Automation of processes is a critical part of operational efficiency across all industries. Although sales isn't typically thought of as a department in need of automation, it is the key function that drives the growth of any company. Other processes can cut costs to boost profits, but only sales can help you make more money and gain the title of a market leader. Thus, why wouldn't you automate the sales process as much as possible?
Let's cover how best to automate your sales flow.
Sales Automation as a Procedural Concept
Sales automation is the process of creating automatic processes that spare your sales team the effort of handling the tedious processes involved in the sales cycle. Automation usually streamlines documentation and data entry tasks, which allows your sales professionals to focus on selling.
There are many online tools, technologies, and software like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation to automate these processes. Some of the online tools you can use to automate the sales process are HubSpot Sales Hub, Everstring, Clearbit, Leadfeeder, Vendasta, and Sendbloom, to name a few.
How Organizations Are Thinking about Sales Automation
These days many organizations, especially in the software development space, are embracing sales automation and using it to circumvent redundant processes like following up with leads, back-and-forth communications, logging data, taking notes, sending reminder emails, negotiations, invoicing, and sharing social media posts.
Based on market research, 63% of companies outgrow their competitors with sales automation. Another study states that automation results in a conversion rate of 53%, with a 3.1% higher annual growth rate in revenue versus manual sales processes. Other research also suggests that about one-third of sales processes can be automated.
When it comes to process automation, IT companies are leading the pack with 48% of software companies using sales automation.
Value of Sales Automation
This section will introduce you to the benefits of implementing sales automation.
- Freeing Up Salespeople's Time: Most of the time, your sales force gets occupied in doing menial jobs like paperwork, documentation, data entry on CRM, and other related tasks. This affects their productivity and reduces the time they could devote to actual sales. With sales automation, the time-consuming redundant jobs can be taken care of by software, freeing up salespeople’s time for meeting more prospects.
- Closing More Accounts: If you can streamline all the manual tasks with automation, your sales representatives will have ample time to spend interacting with prospects and customers, and closing more accounts. Your sales team can engage with more customers and pitch your software solutions and services. This increases the probability of getting more customers on board.
- Operational Efficiency: By streamlining the sales process using automation, you can have better efficiency in the entire organization. If your sales team is small, then automation will allow you to use those resources efficiently. The data collected and maintained by software tools will be consistent and updated for everyone in the organization to review.
Potential Drawbacks of Using Sales Automation
Not everything can be expected to be hunky-dory after the implementation of the sales automation process. The following are some of the drawbacks:
- Loss of Human Touch: If you automate all the operations for the sales department, the human element gets compromised. Machines can do almost everything, but ideally, they shouldn’t, as your prospective customers also need human intervention when it comes to product demonstration and negotiations.
- Technical Infrastructure: Another aspect is the requirement of technical setup to automate the processes, which is expensive. It puts additional strain on your finances and makes the finance department apprehensive about apportioning funds. Your company also needs a skilled workforce with hands-on experience with these tools. Employees should be tech-savvy enough to operate these tools and software. You also need to create a separate budget and invest in the automation set-up, which is difficult for SMEs.
Ways to Automate Each Stage of the Sales Funnel
This section throws light on ways in which sales automation can help the different stages of the sales cycle based on a typical sales funnel.
Gone are the days of searching on LinkedIn for potential B2B customers. These days, you can get regular emails with a list of prospects by using LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator or LinkedIn Premium account for advanced search. The list will have prospects' profiles; for example, you will get a list of people working in different software companies who are looking for cybersecurity solutions. You just have to set the filter according to your product offerings and the region you are targeting.
Companies also spend money on automated advertising such as Google Ads. According to a study, companies spend an average of $9,000-$10,000 every month on Google paid search campaigns. This process coupled with an email outreach program can be automated to save time, money, and energy.
The next stage is shortlisting the leads from the complete list based on your offerings and their requirements. This can be achieved efficiently if you know the company size, industry, social media presence, vendors, etc. There are online tools like Lead Genius, Mailshake, and Lead Space to collect precise information on leads.
Fixing a meeting date and time is an exasperating task as you must manage constant back and forth communication with the prospect. However, you can avoid it by using automatic meeting scheduling tools like HubSpot Meetings, Arrangr, or Calendly. These tools automatically send a link to the prospect along with the slots available for a meeting. Also, they create a new contact automatically in your CRM system when a prospect agrees to a meeting.
Defining Prospect Needs
When it comes to defining the individual needs of the prospect, it's even possible to automate this process using cloud services with notation standards like Oracle’s Process Cloud Service. There are other automated follow-up tools to understand more about the prospect's needs.
Making an Offer
Generating the final contract for the prospect's signature is a difficult task with a lot of information to be fed from many different portals. However, there are contract generation tools online like PandaDoc, Proposify, or ClientPoint, which can be integrated into your CRM system. They automatically generate the contract by gathering all the required information.
Negotiation is best done when it is not automated, as prospects like to talk to a person and not a robot. Having said that, there are still some aspects of negotiations that can be automated by enabling better communication with the sales team. There are many communication tools in the market like Aircall, Chorus, Dialpad, Drift, etc. for making life easier in this important stage of the sales process.
Closing the Deal
This is one of the final stages in the sales cycle where invoice generation takes place. Your sales professional doesn’t need to write all the costs and prepare a bill on paper as it can be automated by the use of billing software.
It’s finally time for product delivery and follow-up processes that take place upon a successful close. This includes the opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell. There are many marketing tools available for this purpose. There is automated email-generating software that sends a personalized email to the customer on his birthday or anniversary with an attachment of any new product offering to up-sell.
List of Common Tools and Platforms to Automate Sales
Following is a list of tools to automate different stages of the sales process.
- HubSpot Sales Hub: This tool is renowned for the process of follow-up and closing a deal. It is quite effective, and the subscription plan starts from a minimal $50 per month. It has email templates and automated scheduling suites as well.
- Sales Navigator: This is another famous tool by LinkedIn for advanced prospect searches with access to myriad leads. It is a brilliant tool with multiple enhanced features for advanced prospect targeting, with a subscription charge of $65/month.
- Clearbit: Personalization is of utmost importance in software sales, and this tool helps you curate personalized messages and emails. It assists you in getting more information about your lead from their email ID.
- Bombora: This tool takes you one step closer to your potential customer by showing you leads who are looking for the solutions you provide. It is a lead scoring tool that shows you assessments along with the intended level of the lead.
- Leadiro: This is lead generation software with a humongous database of companies located in over 100 countries. They offer precise data about the customer, and you can further segregate accounts based on demographics or firmographics. It has a free trial version, and the paid version runs from $99 per month to $259 per month based on the services.
- Outreach: This is a comprehensive software solution that assists your sales team in more than one way, from sending personalized emails to analytics and reporting. It also offers features to make calls, send text messages, email sequencing, and track the progress with each prospect.
Other Automation Techniques
If you are a software start-up company with a small sales team, it might be difficult to manage a large sales pipeline. You can automate this process by using more basic automated software that includes a dashboard. This dashboard can help you track and manage your sales pipeline. You can also liberate your team from most of the manual data entry process by using such automated tools.
If none of the above tools will meet your needs, Crowdbotics offers custom application development to assist sales teams of all sizes, whether big or small, to enhance their sales process.