The most important thing for sales reps to do in a day is talking with potential customers.

However, most company systems are not set up for this. Sales reps are being robbed of their valuable hours in their work day by tasks that they don’t need to be doing. According to a recent study, reps spend less than a third of their time actually selling. How should sales teams spend their time? The best answers are talking to prospects and closing a deal.

Time available for selling is plummeting. Less than 20 percent of a salespeople’s time was being spent directly on customer-related activities. By customer-related activities, we mean preparing for a call, engaging with customers, closing sales, and doing follow-ups. It’s no wonder that sales and quota performance is plummeting as well. Sales reps are basically spending one day a week selling, and the other four days doing other things

Time drains are insidious. Each, individually, look small but combined they conspire to keep sales reps from spending time with customers and prospecting potential new ones. There’s something wonderful about understanding these time drains and eliminating them. Without changing anything about how people sell or their own effectiveness, eliminating time drains drives more customer engagement and higher sales.

“By the year 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.”, according to Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company.

As a result, reaching the buyer has become even more difficult and the value of sales reps has shifted. Customers look to the quality of their interactions with representatives as the influence on their buying decision. They require timely, consistent follow-up with the right information to meet their needs – and often without much conversation up front. They want a sales representative to quickly understand them and provide helpful insight for making an informed buying decision. To do this, sales organizations need to arm their representatives with the right tools.

Automation is the key.

Why should you automate your sales process?

An automated sales process can save you and your sales team vast amounts of time. Just imagine not needing to create weekly reports manually – you get the gist. In today’s hyper-competitive business world, sales automation has become increasingly important. Sales automation systems can eliminate many of the essential, but time-consuming, manual tasks that eat up valuable selling time.

Sales process management ensures that companies don’t miss out on any potential opportunities by managing follow-ups and also setting reminders through each stage of the sales process. Sales reps can concentrate on improving the quality of their customer interaction instead of managing follow-up procedures.

Here are some sales processes that every sales team need to automate:

Call Dialing

For most sales teams, manually dialing phone numbers day in and day out can be a drag. Not only does it take precious amounts of time but it also takes away potential company revenue. With the right tools, your team can dial leads directly from their CRM with just one click. According to the Bridge Group, a technology that automates dialing can help reps dial 40% more leads daily.

Your sales team can connect with a lot more people in a single hour by using automated dialing solutions. Automatic phone dialers boost your team’s productivity and effectivity by reaching more contacts in less time. This leaves more time for your sales team to be in a conversation with potential customers. Look for a phone dialer that integrates with your company’s CRM solution to keep information on your entire sales cycle in one place and make it a whole lot easier for your sales team to know which place to look up information on.

Qualifying and Prioritizing Leads

One of the challenges most sales teams face today is the pressure to generate qualified leads and prioritize them.

Automating this will give you and your team the flexibility and process efficiency you need to scale campaigns and generate more qualified leads through a lead scoring model. You can create automated campaigns that nurture prospects to leads without a reinvestment of time and resources. You can also integrate all your efforts on the same platform. This will help you more easily set up the programs needed to pull new people into your marketing pipeline. Apart from that, you can pre-qualify leads based on lead scores to your sales team can focus their outreach on people most likely to buy.

Creating Reports

Creating reports manually can be quite a daunting task especially if you need to create reports daily. Sales teams have a lot of better things to do than spending hours in front of the computer going through multiple data sources, dredging up relevant data, combining it, updating a file (usually an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Sheet), and then distributing that file to multiple users around the company. That’s the primary reason that companies choose to automate reports: to save time.

The number one reason why you should automate reports is to free up time and resources. You will also get access to the report data right away, without having to wait for somebody else to run it. Another important reason is accuracy – the elimination of issues and errors due to manual intervention, like hitting copy-and-paste at the wrong section.

An extra benefit is that, by freeing up time, automation allows your team to have the opportunity to focus on analyzing the data instead of on pulling it.

Sending Emails

It’s amazing how much can be accomplished with a simple note sent at the right time in the right context. But it’s not surprising that many sales representatives see this as a menial task and fail to take the time to do it.

According to a research conducted by Penn State University, it was found that sales departments do not pursue 70 percent of leads generated – something researchers called the “sales lead black hole.” If that figure could be brought down to zero with minimal effort, imagine how many more leads would convert into customers.

With sales process automation, you can draft emails and send them to current and potential customers based on triggers like submitting a form on your website, clicking on an ad, or viewing one of your product pages. What’s more, the email can be personalized with all kinds of details such as the name of the customer or the product they are looking at, ensuring that the email is as impactful as it is efficient.

Companies are now investing more than ever in technology that radically improves sales productivity. According to TOPO research, fast-growing sales development teams now have an average of five technologies in their sales stack. In order to maintain competitiveness, investing in sales productivity solutions like automation is now a requirement to enhance sales processes and amplify team effectiveness.

“The first rule of any technology used in business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” -Bill Gates