DocuSign CLM Platform Targets SMEs With ‘Essentials’ Offering

DocuSign is going after the SME corporate market for its contract management solution with the launch of Essentials, which is designed to ‘democratize CLM by reducing the complexity of contracting technology’.

Sounds positive, but what is it? Basically it’s a version of the CLM package that DocuSign already offers larger companies, post the acquisition of Spring CM, but now in a ‘streamlined solution that allows [SMEs and growth companies] to realise value, and [that] also scales with them as their needs grow and evolve’. CLM Essentials is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Dutch, i.e. they are going for the big global push, all in one go.

Why do this? This is how they explain things: ‘Contract automation is critical for growing companies who need to reach aggressive business goals with limited resources. Relying on small legal and operational teams to manually generate, negotiate, execute and manage contracts slows down business, increases risk and frustrates customers and employees. At the same time, many companies do not have the resources and time to implement a technology solution that will take months to set up.’ Yep – that sounds absolutely spot on.

So, what does it offer? Features include: 

  • Document generation template builder: CLM Essentials customers can upload existing contracts and convert them into dynamic generation templates. Users can then revise those contracts in the online editor, rearrange fields that can be pulled from Salesforce upon generation and create conditional logic rules to swap out language when certain criteria are met.
  • Contract process builder: Instead of starting with a blank canvas, CLM Essentials offers pre-configured, templatised workflows that cover the most common contract processes. 
  • Salesforce integration: CLM Essentials allows customers to accelerate contract work and the quote-to-cash process via a deep integration with Salesforce.’

Antonis Papatsaras, Chief Technology Officer, CLM, DocuSign, commented: ‘Prior to the shift to hybrid work, smaller teams might not have felt like their contract processes were unmanageable, especially if they were working just a few desks away from each other. However, in the Anywhere Economy, enabling teams to get contract work done digitally has become critical.

‘DocuSign is lowering the time and cost barriers that made CLM feel out of reach for many smaller businesses. CLM Essentials empowers companies of all sizes to turn manual, analogue contract work into streamlined digital workflows.’

Is this a big deal? It’s certainly one that makes a lot of sense. DocuSign has thousands of customers already for eSignature – and many of those are not giant businesses with tens of millions of contracts.

Moreover, there are a lot – a lot! – of SMEs in the world. In fact, what are defined as ‘small businesses’ are 99.7% of all corporate entities in America, or over 33 million companies. So, when people talk about ‘selling CLM to the corporates’, the question is: which corporates?

CLM systems can sometimes seem to be heavily focused – and priced – for the largest enterprises, and that leaves a lot on the table. So, you can see why aiming at smaller clients is appealing if you already sell moderately-priced eSignature utilities to a wide market.

At the smaller end of the market there are also less CLM competitors. Although the trick here is to make a product that is agile enough to be used by businesses at this smaller scale that doesn’t demand a lot of set-up time. The proof will be in the pudding here.

But, as noted, DocuSign is already well-known to many small and medium size companies – and hence is a trusted brand. Selling into smaller companies when you already have brand recognition helps to reduce the cost of sales vs annual revenue per customer – which is always a barrier in this market. I.e. they’ve spent years and millions of dollars building a well-known brand among a very wide audience that few legal sector companies could even dream of having, so why not leverage that?

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