If you’re interested in learning more about sales automation and how it can help your sales team, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’re going to discuss what sales automation is, cover the benefits, and then go through some types of sales automation already out there. After that, we will take a brief look at the best tools (that already on the market) and how they might help your company.
Ultimately, by reading this article, you stand to learn how and why so many businesses use sales automation tools — and what it could mean to your business if implemented correctly.
What is sales automation?
Sales automation is, in effect, any type of technology that reduces the amount of manual effort and time spent making sales. Typically, sales automation solutions include tech like software, artificial intelligence, and digital tools that are designed specifically to streamline production.
Ultimately, sales automation gives sales managers and reps more time to focus on building relationships with prospects or existing customers — which means reps can make more pitches in any given day.
Let’s get started.
The benefits of sales automation software
Sales automation benefits you and your team in a wide variety of ways. Here are some examples:
- Increases resource efficiency — Your sales team only has so much time to spend making sales. However, sales automation enables teams to allocate and distribute your existing resources more efficiently, so you can close more deals for each hour your team spends selling.
- Makes sales data more consistent — Ensuring the consistency of sales data across your organization can be challenging. Sales automation equips you with the right tools to reduce overhead obstacles and keep data consistent.
- Helps prevent prospective leads from falling through — Do you ever get the sense that you missed an opportunity to make a sale? With sales automation, you can cut down on that gnawing doubt and feel more confident that you’re leveraging every opportunity available.
- Improves your sales process — Guiding your prospects from initial interest to final sale can be tough: you need to take the right route. If you don’t, you risk the deal falling through and miss opportunities to upsell. Sales automation gives your sales process a boost by helping you and your team adhere to best practices.
- Enhance sales rep productivity — There’s only so much work that an individual sales rep can do in a day (no matter how energetic or motivated they might be). Sales automation tools cut down on time-consuming tasks and frees them up for other, more urgent priorities.
- Improves accuracy — Ideally, you want to know as much about your customers as possible before you start pitching. The more you know about which stage in the sales funnel they’re at, the more likely you’ll convert them into paying customers. Leverage the power of sales automation tracking tools, so you can get a handle on your customer’s needs and interests, making the sale more likely.
- Speeds up the design process — In the past, you and your reps had to create your marketing designs from scratch or Frankenstein together old assets from your creative team. But with tools like Lucidpress, you can whip up all kinds of marketing materials fast and then send them right into the relevant channel. Choose from a variety of templates and then start publishing your designs on flyers, social media, email, brochures, and your website.
The types of sales automation software
Sales automation has different working categories. Let’s get familiar with them so you can uncover how sales automation can help you.
CRM software is excellent for managing contact and storing conversations and an overall great initial sales automation tool, but it doesn’t help when it comes to telling sales reps what to do or what steps to take next. That’s where automated guidance comes into play — if you research customer relationship management software, you’ll quickly come across the term “automated guidance.”
Automated guidance compiles and sorts all the data you collect about a customer and then tells sales reps when to reach out or move ahead with the next stage in the sale. It’s an easy, data-driven approach that helps to boost sales while also preventing customers from becoming disgruntled with your team as they navigate the sales process.
For example — say you want to maximize your lead management. This means you’ll have to create a spreadsheet that tells you when you last contacted a particular client to make sure that you don’t communicate with them again too soon. Prior to automated guidance, you’d have to do all of that by hand, increasing your chance of making mistakes and irritated customers. In the new world of automated guidance, though, that’s a thing of the past. The software does it all for your behind the scenes — making recommendations for what to do next, based on the best available data.
Sales managers have to continually manage leads and distribute follow-ups across the sales team. That said, assigning leads is massively time-consuming — something that most managers would prefer to avoid.
Some sales automation tools have a workaround for this. Some tools have a trigger-feature that will automatically assign different leads to different reps based on certain criteria. You can create rules for practically any parameter you can think of (like geography, income, and gender): the opportunities for customization are enormous.
Take this as an example — so you’re managing a large group of estate agents and you know that one of your reps is very good at selling to people over fifty. You can set up a rule or trigger to forward all over-fifty clients to that particular sales agent.
Tools that automate communication
While artificial intelligence can’t yet replace the conversational skill of human sales representatives, there are still ways that it can help improve communication.
A lot of sales work involves relatively dull admin work in order to facilitate the initial pieces of a conversation that could (in theory) be done by a machine. For the most part, it consumes an employee’s time and makes them less productive.
But here again, sales automation offers a solution. You can use communication automation for the following:
- Automate voicemails, so sales reps can periodically drop voicemails into their client’s inboxes, sometimes without even having to initiate a dial tone.
- Create personalized email drip campaigns that continue in the background automatically until a prospect either blocks them or replies.
- Automate the distribution of marketing emails by scheduling their delivery (and sometimes optimizing it around the characteristics of individual customers).
Automated calling and data entry
Filling out forms on behalf of customers is time-consuming and dull. What’s more, it takes valuable time away from sales reps who could spend their time selling.
Data entry automation does the hard work for you and cuts down the amount of time it takes to, say, send a customer a pitch. Reps simply send out information to a customer without having to fill out forms —customer name, email address, or previous conversation points are already in the message.
Many companies also use one-click telephone calling. It’s a simple innovation that connects reps to customers with a single click, bypassing the need to dial manually, like on a regular telephone.
Finding out how your team is performing is a data-intensive task — one that involves a lot of processing and analyzing when done by hand.
Fortunately, with sales automation tools, you can forgo the manual labor and conduct it quickly. These types of tools let you who is converting the most customers, how many calls they made, how many follow-ups there were, and so on. In turn, automated reporting tools can help you conduct sales forecasts based on current trends and see what tasks need to be tackled next.
Creating quotes and proposals
From time to time, customers will contact you directly for a quote or appraisal. The standard response is to cut and paste a quote document from your CRM, stuff it into an email, and send it off to your client.
That, however, is a time-consuming process. It’d be much easier if you could just do the whole lot in real-time within the CRM itself. Well, it turns out that you can.
Some CRMs let you integrate quotes with customer information and product details and then transfer this information to clients automatically. You can also set up system-checks that requires approval from senior management or legal teams prior to sales reps sending quotes off to customers.
Lead scoring is a tool that managers utilize to identify the most promising prospects. It aggregates all the relevant data your company obtains about a customer and then uses it to rank customers in terms of how lucrative they might be for your company. That way you can dedicate your resources to the customers who are most likely to convert.
Sales automation tools and software
Here are some common sales automation software products and what they do:
- Expensify — Allows the sales team to track all of their expenses as they travel around in real-time and share these with the rest of the team,/p>
- CirrusInsight — Integrates CRM software like SalesForce with Gmail and Outlook, making customer correspondence and follow-up easier.
- IFTTT — A handy tool that helps you create programming statements like “if this, then that.” So, for instance, if a customer pings you on LinkedIn, you might tell it to send an alert to your CRM.
- Lucidpress — A smart tool and brand templating platform that empowers you and reps to create marketing materials quickly, and then share them in a variety of formats.
- Outreach.io — Automates workflow and reporting. Comes with voice dialer and SalesForce integration.
- PerfectLeads — A tool that lets you target any prospects you like by industry using any means you want, including Google Analytics and Optimizely.
At the end of the day, sales automation solutions are a powerful concept for sales managers and reps alike. Plus it’s vital for getting more productivity out of your team and takes a lot of the hassle out of working in sales. With sales automation tactics and tools, you can cut back on grunt work and let your team focus more on the things that they’re great at, improving not only efficiency but morale and employee retention too.
So, tell us, are you planning on using sales automation in your enterprise?