How Digital Contracts Improve the B2B Buyer Experience

Speed, agility, efficiency and accuracy are necessary for any successful organization in today’s rapidly moving business climate. Deals need to happen fast, but B2B transactions are still being bottlenecked by the contracting process. Contracts are a crucial piece of business operations, from procurement to HR to marketing to finance, but the process is still a heavily manual one compared to the speed and efficiency of B2C buying.

What’s the hold-up? B2B contracts require sign-off from multiple parties and bounce between different teams, companies and systems for each team and each company. With enough of those handoffs – especially happening manually – costs and potential for mistakes increase. Teams start relying on manual reviews and using siloed systems that only address one step in the process, leaving gaps to fill manually.

B2C transactions, on the other hand, have evolved to a very straightforward process, especially in e-commerce. Companies like Lyft and Doordash have created a streamlined process for traveling and ordering food anytime, anywhere, collecting payment and other critical information with just a couple of clicks on a phone or computer.

Similarly, digital contracting can significantly improve the B2B buyer experience. Here’s how.

What Is Digital Contracting?

Digital contracting streamlines the entire contract lifecycle, from generation to negotiation to fulfillment, and beyond. What Oracle did for ERP and Slack did for team collaboration, digital contracting does for every department in organizations of all sizes and industries. With one system to manage every aspect of the process, better deals get done faster and more accurately.

Prioritizing Speed and Quality

When deals need to get done and done quickly, using siloed tools wastes time, creates risk and could cause lost business altogether. Research shows 57% of B2B buyers did not complete a purchase for their companies because the vendor checkout process took too long.

Moving quicker with higher quality saves a significant amount of cost in complex B2B contracting. The more detailed a contract, the longer the negotiations and the more approvals necessary. The contracting process also doesn’t end once the contract is signed. Contract management includes fulfilling and analyzing, then optimizing issues, and possibly renewing. But nearly half of companies lack a defined process for storing contracts after execution, 78% don’t systematically monitor contractual obligations, and 71% of contracts are not monitored for deviations from standard terms. Poor contract management can cost companies 9% of their annual revenue.

Evaluate Your Modes of Acceptance

In today’s world, getting a signature rarely means putting pen to paper. E-signature has become the modus operandi for B2B agreements. But for some transactions, a legally binding proof of acceptance is sufficient, and it can be as simple as clicking a button to accept the terms, commonly called clickwrap or click-to-accept contracts.

E-signature is typically better for personalized contracts, such as long-term services agreements or M&A activity, where each contract needs to be individually reviewed and negotiated. Clickwrap is perfect for automating the high volume of standardized contracts, such as NDAs or terms and conditions statements, where the language remains consistent from one signer to the next, and no individual review is needed.

Furthermore, with self-service contracts, you can deliver contracts as a URL: the counterparty fills out the form at the link and the process is done with one click. Terms can even be pre-approved, so there’s less back and forth and review and more time spent on other work.

Additionally, sign-in-wrap (where you agree to terms by signing up for an account) or browsewrap (where you agree to terms and conditions by viewing a page) agreements can also be used to get parties to agree to contract terms without a wet signature or e-signature.

Don’t Let Your Contracts Manage your Business

Contracts are not static documents: handled properly, they can bring massive value to your organization; handled improperly, they can drag it to the ground. Having a system to manage your contracts is a must-have; your company cannot implement proper digital contracting without it.

B2B contracting has three key stages: creation, execution and analysis; those stages are further broken down into detailed steps. A CLM system simplifies the process and creates a top-notch buyer experience. The eight main steps of contract management—generate, negotiate, approve, accept, fulfill, analyze, optimize—can be integrated into a seamless, single platform experience for all users. With the pace of modern business increasing every day, digital contracting with a CLM system saves time, encourages collaboration, reduces error risk, and decreases spending.

Partner Legal With Sales

Though legal is in the back office while sales reps are on the front lines, the two departments must collaborate during the contracting process. Sales reps are tasked with closing deals and bringing in revenue, but legal has to ensure those deals meet compliance and don’t carry risks. The strain of closing deals can cause animosity between the two teams, but digital tools can eliminate that disconnect and put everyone on the same page.

Digital contracting creates a single source of truth where legal and sales can move in lockstep through the process, each using the tools they need when they need them, balancing speed and compliance. Building those cross-team relationships is crucial in cutting a weeks-long process into hours or even minutes.

A New Era of Contracting

The digital era is here to stay, and the pace of business has never been faster. For organizations that want to create an excellent buyer experience, digital contracting is the only way to keep up with the times. A dedicated contract management approach using a CLM system can achieve the agility and speed necessary to keep pace with the increasingly fierce competition.

Investing in digital contracting can be the difference between winning or losing thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in revenue for your organization. When push comes to shove, and you need all the documents organized in one place or need a quick signature within a couple of days, don’t find yourself bogged down in the manual processes of yesterday—transform your contracting experience today.


  • Brian Powers

    Brian Powers is general manager of Digital Acceptance at Ironclad, an online platform that is flexible enough to handle every type of contract workflow, whether a sales agreement, an HR agreement or a complex NDA.

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