Over the past decade, advancements in automation technology have put a treasure trove of efficiency-boosting automation tools at the fingertips of sales and marketing people. The challenge now is for sales teams to learn how to use these increasingly complex and powerful systems to gain a competitive advantage. In this article, I explain how aligning an automation system with your goals and sales team can ensure greater efficiency and a fuller sales pipeline.
How do sales automation systems improve productivity?
Sales automation systems improve productivity in two ways: they improve efficiency,
and they provide the kinds of insights that allow for better decision making.
Improved efficiency is the result of several advantages:
- streamlined processes
- greater consistency and quality of service
- time recouped for sales people to focus on skill-intensive activities
Better decision making is a less obvious but equally important benefit.
By improving the timeliness of the collection, analysis, and reporting of sales and marketing data, sales automation tools ensure that decision makers are able to make informed decisions even as things change. As one of the prerequisites for market agility, such insight is essential to survival in an ever-changing business environment.
Sales automation tools
What are these tools, and what do they do?
Sales and marketing management
Automated sales management reports can include everything from sales activities and forecasts to expenses and ROI, while sales analytics and mapping tools allow you to easily and quickly divvy up your sales territories according to your team's strengths.
The primary benefit of email automation should be obvious. Just imagine entering hundreds of personalised greetings manually. However, there is another advantage to these platforms: they enable lead nurturing workflows that send strategic messages according to certain triggers. Imagine a tool that fills and manages your sales pipeline for you.
Salesperson productivity tools
These automate the many highly repetitive activities that can take up much of a sales person’s time. They include the planning and reporting of sales calls, entering of orders, reporting of expenses, and tracking and nurturing of leads. By handing over these activities to these time-savers, your salespeople are able to focus their attention on tasks more deserving of their attention.
Every campaign is different, and no two will require the same data support. List management tools allow you to merge, segment, and clean up lists according to the requirements of your next campaign. Sometimes, however, a data list needs a more intensive overhaul because much of it has become outdated. In this case, it’s better to enlist the services of a data management expert.
How to implement an effective sales automation system
The road to sales automation success can be a twisted and winding one. With a myriad of rather complex software solutions out there, it's easy to get lost amongst the details of their many features. What you need is a map to steer you clear of what’s not relevant and toward those aspects that are.
Identify your goals
An effective automation roadmap will start with your goals. What do you want to achieve? If filling your sales pipeline with qualified leads is your top priority, make this your destination. You then have to ask yourself what will get you there. If engagement is a problem, you’d need a solution that allows your team to personalise their approach for every lead.
Choose tools that will help you achieve those goals
If you wanted to improve engagement, you might consider a system that puts a wealth of contact information and sales collateral at a sales person’s fingertips. With such information, your sales team could better appeal to their leads’ needs and concerns with the appropriate document (product comparisons and brochures) close at hand.
Combine those tools in an integrated system
The power of an integrated automation system is greater than the sum of its parts. Today, almost all marketing and sales automation tools are designed to be integrated into a CRM system via API connections. This allows you to transfer lead information seamlessly between marketing and sales, helping to solve an age-old communication problem.
Get automation buy-in from your team
Historically, salespeople have not been big fans of automation, though this has more to do with a lack of perceived need or benefit, and less to do with a fear of sales robots taking over their jobs. To get automation buy-in from your sales team, you need to emphasise how the software will benefit them individually by helping them meet sales goals.
Create processes around your sales automation tools
The majority of attempts at sales automation fail because a team’s processes are not aligned with the use of their sales automation tools. Consider your goals and how your chosen automation tools can help you achieve them. Then, design processes with the use of these integrated tools in mind.
Fill your sales pipeline with the right leads
Of course, if your sales pipeline is running dry, you need to focus as much on lead generation as you do on lead nurturing. Here it’s important to remember that not all leads are equal: poor quality leads will frustrate you sales team and waste their time and energy, while quality leads will become lifelong customers and avid promoters. You obviously want to attract the latter, and to do that you need to be strategic in your lead generation. To learn how to fill your sales pipeline with quality leads, download our guide on holistic lead generation..
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