SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Damon Miño, VP of Sales at Ironclad

Damon Miño, VP of Sales at Ironclad weighs in on the benefits of digital contracting systems and how it can help enable efforts for sales teams:

 

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Welcome to this chat Damon, tell us more about yourself and your role at Ironclad? How has your journey in sales through the years shaped your overall sales expertise and can you take us through some of your key sales moments and experiences through this time?

Thanks for the opportunity! I currently serve as Vice President of Sales at Ironclad, a digital contracting company. Before joining Ironclad in 2018, I worked for brands such as DocuSign, SalesCrunch and LinkedIn in various leadership positions. And before that, I was an in-house commercial attorney supporting sales teams negotiating contracts.  It’s been a bit of a unique journey to go from a potential user of Ironclad to someone selling this Digital Contracting to folks whose shoes I used to walk in.  Frankly, I feel very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time as the awesome talent in Silicon Valley and across the world finally turns their talent to building solutions for in-house legal teams. In fact, now those solutions have evolved beyond just making legal’s job more efficient to providing business-critical insights to an entire company.  As someone once said, contracts are the atomic unit of business, and now we have the electron microscope to really measure those units and make better, data-driven, business decisions.

We’d love to dive into your thoughts on what challenges you still see sales reps face today, despite rich access to sales tech tools and automation?

One of the biggest challenges facing sales reps today is the problem of business contracting. Contracts power every business relationship and transaction. But despite numerous sales tech tools, the process of contracting has remained broken. As the world becomes increasingly digital, it becomes clear that contracts, as we know them, weren’t made for this world. Many of the sales tools and technology available today haven’t addressed the problem of contracting for sales reps.

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We’d love to dive into the benefits of digital contracting for sales teams and how you feel these tools can reduce the workload on salespeople?

Digital contracting can do two things for sales teams – speed up the contracting process and unlock data.

By digitizing contracts, you are able to unlock the data within them – from deals in the negotiation stage to already closed deals. What Oracle did for ERP and Slack did for team collaboration, digital contracting can do for every department in organizations of all sizes and industries.

  • Digital contracting helps track active deals and unlock data. A contract management platform streamlines the entire process and offers one source of truth to track contracts through the entire lifecycle, from generation to negotiation to fulfillment to renewal. For example, with deal data from your CRM piped in and combined with your contract data, you are able to assess where deals stand – which agreements are being reviewed by the legal team and which are ready to close. All parties can monitor the effectiveness of the contract, setting KPIs and tracking compliance throughout. The platform can also uncover contract metadata that gives decision makers more information to make more intelligent decisions. Metadata is crucial for the legal team in the analysis process because it saves time and energy on a paper chase.
  • Speed up contracts and get sales contracts done. Speed is everything in the contracting process. Buyers will not hesitate to move on without making a purchase if the process takes too long to complete. Business contracting can be expensive because of its complexity; more detailed contracts require more review time and more sign-offs. But with digital contracting, the process moves faster because everything integrates into one platform that encourages collaboration. 360-degree contract views allow everyone to review what they need to without holding up other teams. The negotiation process becomes easier with a system that automates much of the processes that would ordinarily be done by hand.
  • Clickwrap can speed up contract execution. Clickwrap contracts (also known as clickthrough or click-to-accept contracts) are digitally native, legally binding online agreements that don’t require a signature. E-signature can be replaced with clicking a button or checking a box, allowing all parties to agree to terms in a quicker manner. Clickwrap creates an easily trackable audit trail of every user’s actions and confirms that they have assented to the terms. A clickwrap agreement can be used for almost any agreement and presented in many different ways: embedded on the website, hosted on a dedicated URL, or sent through SMS message.
  • Give the sales team power. Digital contracting puts the process in the hands of your sales team. Sales reps can control the whole process.

What are some of the top friction areas you see in the contracting/documentation process that affect salespeople most?

The contracting process involves multiple parties on multiple teams at multiple organizations. Often, each team uses different systems and processes to get work done, so the process becomes siloed and choppy. Many of the handoffs from one team to the next happen manually, increasing costs and possible errors. And, with siloed technologies addressing only one step at a time in the process, the gaps have to be filled by humans, an inefficient method in today’s digital-first world.

