I did my first business deal in about 1993. I was a young banker at Silicon Valley Bank, recently promoted from Analyst, and my boss decided it was time for me to take the lead. The process started with me writing up an information request for the borrower’s team, followed by analysis in Excel, then a term sheet in Word. Everything was paper-based, and almost all meetings with the customer were in person. When the term sheet met their acceptance, I wrote up a detailed credit memo to pitch to our internal committee. Once approved, everything got shipped to the lawyers for definitive agreements. Several redlines later, we signed, and the deal was done.
Wait, one last step: take all that paper and organize it into a huge credit folder, fully cataloged in case the auditors wanted to review it.
In the thirty years since then, I’ve worked on probably a thousand or more deals - corporate financings, software sales, partnerships, consulting agreements, and lots of one-off agreements. While the amount of paper and printing has decreased, the workflow is remarkably the same: requesting discovery information, analyzing it, preparing a proposal or term sheet, getting the deal approved, and cranking through legal redlines. The cloud has replaced the physical file cabinets and the network share drives, but all the documents remain, along with the challenges in creating, maintaining, finding, and sharing their contents.
In addition to working on a lot of transactions, as a product exec and general manager in the enterprise software business, I also get to spend time with design teams. While the tools of the sales trade might not have changed much, wow, the tools of the design trade sure have. And in this case, the change in the tools has completely changed the workflow. If you don’t work in design or a related function, let me fill you in on Figma.
Figma is a cloud-based application that lets designers create designs, share them as prototypes, and collaborate through commenting. Before Figma caught fire in about 2018, designers would create their work in desktop applications like Photoshop or Sketch, and then send large files back and forth to collaborate. They had to deal with all the file versioning issues you see with deal agreements - just without the benefit of redlining. If you wanted to collect feedback on the design from stakeholders, you would use another tool, like InVision or Flinto, and then shuttle between the two environments.
With Figma, all that changed. Teams of designers could work on the exact same file in Cloud, with no file transfers or versioning issues. Prototyping, sharing, and commenting were built-in, so no need to integrate with another platform. Collaboration is now so easy, that Figma reports that 52% of its users collaborate, with the average design file having four collaborators over a 78-day lifespan. Pretty cool, and effective.
Providing a seamless online design, prototype, and comment would be a good idea in general, but - needless to say - it was golden during the pandemic. Hence, Figma is the new standard.
Explaining a new venture is always a little tricky, so try this for Revolear: we’re ‘Figma for Deals’. Just like Figma provides tools to build a design - tools for shapes, styling, and more, Revolear provides tools to build a deal, like libraries of terms and clauses, pricing calculations, and marketing content. Just like Figma powers prototypes to share with collaborators, Revolear powers digital proposals to share with prospects. Commenting and iteration is core to both platforms, and both platforms move beyond all those files and versions, in favor of a single version of the truth in the Cloud.
Reviewing and critiquing a great design always involves some subjectivity and taste. The same could be said for commercial transactions, but less so. Deals are typically more quantitative and structured, able to be benchmarked against comparables, and better suited for analytics, automation, and predictions. With the data consolidated and structured in Revolear, securing approvals from several departments could be handled with built-in workflows, or even automated via a chatbot. With the benefit of AI and Analytics, there’s a chance for Revolear to be even more.
With more stakeholders engaged in B2B decision-making, and all the players connecting digitally, the environment is set for a transformation. Just like Figma changed the workflow of design, we strive for Revolear to fundamentally change the workflow of dealmaking. And yes, we have taken note that Adobe is acquiring Figma for $20 Billion.
Most salespeople dislike entering CRM data and enter only what is required, doing the “real” work via emails, slide docs and spreadsheets.