How eSignatures can align marketing & sales
Marketing and sales departments exist to make it easier for customers to bring their business to an organization. From studying the impact of specific marketing messages to crafting personalized sales packages, sales and marketing professionals work hard to move customers closer to the brand and to earn their loyalty.
So why do so many teams drop this customer-centric philosophy at the most critical moment of the relationship – the contract process? Traditional, paper-based contracting is cumbersome, time consuming, expensive and counter-intuitive to strengthening the link between the brand and the customer.
By adopting eSignatures, sales and marketing teams save themselves a lot of time and resources, while closing more deals with customers.
An eSignature removes the contract process from the fax machine, the printer, the postal service, the courier, and the paper-strewn desk where incomplete contracts can easily disappear for days or weeks. In place of that messy process, eSignatures offer a digital option that automates many of the back-and-forth conversations that might take place as a sales rep reminds a prospect to fill out this field or update that information.
The digital contract establishes a forum for collaborative negotiation when it’s appropriate, and it makes it easy to track, store and access contracts. For sales teams, the eSignature facilitates a sales cycle 200 to 400 percent faster than traditional processes, freeing staff up to pursue new prospects. These are just a few of the benefits eSignatures deliver to the brand.
For the customer, eSignatures offer convenience, which can be the differing factor between choosing to do business with one brand over another. Prospects can access contracts on the Web from a laptop, desktop or mobile device, and complete deals wherever and whenever they choose.
Most eSignature solutions don’t ask the end user to download any software or complete any registration, further speeding the process of getting a deal done from the customer’s perspective. Web-based contracts are completed, on average, up to 10 times faster than paper ones. Finally, digital contracts have become so ubiquitous, that most consumers are comfortable completing them and trusting them as binding.
For those few customers who might balk at the move from paper to the Web, brands can point to a long history of legal, secure digital contracting. In the fall of 2000, US Congress passed the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), ensuring that e-contracts are not only convenient, they are also legally enforceable.
ESIGN protects consumers by requiring notifications, disclosures and assurances of technological neutrality and universal access. The law also mandates authentication, privacy protection, legal certainty, fraud shields, easy document access and record retention.
For almost a dozen years, ESIGN has ensured that customers who sign contracts electronically are as protected as they would be had they opted for pen-on-paper agreements. Some would argue the protections are even greater with digital contracts, since eSignature solutions can offer additional authentications from email, IP addresses, passwords, social network credentials and other safeguards that surpass anything possible with physical copies or fax transmissions.
Rapid return on eSigning investments
As marketing and sales teams evaluate the option of eSignatures, the return on investment (ROI) has to be a consideration. Often, brands see a complete ROI in eSignatures in one month or less. Beyond traditional ROI, users can often point to extended savings experienced by partners and customers, who no longer need to incur the paper, packaging or postal expenses that often accompany physical contracts.
The savings on paper alone are compelling. For some industries, this portion of ROI can be repackaged as a marketing message; the brand can tout its green business practices and point to the eSignature process as a proof point.
The time marketing and sales teams might otherwise spend shepherding paper contracts through a laborious process can be reallocated to activities that build business. Here, too, eSignatures have something to offer – scalability. As the brand grows, contract completion tasks expand, as well. The burden of negotiating contract details, chasing physical signatures, alerting parties to deadlines and tracking documents all become more difficult to manage as the size of the customer base increases. By automating and streamlining these activities, marketing and sales teams contribute to the overall success of the business.
Sales and marketing teams are masters at the art of making it easy for customers to do business with them. That quality must extend to the contract process, as well, where it is all too easy for a deal to get delayed or to fall apart. When sales and marketing reps adopt eSignatures, they gain time, reduce waste, and make it easier for prospects to become customers who come back again and again.
Loretta Jones is the head of marketing for Adobe EchoSign at Adobe Systems Incorporated. She has more than 15 years of management experience in direct and product marketing and her career spans roles at Lotus, Crossworlds Software, and Coveo, where she has successfully grown marketing programs for both SMBs and enterprise customers. She has managed EchoSign’s marketing functions since inception.
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