What is Sales Automation and How to Use It?
Enterprises integrate with fresh technological innovations for their daily processes. Yet, many tasks that require human effort and time could be more varied and productive. The sales automation feature aims to remove this disadvantage.
Researchers believe that about 72% of successful companies have automated their sales and marketing processes. They arrived at an average ROI of around $5.44 per dollar invested from this automation. 45% of companies say they had a considerable saving of time spent on repeated tasks. They say it helped them succeed by focusing the added time on personalized communication for clients.
What is the function of a Sales CRM?
A Sales Customer Relationship Management (Sales CRM) tool is software that has been optimized for sales processes. It can handle everything from finding a lead to actually signing the deal and managing their future interactions.
Features of a sales CRM include contact management, multichannel communications, lead management, lead score, and customer support. It also helps nurture leads with drip marketing, providing customized reports and analytics, and so on.
There are various categories of sales CRM available in the market. On-premise sales CRM, cloud sales CRM, hybrid sales CRM, mobile, industry-specific, social, open-source, and small businesses are some of these varieties.
An on-premise sales CRM uses the servers and physical assets of the company which uses it.
A cloud sales CRM utilizes the internet for its functioning.
A hybrid one uses both physical as well as cloud assets.
Mobile CRMs are specifically designed for mobile devices like mobile phones and tablets.
Industry-specific CRMs are tailored for a particular industry.
An open-source CRM is a software where the source code is available for the consumers to modify freely according to their needs.
A sales CRM encompasses all the benefits of an ordinary CRM in the sales process. Leads can be curated and mapped into a unified location. Users can label flags or tags based on stages in the sales funnel or their priority.
This segregation helps provide a clear picture of leads generated and the efficiency in conversions, customer journey, and customer retention. Sales reps can add notes and specific details that would matter to have a healthy relationship with the customer for the foreseeable future.
A sales CRM can provide insights to the sales reps daily about their packets of leads. It helps to provide timely follow-ups toto persuade, convert and retain them into good relations with the company.
Read our blog about sales Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software here.
Why Do You Need Sales Automation?
From a vendor landscape review and expert interviews conducted by McKinsey & Company found that 30% of all sales-related activities could be easily automated.
However, researchers found that only one out of four companies had automated at least one sales process. This could be because of the negative air surrounding automation and how it is seen as a factor for unemployment.
We can define a sales automation process as the utilization of technology to perform tasks within a sales process that typically involve a human’s logical and cognitive thinking. This helps tackle time and effort put into redundant and less critical tasks. There is a large array of technologies that make sales automation possible.
Even so, a few can be considered to power its heart. These are, namely, Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), smart workflows, and virtual agents.
Sales process automation helps sales systems to have increased lead generation and improved sales productivity.
How to Use Automation in Sales Processes
Let’s look at some processes in the sales funnel where automation can improve staff productivity:
Sales Strategy and Planning
Territory and Coverage Planning
During the first stage of the sales funnel, which involves strategizing and planning, companies automate the sales process to simplify and streamline the subsequent stages.
Customer data, demographics, market trends, etc., are collected and curated. This helps to define the territory and coverage. Machine learning algorithms used in automation help segment customers and optimize the territory design.
Meanwhile, other tools are available that can help in efficiently planning coverage. Here coverage could mean which agents or branches of the sales team would focus on the target audience based on their geographic distribution.
In today’s fast-paced era, staying up-to-date with the data is essential to stay ahead of trends. Therefore all this data can be monitored in real time with the help of automation. Predictive analytics becomes handy in sales forecasting. Automated reporting offers insights into performance metrics.
Pipeline Health Monitoring
Sales workflow automation can monitor the health of the pipeline because of its capability to access real-time data. Automatic lead tracking, real-time updates after each interaction with the lead, and producing these into easily understandable and handy dashboards make the sales process more clinical.
With predictive analysis and utilizing CRM data, automation helps provide information about leads, opportunities, and conversion rates.
Potential leakage and risks can be overlooked, and the entire process can be seen from a bird’s eye. Using automation, teams can implement alerts and notifications to keep them informed about critical events, risks, and opportunities.
Automations also provide data regarding the performance of individual sales reps and sales teams, thereby helping to ensure they are on track with targets and their efficiency is stark.
Market Intelligence Gathering via RPA
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) enables swift and accurate data collection from various sources like websites, social media, and industry reports. This data can be made readily available to the sales team. Different data, like market trends, competitor activities, customer preferences, etc., can help plan strategies and implement sales daily.
This enhanced market intelligence increases sales effectiveness, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth.
Customer Profiling for Churn Prevention
Automating customer profiling for churn prevention benefits sales by identifying potential churn risks in real-time using predictive analytics and customer segmentation. Sales email automation for alerts, prompt swift action, personalized offers, and engagement, improving retention.
