For many sales teams, outdated, manual processes are tedious, time-consuming, and often frustrating. Sales teams are busy: They must complete and track daily workflows, tasks, and activities in the sales process, all while generating pipeline. In fact, reps only spend 35.2% of their time on true revenue-generating sales activities.
Competitive sales organizations have started leveraging automation to help relieve the burden of manual processes and free up time for higher-value initiatives. By pairing their CRM system and sales automation software to automate outreach, sales people can better focus on building relationships with customers and clients and (ultimately) move more deals across the finish line.
Here, we’ll take a close look at sales automation, how it can impact specific sales team members, and some barriers to automation success.
Sales automation refers to the practice of using technology — like AI — to systematize sales-related tasks and boost efficiency. Sales automation tools can reduce or eliminate otherwise manual, laborious tasks such as email campaigns, sales outreach, and data entry.
Some sales automation technologies use conversation intelligence to help teams improve their sales calls conversions, too. They offer meeting transcripts, bookmarked notes, action items, and even real-time guidance for sellers. For example, instead of having to jot down call notes (which is distracting), then transcribe those notes into a system of record for later analysis and follow up, a rep using an automated tool gains instant, insightful summaries and next steps. The result is a well-prepared, more confident rep who can execute their action items quickly, accurately, and efficiently.
Sales process automation takes things to the next level by automating multiple steps and workflows within a team’s sales process for an even more optimized operation. Successful sales process automation enables reps to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time focusing on what really matters: building customer relationships.
Teams can apply sales process automation to each stage of the buyer’s journey to streamline day-to-day operations.
There are various ways in which a prospect can demonstrate interest in your company’s products and/or services. For example, leads may connect with your brand by signing up for a newsletter, booking a demo, downloading gated content, or registering for a webinar. Each of these actions should trigger swift followup from a rep, as the prospect may be interacting in a similar way with competitors.
But identifying, tracking, and acting upon each of these leads (across numerous channels) in a timely manner can be challenging for already-busy reps. They often miss out on that critical point in which a prospect is ready to hear from a seller. And since sales reps only have a 14-day window after first contact to engage a buyer before it’s too late, speedy identification, categorizing, and action is absolutely essential.
With the right technology, sales process automation can seamlessly capture those leads and immediately notify reps of their interest. Sellers can instantly see exactly how and when the prospect interacted with the company and take the appropriate next steps. If a lead books a demo, for example, sales process automation tools can automatically schedule a rep meeting and include the prospect’s relevant details for review prior to the call. This saves precious time otherwise spent manually sorting through and contacting leads who’ve expressed interest.
Effectively engaging with prospects, fielding their questions, and providing thoughtful resources and collateral are all crucial to nudging them towards making a purchase. But getting that deal across the finish line also means successfully executing each of these tasks better than your competitors.
Sales automation gives reps the upper hand during the decision stage, as it empowers them to easily share essential information with prospects at the right time. Intelligent technologies identify and create post-meeting action items, so nothing falls through the cracks. Reps always know when and with whom to share product documentation, contracts, invoices, and more, without having to manually track these details for each lead.
Plus, they’re not bogged down by manual data entry, since automated technology instantly stores, updates, and shares key documents. This streamlines the entire decision-making process and ensures buyers perceive your company as a well-oiled, efficient, and confident solutions partner.
Once a customer is ready to buy, it’s time to either collect payment or confirm the closing of the deal. While this phase of the process is always considered a win for sellers, it’s traditionally time-consuming and tedious, too. It requires copious amounts of data entry and administrative work and is prone to human error.
But with sales automation technology, reps sellers can instantly track new deals, payments, and customer deals in a single, centralized place. Automated billing software even helps teams accurately track revenue and easily manage customer accounts.
Sales reps who use traditional, manual, or disjointed tools waste an average of four hours per week toggling between notes and apps. This eats into time that could be better spent creating more pipeline, engaging with customers, and closing deals.
But with automation, sales reps can:
Effective sales managers and leaders know that driving their teams’ growth requires strong processes and strategies. But even the best-laid plans can fall short if they don’t use competitive, intelligent technology to help optimize the management process.
When they adopt sales process automation tools, leaders and managers can:
Every member of your sales team is an important cog in the larger machine; so keeping each cog as productive, efficient, and engaged as possible is vital to the broader team’s success.
By automating the sales process, sales teams reap a variety of benefits that contribute to improved performance, including:
While automation is undoubtedly advantageous for sales teams, it can also present some very real pitfalls. Modern customers are smart, and while they’re attracted by highly personalized, consistent outreach, they can smell slick, disingenuous sales tactics from a mile away. In an effort to make the art of sales less stressful, teams are sometimes tempted to turn it into a complete science. They automate everything and, in doing so, forget the importance of human touch and authentic relationships.
Instead of receiving one email blast after another with their name plugged into the greeting, buyers want to interact with sellers who are authentic, empathetic, and consultative. To ensure positive customer perceptions and avoid turning prospects off, sellers should lead with their “human” side and use automation to prop them up.
Sales organizations also tend to face uncertainty surrounding which types of technologies to adopt as they begin to automate their processes. They rush to reap the benefits of sales process automation and end up investing in the wrong types of tools. It’s a half-baked approach that leads to even deeper silos, wasted time and resources, and unnecessary spend.
To get it right, sales leaders should take a close look at their existing systems and evaluate the gaps they need to fill. It’s important to remember that marketing automation and sales automation are two very different things, and a successful team needs both to thrive. It’s equally essential to note that automated systems should “talk” to one another to derive the most value from each; so organizations should verify integration capabilities before making a purchase.
Regardless of industry, the sales process is typically complex — but it doesn’t have to be. By eliminating the tedious, time-consuming tasks with which both reps and managers contend, your team can realize unprecedented productivity and growth.
Outreach is the leading sales execution platform that helps market-facing teams efficiently create and predictably close more pipeline. From prospecting to deal management to forecasting, our platform leverages automation and artificial intelligence to help revenue leaders increase the efficiency and effectiveness of all go-to-market activities and personnel across the revenue cycle.