You’ve been there before; you’ve sent a proposal and are anxiously waiting for your client to send it back, fully signed so you can close the deal. Weeks later, you’re STILL waiting, and it’s making you nervous. Did the client change their mind? Is the deal dead? More than likely it’s taking them forever because they have to physically print the signature page out, then sign it, then scan it, and then email it back to you. This kind of tedious process would bring out the procrastinator in all of us, and your client is no exception.
Most proposals are open, reviewed, and signed off on within seven days if they are sent with a digital signature. SEVEN DAYS. That alone should be enough to convince you that online signatures make the proposal process smoother for you and your client. Just in case you need more convincing though, or are still a bit lost on the differences between digital and esignatures, and are curious to know the benefits of them compared to your standard print-and-sign document, then read on.
The difference between digital signatures and electronic signatures
A digital signature is encrypted, which in layman's terms means your “signature” is turned into data that prevents unauthorized access. This secures the information of the document and also certifies that it’s been signed.
An esignature serves as an intent to sign a document and can be as simple as checking a box, typing or drawing your signature, or even verbal authorization. For esignatures, authorization is any form of sound, symbol, or process that shows the sendee that you have gone over the document and intend to sign. The mark you make IS the data that secures your document and certifies it’s been signed.
Proposify provides two ways to sign your proposal digitally to give you more customization. You can either draw your signature or type it out:
“Most proposals are open, reviewed, and signed off on within seven days if they are sent with a digital signature.”
Whether you choose to type or draw your signature, it certifies your intent to sign, and secures the document.
So now that we’ve covered the difference between a digital signature and an esignature, what else is there to know?
The benefits of signing digitally
It saves time
We can all agree the print-sign-scan process is not only annoying, it’s downright time consuming for your client, and it delays the close of the deal. They need to download the document, print it (probably get into a fight with the work printer), sign it, scan it (probably get in a fight with the scanner), save the new document, and then email it back. Or worse, they may decide to put it in the mail (gasp!). Every delay provides another opportunity for this deal to go cold.
The fastest process is for your client to be able to open your proposal, review it online, then sign-off right then and there. BOOM.
According to Ombud Open Research, digital signatures significantly increase the turnaround speed on proposals – an 80% time reduction, in fact! Which means increased productivity and the opportunity to close more business per year.
Closing a deal can come sometimes come down to timing, so why make your process longer than it needs to be?
You’ll have a better proverbial paper trail
If you’ve ever printed something important, you probably know the fear of losing sheets of your document or misplacing the whole thing. Why do you think filing cabinets were invented?
Storing paper documents takes up space, and it’s bad for the environment (FACT: it takes 13 litres of water to make a standard sheet of paper like you might find in a printer), not to mention there’s a higher risk of losing important documents.
In the U.S., it is mandatory to retain records of any electronic transaction, in case you need to reproduce any of those documents for reference. When you sign digitally, a copy of your transaction is stored on the hosting site. Having a digital paper trail allows you to store your documents in multiple places, like secure email, flash drives, and external hard-drives, making it easier to track or look up each document sent – soooo much better than flipping through a filing cabinet forever!
It might seem like requiring your client to physically sign a piece of paper to approve your proposal is safer than emailing them a document they can sign online. However, most office printers are located in open areas and are shared by all employees. With lots of people printing at the same time, sheets of confidential paperwork run the risk of getting picked up along with another print job, filed away in the wrong place, or lost altogether.
Esignatures and digital signatures can be protected with passcodes, eliminating the possibility of unauthorized people gaining access to confidential documents. With a password protected signature, your clients can only access proposals with credentials you provide, so both you and your client have to sign into a password-protected account to view or sign the document.
Requiring someone to sign into an account before they can send, view, or sign a document ensures that it will not end up in the hands of the wrong person.
Electronic signatures and digital signatures are legally binding
Another reason some people are reluctant to use electronic signatures is that they incorrectly assume that it’s not as legally binding as a paper signature. The truth is, both esignatures and digital signatures are legally binding.
At Proposify, we use Square API, which allows parties to sign their name with their mouse or finger if they’re using a touchscreen device. Then, we record the IP address of the signing parties, along with the date and time it was signed. Once it’s all said and done, we offer both signees electronic copies of the signed document and store them on our servers to retain a record of the electronic transaction.
To ensure the contract isn’t changed or modified after it’s been signed, we lock it down. If anything is changed or edited, all parties involved are notified, the signature is removed, and the document will need to be re-sent and re-signed by everyone.
We follow the steps outlined in the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act and European Directive (EC/1999/93), to confirm both digital signatures and esignatures in Proposify-generated proposals are legally binding.
While these acts give digitally produced signatures the same stature as hand-written signatures, they do not cover some documents that demand more legal requirements, like divorce papers, or last will and testaments, for example.
If you’re ever unsure whether a contract is legally binding, get your lawyer to check it over.
Digital signatures save money
If you went to an office supply store to buy a package of standard, 8.5 x 11 white printer paper, you probably wouldn’t end up with sticker shock when you got the register. But if you think about all of the other steps that go into sending those hundreds of sheets of paper related to all the proposals you send every year, things can start to add up.
Safe document storage cost
Companies that use online signatures save up to $20 per document when they integrate digital signatures across various departments and processes. The return on investment can be significant, and businesses can start to see it almost immediately.
Time to get closing
If you’re still signing documents with a pen, you’re living in the past. Online signatures are the most efficient way to sign proposals, and with the ultimate benefit of closing more deals per year faster, it’s easy to see why more businesses and successful salespeople are using them.
If you’re already using Proposify and need help adding digital signatures to your proposals, check out this helpful video.