Traditionally, tension can also arise between legal and sales teams in the quarter-end hustle to close deals. While sales teams often want to push forward with agreeing to terms and getting signatures, legal must check dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. Without collaborative technology and contract management software, those legal checks can slow down the process and frustrate stakeholders.

Digital contracting can automate the end stages of the sales closure while also accelerating sales deals; can you share some optimization tips for first-time adopters of this tech?

  • Keep it simple. The simpler the language, the easier the contracting process will be. In a complex, multi-step process involving so many parties, simple language and easy-to-answer questions go a long way in moving things forward. Ask basic questions about team structure, effective dates, and who needs to review what and when.
  • Embrace visibility. When you ask about key details upfront, like payment terms and contract length, those details can be built in early and your whole team knows where things stand from the beginning. Those details don’t have to live in different spreadsheets on different systems. That visibility makes it that much easier to get payments in and out the door on time.
  • Standardize, standardize, standardize. When your contracts follow a standard process, everything becomes easier to complete and repeat in the future. Legal language is often written with variables that can be filled in on a state by state or country by country basis. Conditional formatting can turn one document into dozens or hundreds of different ones with a couple of clicks.

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In your view, is there such a thing as ‘’the perfect sales tech stack’’? What according to you needs to always form the basis and core of a good sales tech stack?

A good sales tech stack handles negotiations of all sizes, streamlines complex processes and integrates with all the different systems the contracting lifecycle touches. The perfect sales tech stack un-silos each step, removes the roadblocks of manual processes and helps keep everyone on the same page when it comes to key objectives and performance indicators.

Contracts touch many different systems, both internally and externally, and it can be tough to manage the whole process unless there’s a way to keep everything centralized. At Ironclad, we use Salesforce data to assess the status of in-flight agreements. We couldn’t quite build a contracting platform inside the CRM, but our best-in-class integrations ensure that sales teams can access the data they need and can work in tandem with Legal on one platform that offers a single source of deal truth.

A few common mistakes you still see in sales alignment and sales processes in B2B today? Tips to overcome them?

The biggest issue is the continued reliance on manual processes to complete contracts. It’s simply not possible to complete deals of any size without the help of digital tools. As they say, “time kills deals.” The larger the deal is, the more chance there is for internal tension between teams or for something to be copied incorrectly from one document to the next; things like that can jeopardize the entire deal. And with manual reviews, it can be so difficult to know where the process stands, who needs to sign what and precious time can be ticking away.

The best way to overcome the bottlenecks of contracting is a multi-pronged approach involving both tech and people. First, incorporate digital contracting technology now. Get everyone on the same page, get a single source of truth, streamline the process. The faster your contracting process, the faster your business and the more successful you’ll be long-term. A good platform will integrate with your current tools, making everything more efficient and taking everything out of silos.

Along with the technology, the human touch still matters. Our contract data analysts, for example, bring the data to life. They take legacy contracts, created outside of the Ironclad platform, and tag important data according to the customer. Then, working hand in hand with the technology, they can pull out critical contract metadata through our Dynamic Repository. That data is crucial to making more intelligent contracting decisions. Without that information, contract analysis is tedious, especially for larger contract sets.

Some last thoughts for sales teams in tech?

 As sales leaders, we’ve seen more and more solutions designed to give us insights into how our reps are performing–for example: my measuring how meetings are occurring from integrations with our calendars or our Zoom meetings. The best of these solutions don’t need a direct integration to measure activity, they instead provide value to the actual activity and then provide insights into how that activity is occurring. The place that has been a black box until now is the negotiation of the contract itself, the redlining, the back and forth. Now Ironclad can provide that granular insight.  Trust the technology available out there. It’s your friend, not your foe. The human touch will always be needed in the sales cycle, but now Digital Contracting helps us close and do our jobs better, while providing previously hidden insights to the company operate at a higher level.

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Ironclad is a contract lifecycle management platform for innovative companies. L’Oréal, Staples, Mastercard, and other leading innovators use Ironclad to collaborate and negotiate on contracts, accelerate contracting while maintaining compliance, and turn contracts into critical carriers of operational business intelligence.

Damon Miño is the VP of Sales at Ironclad.

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