Challenges in Business Development – The guys in Legal

It’s Friday afternoon, and you pick up a voicemail from your client about the sale you thought you had closed earlier in the week. “I’m sure there is nothing to worry about, but our legal guys have a couple of questions, let me get back to you in a week or so.”

Bang goes the quota for this quarter.

And that’s just the start, the longer an opportunity is in process, the more chance there is of it dropping out, your contacts leaving, new people starting, budgets getting reviewed, strategies and business models changing and competitors submitting an improved offer.

Following on from an EU funded project, I’ve been working with David Miller, Head of Commercial at solicitors Flint Bishop, on the best way to integrate legal requirements into the sales process. The objective being to change what is normally perceived as a constraint into a competitive advantage. The main purpose of the sales process is to facilitate the buying process, but a sales process also needs to be ethical, legal and profitable.

If we consider that the sales process (in its widest sense) consists of 3 main components: Structure (based on your route to market), Phases – typically FIND, WIN, DELIVER and KEEP, and Stages (the tactical actions, activities and handovers between the phases), Then integrating legal know how into a good sales process will help you Increase sales, reduce costs and manage your risk – So just a few pointers

Components of a sales process

• When did you last review your selling documentation?
• Was the review conducted from a purely legal point of view or did this include an overview of your sales process and your customers buying process?
• Has your business model or products /services changed?
• Are you selling to different types of customers, or into different jurisdictions?

• What data can you legally collect and store about customers and your competition?
• What information can you legally use?
• If you use sales agents – are you at risk with EU directives?
• Do your “Opt Out” clauses mean that your email campaigns are at risk?
• When you mapped out your sales phases did you involve legal in the team?

• When do you introduce Non-Disclosure Agreements into the conversation?
• When should legal get involved?
• What can you put on the CRM?
• When did anybody from “Legal” attend a sales meeting?
• Do you ask for copies of the customers purchasing terms early on in the process?

Quite often there are multiple cut and paste variations of legal documents held in numerous places, with copies in the Legal department, on the sales teams laptops, on share points and even on USBs. Many are out of date, leading to problems discovered later in the process. So consider just two copies – one held by the legal team and another on your CRM. (A good CRM such as Pipeliner has the ability to store the documents at the point when they are needed in the sales process). Then give your internal legal team an admin seat on the CRM so they can keep the documents up to date. Your internal legal team may well be busy firefighting, as typically everything they get will be urgent (be honest, when was the last time that you asked for a job to be put at the bottom of their in tray?).

If you don’t have an internal legal team, or they are tasked with other projects, then consider building in a legal review with your annual sales process audit. Building legal knowledge into the design of your sales process will help you improve your sales, manage your risk and reduce your costs.

If you would like to learn more about how Lean 4 Sales can improve your sales process, contact me on 0773 262 8113 or email

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