everyone and all your contract activities into a single, digital platform that allows you to quickly and easily track progress, make changes, and address issues.
We’re in a time when there is a tool for almost everything. So, why make things harder for you and your prospect?
Put the Ball Back in Your Court
Too many salespeople focus on getting that verbal “yes,” and then move on thinking there is nothing they can do to influence the contract process.
Think of the contracting process like another part of your normal sales process — after all, until the contract is signed, you haven’t really made a sale. And just like any sales process, there are plenty of techniques you can use to stack the deck in your favor.
So, get the ball back in your court, and finish the sale!