Event recap: Best practices for optimizing your sales contracting process

May 14, 2024
Streamline AI

Table of Contents

For in-house legal counsel, supporting the sales team and helping contracts get closed quickly and efficiently is a top priority. Kathy Zhu, CEO of Streamline AI, and Megan Niedermeyer, Chief Legal Officer at, shared tested, practical recommendations on optimizing the sales contracting process for efficiency based on their experiences in scaling the commercial contracting function.

Key takeaways from the conversation:

1. Map out your entire contracting process from start to finish. This allows you to identify bottlenecks, areas for automation, and opportunities to accelerate the process. Don’t just focus on legal’s role — understand the entire flow across all teams involved. Include all sub-steps and identify which teams are involved in each part. As Kathy pointed out, “The more clearly we can define our role when we come in, what we’re responsible for — and more importantly, what we’re not responsible for — the better it is for our workload, management, sanity, and efficiency.”

2. Gather and analyze process data. Collecting and analyzing data is crucial for understanding where bottlenecks occur. Look at request volume trends, which teams send the most work, how long each stage takes, and the percentage of contracts on company paper vs. counterparty paper. Use this data to plan resources, identify hidden inefficiencies, and advocate for process changes.

3. Partner with cross-functional stakeholders. Legal teams are just one part of the contracting process. Engaging with cross-functional stakeholders, especially the sales team, can foster a sense of collective ownership and improve collaboration. Build trust by being responsive and transparent about SLAs and timelines. Regular touchpoints and involving them in the process changes can significantly reduce friction.

3. Empower the sales team. Proactively educate the sales team on key contract terms to negotiate for early on. This allows Sales to address business concerns upfront, so by the time the contract reaches Legal, legal counsel can focus squarely on the legal issues at hand without getting sidetracked by commercial discussions.

4. Create a self-service intake process. Standardizing how requests come into the legal team can save significant time and reduce back-and-forth communications. A self-service intake portal can help streamline the initial stages of the contracting process. Set up an intake and triage software that integrates with your existing tools (like email, Slack, and Salesforce), such as Streamline AI, to capture all necessary information upfront.

5. Optimize contract templates and playbooks. Great negotiation playbooks not only provide approved fallback positions, but explain the “why” behind your policies. Well-written playbooks with embedded guidance can eliminate the need for calls. Including explanatory comments on contract drafts for the other side can also minimize the need for lengthy negotiation calls.

6. Invest in legal technology, such as automation  software. Technology can be a game-changer in accelerating the contracting process. Tools that automate contract review, track metrics, and manage workflows can free up legal teams to focus on higher-value tasks. AI tools like Streamline’s SmartParse can automatically identify non-standard terms and kick off approval routing based on your primary and fallback “strike zone” position playbooks.

7. Make sure all stakeholders understand their role in the approval process. Provide them with the information they need to approve quickly. Consider an legal priority and escalation framework to handle urgent requests.

8. Tracking KPIs can help showcase Legal’s impact and make the case for more resources. Track legal metrics at stage stage such as time to first response, time waiting on other teams, number of turns per contract, etc. Showcase this data (and improvements over time) to demonstrate Legal’s impact and make the case for more resources, if needed.  

By following these tried and true strategies, your in-house commercial legal team can enhance efficiency and support faster deal closures — a win for the legal team and the business. Download our ebook on the sales contracting process to access more tips. To learn more about how Streamline AI’s software can help you fast-track your sales contracting process, request a demo today.

Watch the session:

Read more

Work smarter

Scale your legal team's efficiency and effectiveness with modern workflow automation tools designed for in-house legal.

Request a demo