Legal & Sales Ops: A Vital Partnership for Contract Management

In-house legal teams need Sales’ buy-in to get the right CLM. Learn how you can work together to achieve your contract management goals in a way that benefits Sales and beyond.

If you’re working as in-house legal counsel, you know you’re part of a larger business machine. But did you know that partnering with your Sales colleagues is absolutely essential for your own success when the goal is getting company buy-in for the CLM you want and need? 

In a recent webinar hosted by In-House Connect, guests from Pramata and symplr discuss why Sales was so involved in the CLM buying process, and how Legal leveraged their partnership for a mutual win. 

The webinar features Justin Schweisberger, Pramata’s Chief Revenue Officer, in conversation with Foster Sayers, VP of Legal Operations, and Karen McElrath, Deal Support Manager, at symplr. 

Watch the replay here.

Read on to learn what challenges legal teams are struggling with to get CLM buy-in and how they’re partnering with Sales to overcome obstacles and get the right CLM in place.  

Legal’s newest CLM challenge

A few years ago, if you were shopping for a new CLM, your biggest challenge might have been nailing down your must-have features or finding the solution you felt most comfortable working in based on the user experience. 

Those challenges haven’t gone away, but on top of them is a new obstacle that we’ve seen legal teams face more and more in the last few months. The issue is one of a disappearing CLM line item. Legal teams that spent last year demoing and vetting different platforms woke up in 2024 to find that their CLM budget had been cut entirely because the broader business or key executives didn’t see the value a new solution would bring. 

And, it makes sense. If you’re a lawyer – an in-house General Counsel for example – you can clearly see the difference the right CLM will make in your day-to-day. You can free yourself and your team (if applicable) from the role of “corporate librarian” in which you spend most of your time searching for answers in legacy contracts. You might know that a high-performing CLM will reduce the long hours you have to work, or the amount of outside help you have to bring on. But, outside of your direct world, what is your proposed CLM really doing? 

If you can’t easily answer that question in a way that’s appealing to your CEO, CFO or COO , you’re more and more likely to find yourself in the same situation as many others: Without a CLM budget.

Justifying your CLM Spend

In an ideal world, everyone would get the tools they need to do their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible. In the real world, every budget dollar is scrutinized to make sure the spend is absolutely necessary. And, that the spend will deliver a solid ROI rather than simply being a cost. 

In this world, legal teams have to make a case for the CLM they want that speaks to the broader business, not just how it’ll improve the jobs of your legal team alone. Since the sales team’s primary focus is bringing in revenue, they’re often the best partners to bring on board when you need to get money allocated to your cause. That’s why we brought symplr’s Head of Legal Ops and  Deal Support Manager to the table to share how their partnership landed both teams in a better place, thanks to a CLM solution that benefits everyone.

Thinking like a CFO

The first step in getting a new solution in today’s tight-budgeted business world is to think like a CFO. If your CFO holds the company’s purse strings, you’ve got to approach your request with answers to the most common CFO questions already answered. 

Questions like: 

  • What’s the expected ROI on the solution you want?
  • Why should the company choose to invest in this solution above other priorities?
  • What’s the total cost of ownership when you consider everything from implementation onward?
  • Which other departments in the company can benefit from this solution, and how so? 

You’re also going to need to present a business objective.

CFOs don’t make decisions based on wants: They’re looking to invest in only those line items that can solve real business problems. 

From the legal team’s perspective, “deploying a new CLM” might sound like a business objective, but it’s not (even if the CLM’s going to make your legal team much more efficient). From a CFO’s point of view, legal efficiency isn’t persuasive enough. You’ll need to go in with one or more business objectives that tie back to revenue, cost-savings, or other things your CFO and teams around the organization care about. 

