From switching on a lightbulb to driving cars, everything can now be automated. Automation is all about value addition by reducing manual labor and saving time.
Automation is making way for a paradigm shift in our way of work, across businesses and industries. The same holds good in case of sales too – the everyday routine of a sales executive is filled with crucial tasks like sending emails, making calls, drafting contracts, negotiating deals and more. The way these tasks are handled can make or break deals for the business. What’s more challenging is that sales teams do these tasks multiple times for multiple accounts, often manually.
Sales automation can save costs for a business, and increase efficiency and productivity. But how do businesses go about automating sales tasks? Here are five aspects of the sales process that can be automated:
Studies suggest that sales executives spend 21% of a regular day reading and responding to emails. Email automation can save considerable amount of time for sales teams.
Before setting out to automate the email process in your company, it is important to analyze the daily tasks performed by sales reps to find out the following:
· The most common emails sent on a daily basis
· The time spent on drafting and editing emails
· The level of personalization and customization needed for each email
Many emails sent out by sales teams in a day are repetitive in nature. The sales cycle includes sending out various generic emails like:
· Welcome or thank you email to new customers
· Follow-up email to leads
· Demo email to new sign-ups
· Reminder email about a meeting
Writing the email copy and customizing it for each lead takes a lot of time in the day of a sales person. Something as simple as sending a follow-up email to a prospect can take 2 minutes; however, if the salesperson has to do it for 10 other prospects, then it takes 20 minutes of their time. Further in the sales process, they end up spending hours creating very personalized emails for lead nurturing. The repetitive nature of such tasks can sometimes be frustrating for the sales person.
This is where email templates come in very handy; rather than typing the same email repeatedly, sales teams can create and save templates that can be reused, saving a lot of time. The emails can also be scheduled as to when they need to be sent. This enables sending emails to multiple leads or clients at the same time.
However, it is obvious that not all emails can be automated. Sales executives exchange several emails with prospects, clients and colleagues that are manually worked on each time, because they require personalization. Email automation depends on the basis of content and context. Emails that discuss legalities, pricing, custom-features of a product, etc., can never be automated.
Businesses receive leads from multiple sources. Some of them may be just looking for options, while some may be serious buyers of your product or solution. However, it is difficult to segregate leads based on assumptions. AI-based lead scoring tools help sales teams prioritize leads.
Businesses can benefit from automation of the lead prioritization process by cutting down the time spent on qualifying leads, increasing conversion rates and clearing any bottlenecks that may exist in the sales cycle.
Businesses can score leads based on plain indicators like job title, industry or company size. Automation comes into play when businesses need more knowledge on customer behavior and score leads based on more implicit metrics such as website activity or resources downloaded. Depending on the customer’s product usage, a hybrid scoring system which is a mix of implicit and explicit metrics can be helpful.
Automation helps set thresholds for lead scores and enables segregating the leads as cold, warm or hot based on their score. However, it is important not to score leads based on vanity metrics such as email open rate. Such metrics may not be the best indicators as the lead may have opened the same email many times.
Businesses receive leads from websites, blogs and social media which can stay within the CRM for quite a few days before being assigned to a member of the sales team. The sales automation process helps reduce this time gap with lead distribution.
Automating lead distribution reduces response time and in turn, increases the rate of lead conversion. Leads can be automatically assigned based on geography, industry, company size, or deal size, enabling sales executives to reach out to prospects faster. Leads automation increases efficiency as it avoids multiple team members approaching the same lead.
Apart from sending emails and qualifying leads, sales automation in CRM can help sales professionals accomplish several administrative tasks that contribute to the larger growth of sales.
The right sales automation CRM is a dashboard of organized data on prospects, customers, deals, accounts, and other sales related activities. Automating this data entry can save valuable time and effort.
With features like automatic call logging, sales automation CRM automatically log calls in the respective lead profiles. Lead enrichment tools enable the auto-fill of lead profiles with relevant data like job title or industry, eliminating the need for sales executives to research on the lead outside the system.
Usually, setting up meetings with leads involves sending and receiving a flurry of emails with various time slots. Sales automation enables sales teams to simply forward a link to your calendar with different time slots that the prospect can choose from. An automatic calendar invite and subsequent reminders are sent before the scheduled time.
Sales automation eliminates the need for sales executives to use multiple tools – like updating the status of a deal in the CRM, generating invoices, etc. They no longer need to switch over to an invoice generation tool to send an invoice after a deal is won. With sales automation CRM, sales teams can simply generate and send an invoice automatically when the deal status in the CRM is updated to “Won.”
However cumbersome, report generation is extremely important for a business. Sales professionals and managers need to be aware of how the sales pipeline is progressing to measure the output of the sales process and achieve revenue targets.
For instance, let’s consider the task of sales professionals calling prospects. After each call, manual data collation comprises updating a spreadsheet, describing the call, the outcome and call notes. Also, with multiple records required for each KPI, huge volumes of manual data entry, tabulation and report generation leads to high chances of generating a report with erroneous data. A sales automation CRM helps generate reports for different KPIs like quarterly or annual sales reports, sales email/call reports, team performance, qualified leads, deals created, and more. Reports automation eliminates inaccurate reports caused by human error. Multiple reports can be generated based on different parameters/KPIs.
Sales automation process is easier with a powerful CRM in place. The right sales automation CRM can help sales teams augment productivity with intuitive features like sales campaigns, intelligent workflows, event tracking and more.
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