Not too long ago, getting a contract signed meant a salesperson needed to reach an agreement with a prospective customer, draw up a contract, fax or mail said contract to the customer and then wait for it to be returned by the same method with an ink-on-paper signature. This frustrating, time-consuming process could take several days or even weeks, especially if there were additional negotiations. The salesperson typically had to chase down a busy customer, who often couldn’t be found at his desk or even in the office. Now, with the advent of mobile devices and e-signatures, the entire contracting process has moved to the cloud, allowing sales reps to close deals in less time from anywhere at any time.
Mobile adoption across the enterprise
Smartphones and tablets have seen huge adoption rates among business users. Enterprises are incorporating mobile devices into their core business practices, with senior executives pushing for higher use of mobile devices. Whether companies issue company-owned devices or employees bring their own devices, you will be hard pressed to find someone not using mobile technology on the job. Mobile devices allow employees to be connected at all times, in all places. With busy executives traveling around the world, mobile devices provide opportunities to streamline and improve daily tasks.
While mobile embracement in general is great, e-signatures have particularly benefitted from the rise in mobile use at the enterprise level.
E-signatures and mobile contracting
One such process that can be greatly streamlined through mobile is contracting. By incorporating e-signatures into the age-old process of signing contracts, companies have improved the way sales teams interact with their customers. Instead of faxing or mailing a contract to an empty office, sales teams can now email a contract for immediate receipt by the customer. Customers can sign it electronically through a tablet or smartphone instantly, no matter where they are. Sales teams can also get contracts signed in person, in real-time, by presenting a contract to a customer on a tablet.
Passed more than 10 years ago, the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) confirmed the legality of e-signatures. E-signatures and digital contracts are commonplace today, with many people having signed at least a few documents electronically. People are becoming accustomed to the 100-percent Web-based, real-time, collaborative document and contract process.
Through the use of cloud applications and tablets, businesses have the opportunity to reinvent the stale contracting process with abilities to scale, automate, simplify and speed contract completion. This simply cannot be achieved through a paper-based contracting process.
E-contracting improves customer service
Customers have many choices of where to take their business, and many times winning a new customer comes down to the service they receive. Customer experience is a salesperson’s priority, and they do not want to risk losing a sale when it comes time to close the deal. E-signatures already improve this process drastically, but adding mobile contracting provides customers with one more way to quickly and easily sign off on a deal. Customers no longer need to go through multiple cycles of physical contract work to negotiate, alter, await, receive, sign, fax or mail paper documents. Instead, the contract comes to them, wherever they may be. Catering to customers throughout the contract signing process fosters positive relationships and breeds repeat business.
Mobile contracting also increases personalized attention towards customers, something that, in this digital age, is more important than ever. Technology makes it easy go through the entire sales process without any personal interaction; while this seems enticing, it is not a smart decision. Many salespeople don’t realize the enormous power in building a personal relationship with customers. The business Web has grown, but with it so have the number of solicitations. Personal interaction is a powerful way to break through the noise and get noticed by your prospects.
By signing contracts on tablets, sales teams can make face-to-face deals and leave an impression with customers. Selling is a social process, but technology cuts out much of the interaction. While personal interaction is no longer necessary at every step of the process – salespeople simply don’t have time for that anymore – it is still a necessary component of the process. Salespeople can explain contracts to customers in person and create a shared document that is easy to complete, process, store and locate later as a source of information to better serve the customer in the future.
Gone are the days of multi-step contract processing. The process is automated and streamlined through e-signature solutions, which also facilitate the ability to report on and analyze contract trends to improve future business practices. With no labor-intensive paper processes, sales teams can close more deals in less time using mobile devices. The process benefits both customers and sales teams by combining the best aspects of technology and social interaction into the contracting process. Not only is the moment of signing reformed, but also all the other activities associated with the signing that take place before, during and after a deal also see improvement.
Jason Lemkin is vice president of Web business services at Adobe and former CEO of EchoSign. His operational experience spans the business development, sales, legal, human resource and finance fields, and he is an acknowledged expert in the field of electronic signature and electronic contracting.