Sales teams face numerous challenges while generating leads and converting these leads to actual sales. A sales cycle typically begins at lead generation and ends with a collection of payment from customers. It goes without saying that sales personnel play an important role in each step of the way. However, sales teams tend to spend a lot of time in taking care of repetitive manual tasks and documentation instead of involving themselves in core sales activities. A solution to this issue is sales automation. Let’s understand this in further detail.
Definition of Sales Automation
Sales automation simply put automates repetitive activities, tasks and documentation by using software for the purpose. The major tasks taken care of by automation are e-mail reminders,inventory control, pricing, regular documentation, standard contracts, etc.
Benefits of Sales Automation
Sales automation is changing the way sales teams function and execute strategies. They are free of activities that are non-productive yet essential to their work. If you are wondering why you should invest in automation, then the following benefits might help in taking a decision:
- Identification of Potential Customers:
It is easier for sales teams to define ‘filter’ criteria in order to fish out potential clients and customers. This method has high chances of making successful conversions as the filters ensure that sales personnel chase relevant and interested parties.
- Customer Information:
Automation generates statistics that are critical for sales teams. It helps them gain more knowledge about the customers and industry they operate in. Such information can assist in understanding the needs and requirements of the customer in a much better way.
- Creation and Editing of Documents:
In many cases, vendors enter into a long-standing contract with customers which define terms of engagements. An entity can automate this process resulting in significant savings in time and effort. The software generates lengthy contracts by simply defining some terms and creating workflows. It also reminds both the parties when the contract is about to expire. Similarly, such system can be used to automate the addition of new contacts.
- Follow up:
E-mails play an important part in maintaining customer relationship. However, it also happens to be a time-consuming activity. Automation of sales cycle means that there is no need for sending manual e-mails, reminders, follow-ups and greetings. Right from the first contact with a potential customer to the payment collection, every activity of the sales cycle can be handled by the automated system.
- Call Analysis:
Call analysis systems record, transcribe and analyse sales calls by using conversation intelligence tools. So there is no need to spend time reviewing an already made call and instead one can move on to next important call.
- Create Proposals:
Just like contracts and e-mails, automation helps sales teams generate sophisticated and professional proposals by taking just a few minutes. You can create sales quotation simply by entering key details. Within a few seconds, a beautiful proposal creation will be at your fingertips, ready to be sent to the customer.
This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of automating sales. Sales teams are usually in the field and in case of companies with the extensive product line and variety; it is difficult to keep up with prices. Automation centralises the pricing computation and therefore, sales personnel can offer correct price for any configuration of products which helps in closing deals faster.
- Ease of Reporting:
Sales teams can use CRM to keep their reporting managers well informed by using automated internal e-mails and reports. There is no need to spend hours keeping the team in the loop; it just happens automatically.
Sales Processes/Workflows That Sales Automation Can Simplify
The beauty of sales automation is that it can take a load off your shoulders with respect to most sales processes or workflows. Here is your checklist.
- Lead delivery
- Follow-up e-mails
- Call logging
- Appointment scheduling
- Sales quotation/proposal
- Customer onboarding
- Lead scoring
- Notes recording
Sales Automation Best Practices
Sales automation is definitely a step towards shorter sales cycles and efficient sales management. However, to extract the most out of CRM software, it is important that an organisation keenly follows the following steps while and after implementing it:
- Assessment of Current System: You must chart out the entire sales process and methods currently in use. This will help in understanding the activities, time taken by them and inefficiencies that need to be targeted by automation.
- Blueprint: Once the current system and its inefficiencies are recognised, you can establish its objective to be achieved through automation more clearly and in a concise manner. Find out which major areas you want to automate. With these goals in sight, a formal blueprint can be prepared.
- Shortlisting Vendors: There are many software companies who offer sales automation One must evaluate each of these options very carefully. One can select or shortlist a few of these tools by ascertaining the software being used by other entities operating in the same or similar sector.
- Dedicated Team: There must be a separate team that heads the implementation of automation tool right from trial to final roll out. This will ensure that all loopholes are plugged appropriately and if any glitches arise, they can be handled promptly.
- Trial Runs: This phase is extremely important as the sales teams and associated department finally test the system in real time. This is also a phase where patches can be added and areas of concern highlighted as far as the automation software is concerned.
- Roll out: With the final rollout, all sales processes and activities are handled by automation tool. The entity needs to establish a standard operating procedure and design regular training sessions for existing and new sales personnel.