If you want to build a better and more efficient sales function, you and your team might need a little help from technology. After all, sales automation can not only help you streamline processes, but also increase morale and productivity.
Want to try your hand in effective automation? Here’s a guide to help you get started.
What is sales automation?
Sales automation is the use of digital tools (such as software and AI) to streamline and power up the end-to-end sales process. You can automate anything from pipeline management and workflows to SLA tracking, lead scoring, and more.
Your sales team is then freed up to place more focus on what they do best — selling.
Why is automating sales important?
Sales automation is important because it saves you one of the most critical resources in business: time. Instead of having your sales professionals spend a great part of their work hours managing repetitive, administrative tasks and data entry, sales automation shoulders that burden.
This enables you to manage your sales cycle much more efficiently — for example, by making sure you’re following up with prospects in a timely manner or streamlining the demo scheduling process.
So, with a strong automation strategy in place, you can enhance productivity and improve revenue. For instance, according to McKinsey, a majority of executives whose companies have adopted AI say it resulted in increased revenue, and 44 percent say AI has reduced costs.
8 main benefits of automating sales
Sales automation software can help you:
- Minimize the number of manual tasks.
- Ensure data quality and consistency.
- Speed up the sales process, from lead generation to closing.
- Improve monitoring of the entire sales pipeline.
- Make reporting on performance easier.
- Help with sales forecasting.
- Reduce costs and save resources.
- Facilitate internal communication among sales reps and managers.
How do you automate sales?
Because the sales process has multiple actions and stages, automating means looking into each of them separately. Some can be automated completely and some not at all. For example, you can’t hire a robot to perform demos, but you can use email templates to schedule them and tools to help sales reps create proposals and presentations.
Here are some best practices to consider when you want to implement automation effectively:
1. Define your goals
Many companies go into the automation game because they’re afraid of being left behind compared to competitors. There’s some truth to that, but automating sales will be much more effective if you approach it with a deliberate strategy.
So first, ask yourself: why do we need automation? Is it because data and opportunities consistently slip through the cracks? Maybe because your sales professionals are overwhelmed with administrative tasks? Or because you want to track performance more efficiently?
The answer could be all that and more. Take a look at multiple use cases across the sales funnel and prioritize. Here are some examples of tasks where you can implement sales and marketing automation tools:
- Prospecting and lead generation
- Lead qualification and scoring
- Customer data updating
- Segmenting prospective customers
- Communications (e.g. email sequences) and timelines (e.g. reminders)
- Sales cycle and order tracking (e.g. cold calls, follow ups, order status reports)
- Scheduling of meetings and demos
- Proposal creation and sending
- Deal and performance reporting (especially useful for sales managers)
Increase Sales Through Superior CX: Tools to Get You Started
2. Standardize your processes
Sales processes need to be consistent across teams — this includes data entry methods, naming conventions, timelines, sales best practices, and more.
Software helps you apply uniform standards across the sales process and centralized data repositories. But, even if you’re still looking for sales automation platforms that work for you, it pays to go into the buying journey with a good understanding of what needs to be streamlined and standardized.
3. Implement a CRM software (if you don’t have one)
There are many digital tools you can use, but the most important one is your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This is where most customer data will live and it will be the center of your sales process. Anything your team needs to know about customers can exist in your CRM or in software that integrates with your CRM.
So, one of the first things to do should be investing in a CRM and migrating your data there. If you still have data in paper format, consider which ones can be moved into a digital format, too. This will enable automatic updating and correcting of customer data, as well as sorting by demographics, or lead qualifying factors.
4. Start small with AI
AI can be really powerful when implemented correctly. If you want to embark on a journey with artificial intelligence, it helps to start with customer-facing applications, such as AI chatbots.
AI chatbots will help automate the top of the funnel, namely lead generation. Chatbots can reach out to website visitors proactively, trigger specific qualification sequences, and gather customer information the sales reps can use afterwards. They can also learn over time so their conversations with prospective customers become smoother.
AI CHATBOT SOFTWARE
Bots built for more human experiences
5. Look into templates
Are your outbound reps sending standard emails or are they writing everything from scratch on their own? This can be counterproductive, and prevents consistency in voice and tone in your company’s messaging.
Some marketing automation tools have built-in templates you can use, but you can also create your own and load them into software. For example, you can create your own cold email sequences and add them to a sales system where you can send them automatically and track results.
Want to begin composing your email templates? Here are some effective ones to get your started.
And, you can have templates for other tasks as well, such as guidelines to complete RFPs, reports, etc.
6. Integrate data and workflows
Centralizing information and processes is crucial for business success. Having everything in one place helps you ensure the accuracy and completeness of data, as well as saving time when you have to make updates — your team should only have to update a piece of information once and the update should be live across systems.
That’s why much of automation software is meant to seamlessly integrate with other platforms. For example, your CRM should integrate with your sales chatbot, and your outreach management tool with your scheduling tool.
Note down the necessary integrations and make it a point to unify disparate systems.
7. Train your team
Effective change management plays a huge role in the success of sales automation. Software will remove some of the workload from the hand of your sales reps, so their day-to-day will change. This means they will need training in both using new systems for time consuming tasks and in rearranging their remaining workload. IT should also train sales managers in setting up and monitoring systems (and KPIs) correctly.
Aim for open communication, workshops, and clear documentation to help sales teams make the most of automation.
Examples of sales automation platforms
- Acquire (for sales chatbots and customer profiles)
- Calendly (for scheduling)
- Clearbit (for real-time intelligence)
- Sales Navigator
Sales automation is power
Sales automation offers the opportunity for your business to gain competitive advantage over your competitors. Plan your strategy and choose software that meets your needs, and then experiment and refine to achieve increased efficiency.
How do you plan to start with sales automation? Let us know in the comments.