E-Signatures Get SaaSy
When it comes to electronic signatures, the biggest innovation isn't in the technology — which has been around for years — but in finding a way to use them.
Credit, then, BT's small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) division not only for figuring out how to use a Web-based electronic signature solution to speed up how it closes deals with customers, but for starting to market the same solution as a software as a service (SaaS).
The solution, from vendor EchoSign, takes much of the complexity out of e-signatures — which typically require users to install software behind a firewall, deal with certificate issuers and more — and turns them into an on-demand, Web-based offering. It integrates with e-mail and even Salesforce.com for back-and-forth workflow, making it easy for buyer and seller to manage the electronic signing process, said Jason Lemkin, CEO of EchoSign.
“Telecom companies sell a lot of subscriptions; you've got to have a contract or people try to walk away from subscriptions,” Lemkin said, adding that making it easier to close a deal also ensures that fewer sales fall through.
BT's SMB division uses the EchoSign solution internally for signing service contracts of 500 pounds and above, which represents tens of thousands of contracts per month, said Chris Lindsay, general manager of business applications for BT. “We've definitely noticed a speeding up of getting business closed,” he said. “Our book-to-bill time has come down significantly, from about 48 hours previously to within 42 minutes.”
BT also sells EchoSign to its SMB customers as a service, under the name BT E-Signature. One of its biggest marketing channels is using the service to close a deal with a customer, who then becomes intrigued with the solution. “It's not typically something where customers wake up in the morning and say, ‘I need an electronic signature tool,’” Lindsay said. “But they experience our program and become intrigued and interested in how they can adopt the technology and use it themselves.”
BT resells EchoSign alongside a variety of SMB services, Lindsay said. They have had the most success selling the service to lawyers, who appreciate and understand the automation of the contract-signing process.
EchoSign released the 4.0 version of its service in November, including new features driven by its work with BT. For instance, BT's SMB group wanted to not only see how well its sales teams were closing deals versus one another, but how BT was doing versus other companies using EchoSign, so EchoSign 4.0 now includes the ability to benchmark performance against peers. It also features real-time reports, making it a sales management tool. “You can get full reports of what deals are going through the sales team, what was sent out, what was signed, what was viewed but not signed,” Lemkin said.
“We're all about making signatures — and ultimately sales — as frictionless as possible,” he said.
E-SIGNATURE FROM BT
- Upload an electronic copy of the document to be signed; the service e-mails it to the recipient.
- The recipient can either electronically sign the document or write from within that e-mail.
- All parties receive a signed copy of the document.
- The signed document is stored for future reference.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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