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Contract automation

Fast and efficient negotiations? With these 9 steps it works

Jan 27

Nothing is more important and happens more often than negotiation. Negotiation starts in the private sphere with friends and family and ends in the business sphere with sales contracts. We all negotiate several times a day and yet the same mistakes happen again and again.

With the following 9 tips, you can further optimise your negotiation success and achieve faster growth. We will show you how to stop long negotiations, promote quick signing and ultimately increase sales - no matter what form of negotiation it is. 

Negotiations are, on the one hand, about the content - which is indisputably very important - but, on the other hand, also about the process. Bad contracts lead to bad results: Contracts that don't get signed, chaotic contracts that create risks, or bad experiences that strain the relationship between you and your new clients and mean lost sales for future business.

Through our ongoing support of companies in automating contracts, we have been able to identify which practices are helpful and lead to a deal quickly through the analysis of data.

In the following, we will tell you the 9 tips that have proven themselves in practice: 

1. keep the ball low - use simple contracts

People prefer simple language and not just since the 45 American president. We all prefer fluidity and simplicity of language when we process information.

Trust is a commodity that builds or degrades in the course of a business. Honesty, open language and direct communication contribute to the other party's trust in you. Do not make it unnecessarily difficult for your business partners to trust you. Don't try to unnecessarily gloss over products or services. It is not easy to present a simple concept or product, but it will be worth it.   

You can abstract the presentation and contracts using simple and clear layout or language. 

2. external values count - the contract must appeal to your counterparty 

Your contracts must not only be convincing in terms of content, but also look good. New customers in particular have decided to sign a contract with you because they want to try something new. For this reason, your contracts, just like your products, should look modern and appealing. Use a modern and trendy layout for your contracts as well. Rely on a professional appearance and prove to your new customers that they have chosen the right contracting party until they sign the contract.  

A professional-looking document can already have a positive effect on a purchase decision when it is sent. Poor design and errors in the structure, on the other hand, can often be the nail in the coffin for a transaction.  

3. do not hide details - dare to be honest

Start your contract negotiation with openness and honesty. It is not a good idea to start a business relationship with hidden clauses or inaccurate wording right from the beginning. Your counterparty will all too often notice if you are not being honest or are hiding something. It is not too rare for such attempts to backfire. If your contract partner feels that you have to hide something, the other party will be more likely to exercise caution and the contract process will be unnecessarily prolonged. There may even be a tendency to distance yourself from your company. 

In the end, we all decide - whether professionally or personally - with our gut feeling. Deliberate concealment and a veiled presentation that is revealed on demand is the sudden death of a business relationship. 

Therefore, if you have critical and possibly even difficult points in your contract, address them openly and record them transparently in your contract. This can be done in a table or in an extra paragraph and your contracting party will be impressed by your honesty. 

4. consider the target audience - write contracts for your clients and not for your lawyer.

Every contract, regardless of the type of contract, should be written for the end client. It is the client who signs the contract at the end of the day, not your lawyer. Therefore, your client must also feel addressed and comfortable with the contract. 

Therefore, refrain from complex formulations of the legal jagon or technical terms. Your contract is the documentary equivalent of a handshake - make it friendly!

5 Better Safe than Sorry - Preparing and Listening

Be prepared for questions at any time and always pay attention to the wishes and comments of the other party. You can often learn from your counterpart and their requests for changes. In the long run, this learning promotes the further development and improvement of your contracts on the one hand and the improvement of your products and services on the other.  

First and foremost, before any negotiation you should determine what you want to achieve and how you could achieve this position. Therefore, it is important to think about how you could react to questions or arguments from the other side in a kind of role play beforehand. The best thing to do is to prepare a talk sheet for the most important points of the negotiation so that you can arrive at the negotiation confidently, securely and authentically. 

If you use contract automation software and it allows it, you can already store various arguments and clauses directly in the contract as a reaction to the possible request of your customers. This could take place, for example, in the form of previously automatically varied liability limits, depending on the value of the transaction. Such preparation not only reassures you, but also positively surprises the customer.  

Points and topics that recur over time as well as with different clients and where you always have to resort to alternative positions need to be prerecorded. Set new standards - if these positions are commercially acceptable to you. Such an approach avoids further complications in difficult negotiations. However, it may also be opportune to fall back on these points as manoeuvring material and retain them for this reason. If you keep the goal of signing contracts more quickly and thus optimising the overall contract in mind, you will find it easier and easier over time to create contracts that clients will be happy to sign.

6. friction creates heat but not money - make the process as smooth as possible

As soon as you apply the above points steadily, templates will emerge over time that can be finalised with little negotiation. Once this status is achieved, you should make these templates the new standard and ensure that all your staff can benefit from them.  

7. stop unauthorised changes - focus on security and control of access to contracts

As a rule, companies agree to have their sales staff draw up contracts from a defined template, but it is important to prevent free design or even arbitrary changes in all cases.  

Companies cannot control this risk at all or only very poorly using a Microsoft Word-based process. If, on the other hand, a modern software-based process is used, then you can restrict writing rights for contracts to such an extent that only approved clauses can be reproduced. At the same time, authorised employees can make changes at any time, the implementation of which is immediately possible globally.  

In addition to mitigating risks through the coherent specification of clauses, the use of contract automation software has other advantages: The daily use for contract creation is often accompanied by a helpful assistant. It is made possible for every sales employee to create contracts independently without legal assistance. The electronic signature, which is usually directly integrated, also results in significant time advantages compared to conventional email and postal dispatch until the signature is obtained.  

8 Knowledge is Power - Digitise Your Negotiation 

In order for you and your team to get the most value out of the contracts, you should use prepared and tested templates including alternative clauses for the negotiation case. This will help you to significantly reduce the length of the negotiation. 

On some points, however, negotiation is unavoidable despite extensive preparation and prior concessions in the form of compromises. 

Dare to enter into negotiations with the other party if the proposed position is not justifiable for you from an economic or risk point of view, but conduct them properly. Move away from the endless ping-pong of Word files and negotiate - if you can - via intelligent software. 

By using contract automation software with internal and external commenting and negotiation, you can ensure that all negotiation data is recorded. On the other hand, professional contract software sets a secure, digital framework so that neither party can get the impression that changes have been silently and secretly incorporated into the contracts without the knowledge of others. Furthermore, recording the results of negotiations in software gives you the opportunity to learn from these experiences and improve your contract process in the long term.

9. finish your game - get your contracts signed digitally

Signing the contract is the last move in a game with long preparation. Don't wait until the client has forgotten what he is actually signing and the time spent was worthless. An electronic signature - preferably embedded in the software - allows you to seize the moment as soon as the contract is acceptable to all parties. 

In this sense, you should also make it as easy as possible for the customer to sign the contract. Avoid high technical demands and outdated software with questionable data protection and rely on the tools you and everyone else uses and carries with you every day for the digital signature. Rely on your mobile phone and digital e-signature to speed up the contracting process. 

Sales staff can send contracts directly to the customer on their way back from meetings or, in times like these, immediately after the last online meeting, who in turn can sign them effortlessly with their mobile phone. 

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Pay attention to these 9 negotiation tips and implement the steps and your negotiations will be effective and successful.

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