Contract lifecycle management for Salesforce

Save on the hefty licensing costs, realize the benefits with real-time CLM integration

When searching for the right contract management software, one name will come up often: Salesforce.

There is a good reason for this, Salesforce is the number one CRM in the industry. Many companies rely on Salesforce for streamlined business processes. Integration with Salesforce is imperative for contract lifecycle management (CLM) software. However, there is an important distinction between CLM integrated with Salesforce and selecting Salesforce’s add-in for contract management.

You will not find Salesforce’s contract management add-in in any Gartner Magic Quadrant. Nor will you find it in PC Mag’s top 10 contract lifecycle management (CLM) software nor celebrated by Capterra CLM reviewers. An industry-leading contract management software is designed to ensure compliance, accelerate approval cycles, and expand contract visibility. These are capabilities on which the Salesforce add-in was never intended to compete.

If you are looking for a standard view of contracts for those with existing Salesforce licenses, then Salesforce has delivered on this basic functionality. If you are looking for something more expansive that leverages automation and customizes to your unique business needs without incremental costs, then you will need to look beyond Salesforce. We might assume that Salesforce knows that if companies are seeking a customized CLM proven to decrease revenue leakage, increase compliance, improve information sharing, and accelerate the procurement processes, it already exists at a fraction of the cost.

To that end, it is important to understand the benefits of contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions and what an integrated Salesforce solution can get your company. It is also important to understand that what may look like an easy CRM add-in solution may bottleneck many of the processes it was intended to streamline.

A contract management add-on can subtract from business efficiency

No matter the industry, Salesforce can streamline processes for the sales team, marketing, customer services, and e-commerce. That is because it keeps customers as the focal-point. Unfortunately, to satisfy that customer demand and maintain operations, companies require complex workflows and many more internal processes with alternate focal-points.

Areas like contract risk, legal compliance and supplier relations won’t get the visibility that they need unless contracts are getting the attention that they require.

For this reason, contracts cannot be an after-thought or add-on for modern companies. If an organization is seeking to maximize efficiency with the number one CRM in the world, they will need a CLM solution that places in the top ten in the world, at a minimum.

Let’s look at a real world scenario that companies face: the supplier onboarding process.

A top-rated contract lifecycle management software can speed up supplier onboarding by giving the supplier limited access to the system. Through this customized view, the supplier will receive prompts of which business documents still require completion, when their contract is approved and any changes to their services agreement and terms. Going forward, that same supplier can receive timed alerts on how they are performing in relation to their statement of work (SOW). All of this takes place through automated notifications within the contract management software. However, if contract management is just a Salesforce add-in, you cannot leverage these efficiencies.

Ultimately, the sales team and the rest of the organization benefits when suppliers are on-boarded faster, information is broadly visible, the terms are adhered to, and the services are fulfilled. In turn, if critical areas like this lag behind and processes stall, it won’t matter how smooth the rest of the business is running, everyone, including sales, will see the impact.

That is why many organizations opt for Salesforce integration with a highly customized contract lifecycle management (CLM) software. These companies get that an industry-leading CLM software built around their contracts and unique processes is what will take their Salesforce experience to the next level.

Your sales team should stay in Salesforce. Not your legal or procurement teams

With everything said so far, are you ready for your sales team to leave Salesforce to get a contract request started or check its status? From a business perspective, does that seem like the right use of time? Probably not.

Does that mean that the only option is the Salesforce contract management add-in? No. Some contract management providers, offer advanced functionality built into the Salesforce process. However, this locks you into expensive Salesforce licenses for procurement, legal, as well as your suppliers and team members requesting an NDA—just to achieve the same visibility you would have with another CLM at a fraction of the price.

There is another option. A top contract lifecycle management software, integrated with Salesforce, can allow the sales team to initiate contracts as though they never left their familiar application. They click a single button to begin the contract process, they track the approval and handle everything from the same screens that they are already using in Salesforce, even though the CLM is the one managing all of the business data.

That information is conveyed to the customized contract management solution that is designed to the business needs. This can include everything from an integrated ERP, to expanded visibility so that everyone across the organization can request contracts (including NDAs), to smart search functionality, advanced audit features, and more.

A note on “real-time” updates

When software is integrated, data is exported from one company system and imported into another system; sometimes this data is moving back and forth rapidly, sometimes it takes place in daily batch uploads.

For those who have experienced firsthand the deployment of an enterprise software (CRM, CPQ, or other), the integration of data across solutions can have varying timetables. If real-time data mapping is what you require between Salesforce and your CLM, create that expectation up front with your CLM provider. That way you can ensure you get the most up-to-date information for all users.

What about configure, price, quote (CPQ) for your company?

Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) is an integral part of the sales cycle for business-to-business companies. Recently, the same system architecture that has successfully streamlined other processes has been applied to create compelling solutions for Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ.) These dynamic software solutions allow users to further accelerate their quote process and optimize the customer experience as products become more varied and dynamic.

As with the Customer Relationship Management process, the focal-point of these Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) solutions is the customer. Therefore, it makes sense that those with the expertise in designing systems with the customer in mind, like Salesforce, would have a distinct advantage. The Salesforce CPQ is highly ranked and regarded.

As with all new solutions, it is important to determine whether the Salesforce CPQ can be integrated with the other software that you have in place. It is also important to consider how its capabilities will complement software you will add in the future in scaling your team’s services or operations. As CLM and Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) are integral processes, we would recommend raising questions early on with your providers. Make sure that it is possible to integrate your CPQ software, whether that is Salesforce CPQ or another Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ), with your contract lifecycle management (CLM) process.

Remember the big picture when it comes to contracts

No matter your industry, every single company transaction is captured in a contract. These documents are the foundation of your company. The legal team that services these contracts can help ensure that operations are streamlined when they have a system with the right capabilities. Even more when that system is integrated with other key business processes like ERP, CPQ, and CRM.

Companies across every industry are realizing the benefits of an automated contract management process, including their sales teams. The legal and procurement teams can standardize terms and reduce risk and accelerate workflows. The system triggers reminders of contract end-dates, approval times go down, and documents are available in a single location.

When all the teams across the company are working with automated processes, driving efficiency becomes the standard—putting an end to operational bottlenecks.

The ability of CLMs to integrate with Salesforce advances each day and that translates to more functionality and new business efficiencies for a company’s users. It also ensures that users are realizing the full benefits of Salesforce, leveraging all of its functionality.

To learn more about Agiloft contract management software, visit our contract management product page.

Click here to request a demo of Agiloft's flexible contract management software.