Examples of business objectives that CFOs may consider when you’re making the case for your CLM include: 

  • Better manage (i.e. reduce) vendor costs
  • Find and eliminate revenue leakage 
  • Shorten deal cycles and renewals
  • Accelerate M&A integrations 
  • Reduce risks associated with having no visibility into the terms of your company’s current and legacy commercial relationships

Ultimately, think “impact” above “efficiency.” Use business objectives that demonstrate the impact your proposed CLM will have across the entire business; not just the argument that it’ll help Legal be more efficient. 

The symplr story: A Legal Ops & Sales Ops Partnership

Pramata customer symplr is a software company specializing in healthcare and hospital system operations. It’s been in high-growth mode for quite some time, which has included acquiring other companies to expand its solution offerings. 

While rapid growth is great for overall success, it can lead to growing pains, as symplr discovered. For symplr, some of the biggest challenges revolved around the sales team’s need for contract oversight in both new business and renewals, combined with the legal team’s limited bandwidth.

Corporate Librarians vs. Corporate Naggers

As the sales team worked furiously to bring in both new business and secure renewals from existing customers, they often found themselves needing contract guidance and reviews from the legal team. They sent a steady stream of questions to Legal, which inevitably led to delays and further questions to “check-in” on the status of the previous questions. Karen McElrath, symplr’s Deal Support Manager, described this situation as the sales team playing the role of “corporate naggers.” Asking AND following up on questions became the sales team’s full-time job! 

At the same time, things weren’t much better on Legal’s side. While they tried to prioritize the contract needs, Legal was bombarded with questions requiring contract research and review. As the requests grew (along with the backlog), they found themselves stuck deeper in the role of “corporate librarians” where their time was primarily spent searching for answers to the contract questions Sales needed, as well as weeding through the numerous follow-ups and escalations from questions they hadn’t yet answered. 

The situation was frustrating for both teams. Protracted sales cycles, delayed renewals and time-consuming interactions between teams were putting speed bumps in the path of symplr’s growth.

The solution: Empower sales ops to own renewals

With Sales and Legal both being underwater, symplr needed a team that could own the renewal process for customers without a lot of heavy lifting on the part of either Sales or Legal. It turned out that Karen’s Sales Ops team, along with Foster Sayers, VP of Legal Operations, were able to leverage Pramata in a way they weren’t using before to solve this issue. The key was creating a new template and request form specifically for affirmative renewals, that simplified the process for the majority of renewals while freeing up Sales and Legal to focus on the more complex cases. 

Once Karen began digging into the solution and socializing the new process around symplr, she found a surprising number of renewal contracts that were handled by other departments, including Finance. Because symplr has grown through a lot of M&A, people across departments that had previously been separate companies were still doing things the way they were familiar with, despite often being more manual. When they learned that Karen’s team was creating a better way, they were excited to revamp their renewal process to this new, simple and streamlined process. 

The results speak for themselves: Karen described a “best case scenario” of two months to get a renewal contract signed, to a reality of four days, even while the process is still in its early stages of adoption.

Key takeaways from symplr’s success with the Sales/Legal partnership

For the full story, you’ll have to watch the webinar replay. But here are the top three things that brought about symplr’s successful outcome. 

  • Start with the CFO’s challenge and priorities: While there are a nearly endless number of use cases for using a CLM to drive business efficiency, successful companies prioritize the CFO’s pain points and show how their CLM can solve them. 
  • Start with very clear objectives: Whether that’s getting the renewal contract process down from two months to four days, or identifying millions of dollars in revenue leakage, the more specific your goals and objectives are, the more likely the whole business can get behind them. 
  • Don’t let your edge cases stand in the way of solving your biggest pain points: Sometimes we let perfection be the enemy of progress. When making the case for a solution that can solve a large portion of your company’s biggest challenges, don’t be tempted to over-engineer for every possible edge case, which puts your entire project at risk. 

If you’ve found this recap valuable, make sure to watch, or re-watch, the entire webinar here

To learn more about how Pramata can not just make contract management radically simple for your legal team but a driver of business impact across all departments, contact us today. We’ll even help you get other teams onboarded and tie contract management to valuable business objectives. 

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