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Danielle Hedden

Former Sr. Corporate Counsel, Salesforce & Former Associate GC, Mulesoft

San Francisco Bay Area
Sales & GTM
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About Me

Danielle Hedden is a legal professional with extensive in-house experience negotiating large, global deals with Fortune 100 companies in all industry sectors. During her time as Associate General Counsel at MuleSoft, she played a key role in delivering a successful IPO in 2017 and an acquisition by Salesforce in 2018. Her ability to build strong, trusting relationships with clients has resulted in successful execution of complex agreements.

Q&A with Danielle

"Whether you are using outside counsel, a consultant, or your in-house team, constantly communicate, collaborate, and iterate on the contract process to make it the most efficient for the sales team and all the surrounding sales team members. Let sales focus on selling and let the internal back-end team make it easy for them to do that."

Quick Takeaways: 
  • Constant collaboration and implementation of a contracts process early on were critical to a clean IPO and acquisition. 
  • To ensure cross-functional collaboration and efficiency, align individual team projects to the larger quote-to-cash system. 
  • Sales contracts and legal function goals are to simplify tasks and minimize risk to support field teams and protect the company.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your career journey and how your expertise enables you as an operational leader? 

I was always interested in the business side of law, specifically corporate law and contracts. My focus in law school wasn't necessarily on becoming an attorney, but on having the knowledge and skills needed to add value where the business and legal worlds intersect. 

Throughout my career, I sought opportunities to work with leaders in different departments so that I could continuously grow and learn more about how to help the business execute its vision. 

Q: What were some key learnings from your experience starting as a contracts manager to becoming an Associate GC at MuleSoft and taking them through an IPO?

I had the rare opportunity to help build a team and process from the ground up at a startup growing at an incredible pace. We were able to make mistakes along the way, but ultimately, we worked closely with cross-functional leaders and set up processes early on, allowing us to have a quick and clean IPO and acquisition. Being at a startup with the right people who were open to collaboration and iterating on our process over time was critical to our success.

The sales contracts process and function should support the sales team by providing them with useful tools and resources so they can spend more time selling and less time figuring out the back-end operations of the business. They will waste a lot of time when there isn't a process they can follow or if they don't know who to go to. The goal is to provide a step-by-step process that makes managing and executing sales contracts efficient. 

Q: How did your experience at MuleSoft in the early stages differ from your later experience at a larger company like Salesforce?

Because MuleSoft was in the early stages, it allowed me to learn and grow in ways that I had not yet been able to at a larger company, and this came in handy when I went to Salesforce after MuleSoft was acquired. 

We were still operating separately after the acquisition, but it quickly became clear we needed to find a way for Salesforce and MuleSoft sales teams to utilize the same contract process for a more efficient experience for them and our customers. With my previous experience, I was able to help build an integration process for merging our legal team and process with Salesforce that trickled down to our sales, our partner team, and other cross-functional teams. This made it so that Salesforce and MuleSoft could sell all their products together with the same system and agreements. 

As the business scales and you need to hire more people, it is important to maintain communication with all teams and build a process that can accommodate such scale and growth. Founders should make sure their legal or sales contracts team is simplifying tasks, establishing processes, and minimizing risks in a way that enhances support to business teams and can scale accordingly. 

Q: How can Legal be an effective cross-functional partner to the company's overall goals?  

Legal should collaborate early on with cross-functional leaders to identify how they can work within the overall ecosystem, and help create back-end systems that align with the complete quote-to-cash system of operations. This requires cross-functional goals that simplify the process for sales, customer success, and other field teams. Legal should play an active role in facilitating this by having a contract management process that's clearly outlined for sales, cross-functional teams, and anyone involved in executing sales contracts. 

As you build your company’s contract process, develop measures that can be taken to address and avoid potential challenges. By collaborating with other departments and incorporating their process into the larger picture, legal can anticipate and get ahead of potential roadblocks and make a seamless transition at every touchpoint. 

Q: What is the most enjoyable part of the job? 

I love negotiating deals and problem-solving; you're learning the company's business, the priorities, and the needs of both parties and how to make those pieces fit together and close a deal. 

When you're a startup, hiring and growing, you ultimately spend a lot more time on the management side of things. I do enjoy building the team, working with the team, and properly training them, but negotiations, where you’re discussing what each party needs, what's important and why, and how to make it work for both parties, is the most fun. 

Q: What's one thing you want to leave founders and executives with as your top advice? 

Whether you are using outside counsel, a consultant, or your in-house team, constantly communicate, collaborate, and iterate on the contract process to make it the most efficient for the sales team and all the surrounding sales team members. Let sales focus on selling and let the internal back-end teams make it easy for them to do that.

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