Have you ever worked on a job that required you to perform boring, repetitive tasks day after day? Odds are it wasn’t your favorite job ever, right? In the same way, when salespeople get caught up in performing mundane tasks day in and day out, they can easily lose their enthusiasm for their work – along with their effectiveness and productivity. Fortunately, there’s a way to keep your team motivated, focused, and productive: sales automation. When used properly, automation can elevate your overall sales process in so many ways.
Let’s talk about what sales automation is, how it works, and some of the different tools and functions that it encompasses.
What is Sales Automation?
As the name implies, sales automation takes manual, repetitive, time-consuming tasks away from your reps. It transfers those tasks to a computerized system that automatically handles them instead. It’s similar to how robots can boost productivity on an assembly line, and free up human employees to handle more creatively challenging activities.
Granted, too much sales automation isn’t necessarily a good thing. You can’t automate your entire sales process. People don’t react too kindly to “spammy” phone calls from an auto-dialer, or indiscriminate email blasts. However, when you use automated tools to augment the sales process appropriately, you can really kick your team’s efficiency level into overdrive.
How Does Sales Automation Work?
No two companies are exactly alike. So sales automation may look somewhat different depending on your industry and specific business needs. That being said, the ultimate goal of sales automation is to help you move prospects down the sales funnel, and eventually convert them into paying customers.
Here are some examples of how sales automation may work for each stage of the buyer’s journey:
1. Top of Funnel (Awareness Stage)
Your main goal in this stage is to make prospects aware of your brand and attract them to your offerings. Additionally, you want to get contact information from your prospects in order to slowly build a relationship with them.
Creating a lead magnet is one strategy that you can implement to achieve these goals (e.g., a piece of gated content that can only be accessed after the prospect provides you with an email address). It’s very likely that your lead magnet will be automated. For example, submitted prospect information can be immediately transferred to your CRM, and contacts automatically uploaded to your database. Perhaps your sales automation software will even alert a sales rep to follow up with the prospect.
2. Middle of Funnel (Evaluation Stage)
In this stage, you want to nurture leads and provide them with an impetus to consider your brand further. Sales automation can prove to be an invaluable aid in this objective as well. For instance, you can set up an automated email sequence that is activated by a specific trigger (such as the prospect signing up for your newsletter, putting a product in the cart, and so forth). This email sequence is sent out automatically. It is designed to keep your brand top-of-mind for leads and add value to their buyer’s journey.
3. Bottom of Funnel (Decision Stage)
Now that your prospect has come this far, it’s time to convert them into paying customers. Action-oriented content plays a key role in closing the deal: free trial offers, discount codes, special promotions, etc.
Once again, automation can play an important part in this stage of the buyer’s journey. For example, you could program the final email in your middle-of-funnel email sequence to be the “deal closer” – i.e., to contain the special offer designed to convert the lead into a customer.
Of course, the process described above is just one example of what sales automation can do. Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to incorporating automation into your sales process.
What Are Some Key Sales Automation Tools?
They say that “time is money” and “knowledge is power.” Sales automation gives your team the best of both worlds. It allows reps to bypass routine tasks and provides them with key insights into consumer behavior. Here are some examples of important automation tools that you should consider implementing for your sales team (if you haven’t already):
Your customer relationship manager (CRM) system serves as the foundation for many automated tasks. It is a powerful tool for compiling contact lists, organizing and segmenting your audience, nurturing your leads and converting your customers. Many CRM activities can be fully automated with just a bit of programming; many other automated tasks revolve around CRM functionality. In short: if sales automation was the solar system, then your CRM would be the sun.
Lead Scoring Tools
Automated lead scoring tools (powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning) can quickly identify high-value leads for your reps and help them to prioritize their efforts. These tools correlate shared characteristics and behavioral patterns from large customer data sets with eventual outcomes and then leverage that analysis into actionable insights. (For example, leads who subscribe to your email newsletter maybe 25% more likely to convert, and thus a better time investment than other prospects.)
This is a relatively simple form of automation, but it’s effective nonetheless. Instead of your sales reps having to create new emails from scratch each time they want to nurture a lead, they can use an appropriate, pre-defined template instead. This allows for a degree of personalization, but also a consistent brand experience across the board. (And it saves a lot of time, too!)
In summary, sales automation is an important part of modern business. They can’t (and shouldn’t) replace the human element. But automated tools will make life easier for your sales reps and help them to become more productive, effective, and motivated at their job. It will also help them to keep track of high-value prospects, nurture leads, and win over new customers.