Tired Of Scanning, Faxing Contracts? Try Electronic Signatures

Jason Lemkin, CEO of EchoSign helps us understand why e-signatures could be an important part of your business.

Why push for an e-signature instead of settling for an e-mail agreement?

An e-signature is a legally binding, enforceable action. In October 2000, the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) delivered the convenience of electronic signatures with the consumer protections of appropriate notifications, disclosures and assurances of technological neutrality and universal access. The legislation also provided for authentication processes, privacy protection, legal certainty, fraud shields, easy document access and record retention. Today, contracts signed with e-signatures are enforceable agreements that also deliver greater business efficiencies, better customer service and quicker sales cycles than paper signatures. By signing and managing your contract online, you are creating a cloud-based contract, and you are making the act of conducting business easier for your customers, partners and vendors.

Is an e-signature software/service something that every business should have or just certain ones? If certain ones, which ones?

There is no limit to the number of industries that can benefit from the efficiencies inherent in e-signatures. Industries such as healthcare, insurance, real estate, professional services, staffing and recruiting, telecommunications, and many more have benefited from electronic signatures. In addition to the variety of industries that benefit from e-signatures, companies of all different sizes have seen significant success and growth by using e-signatures.
For example, Vacation Rental Pros, a small business specializing in rental property experienced savings that have added up to over $13,000 annually — savings have come from postage, printing and toner cartridges, storage space, and process automation. In addition to the savings, VacationRentalPros.com has seen signed contracts returned in as fast as 2-3 hours, and a 50 percent reduction in contract cancellations.

What are costs one could expect to pay for an e-signature service?

EchoSign has account options ranging from free for the occasional user to $39.95 per user per month for unlimited sending and signing. Signers are never required to register or pay.

What are the benefits of an e-signature?

E-signatures deliver a proven return on investment. When a business reduces its sales cycle by 200 to 400 percent, the effects echo throughout an organization. That kind of cycle reduction frees up sales staff to follow new leads, shrinks the personnel hours required for administrative tasks and creates positive experiences for prospects.
That was the case for Jess Perna Studios, which found that the process of obtaining physical signatures on its 20 to 25 contracts per month was daunting. Consumers rarely had fax machines in their homes, delaying the process of commissioning works and sometimes causing customers to walk away altogether. The art studio now uses e-signatures to shrink what was a one-week process into a one-hour one. E-signatures also simplify the studio’s international business, since it is no longer beholden to the time zone pressures it faced when faxing back and forth.
Comcast Spotlight, the advertising division of Comcast Cable uses e-signatures to get contracts signed fast. In 2008, they sent over 4000 contracts through EchoSign with 85 percent of the agreements signed in just over one hour. In 2009, over 40,000 agreements were sent through EchoSign – 89 percent were signed in just over 2 hours. In the first half of 2010, Comcast Spotlight was on track to double the usage in 2009 – sending out over 40,000 documents in just 6 months with 92 percent signed in under an hour.
At this point in most markets, an e-signature solution can be the competitive advantage that makes or breaks deals. For example, UK sign maker Morgan Signs found that the 300-400 paper contracts it was chasing each month were a threat to its business. At best, the contract signature process was fraught with errors and duplication of work, and at worst, customers complained that it was difficult to do business with the company. Since implementing e-signatures, Morgan Signs can complete contractual agreements instantaneously and turn jobs around in as little as a day.

How hard is it for recipients to use e-signatures?

When you send a document for e-signature through EchoSign, the signer receives an e-mail from you moments later. Your recipients do not need an EchoSign account in order to sign the documents. They simply click on a highlighted link in the e-mail that takes them to the secure EchoSign site where they can e-sign the document. All your signers need is access to their e-mail from their PCs or Macs. Your signers can even sign on an iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android or other mobile device.