The world is changing at a mind boggling pace, and technological innovation has been at the heart of it. After the influx of game-changing computational abilities at the fingertips of the populace, the future now lies in the hands of new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Analytics.
Automation has been at the forefront of this present-day revolution and has impacted businesses to the extent that about 40% of the global workforce can expect their jobs to be obsolete by 2021 (as reported by LiveMint).
This gives us all one crucial message – automation is being picked up fast by businesses all around the world. Studies suggest that the growth in machine learning is exploding at such a tremendous rate that the market is predicted to reach $15.3 Billion by 2019, with a jaw-dropping annual growth rate of 19.7%. Hence, as simple game theory dictates, this makes it imperative for all companies to delve into the sea of change. If you are planning for the same, automated processes that bring immediate ROI should be your primary game. This is where Sales Automation comes into the frame.
What is Sales Automation?
Sales Automation is the process of automating redundant tasks in sales like pipeline management, contact management, information sharing, customer management, forecasting, etc. In other words, using a tool or application to automate and streamline the various phases of the sales cycle is termed as sales automation.
Examples of Sales Automation
Let’s understand the concept better with the help of a real-life scenario. Let’s assume that you are in the online business of providing digital marketing services. Your inbound marketing efforts have helped you create content pieces including webinars and whitepapers on topics such as “Metrics to Optimize Results of Landing Pages” and “Introduction to Social Media Marketing.” As soon as the reader barters the whitepaper download with his/her email address, this can trigger a sales automation workflow where the lead can be nurtured via targeted emails. These can be as subtle as informational emails, or as extravagant as discount coupons to motivate them to come back to your website.
Similarly, if you are an e-commerce company, you can use automation to target customers who have added products to their carts and abandoned them just before checking out. This can be done by sending automated emails and/or texts to remind them of their forgotten purchases, even offering a special discount to push the lead towards conversion.
Advantages of Sales Automation
1. Easy and Quick Sales Report Generation
Reports are imperative to understand the efficiency of the various Sales practices and Automation pulls this off with panache. Reports with real-time information as well as focused variables can be easily created. For example, sales figures segregated by territories, products, or even demographics such as age and sex.
Moreover, in a study conducted by BusinessWire, 88% of the of marketers said that they value usage of such tools that reduce the time spent on preparing reports and their analysis since it gives them more time to invest in strategy and customer interactions.
2. Prioritization of Sales Tasks
Automatic ranking of leads based on their scores, in turn, means that sales representatives can prioritize their efforts and spend the most time on prospects that have the highest chances of conversion. Cold leads can be easily sifted through based on the probability of deal closing.
3. Accurate Forecasting
Since a lot of information is available about the present prospects in addition to reliable sales data of previous business cycles, sales forecasting can be done with much more accuracy. Automation systems will store and analyze various information heads which will be crucial in such scenarios.
4. Targeted Lead Nurturing
Sales Automation software today provide you with a plethora of information about prospective leads, even to the extent of live data and information about the various events that they will be attending. And what’s more? They even have the ability to send automated personalized emails based on this data. Thus, such targeted lead nurturing helps to convert more leads and hence, drives up the revenue.
5. Centralized Customer Information
If there are any changes in the information of customers, they can be easily tracked and maintained with the help of such systems. Moreover, this information is centralized, that is, it can be accessed by the designated members of the sales team, even remotely (if admin privileges allow).
Key Steps to Implement Sales Automation
If you are planning to introduce Sales Automation in your operational structure, here are the initial steps that will help you set it up.
1. Identify the Stakeholders
Who all are going to benefit from the proposed plan? How will the automation system affect the work of sales as well as supporting departments? How will it impact the experience of the customer? These and many such questions have to be answered and the main stakeholders have to be identified. Some common stakeholders are –
- Sales Team
- Marketing Team
- IT Team
- Customer Service Department
2) Access the Current Scenario
Before you decide on which sales automation software or service to opt for, it is imperative to identify areas of improvement by accessing the current operational procedures in both sales and marketing. You are likely to find additional issues through this step, which may not have been identified earlier.
3) Create a Plan with Timelines
Now that you are aware of the various gaps in sales and marketing, you can prepare a dedicated plan and choose the best automation system that is in sync with both short-term and long-term needs of your organization. This course of action should also be accompanied with proper timelines/deadlines.
4) Roll Out the System in Phases
A massive overnight change will only make the job of your employees worse. It would instead be better to roll out the software in phases. Focus on one piece of the puzzle at a time. As Michael Hanna, Salesforce expert puts it, “Don’t introduce so much change that users can’t swallow it, and they can’t adopt it even if they wanted to”.
5) Develop a Post Implementation Plan
Once the sales automation system is in place, keep the analysis ongoing and determine areas where the users are having a hard time to adapt to the new technology. You need to be responsive to their questions and extend them support in real-time, especially if they are your customers.
Sales Automation offers exciting opportunities for all businesses today and can be a real driving force when it comes to ROI. Do you have any plans to implement Sales Automation in your organization? Share your views in the comment section below!