In general, I am old school. During the day I’m busy selling, managing our teams, and working with our clients. As an entrepreneur, I wear every hat in my business at different times. It’s not always easy to take a step back and evaluate your operations when you’re in a go-go-go mode selling and servicing clients.
One tool that I wish I had implemented earlier was electronic signature (e-signature) software. e-signature software streamlined my company’s sales process by making it simpler for customers and my team to sign a contract. It shortened our sales cycle from weeks or months (or never) to minutes or days. I made this little shift to e-signatures in our contracts on December 4th 2014 and closed $100,420 before 2015. Needless to say, I am true believer in the effectiveness of e-signatures.
The Old Way To Get Contracts Signed
Our old process for sending out proposals and contracts was pretty antiquated and should be familiar for most salespeople.
Here’s what we used to do:
1) Modify contract in Word with client specific requirements and pricing. 2) Save Word document. 3) Convert to PDF. 4) Attach and send to client. 5) Call client to see if they received it. 6) Email client the contract again to make sure they received it even though you know they did since they replied. 7-8-9) Call client again, and again, and again. 10) Client lets you know they went somewhere else or are not ready.
Suffice to say, our old process for handling contracts took a lot of time and often had mixed results. I chose to implement e-signature software because my business needed to way to keep track of outstanding contracts and close more deals in our contract stage.
The New Way
I wasted 5 years “thinking about” implementing e-signature software and 5 minutes getting started.
HelloSign was easy to set up, easy to integrate into my sales process, intuitive to train other people, and the most important – IT MADE IT EASY FOR CLIENTS TO SIGN. Additionally, the support I received from HelloSign was really good. They replied to emails, called me back, and they were accessible. We live on a digital planet but if you need that human touch, you have it. Bonus!
Why do I attribute closing $100,420 to integrating e-signatures into my sales process?
The best way to share with you is by talking you through an example. I recently closed a deal for a website contract with two different recurring transactions. This is a pretty standard deal for my business, although the exact transactions can vary from deal to deal.
Easy to customize and select signatories
First, using e-signature software helped me to easily update a standard contract using a template that I uploaded. Once I uploaded the template, I was able to easily set and determine a list of all the people who needed to sign the contract. Most e-signature companies let you set if you need multiple people from your company and multiple people from another company to sign. You can also cc individuals on the contract who may not need to sign, but may want to be able to have viewership of the contract.
Easy to highlight areas to complete
Implementing e-signature software also helped make the actual process of signing a contract simpler. When you prepare a document on HelloSign, for example, you can easily add text areas, signature fields, dates, and initial fields onto a contract. These areas are highlighted on your proposal, and your client will know all the places that they need to complete in order to fulfill the contract.
Easy to Send
When you’re ready to send a contract, e-signature companies also let you add a subject line and include a brief message. It’s vital to ensure that your subject line requesting a e-signature is compelling. I’ve seen too many salespeople work hard on a sale only to lose a deal because a contract gets buried in an email inbox. I personally like to use a subject line that restates the value proposition from my sale (for example: Increase Rankings, Traffic and Sales for ABC Co).
Easy to Follow-Up & Know What to Do Next
My favorite aspect of e-signature software is that it gives me intelligence around where my contract is in the process of getting signed. Previously, I would have to hound my customers with emails and phone calls to figure out what was going on. With e-signature software, I know who opened my email, who has signed, and I can even get intelligence around areas of the contract that may be causing some confusion. Finally, once everyone has signed the contract, everyone receives a final version of the contract with all signatures included.
Tips to stay organized and save time when using e-signature software
Here are some time saving tips and ideas for staying organized with e-signature software:
You can upload templates into e-signature software for common contracts that you send over and over again. For example, you may want to upload templates for fixed projects, work orders, NDA’s, employee documents, etc.
You can get email alerts when your customer views your document. This feature is great because you know they are reading the contract and you can call or check in with them to ask if they have questions.
Depending on who you choose to send out a contract to, make sure you understand the automated reminders that go out. The one i personally use automatically alerts a potential client 3 times. My email sequence sends reminder messages after 1, 3 and 10 days. You can send manual email reminders as well.
Once your contract is signed, you and all signatories get a fully executed copy along with an audit trail. Make sure to upload into your CRM.
If you delete the document, it’s gone forever so keep a backup copy somewhere. Again, it’s important to track this into your CRM.
While these are legally binding contracts, you should still ask your attorney if electronic signatures are satisfactory in your industry. I work in marketing and advertising, and e-signatures are valid most contracts that I have.
If someone is sending you a contract you can upload it to your e-signature software to execute. No more print, sign, scan and email.
If you need to countersign contracts, make sure that you understand how this is setup in your software.
Most e-signature products have a team function so other members of your company can have their own log-in to the account and track their own contracts. If you are the manager, you can see the status of your sales team’s contracts.
If you don’t already use e-signature software, it may revolutionize your business by increasing your closing rate and decreasing your time to close. All you have to do is spare a few minutes to sign up, familiarize yourself with the software, and then you should be all set to start getting contracts back faster than ever before.
Rahul Alim has over 12 years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Strategy and Business Development. He has help clients such as Move.com, Advertise.com and 1000’s of small business owners with their strategies. To reach Rahul Alim, you can contact him on LinkedIn.