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Contracts AI in Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Noah Waisberg • May 30, 2022 • 3 minute read

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software?

Most companies manage their customers and revenue with the support of some form of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. CRMs aim to provide a unified view of customer data. They assist sales and marketing teams in managing leads, new opportunities, and tracking deal progress; operations teams in tracking interactions with and determining obligations to customers; and finance teams in knowing where the business is at.

How Contracts AI can help when embedded in Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

In most CRM practices and software platforms, customer contract data is pretty limited. Aside from the basic terms and contact information, there isn’t much contract data that makes its way into a CRM. This is somewhat surprising in that the point of most sales activity is to get customers to sign contracts. The details of these contracts can actually matter. Integrating Contracts AI into the CRM can add value for businesses. Here are a few quick examples:

  • Contracts can be a goldmine of useful information for customer success teams (and the finance teams they work with). Economy gone bad and need to figure out who has a right to terminate for convenience or multi-year locked-in contract so as to figure out where to focus? Inflation up and need to know which contracts have price increase or inflation-adjustment language? Contracts AI can help make it possible to find this information fast.
  • Marketing teams often need to know which customers have given permission to be used in publicity, for their website to be used on the vendor’s website, or have committed to case studies. They may also face pushback from their compliance teams on whether planned gifting programs are allowed under their customer contracts. Unless they tracked this information as each new contract was signed, it can be a heavy lift to find it when needed. Contracts AI can get marketing teams much easier access to this information.
  • Operations teams are responsible for delivering on customer commitments. To do that, they need to know what those commitments are. This includes knowing who has signed up to what service level; data sovereignty requirements; data transfer restrictions; what has to happen in case of a data breach; what insurance coverage levels and certificate delivery requirements are. This gets especially tricky when operational clauses in contracts get modified in the course of negotiations, so operations teams can’t be certain that every customer gets the same service.

In each of the situations described above, teams can get at important contract information via a review of their agreements. However, reviews can take time (often 1–5 minutes per page of a contract; contracts can range from a few pages to 20, 60, or hundreds of pages long) and the people tasked with doing this work often are not contract-review-pros and also have other commitments. Because of this, useful contract reviews often don’t happen. This means relevant teams sometimes just guess at what their obligations are, or they make decisions slowly (or not at all). Contracts AI can significantly accelerate contract reviews, giving access to otherwise-difficult-to-access information. In all these cases, it makes a lot of sense for CRM-dependent teams to have relevant contract data available in the systems they already use as their day-to-day source of information: their CRM. CRM vendors (and those building on top of CRMs) can gain by embedding Contracts AI in their systems, helping their users get access to even more useful information.