So, you want a sales and legal team designed to close deals quickly and efficiently. But how do you do it?

First, you need great sales people at all levels. Your salespeople drive precious profit. Your team should be the best it can be. Period.

Second, you need a legal team that strives to close deals. You want attorneys who get that sales is the lifeblood of a company. And are loath to saying “no.” Rather than saying “no,” a good attorney will offer a creative solution. And there is almost always a creative solution. The legal, sales leadership and executive team should identify the “must haves” from the “would be nice.” They aren’t what you think. I’ve seen clients walk away from two deals in the past five years. It wasn’t over limitations of liability or indemnities.

Third, communication is key. Sales, legal, and the prospective client must maintain excellent communication. Hint: bad attorneys do nothing but talk. The reason they’re called “crocodile attorneys” is because their mouths are always open but they’re never listening. A good attorney realizes that sales is essentially a discussion between the company and the customer. That’s where a relationship is first built; it should never be torn down by the lawyer.

Fourth, the sales leadership team should be part of the interview process when hiring lawyers. Why? Because they have to work closely together. A good fit is imperative.
Some key attributes of a good attorney:

  • They like negotiating and working with sales people
  • They enjoy learning about new products and how to position them legally
  • They understand a longer contract is not necessarily better
  • They draft in plain English (well, except for those indemnification clauses)
  • They display an entrepreneurial personality
  • They are curious and coachable

Some key attributes of a good sales/legal team:

  • They work as a team to reduce buyer friction
  • They involve the legal team in the sales person onboarding

Some attorney attributes to watch out for:

  • Arrogance. Passing the Bar doesn’t make you the smartest person in the room
  • Speaking legalese instead of clear, simple language
  • Not making the clients, including the sales team, the priority
  • Failing to communicate clearly and set expectations.

In closing, I’ll share a success story that illustrates the points above. I served as the lead attorney supporting the SVP of Worldwide Sales at Commerce One, Mark Biestman. When I was hired by the General Counsel as his first attorney hire, the deal closing process was a bit challenging (okay, it was a hot mess).

Six months later, I was talking to Mark at a conference. One of his colleagues asked him how he dealt with legal problems. Mark said: “I don’t have legal problems (pointing at me), Kimball solved them.”

That was generous; it was a team effort between my legal efforts, his Sales Ops team and our Controller. This team approach ensured that we didn’t get blindsided and were able to provide feedback on the status of deals and potential roadblocks.

I’m happy to chat with you about how I can help you close sales deals! Contact me at info@kimballesq.com or 415.717.4245 if you’d like to talk.

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