Sales is all about the close. But while following up with leads and closing deals are your sales team’s primary responsibilities, chances are, these activities comprise only a small portion of their daily workload. In fact, one survey found that sales reps only dedicate an average of 23% of their time to sales-related tasks, with the remainder going towards meetings, scheduling, researching, and reporting.
These tasks are important, but the time your sales reps spend on them — instead of on selling — is money left on the table. Automating your sales process allows reps to give leads the attention that they deserve, improving your team's productivity, efficiency, and conversion rates.
In this guide, you'll learn how sales automation can benefit your team and how to use the right tools to automate your sales process.
What is Sales Automation?
Sales automation is a method of automating and streamlining sales tasks using software and technology, so your team is free to focus on selling. You can’t automate the entire sales process, but you can automate many specific tasks, like data entry, scheduling, lead scoring, and many types of emails. No matter your industry or the size of your company, relieving sales reps from these kinds of tasks will significantly benefit your team and revenue.
Why Implement Sales Automation?
Sales automation leads to benefits across your organization:
- Improve productivity and efficiency: Without automating your sales process, your team is stuck spending significant time completing administrative or communication tasks. By automating this work, you can free up resources and increase sales.
- Ensure that no lead falls through the cracks: Repetitive sales tasks can exhaust your team and sap their enthusiasm, making it easy to overlook leads or other potential opportunities. With automation, your team will remain engaged and attentive. In addition, leads are continually engaged as the system gathers data about their interests and needs, helping to close the sale.
- Increase customer satisfaction: A customer might be only one of many leads, but they should always feel like they're your number one priority. They don’t want to wait for answers and information. Automation decreases the time it takes to respond to customer needs and streamlines workflow processes, so your customers feel more valued.
- Improve data entry and collection: There’s no reason to rely on your sales representatives to gather every piece of customer data or manually enter data, with its attendant potential for error. Marketing automation software lets you analyze calls and create transcriptions, collect pivotal customer data—which gives you insights into buying interests and trends—and create a uniform data entry process.
- Improve lead targeting and conversions: Sales reps spend a lot of time on leads that never convert. Those are working hours you can never get back. Having easy access to data allows you to analyze and target a lead based on their potential for conversion and effectively retarget leads at a later date. You can even automatically generate and deliver reports to all team members, keeping everyone informed.
- Accuracy in pricing and inventory. Giving a customer the wrong information makes your company look unorganized and sloppy. Customers will hesitate to trust future information you provide and will bombard your sales teams with questions. Sales automation tools provide real-time pricing and inventory updates, helping to preserve the reputation of your brand.
Implementing Sales Process Workflows
Your sales process dictates how your team turns prospects into customers. Each action builds upon the last until you make the sale, and each step of the process should address potential pain points and milestones. Remember that sales automation doesn't replace your sales process. It improves and maintains efficiency by standardizing tasks, allowing your sales rep to focus effort and energy elsewhere.
Use your sales process to identify problem areas that your team can improve with automation. Your sales team has many daily responsibilities that can be automated in whole or in part, such as the following:
Finding new leads is the core of a healthy revenue stream. By automatically filtering, searching, and informing your team of potential leads, your sales reps get all the information they need in one place to craft messaging that speaks to the customer.
How do you make your product or service a custom fit for your prospect's problem? Gather as much information about leads as possible. Which social media channels do they use? What is their daily work schedule? What is their role? Answer these questions and more with lead enrichment tools that analyze data from numerous sources, providing you with an accurate profile for every prospect.
Correctly entering customer information is a must when you’re building a customer list. Using sales automation software, you can set triggers that add new entries to your CRM based on certain conditions, saving your sales team time and avoiding errors.
Leads rarely become customers right away, and it will usually take several interactions before you gain their trust and earn their business. With automation, you can create targeted email funnels or campaigns and schedule emails with personalized messaging. And because manually drafting and sending the same email types is incredibly time consuming, you can create email templates that are easily customized as needed and can be used repeatedly.
Logging call notes can sometimes take more time than the actual call, which means call reporting may be inconsistent or overlooked altogether. Leave this to technology and incorporate tools to summarize your calls and analyze responses for conversion potential. You’ll then know how to retarget customers immediately after the call ends—and you can follow up without delay.
Manually tracking each prospect's interactions and communication with your sales team increases the chances that your team will miss something. Sales automation tools can record your calls, meetings, and emails, accounting for each event and giving you insight into how prospects are engaging with you.
Proposal quality is one area your sales team can’t neglect. If you're not automating quotes, customer data, product details, and pricing information, then you're working harder, not smarter. Be sure to develop an internal workflow that complements the process and guarantees that key decision-makers approve the proposal before submission.
Analyzing data is the task that managers love to hate. Reports let you know how your team performs, but the process of generating and reviewing them can be a productivity drain. Look for a solution that automatically creates reports and emails team members to provide updates on important metrics like revenue totals and conversion rates.
When nurturing quality leads, random selection is not your friend. It's best to match leads and team members according to skill and experience. Consider which sales rep will be able to connect with the prospect and convert their interest into action. You can automatically assign leads by location, company size, or role.
Not all leads deserve the same level of attention. To get the best results, you must prioritize prospects based on demographic and behavioral data. However, sorting these details can feel like an uphill battle. Square this circle by automatically prioritizing leads based on data from many sources, including your lead capture forms, online behavior insights, and email and social engagement data.
Easily Automate Your Sales Process Today
Sales automation opens your team up to a world of possibilities and potential. A CRM forms a core part of sales automation, but to truly unlock its benefits, you need a comprehensive automation solution that guides your sales process at scale and integrates with your CRM and other platforms.
That’s exactly what you’ll get with Marketo Engage. It helps your sales team identify and engage leads across channels and allows your marketing team to provide key insights to your sales reps. It integrates with the most popular CRMs as well, including Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, making Marketo Engage your all-in-one automation solution.
Request a demo today to discover how Marketo Engage can help your sales team get the results they seek without adding to their workload.