How to Build the Partnership Between Sales and Legal for Smoother Contracting


KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Legal teams and sales teams ultimately have the same goals: serve the business and grow revenue.
  • User-friendly processes and technology can help build a symbiotic relationship between Legal and Sales.
  • A variety of factors go into whether or not team members outside Legal will adopt and embrace new processes. 

How to Build the Partnership Between Sales and Legal for Smoother Contracting by Justin Schweisberger

In a perfect world, every team across every company would align and work in harmony to achieve their overarching business goals. The real world, however, is far from perfect. Many organizations suffer from a couple of common issues that can pit their legal team against the departments they serve. All too often, the sales team has a particularly tough view of the legal team because Sales wants to move as fast as possible to generate revenue while Legal needs to be cautious and meticulous to ensure compliance.

Regardless of which department you report to, it’s important to remember that you’re ultimately on the same team. No General Counsel wants to slow down deal velocity, and no sales exec wants their customer to sign an unsound contract. Legal and Sales ultimately have the same goals: serve the business and grow revenue. Realizing your common goals is the first step to building a better working relationship.

As the head of Sales at a legal tech company, I have a unique perspective of the challenges that commonly arise between Sales and Legal, and more importantly, how to solve them.

You may be in the legal department, and therefore think that “public relations” isn’t your concern. The truth is that many legal teams suffer from a bad reputation–and through no fault of their own! Being asked to do more with less, suffering from outdated technology (or no technology), and being bombarded with questions about contracts via email on a daily basis, are a few of the very real challenges a legal team may face. Inside your department, you know you’re doing the very best with what you have. But across other parts of the company, Legal can feel like a black hole where requests and deals go to languish.

Assessing your team’s internal reputation and taking concrete steps to improve it are the first things you can do to start gaining more trust and cooperation from other departments.

To do this:

  • Start by getting face time with people on the sales team, from top to bottom.
  • Ask questions to better understand what each role’s day-to-day looks like and where they interface with contracts and Legal.
  • Learn what goals are driving your sales team: How are they being measured, and how can Legal support those goals?
  • Identify the most painful points of the sales team’s process that Legal could impact for the better.

Up your service offerings with high and low-tech methods

Legal should see itself as a department that enables everyone else in the business to get their jobs done in a way that’s compliant with all company policies and laws, and also in a way that isn’t overly cumbersome to the teams they serve.

When it comes to doing this in the best way possible, make sure you’re using a multi-faceted approach. While technology can be a huge help, it can’t solve everything. If you’re looking to make your sales team love working with you, build on the human-to-human relationships.

In terms of low-tech methods, set regular check-ins with sales leadership and those working in the weeds. The less Legal is seen as living in an ivory tower, the more people will trust that Legal is there for them. This may mean a bit more work in the short term, but it will pay off in the long-run.

As for high-tech methods, there are a variety of tools that help organize and connect legal teams with sales teams to enable seamless workflows. Don’t make the mistake of trying to solve every problem with a new software, though! This is where it’ll be vital to have conversations with your Sales counterparts to learn where technology can help versus where some old fashioned talking will do the trick.

Understand what makes adoption of a new product or process successful

Let’s say you’ve worked through the first couple of steps and you have (with significant input from Sales) arrived at a decision to adopt new technology. Maybe it’s a contract management platform, just to use a concrete example.

As you dive into what you hope will be the answer to your contracting prayers, don’t forget that getting everyone on board for a successful implementation isn’t as easy as issuing everyone a login. The most successful tech adoptions happen when everyone who needs to engage with the new process is comfortable on three vital fronts:

Mentally: They know why the new technology is being adopted and how it’ll benefit them and the overall business.

Emotionally: They’re willing to try something new and aren’t emotionally invested in doing things the same as they always have.

Practically: The new solution is easy to use, intuitive, and accessible to everyone who may need it..

And bonus if the new technology integrates into systems they already use!

With all of this in mind, getting to the bottom of both the Sales and Legal’s frustrations across the contracting process can be a truly collaborative and successful exercise.

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