Deal Desk 101: How to build a cross-functional deal desk team

The Dock Team
April 26, 2023
February 13, 2024

When you decide it’s time to move upmarket, the same tactics that landed you your first hundred SMB clients won’t work when it comes time to closing enterprise deals. 

Selling to enterprise-level clients means convincing more decision-makers and stakeholders. It means handling more complex requirements. 

Closing deals of this magnitude requires a more aligned, holistic sales approach—one that your account executives shouldn’t have to tackle alone. 

Establishing a deal desk can help your team develop a collaborative approach to closing high-value sales deals. 

Here’s everything you need to know about creating, managing, and optimizing your deal desk. 

What is a deal desk?

A deal desk is a cross-functional team (typically including sales, legal, accounting, and operations) focused on securing and managing complex, high-value sales contracts (e.g., enterprise sales).

Deal desk team members work together to better understand complex clients and ensure contracts align with the business’s overall goals and standards. 

A deal desk brings important voices into the sales process early to avoid contract complications, unprofitable deals, or policy infringements. Deal desks also ensure agreements or offerings match the customers’ needs—improving customer relationships and satisfaction from day one.

By working together to create, accept, or reject deals, deal desks help increase the quality of customers and bring in new business aligned with long-term organizational goals. 

What are the responsibilities of a deal desk?

The deal desk’s primary responsibility is to close more high-value deals. It centralizes decision-making, makes business growth a team effort, and takes the pressure off sales executives to be experts in all things contracts. 

Here’s how they might accomplish that: 

  • Identify high-value leads and develop a conversion strategy
  • Understand customer needs and advise on resources to share or create
  • Match offerings with customer challenges or requirements
  • Provide guidance on negotiation strategies and pricing, including when discounts are applicable 
  • Recognize customer red flags or potential problem areas 
  • Create sales contracts with the company’s long-term needs in mind 
  • Reduce back-and-forth communication to cut down the time to close deals

Where does a deal desk sit in an organization?

The best place for your deal desk is a centralized Revenue Operations team—but a deal desk can still be successful if you don’t have one. 

Revenue team leaders (e.g. Sales, Success, Operations) can work together to build a holistic revenue-driven strategy for closing high-value deals. 

Here are the team members you might want to include in your deal desk: 

  • Deal desk analyst or manager: Oversees the day-to-day operations of your deal desk. They keep track of leads, deal statuses, tasks, and deadlines so the other deal desk members can focus on their other job responsibilities.
  • Account executive (i.e. Sales): Acts as the customer-facing spokesperson for your deal desk. They gather lead insights, negotiate with prospects, and ensure customer needs are met throughout the sale process.
  • Sales engineer: For more complex, technical deals, you may need a sales engineer to build custom demos, sandbox environments, and complex quotes.
  • Product marketing: Develops campaigns and sales enablement content to engage high-value leads throughout the buyer's journey.
  • Customer Success Manager: Answers questions, provides direction, and solves customer issues or challenges. They have direct knowledge of where existing customers are struggling or need additional support and they can provide the deal desk with insights on areas of opportunity.
  • Product Manager: Ensures customers are given solutions that align with their needs. They support sales and marketing teams to ensure the promises they’re making are within product capabilities, and they work to continuously improve product offerings to match customer expectations. 
  • Legal: Oversees negotiations, contracts, and compliance. They ensure complex deals are handled the right way and can cut down on the back-and-forth that often comes with getting contracts finalized.
  • IT: Answers security questionnaires and shares security documentation to help pass vendor risk assessments.
  • Finance: Consults on pricing and makes recommendations on discounts or special offerings. They ensure deals are financially beneficial to the company and align with growth goals. 

When and why to implement a deal desk 

A holistic approach to sales is beneficial for any growing business, but deal desks are recommended for brands managing complex or high-value sales. They’re also useful in high-regulation industries. 

A lead might be deal desk worthy if it: 

  • Has a high budget or financial value
  • Includes a large team size 
  • Is a recognizable name brand 

In other words, your deal desk should be reserved for the sales opportunities that have the potential to bring your business to the next level. Or, if you’re trying to move upmarket, a deal desk can help you develop a holistic sales strategy to get you there. 

With a solid deal desk, your team can: 

  • Close deals faster and more efficiently by improving workflows 
  • Manage risk by centralizing contract approval or rejection
  • Discover better customer insights 
  • Build stronger, more aligned relationships 
  • Attract and retain more high-value customers 

6 tips for developing your deal desk 

Ready to get started? Here are our top tips for setting your deal desk up for success. 

1. Set clear expectations and objectives 

Too many leaders without a centralized goal can be a recipe for disaster (or at least conflicting agendas). Set a goal to center your team around so it’s clear where each team or department fits.

Fill them in on what you hope to accomplish, how you hope to get there, and what each individual can do to contribute. 

