What is sales automation? A comprehensive guide
Sales are all about closing. While following up with leads and finalizing deals are your sales team’s primary responsibilities, chances are that these activities comprise only a small portion of their daily workload.
Meetings, scheduling, researching, and reporting are important tasks, but the time that sales teams spend on them — instead of selling — is money left on the table. If your company’s sales representatives feel like they don’t have enough time in the day, automating the sales process may be the solution to improving their productivity, efficiency, and conversion rates.
Sales automation handles the repetitive manual processes that take up time and energy from your sales team, which they could instead spend on talking to leads and closing deals. In this guide, you’ll learn how sales automation can benefit your sales department and how to find the right tools to automate your process.
This post will explain:
- What sales automation is
- How sales automation works
- How sales automation is used
- How sales managers can use automation
- Benefits of sales automation
- Sales automation and CRM
- How to improve your sales process with automation
What is sales automation?
Sales automation is a method of automating and streamlining repetitive tasks in the sales process with software that frees up your team to focus on selling. Using technology like machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), sales reps can focus more on connecting with leads and making sales than administrative work.
You can’t automate the entire sales process, but you make specific tasks like data entry, scheduling, lead scoring, and many types of emails much easier. 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.
Sales automation is not meant to replace sales reps or remove the human element of sales. It’s designed to give sales reps more time to spend with leads and clients to form lasting relationships.
How sales automation works
Automating the sales process is a hybrid approach that aims to lighten the load on many projects.
The level of automation depends on the company. For an enterprise, more automation may be necessary to keep up with a growing client base. For a small business, a few tasks may need to be automated to keep projects moving forward in a timely manner.
While automation needs can vary, there are some general ways that it operates and can help your business. Automation can be used to:
- Eliminate processes that don’t have value.
- Standardize processes.
- Generate leads.
- Help with lead identification and qualification.
- Assist with follow-up communication.
- Create reports and analytics.
- Help with order management.
Automation allows your team to focus on important and dynamic business processes while it handles repetitive tasks that don’t require human interaction. For example, automation can help start the conversation with a prospect, and then a sales rep can step in if the client needs more follow-up or personal attention.
How sales automation is used
The sales process typically requires many touchpoints before a customer purchases your company’s product or service. In order to be fully engaged in these conversations, it’s helpful to have the many small tasks that make up the sales process taken care of automatically.
Research shows that roughly one-third of sales tasks can be automated. Here are some of the common ways sales automation is used:
Automation can lead you in the right direction to your best leads. The technology analyzes lead behavior and organizes them so you can easily prioritize who to reach out to. Doing this manually would take hours away that could be spent engaging with your important clients.
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.
Client and prospect communication
Automation doesn’t take over communication 100%. However, it can reach out to clients and prospects automatically to get a conversation started. Still, human interaction is needed to successfully complete many tasks. Automation technology also offers personalized appointment information and reminders for clients.
Email templates and automation
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. Manually drafting and sending the same type of email is tedious and time-consuming. Luckily, you can use templates to make it easy for automation software to send personalized emails at scale.
Something that once may have needed its own meeting block can now be done within seconds. Automation makes it easy to schedule meetings instantly instead of dealing with long email chains. Clients and prospects can see openings in a sales rep’s schedule and choose an available slot conveniently.
Invoicing, contracts, and proposals
Automation can make the process of sending invoices, contracts, and proposals painless. With automatic features, you can create a system that accepts credit card information and keeps track of who’s made payments. Important documents can be shared automatically to keep you from spending hours each week asking for payment from your growing client base.
Chatbots work within sales automation software to create personalized support experiences for your clients. They can help answer frequently asked questions that are not complex enough to require a human service agent. Chatbots can provide an immediate response, which is especially useful during non-business hours.
How sales managers can use automation
Automation is helpful for sales representatives to focus more on building customer relationships and less on email creation and other small tasks that build up throughout the day. But managers can benefit from offloading tasks to automation as well.
Here are some examples of how sales managers can use automation:
Analyzing data is a 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.
While humans can certainly manage lead scoring, it takes away time that could be focused on making connections and engaging with clients. Automation tools process data faster than a human can, and they can quickly analyze what leads need to be prioritized. This allows sales managers to keep sales reps focused on high-quality leads.
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.
Automated sales forecasting is used by managers to plan ahead, make accurate projections, and provide the best customer experiences. Processing data automatically is a great way to predict growth. With this tool, your team can anticipate if it will meet key benchmarks.
Benefits of sales automation
Sales automation can produce numerous advantages for an organization, from better data and smarter insights to happier experiences and greater efficiency. Let’s look at some of the ways a business can benefit from sales automation:
- Streamlined sales workflow. There’s no reason to rely on your sales representatives to gather every piece of customer data or manually enter information with the potential for error. Marketing automation software lets you analyze calls and create transcripts, collect pivotal customer data (which gives you insights into buying interests and trends), and create a uniform data entry process.
- Fewer prospects fall through the cracks. Repetitive sales tasks can exhaust your team and sap their enthusiasm, making it easy to overlook leads or other potential opportunities. Automation can help keep your team involved and attentive. In addition, leads are continually engaged as the system gathers data about their interests and needs, helping to close sales.
- More efficient onboarding. By automating this repetitive work, you can free up resources and increase sales. Pre-hire paperwork can be automatically shared with new hires before their first day. Reminder texts and emails can be sent to remind candidates about important upcoming dates.
- Improved 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.
- Consolidated data accessible to everyone. Automation tools give everyone in your company the most accurate information without countless hours of manually searching for items. Storing data in a central location keeps everyone on the same page.
- Benchmarks for performance. 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 also automatically generate and deliver reports to all team members, keeping everyone informed.
Sales automation and CRM
Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps you manage your relationships with current and potential customers. CRM software helps businesses maintain customer relationships, increase profitability, and streamline workflows. Many CRM platforms already contain sales automation tools, so you have all you need in one place to manage customer interactions.
With CRM technology in place, incorporating automation into your sales strategy will be a simpler process. Your CRM platform is where all the information about leads and deals is stored, so already having that will help the automation software to complete tasks quickly.
Moving forward with the CRM software in place and automation installed, you may also want to add in even more advanced processes such as machine learning and cognitive agents.
Improve your sales process with automation
Using automation in the sales process frees up time and energy for your representatives so they can focus on building relationships and closing deals. When you’re ready to get started with sales automation, evaluate a software solution that will work with your process and tools.
Using the brainpower of ML, Adobe Sensei aggregates data, synthesizes insights, and discovers all the possibilities so that you can make the best choices for your customers and the smartest decisions for your business. As your AI-powered assistant, Sensei can automate mundane tasks and streamline processes, freeing you up to focus on what you do best. Start building more engaging digital experiences with the help of Adobe Sensei.
Adobe Marketo Engage gives marketers the complete toolkit to deliver winning lead- and account-based marketing automation, from acquisition to advocacy. As a comprehensive solution for lead management, it brings marketing and sales together to nurture leads, orchestrate personalized experiences, optimize content, and measure business impact across every channel.
Boost engagement and growth with marketing automation.