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Sign, Seal, and Deliver with E-Signatures
New technology enables companies to close deals faster and satisfy compliance issues—all while cutting costs.
For the rest of the April 2013 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Selling in Style

Similar to other early e-signature adopters, Gilt City has learned how beneficial the technology can be in the sales process. Gilt City is a division of flash sale site Gilt Groupe, which offers exclusive local deals and offers at insider prices to more than 2.2 million members.

The division's "curators" act as field sales reps, and are responsible for finding, or curating, the most sought-after deals for concerts, luxury spas, and the most desirable restaurants in towns across the country. Each sale from 4,500 Gilt City partner-vendors lasts for a week or until it's sold out, so curators are constantly on the ground working up new deals and exclusives.

Each Gilt City curator is armed with an iPad, which "was always part of our pitch," remarks Rachel Ann Brothers, senior manager of local sales for Gilt City. "We [as a company] exist because we started to disrupt traditional luxury sales and local marketing, and there's a certain cache of knowing that we're selling the smart way" by using mobile technology on the ground.

Before Gilt City deployed DocuSign's Web-based and DocuSign Ink mobile e-signature solutions, sales reps were sending PDF contracts via email, and customers would print, sign, and fax the documents back to the company. The problem was Gilt City's customers were busy running their own businesses. Many of the chefs, restaurant owners, and salon owners Gilt partnered with did not sit behind a computer during the day.

"Being able to sign electronically on tablets was just a big game changer for us in not having to inconvenience our clients as well," Brothers says. Internally, it could take days, or even a week, to close a deal, but using DocuSign helped reduce that to a day to a day and a half at most. Because Gilt City uses DocuSign for Salesforce.com, e-signatures became an integrated part of its workflow, which, Brothers says, "tightened up internal processes as well."

Expediting Approvals

Social networking giant Facebook also uses Salesforce.com. Before implementing Adobe EchoSign to expedite its client ad-purchase process, Facebook had a six-step chain of approval that required insertion orders to pass through several departments, like purchasing, compliance, and revenue, before making it to the insurance division for final approval.

The time it took from when a client signed a contract to when it actually got the green light sometimes meant the deal or offer had changed while cycling through the process.

Working with Adobe EchoSign, Facebook was able to streamline its business processes, render insertion orders electronically, and then deliver them via email. As a result, 54 percent of insertion orders were signed electronically within one hour and 80 percent were signed within 10 hours.

During a presentation at Salesforce.com's annual Dreamforce conference, Todd Miner, head of sales IT for Facebook, noted that contracts are now returned electronically without stray edits from various departments, and that there has been a halt in tracking down approvers. The six-step approval process has been cut in half.

Saving Time and Money

Ohio-based Signature Mortgage was among Silanis Technology's original beta test customers using e-signature within a mortgage origination platform. Signature's business was considerably smaller before the mortgage meltdown of 2008, and a majority of client dealings occurred within a 60- to 70-mile radius of its midwestern headquarters. After the housing market crash, it needed a way to set itself apart from larger loan providers and banks. By integrating Silanis' e-SignLive technology with IBM LotusLive Engage, the company was able to expedite the loan approval process and grow its business.

"Prior to using this technology, everything was done on paper, or through a personal visit, or we would send documents via UPS or FedEx," comments Bob Catlin, president and CEO of Signature Mortgage. "Now, over ninety-nine percent of all our business is done using e-sign technology, and our volumes and revenues have doubled."

Signature Mortgage saw an 85 percent reduction in shipping costs and increased its loan volume by 34 percent. The time it took to process a loan application decreased from 7 to 10 days to 24 to 48 hours. Loans are now closed in full in 20 days rather than the industry average of 45 to 60 days. The faster Signature is able to process, underwrite, and close loans, the shorter "rate lock we take with our investors and the more revenue that's generated from the loans," Catlin adds.

But one of the more understated benefits of using Silanis e-signature technology is the "wow factor" Catlin says it brings loan customers. Loan officers are able to conduct conversations with prospective clients, determine what their needs are, propose loan terms over the phone, and the client can accept and sign electronically within 20 minutes of receiving loan documents.

 

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