For example, if the goal of your deal desk is to grow revenue by securing higher-paying contracts, you could outline: 

  • The percentage of revenue growth you’d like to see
  • A deadline for reaching that goal 
  • The customer budget your team will need to target 
  • How many customers your team will need to convert 
  • Specific responsibilities and tasks of each team member or department 

2. Build a sales coaching program 

A deal desk role comes with new responsibilities and expectations. Even if a team member has been a part of a deal desk in the past, proper training, onboarding, and team building are important for ensuring success. 

Here are some tips for effectively onboarding your deal desk team: 

  • Connect frequently. For your deal desk to be effective, your team needs to communicate regularly—especially in the early days when they’re still getting familiar with their role on the team. Hold weekly or even daily meetings to check in and talk about strategy or issues. 
  • Invest in e-learning. Give your team the flexibility to learn and train on their own time. Providing on-demand training modules lets your busy team members fit lessons in between other meetings or when it makes the most sense in their schedules. 
  • Prioritize teamwork. Avoid creating silos by encouraging your team to work together. Provide opportunities for collaboration, questions, and support. 
  • Create a deal desk home base. Give your team a designated place to share resources, assign tasks, and check in with one another, similar to a high-touch onboarding page you might design for customers.

3. Templatize your documents 

Templatizing sales assets, such as emails, proposals, and order forms can improve productivity and create consistency between deals. Store them in an easy-to-access, searchable database so your team can quickly grab the resources they need to keep deals moving along. 

Using a tool like Dock lets you standardize several layers of your sales process:

4. Map your customer journey 

The key to closing large deals is staying one step ahead of customers as they move throughout their buying journey.

Mapping your customer journey end-to-end can help you build a strategy that aligns with each decision-maker’s needs. As you map out your customer journey, you’ll also be mapping out how the deal moves through the deal desk. 

Get clear about the actions or considerations that happen at each phase and what deal desk member is responsible for completing each step.

Here’s an example. At the consideration phase of your customer journey, your customer is assessing the value of your product and looking for proof a purchase would be worth the investment. Multiple members of your deal desk will need to complete multiple tasks simultaneously: 

  • Sales needs to gather insights to better understand their hesitancies, concerns, or interests. 
  • Product needs to match offerings, features, and add-ons to effectively address customer needs. 
  • Accounting will need to address customer budget constraints by finding appropriate discounts, payment plans, or pricing options. 

When all team members know where their unique expertise fits in the customer journey, it will be easier to work together and get results. 

5. Manage your content 

Proper organization is key for developing a deal desk that can work together efficiently. Strong sales content management goes a long way toward keeping everything in its place. 

A sales content management system like Dock gives your team access to relevant sales materials (like ebooks, case studies, and infographics) and provides built-in tools for organizing content into boards and collections, controlling permissions, and tracking analytics.  

Your deal desk team can upload assets for Sales to share in one click

Content management analytics will give you insights into what’s popular, what’s resonating with customers, what’s being used most by sales teams, and what might be in need of a revamp. A proper management strategy keeps all sales content up-to-date, accessible, and valuable. 

Dock lets you track performance of individual assets, such as PDFs

6. Create mutual action plans 

Mutual action plans set expectations for both teams and leads or customers. It’s the central location for sharing relevant information, asking questions, and assigning tasks throughout the deal process. 

Use your mutual action plan to: 

  • Align on goals, next steps, and scope 
  • Keep all parties informed on what’s done, what needs to be done, and who is responsible for doing it 
  • Establish due dates and timelines (and set reminders) 
  • Save time for your team and customers 
  • Share content and provide context to eliminate confusion and unnecessary back-and-forth 
Dock’s mutual action plan software lets you make templatized action plans that can be dropped into any customer workspace.

💡 Tip: Create a digital sales room to host your mutual action plan and sales materials in one place for your client.

Deal desk software: How to choose the right tool

Spreadsheets and piecemeal apps are one way to run your deal desk—but this approach is far from efficient. Trying to keep everything synced leaves your team burnt out, confused, and cutting corners. When important contracts are on the line, it’s not worth the risk. 

Deal desk software can streamline process management and keep your information secure and accessible throughout. 

Here are three deal desk software categories, how they work, and who they are best suited for. 

1. Contract lifecycle software (for contract-heavy sales)

Contract lifecycle software is made to streamline negotiations and contract development. Setting standardized, pre-approved language allows your deal desk to quickly create compliant contracts without back-and-forth with the legal team. 

You can also use contract lifecycle software to create sales forecasts and predict deal timelines based on historical data. 

An all-in-one tool like Ironclad covers everything from drafting and editing contracts to e-signatures and storage.

Source: Ironclad

Contract lifecycle tools are long-standing go-tos for legal and finance teams, but they don’t always have all the features or tools needed to cover a deal desk end-to-end. 

They prioritize the last phases of a deal, so you’ll likely need to fill in the gaps with CRMs, content management, and collaboration tools. 

