How to scale your contract negotiations

April 12, 2022 · Victor Wang

B2B contract negotiations don’t scale as a company grows.  In early startup days, you have so little leverage that you give an arm, a leg, and your first born to get the contract signed.  Or, you have a fancy lawyer that you dump everything to, and you choke on your coffee when you see their bill.

But alas, there comes a point where this is unsustainable.  Congratulations, you’re growing.  Warning, you’re about to drown in redlines.  

Lawyer lead times start ballooning, the sales team is missing deadlines, forecasting becomes challenging, and your CRO (or CFO, or CEO, or…) is spending her days in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.  On top of that, everyone feels like they’re reinventing the wheel on every contract, for every decision.

What’s the standard solution?  Hire a lawyer in house.  $180k+, seems reasonable, they can fix all your problems right?  Wrong.  1 person can’t handle the volume while everyone expects them to be the perfect solution. Tension, frustration, pain.  

What’s the next solution?  Hire another lawyer in house.  Next week the 2 lawyers tell you they need a legal operations hire.  You’re $500k in and treading water.

Why can’t you throw lawyers to unclog the bottleneck?  Because we’ve fundamentally misunderstood the nature of B2B contracts.

Enterprise contracts are 90% business issues and 10% legal issues.  It’s our dirty secret as lawyers.  Every time we get a redline, we do a quick scan, flag the things that we can’t answer, and we throw it back at the client because “these are business issues, I’m just a stupid lawyer I dont know how to answer this.”  

A lawyer doesn’t know what your payment terms should be, what publicity and marketing rights give you the best reach, what your support hours look like, or even what liability your business can sustain if you have a data breach.  

Do we want our lawyers to be our project managers to get the answers from you?  Is that worth $5-800/hr?

At Inkly we’re proposing a new paradigm.  We think startups can implement a scalable process for contract negotiations from day one.  We believe that this process will speed up sales cycles today, future proof your sales org when you scale, and optimize your lawyer so they’re doing what they do best:  answering red flag risks and making sure your contract language is drafted with precision.  

Supercharged with machine learning, we believe that decisions made within a contract can also be remembered and resurfaced at the right time.  Gone are the days of digging into your CRM for a decision you made 19 months ago, buried in Section 9(d) of a 30 page contract.  Today, you can click and close your contracts.

We believe that the future of contracts places the non-lawyer in the driver seat.   A redline comes in, and the council of decision makers in your business are pinged to give their feedback.  Those decisions are recorded and begin to form a playbook.  Your lawyers are merely a member of this council and can jump in when they need to.  The result should be obvious:  better decisions, relevant legal advice, and faster sales cycles.  

Are you ready for this future?  Today we are accepting applications to your exclusive beta program so you can see it for yourself.