Time is one of our most valuable resources. It’s something we all want more of, but it doesn’t just appear out of thin air. We have to better manage our time so we can take on new opportunities to grow our business.
This is especially true in the sales industry where there is a delicate balance between the time spent selling and the countless other daily tasks or activities that go along with it. Our current sales landscape is also the most competitive it’s ever been.
Effective sales teams are constantly searching for new tools and processes that can help them save time, effort, and resources within their lead generation strategies. There are many factors that go into deciding what type of sales automation will work best for your business.
What is Sales Automation?
Sales automation is defined as “any technology that is able to replicate human cognitive capability, such as logical reasoning, pattern recognition, etc., thus reducing manual labor.”
Some of the most popular types of automation are:
- Machine learning (ML)
- Robotic process automation (RPA)
- Natural language processing or generation (NLP)
- Smart workflows
- Virtual Agents
When most people think of AI in sales, they either think of terrible automated messages with no personalization or robots taking over the world. Although they do exist out there in the world, everyday AI is much more simple and more commonly used.
Sales Automation vs Marketing Automation
Aligning your sales and marketing automation platforms within your organization is the ideal scenario, regardless of size, industry sector, or age. While they can be used together or within one another, it is important to note the differences between the two, which have distinct purposes that can fit a wide range of scenarios.
Marketing Automation is defined as the use of software and Web-based services to execute, manage and automate marketing tasks and processes.
These tools help simplify the processes of tracking / predicting audience behaviors, engaging with clients, building relationships with your audience, and overall customer satisfaction and response.
Most often, marketing tasks are related to attracting leads, qualifying them based on their behavior, and passing the qualified leads on to the sales team.
The most crossover with sales and marketing automation normally happens within your Customer Relationship Management or CRM software. Your CRM is one of the most important platforms, helping you see a birds-eye view of your system and processes.
Adding marketing automation to your sales stack can help maximize customer success, provide better customer service, and increase consistency in your cold outreach efforts. When these systems come together, it leads to increased revenue for your brand (the ultimate goal for any business.)
Automating Your Lead Generation
Lead generation is the process of finding new prospective customers for business and turning them into paying customers using various marketing and sales techniques. These processes can help you increase brand awareness, build relationships, generate qualified leads, and ultimately close deals.
The more activities you track, the more you can improve your results, and grow your business. To help you keep track of all those moving parts, you need to find the right tools that work for your business.
The general principle to keep in mind with sales automation is that it should be working alongside your sellers – not to replace them.
B2B sales rely on professional, trusting relationships, and the ability to prove a product’s value to a client’s bottom line. Using the wrong automation can skew your data and work against you – hurting your chances of making the sale and building a long-term relationship.
Research by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) indicates that approximately one-third of sales and its operational tasks can be easily automated with today’s technology (see chart below). But just because you can automate, does that mean you should?
Despite their potential, only one in four companies have automated at least one sales process. This is because most sales executives today are still not aware of the opportunity and depth that automation applications can unlock – or they just don’t know how to properly use it.
Here are some of the most popular activities that can be properly automated:
- Activity Logging – All non-selling or closing activities, such as logging emails and phone calls, are done automatically and are also visible to all managers and stakeholders for future reference.
- Activity Sales Metrics – Number of made calls and sent emails, Number of conversations, Number of demos, Number of scheduled meetings.
- Lead Management – Improve productivity with set automatic lead assignment rules based on defined criteria.
- Outreach Sales Metrics – Open, response, and engagement email rates, Phone metrics (call-backs, prospects who move ahead), or social media activities and metrics.
- Record Creation – Leads can visit your website, catch you at a conference, or respond to outbound activity. Your sales automation software can immediately generate CRM records when these things happen.
- Sales KPIs – Total revenue, Market penetration, Net Promoter Score (NPS), Average lifetime value (LTV), Revenue by territory/market, and YoY growth.
- Sales Productivity Metrics -Time spent on selling, Time spent on manual data entry, Time spent on content, Average number of sales tools used daily.
- Sequences / Communications – Sales emails and personal email sequences can be automated and sent at predetermined intervals.
The Benefits of Automation for Lead Generation
In addition to increased revenue, there are several benefits to adding sales automation software to your sales tech stack.
Here’s how software can help improve most aspects of your sales process:
Increase Team Productivity:
When you remove the burden of tedious and repetitive tasks your sales reps perform in a day, you can expect them to focus on selling. With automation, your productivity and performance will improve, and as a result, you will be able to close more deals than usual.
Speed the Sales Process:
Adding sales automation can make your entire sales process move swiftly and without the increased risk of human errors. What seems to be a tiny error at the surface in sales can result in a heavy loss to a business.
Improve Client Success & Satisfaction:
One of the most important benefits of automating your sales processes is that it provides you an opportunity to reach out to people at the right point in the sales funnel.
Automation can help speed up your processes while decreasing response times, letting your know they are a priority for your business, which can also increase trust. It can also help keep clients engaged after you make a sale, helping to retain happy clients, for longer.
Gain Detailed Insights:
Your sales data needs to be consistent so you know what activities or processes can be improved. Automation helps you reduce the chance of human errors in your data, while also helping to better measure and simplify reporting metrics.
Better Manage Your Sales Pipeline:
Manage the overall health of your sales pipeline by creating more efficient, standardized processes in your sales cycle. Sales automation helps you filter out prospects or leads who are stagnant in your funnel. By keeping a clean pipeline, you can better forecast revenue, ROI, and the best opportunities for your sales team.
While your company size, the number of users, and your budget may determine specific requirements for your automation, the best software offers a variety of analytics tools, mobile apps, and workflow automation. Choosing the right automation tools for your business can make a huge difference in keeping your sales pipeline organized and efficient.
While automating sales is beneficial for your sales cycle, you have to follow some steps to implement it the right way.
How to Choose the Right Automation Tools
Not every part of your sales process will make sense to automate. You first need to identify opportunities and specific activities or tasks that make the most sense to automate for your business.
1. Must follow a well-defined process
A detailed roadmap of all the activities in your sales process and the necessary steps needed to move them to the next phase can help you figure out what parts are able to be automated successfully.
Hubspot recommends starting by breaking down the 4 main stages of your sales funnel (Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action) into specific activities. Doing so will help in finding out how long each activity takes and what you want to automate.
2. Clearly define your goals
After you are done identifying your existing sales process, you have to set goals and define what you want to achieve by automating the sales process. You should know the areas that require automation.
3. Consider all your options
Once you know what you need, you would want to pick an automation tool. But at this point, you have to look at the options. Take a look at free trials, discounts, AppSumo offers, and make sure the tools align properly with your budget, users, and needs.
4. Create a plan for users
Software (and all technology in general) doesn’t always run correctly and upkeep on your databases can be a pain. If you want to ensure that you don’t end up in a mess, you have to create a group of employees who can closely watch each step while the implementation process occurs and manage the tools once designed.
5. Test the automation process
Before you get to the implementation stage, you have to run a trial to identify the glitches and roadblocks. Try asking your network for their recommendations or looking for free trial periods that will allow you to get a better feel for the program and its capabilities.
Once you complete the trial, you have to start the automation process and have a well-chalked-out procedure. Getting your sales rep trained on how to properly use and manage your new system is equally important.
Now that you have your sales process defined and you’ve figured out where adding automation makes the most sense – it’s time to look into your options.