Pros of contract lifecycle software 

  • Build standardized contracts for easy self-service contract creation 
  • Quickly get signatures electronically to close deals faster 
  • Digitally collaborate to manage negotiations and contract edits 
  • Automate contract approvals and forwarding 

Cons of contract lifecycle software 

  • Only prioritizes contract management processes 
  • Doesn’t account for the complexities of high-value sales strategies 

Who should use contract lifecycle software

  • Legal or finance-heavy deal desks with strict compliance requirements 

Other contract lifecycle tools: 

  • LinkSquaresAI-powered software for creating, managing, and tracking pre and post-signature contracts and legal documents. 
  • Lexicon: Contract management software that allows users to collaborate, complete tasks, and submit requests from their email — no new onboarding required. 
  • Conga Contracts: A secure repository for all contracts with automation and in-depth reporting. 
  • PandaDoc: Proposals, quotes, and contract management all in one. 

2. CPQ Software (for complex pricing)

Configure, price, quote (CPQ) software quickly generates price quotes, proposals, and contracts. CPQ tools let you simplify your quoting process while creating custom pricing based on customers’ unique needs. 

A CPQ tool like DealHub pulls from playbooks and scenarios to automate the pricing process. It suggests opportunities for upgrades and upsells, helping to increase deal size and product fit. And when you integrate your CPQ software with a CRM or sales management tool, you can further streamline processes and increase productivity. 

Source: DealHub

CPQ software works best for complex pricing structures with multiple products or upgrades. If your offerings are relatively straightforward with standardized pricing models, a CPQ tool might actually make your pricing more complicated.

Pros of CPQ software

  • Save time on creating contracts, proposals, and quotes with templates and automation
  • Collaborate in real-time with buyers and internal team members for a better user experience and quick approvals 
  • Create a centralized platform for distributed teams to work together 

Cons of CPQ software 

  • Often have a steep learning curve and can add complexity to pricing processes if not implemented and onboarded appropriately 
  • High maintenance costs 
  • Doesn’t prioritize content and sales enablement materials 

Who should use CPQ software

  • Companies with complex pricing structures with many customizations, upgrades, and add-ons

Other popular CPQ tools 

  • HubSpot Sales Hub: CPQ functionality, sales engagement tools, and analytics built on top of your HubSpot CRM.
  • QuoteWerks: CPQ that integrates with the software you already use to generate pricing models in just a few minutes. 
  • Salesforce CPQ: Quoting software that exists where your sales team is already working. 

3. Revenue enablement software (for collaborative sales)

Revenue enablement software provides a flexible, collaborative environment for distributed teams to optimize their revenue processes end-to-end. Collaborate with team members and customers, share content and assign tasks, and even manage forms and collect e-signatures. 

A revenue enablement tool like Dock gives your deal desk teams the flexibility required to meet all departments' and teams’ needs.

While Dock lacks some of the pricing complexities of CPQ tools, it lets you create standardized workspace templates, manage content and sales materials, create pricing proposals and order forms, and embed them all in customer-facing workspaces that keep clients engaged and informed.

Dock's Order Forms let you create sales orders directly from your product library

Revenue enablement software makes it easy for your deal desk team to work together. Rather than requiring each department to rely on a different tool or app to do their part of the job, a tool like Dock can keep all your most important information in one place so your team can be as productive and connected as possible. 

Pros of revenue enablement software 

  • Dock is more lightweight and flexible than traditional contract management and CPQ tools
  • Build user-friendly pages to manage deals, assign internal and external tasks, and communicate and collaborate with leads and customers 
  • Easily create, share, and manage sales, marketing, and customer support content with built-in analytics and insights 
  • Create custom quotes, generate proposals, and collect digital signatures 
  • Streamline security reviews and build pre-approved security profiles to enable sales teams to stay productive and compliant 

Cons of revenue enablement software 

  • Customization and flexibility require users to build their own workspaces (but pre-made templates can help get you started) 
  • May need additional tools for legal-heavy reviews and redlining processes 

Who should use revenue enablement software

  • Deal desk teams that want to use one platform for managing the entire sales process end-to-end 

Other revenue and sales enablement software 

  • Seismic: Content management, automation, strategy, and learning on one cloud-based platform.
  • Outreach: Sales engagement platform that focuses on pipeline growth via outbound sales tactics and analytics.  
  • Dooly: Digital workspace that makes logging notes, activities, and updates in Salesforce more efficient. 
  • Highspot: Sales-focused content management to support, train, and guide reps to deliver better customer interactions. 

Set your deal desk up for success with Dock 

Successful deal desks focus on collaboration and cross-team productivity—something that’s challenging when all your team members are working in different tools and apps. 

While contract lifecycle software and CPQ tools can improve complex processes and increase productivity, they do little to remove the silos that often lead to complications within deal desks. 

Using revenue enablement software like Dock allows all revenue-focused teams to work together to properly manage content, deal cycles, and proposals and contracts. You can do more than just automate complex technical tasks — your team can actually gain control over complex deal processes while also improving user and customer experience. 

Want to see for yourself? Get Dock for free to see how it can help your deal desk and revenue growth.

The Dock Team