Aside from on-line, on-demand license agreements, the vast majority of businesses still execute paper contracts. Quite amazing given the extent of on-line automation available these days.
Indeed, companies are making a living selling tools that allow you to execute a printable agreement using a signature that is not your own, based on you typing your name which is then displayed as though you physically signed it using someone else’s handwriting. Weird.
More significantly, they then go on to model the contract behaviours embodied in the agreement into contract management software, going from text to data model rather than using a data model to auto-generate text. This is also weird as clause generation software has been around for more than 20 years.
Still stranger perhaps is the fact that people buy CRM software that monitors presales activity but stops before a contract is signed. Often updates stop even earlier as the sales person gets preoccupied with closing the sale and ceases to update the CRM system at the point where its reporting might actually be useful.
There is however, another way. Something we call transactional CRM.
Transactional CRM is where the CRM platform executes business directly. A platform that contains products together with their contract behaviours pre-modelled so the contract is auto-generated through the selection of products.
Transactional CRM makes a huge amount of sense because:
- It enforces the use of the CRM platform. If the contract is executed directly in the system, then the system needs to be up to date and the sales team must use it
- It provides direct controls over what the sales team offer. When using Word or Excel templates, sales people can edit terms and prices. When this process is driven from a system, controls can easily be placed around the process
- It automates what can be a lengthy and time-consuming process
- It helps the sales team stick to standard terms by providing a defence that the terms are modelled as standard and therefore are difficult to change. The fact that terms are standard actually helps as it provides customers with the confidence that they are executing a contract that has been signed by others before
- By using a data model to contract approach, the key aspects of the contract are modelled before the contract is even signed. Not only does this help to prevent misunderstandings, it also eliminates back-office errors as the terms are already in a data model form and so neither need interpretation or rekeying
The big downside of transactional CRM is that they are generally only used by large business and can be inflexible, making it difficult to deal with one-off situations. This is why Word-based contracts continue to dominate alongside simple CRM platforms.
HarmonyPSA is a transactional CRM platform that manages the flow of business from a data-described product through delivery and billing without rekeying. It provides immense flexibility to build and adjust product terms, but within a structure that controls sales behaviours. It not only saves time in the sales process, it delivers contracts correctly modelled and ready to be monitored and/or booked against.
Before Harmony, transactional CRM was only available for large companies selling standard products. The concept can now be offered to smaller businesses, combined with real-world flexibility those businesses need to differentiate.
Contract execution just got better and more automated.
About the Author: Harmony Business Systems Ltd (HBS) is the company behind HarmonyPSA, the most complete cloud PSA software on the market. Developed with functionality to cater for even the most complex needs of MSPs, VARs, ISVs and Professional Services organisations, HarmonyPSA truly is the next generation of PSA systems. HBS is an independent company based in the UK. Follow HarmonyPSA on Twitter