Integration with customer service ensures a seamless experience while tracking customer journeys and campaign effectiveness refines strategies for enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty. Automation fosters proactive churn prevention, elevating customer retention, lifetime value, and long-term business growth.
Lead Identification and Qualification
Automated Workflow for Marketing and Sales Interaction
Marketing automation software or sales funnel automation helps streamline the lead management and nurturing process. It guarantees that communication becomes effective, timely, and personalized for the potential client. Sales and marketing teams can access real-time data regarding the clients, which can help in better decision-making.
Lead scoring automation can maximize sales efforts. Also, regular automated reports provide insights into performance optimization. This alignment improves overall customer satisfaction, confidence, and loyalty. It brings out a unified workflow, leading to more conversions, revenue, and competitiveness in the market.
Lead Evaluation and Prioritization
The sales team acquires a large amount of data to increase their conversion rates. Evaluating and segregating these leads through the lead qualification procedure helps prioritize the clients. Here, sales automation plays a significant role. It helps in lead qualification and prioritization by automating the process of gathering and analyzing lead data.
Based on predefined criteria, these tools can identify favorable prospects and assign them to sales reps with a high-priority label. Integrating these tools with the CRM ensures that the data collected is updated in real-time and the sales agents are on top of their clients.
Lead nurturing sequences, when automated, drives potential customers into a sales-ready stage. Follow-ups of targeted content do this. This, in turn, results in higher conversion, shorter sales cycles, and an increase in overall productivity
Bot-driven Lead Engagement
Bot-driven lead engagement helps in communicating with customers day and night. Bots can provide immediate and personalized assistance based on the AI’s capabilities. Companies can program them to share vital information, generate interest in the lead, and collect enough data to comprehend the client. This helps sales agents to make meaningful conversations in less time. You can utilize this data to analyze various sales and marketing strategies.
Chatbots can have multiple conversations simultaneously, making them more productive than a human rep. This helps cut down the time consumed for making one call by a sales rep and increases the possibility of having more than one call simultaneously. This leads to the overall effectiveness of the sales system.
Configuration, Pricing and Quotation
Automated Proposal/Requests for Proposals (RFP) Generation
Tasks such as creating an RFP (Request for Proposal) are a step that has to happen often in a sales environment. The main focus of sales proposal automation is the removal of such redundant activities.
By employing it, companies can create and automatically distribute RFP templates, ensuring that personalized versions reach each customer. This curbs the time and effort required to manually create each of these proposals from the conversations and data collected from the customer.
Version control ensures accuracy and consistency in all proposals. An RFP automation can also be scheduled to provide reminders or notifications regarding upcoming deadlines. Since this is all tracked, precise analytics regarding RFP success rates can help optimize the process. Moreover, the sales agents focus more on communication than the background procedure.
NLP-based Inquiry Resolution
Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a technology that assesses the context and content of text to predict the topic of conversation or determine suitable responses for statements.
Integrating a sales process with sales automation, such as an NLP, dramatically supports the sales process by automating customer interactions and support functions. You can implement these using bots that can operate 24×7.
By automating inquiry resolution, sales teams can efficiently handle a high volume of inquiries, reducing response times and enhancing customer satisfaction. These automation models provide insights into customer preferences and pain points, continuously improving the inquiry resolution process.
Discount Management Workflow
A sales automation tool can streamline discount management workflows. Applying, tracking, and managing discounts can be automated, cutting down work time spent reading each application and checking its eligibility.
You can set up predefined criteria to accomplish this. Automation can evaluate and approve discounts based on these criteria, preventing unauthorized or inconsistent values. This also helps to remove the chances of having manual errors or delays.
The automation system keeps track of discount usage, expiration dates, and customer-specific offers, enabling accurate reporting and analysis. Automated notifications can alert sales managers and finance teams about discount approvals and use, ensuring proper oversight.
Overall, sales automation optimizes discount management, improves efficiency, and maintains consistency in discounting practices.
RPA-based Receivables and Payables Workflow
Invoice generation, payment processing, and reconciliation tasks are some tasks related to order management that can be automated. These tasks do not require specific human attention, and automation can not only remove the time and effort needed to process these individually but also block the chance for any error.
Sales automation integrated with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) streamlines receivables and payables workflows. These tools can extract and validate invoice data, ensuring payment processing accuracy.
Automated reminders and notifications can prompt customers for timely payments, improving cash flow. This automation guarantees quicker invoice processing and minimizes the impact of any payment delays. These tools can also help oversee the process, detect payment issues, and initiate resolution.
