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Contract negotiations go online

A new breed of contract creation solutions is entering the market: online contract negotiation services. Just recently such a service was also announced for the Salesforce ecosystem by Finnish vendor Documill, called Documill Leap.

And Documill is not the only player in the field. However, most service providers – that include companies like Parley Pro – are targeting their offerings at legal professionals. In contrast, Documill Leap is targeted at salespeople. It promises to improve collaboration between sellers and buyers through the whole sales cycle, from producing responses to Requests for Proposals (RFP) to signing final contracts.

This highlights a change in the way lawyers work: they are becoming rather legal advisors on all topics from the sales strategy to deal structures than executors of practicalities or negotiation managers. Negotiating big, valuable sales contracts is increasingly done by teams of experts (study says 5.6 people in average) – product, delivery, customer service and so forth – on both sides of the table. A sales professional sits often on the driver’s seat on the seller’s side, while the legal professional just ensures that all the legal aspects are right.

Changing business roles, changing technology

With the change in the corporate lawyer’s job comes a change in contract technology. So far, the field has been dominated by contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions by providers like Coupa, Icertis and Agiloft. They concentrate on good housekeeping: keeping contracts in order, helping find quickly the latest version, organizing content in modular clause libraries and so forth.

As sales contract negotiations are more and more driven by sales professionals in teams of specialists, the need for good collaboration solutions is increasing – as a functionality right within the customer relationship management (CRM) platforms like Salesforce. Indeed, the CRM is now more and more used as a place to initiate contract negotiations, keep track of the process status and store contracts.

New technology enables new use cases

The new negotiation services have been built around an online editor that allows any number of users in different parties to redline and comment on a contract content. Changes are recorded in real time and progress is immediately visible to everybody.

Workflow and task management are also integrated to run the negotiation process: for automatically sending invites, alerting participants to tasks and triggering electronic signing once the contract is ready. A real relief for the contract coordinator. Documill Leap even supports secure team based negotiations between organizations.

From MS Word to a specialized solution

But what about MS Word, which has for so long been the number one choice of negotiators for arguing about, agreeing on and honing the clauses?

Mika Könnölä, CEO of Documill says: “Word is a wonderful all-around application. But it is not really designed to be used by different users with different agendas simultaneously – which is a typical situation in contract negotiations.”

By | September 15th, 2020|

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