When you mention the idea of automating sales, most business owners may second guess the idea and while there is no doubt selling high ticket products or services often requires you to establish trust and authority with your target audience.
However, if used correctly sales automation can become one of the best investments your company can make.
But what is sales automation? What solutions are available on the market and what are the pros, cons and best practices of implementing sales automation within your business?
In this article, we’re going to brand down each of these points in more detail and provide you with some real-life examples of ways you can streamline your sales process using automation.
Let’s dive in!
Sales Process Automation
- What is sales automation?
- How does sales automation work?
- What are the pros and cons of sales automation?
- What are the best practices for sales automation?
- Is sales automation right for my business?
What is sales automation?
Sales automation involves using software to automate repetitive tasks and workflows within your sales process with the goal of helping your sales team reduce the amount of time they spend on manual tasks on a daily basis.
This can include automating email follow-up, document creation, appointment scheduling or any one of a number of manual tasks that eat into your sales reps busy schedule.
Not only does this increase your team’s productivity, decrease the need for them to focus time and energy on repetitive administrative tasks but it also improves processes and data accuracy within your business by removing the risk of human error.
How does sales automation work?
Sales automation works by creating pre-determined workflows that complete a pre-defined list of tasks over any desired period of time.
For example, if you wanted to follow up with a qualified lead over a period of two weeks you can create a workflow that sends an automated follow-up email or reminder to your sales rep every 3 to 5 days until the lead schedules a meeting? No worries!
Or maybe you’re looking to create a contract and invoice for a new client you’ve just signed without having to manually add data in each platform? Don’t stress! With sales automation, you can say goodbye to manual data entry once and for all.
Some other forms of sales automation include:
- Lead qualification
- Appointment setting
- Customer onboarding
- Payment automation
- Support automation
- Review management
- Sales reporting
What are the pros and cons of sales automation?
Did you know that lost productivity and poorly managed data cost’s companies a staggering $1 trillion annually?
And let’s face it, with more businesses moving online to capture a larger market share this has resulted in most people having to multi-task leading to the risk of human error no matter how many times you’ve performed even the most mundane tasks.
By automating these tasks you can help reduce the risk of human error while also allowing your team to focus on more important tasks that automation can’t do.
It’s important to remember though, that building trust and authority within your industry still requires the human touch so don’t over automate.
If a lead or customer matches a certain requirement, you can set an internal notification for your sales rep to follow up with the lead personally via phone or email instead of sending an automated email to them.
What are the best practices for sales automation?
Before using sales automation within your business, it’s best to determine what exactly are you looking to achieve out of using it within your business.
Some of the most common reasons include increasing data accuracy, reducing overheads and freeing up time to focus on more important things within your business.
With this in mind, here are some best practices you can follow when looking to implement sales automation within your business.
Assess Current Systems
Conduct an analysis of the current platforms you are using within your business and how well they integrate with other platforms and with other popular automation platforms.
If you’re still using a dated CRM solution that doesn’t work well with other platforms on your market maybe it’s time for an upgrade as more than likely it’s costing you time and money.
Map Out Processes
The next step is to map out your entire sales process from start to finish, most CRM platforms support the ability to create a sales pipeline within your business which you may have already started using or you may prefer to use a mind mapping platform such as Miro so you can collaborate with team members and external contractors.
You want to get crystal clear on the entire process in as much detail as this will allow you to determine which steps can be automated and which ones will need to remain manual.
Compare Software Solutions
In the event that your current software platforms integrate well with each other, great!
If the current platforms you are using aren’t going to work well together, you may need to take some time to review some of the best sales automation tools to determine which platforms will work best for you and your industry.
In-House vs Hiring a Consultant
You’ll need to complete a review if you and your team implement these platforms yourself or if it’s best to hire an experienced sales automation consultant to assist you with the planning, implementation and ongoing management of your automations.
While automating simple workflows may be able to be managed in-house with the help of some training videos or detailed guides, automation can often become more complex when you are looking to automate dozens of processes or complex workflows.
Testing and Documentation
It’s important to remember that automation may not always work as intended so it’s best to complete a few tests runs internally before launching automations or consider having your sales reps or customer support team test the workflows as they may be able to identify something you have missed that they feel is critical to the process.
Documentation and training are also important when launching new automations as it’s critical that you keep your team up to date on process changes that may impact the way they work.
Is sales automation right for my business?
In all honesty, sales automation can be used in just about any business regardless of size, industry or who your target market is.
Some important things to take into consideration before thinking about using sales automation within your business are not to overdo it straight away, even if it’s automating a handful of small repetitive tasks that save you from having to do these on a daily basis you’re off to a great start.
Another important thing to remember is to find the platforms that work best for your budget, while having the top of the range SaaS solutions may seem nice if you’re still small and won’t make use of half of the platform features yet so invest your resources wisely.
And there you have it, our detailed overview of what is sales automation as well as the pros, cons and best practices on how you can use it within your business.
Ready to Streamline Your Sales Teams Workload?
Feel free to check out some of the platforms recommended within our article or take a minute to conduct an analysis of your current systems and process to determine what can be automated within your team’s daily workload, you may be surprised!
Which sales processes are you looking to automate within your business? Let us know in the comments.