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a contractual agreement that defines the specifics of the services that are provided, the responsibilities of both parties and the units by which the services will be measured. Automating an SLA involves automation to monitor and measure compliance with the commitments mentioned in the SLA.
When establishing an SLA with customers, the sales team tracks and evaluates certain Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Some of these metrics include response time, resolution time, and customer satisfaction.
You can schedule reminders and notifications to alert the sales team about approaching deadlines. This ensures the quality of accountability, proactive participation in customer needs, and satisfaction that a customer can look up to.
Customer Billing and Inventory Management
Customer billing and inventory management is another task that can be automated effectively. Automated billing systems can generate invoices, track payments and make payments at the right time. They can also assess payment errors and initiate resolution processes for the same.
A smart workflow for inventory management ensures the automatic updating of stock levels by reordering products or efficiently handling them, while also tracking these purchases using real-time data. It minimizes manual intervention, reduces errors, and enhances billing and inventory management efficiency. This leads to improved customer satisfaction and increased operational effectiveness.
Utilizing an integrated automation tool with the CRM enables the recommendation of actionable post-sales opportunities based on the customers’ existing data. The automated system tracks purchase history, browsing patterns, and preferences. Using this data, they suggest cross-selling or up-selling products.
It helps produce more revenue, maintains communication with customers, retains them as a sales opportunity, and enhances customer satisfaction. The sales teams can also use the auto-generated insights to learn and make informed suggestions which can help strengthen the customer relationship with the company.
Sales automation can contribute effectively to optimizing customer journeys. A streamlined and personalized customer experience will eventually result in customer satisfaction and more conversions. A good automation system must track the customer journey from the point of marketing to sales and support.
By analyzing a customer’s journey, sales automation software can identify pain points, bottlenecks, and opportunities for improvement. Personalized content based on customers respective stages in the sales funnel can help convert them successfully. It can also provide real-time insights into customer behaviors, helping devices how to go about with the conversations.
Automation software can automate the inclusion of product activation as a step in the customer journey. Every customer must go through this repetitive task, and all aspects of the software can be thoroughly discussed with them. Humans could forget a particular feature while repeating the same info to many customers, but the software would not.
Customized welcome messages, tutorials, and interactive guides can help users quickly understand and utilize the product’s features. Automated reminders and notifications can prompt users to complete activation tasks. Sales automation also allows for personalized communication based on user behavior, fostering engagement and adoption.
Sales teams can also receive these messages and understand the challenges experienced by the customer, from using the software to their requirements. This, in turn, results in customer success and retention rates.
These automation tools can track contract expiration dates and renewal times. When a contract is due for renewal, sales automation can send automated reminders to the customer and sales representatives, prompting them to initiate discussion regarding continued purchases.
Automated workflows can streamline the renewal process, making it efficient and error-free. Sales automation prevents any contracts from being overlooked, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and maximizing opportunities for renewal.
RPA-based Report Generation/Distribution
RPA bots can quickly generate accurate reports with consistency and error-free data. It can produce real-time reporting and provides up-to-date insights into sales performance, enabling timely decision-making. It also allows customization of reports based on different stakeholders.
This system also ensures that all recipients of the reports get their copy without any prompt. Automation can provide various analytics in various formats without any accidental human error. Sales teams can focus on analyzing data, making data-driven decisions, and improving performance.
AI-powered systems can accurately track and calculate sales commissions, bonuses, and incentives based on predefined rules and performance metrics. Automation ensures timely and error-free compensation payouts, boosting sales team motivation and morale. AI algorithms can analyze sales data to optimize compensation structures, aligning them with business objectives and sales strategies.
Automation handling compensation management reduces administrative burden, freeing up time for sales managers to focus on coaching and driving sales performance. AI-enabled Compensation Management streamlines the process, improves accuracy, and fosters a motivated and high-performing sales team, increasing revenue and business success.
RPA-based HR Document Generation
RPA bots can automate the creation and management of essential HR documents such as offer letters, contracts, and employee onboarding paperwork. This streamlines the hiring process, reducing manual effort and ensuring consistency and accuracy in document preparation.
Automated HR document generation also minimizes the risk of errors and compliance issues. HR document generation by RPA enables swift retrieval and updates, improving communication between sales reps and HR teams. This automation enhances efficiency, compliance, and collaboration, facilitating a smoother sales hiring process.
These are some of the key ways in which sales automation can be beneficial for any organization. Once again, it is essential to understand that automation doesn’t equate to replacing human labor. In a recent study, machine learning and robotic process automation were the most popular technologies in the sales sector. These were found to have an adoption rate of 70 to 55 percent among the pioneers in sales automation.
Read our collection of sales automation blogs to learn more about the topic: Ultimate Guide to Sales Automation Tools.