The world of sales is changing so fast, and customers are becoming more and more informed and in control of their choices.
Gone are the days when sales reps could influence customers’ purchase decisions and compel them to make a purchase, nowadays, customers now search for what they want and can fully decide their purchasing timeline and conditions.
The recent developments and technologies in sales have transformed the sales process. With the growing demands for more products and services by customers, sales reps have to go the extra mile to generate and nurture leads through the sales cycle – all of which has increased the daily tasks and activities that sales reps have to perform to meet their sales target.
Sales automation has become an integral part of the modern sales process. Based on a report that sales professionals spend 50% of their time on manual tasks that can be automated, a lot of sales organizations have turned to sales automation tools to help them automate time-consuming tasks and devote more of their time to high-quality prospects that can generate more revue.
If you have ever lost a deal because you forgot to follow up on them or spent so much of your time on poor leads that failed to generate your desired sales target, you need to integrate automation into your sales process.
This guide will take you through sales automation and how you can leverage sales automation tools in your sales process.
Table of Content
- What is sales automation?
- Sales automation vs. Marketing Automation
- Benefits of Sales Automation
- What is sales process automation? And How does it work?
- What are the stages involved in sales process automation?
- What are the features of sales process automation?
- Tips to consider when choosing your sales automation tools
- Sales automation tools to consider
- Disadvantages of sales automation
- Frequently asked questions.
What is sales automation?
Sales automation is the process of using sophisticated software to automate manual, repetitive, and time-consuming sales tasks. It is mostly used by sales teams to simplify the sales process and give room for better prospecting.
A lot of sales organizations use artificial intelligence (AI) enabled software and digital tools to plan and manage the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of sales reps and managers.
Some of the most popular sales automation tools have CRM features, lead generation and management software, and email marketing software.
To increase success sales rate. Many sales reps must constantly find leads and develop effective strategies to nurture and convert the Leads to revenue-generating customers. Without sales automation tools, it would be nearly impossible to combine these tasks with their other responsibilities.
Sales automation has become so relevant to the present-day sales process that it almost becomes taboo when you perform your sales tasks without automation tools. In subsequent sections, we will be discussing the benefits, features, and ways you can integrate sales automation into your sales process.
Sales Automation vs. Marketing Automation
Sales and marketing automation perform almost the same functions but have slight differences in terms of their goals and application.
Marketing automation is the use of automation tools to find and attract leads whom a business can send its tailored marketing campaigns. The tools automate marketing tasks to help marketing teams achieve these goals.
While sales automation uses sales automation tools to qualify leads and nurture them by automating and scheduling customer follow-ups, email marketing, and relationship-building tasks.
Sales automation tools help sales teams successfully convert their leads into paying customers, while marketing automation tools help marketing teams to generate leads that will be added to the sales pipeline.
Overall, sales and marketing automation tools help both teams improve their productivity and boost their sales performance.
Benefits of Sales Automation
Sales automation is the key to achieving remarkable success in your sales efforts. Some of the sales automation tools can be cost-intensive, hence, it’s important that you clearly understand what you stand to gain from using them.
Below are some of the benefits of sales automation to your business.
1. Optimize your sales team skills and expertise
Oftentimes, sales reps invest so much of their time, effort, and resources in performing general, repetitive tasks that they fail to optimize their sales skills and knowledge in their sales-specific tasks to increase sales.
By automating some of these mundane, recurring, and strenuous tasks, your sales team can devote more of their time, skills, and expertise to customer-focused sales tasks and activities.
2. It helps to develop a clear and streamlined sales workflow
The highly competitive scope and dynamics of the sales field have become made the sales process lengthier and more intense.
With the growing demands for more innovative problem-solving products or services, sales reps have to put in the extra effort to generate more leads, interact with them at regular intervals and develop tailored sales strategies and campaigns – all of which can be a bit challenging for sales reps to manage and actively track.
Sales automation software can help sales managers and reps to streamline the sales process and create a workflow that would make it easy for them to track their activities and perform them.
3. It makes data easily accessible and organized.
Sales automation software helps you collate and analyze up-to-date sales data without investing too much of your sales reps’ manpower and effort through manual searches.
Importantly, sales automation software also adds the updated data in a centralized system that every member of the sales and marketing teams can access and use to achieve their goals.
4. It reduces the possibility of making errors
Manually collated and analyzed sales data are prone to errors from the sales reps’ fatigue, distractions, and burnout. Although mistakes can’t be helped at times, making mistakes in your sales data can cost you a lot – in terms of customers and revenue.
Sales automation tools can process and manage large data sets and perform several repetitive tasks with fewer errors.
5. It helps you gain better insights into customer needs and behavior
Customer research helps sales teams discover and understand their customer’s needs, goals, interests, and pain points.
As your customers visit and interact with your brand, your sales automation tools can track and record your customer behaviors to help you understand them better and make use of the information in your subsequent sales campaigns.
With these strategies in place, you have better chances of nurturing and converting your customers.
6. Increase your lead conversion rate
The ultimate goal of every sales activity, technique, strategy, and campaign are to turn leads or prospects into paying customers.
With more competitors in the global market, sales reps have to go through the extra mile to find leads, build relationships with them and provide them value before customers make a purchase.
However, with a sales automation tool, sales teams can manage more leads with timely and personalized sales messaging features to increase your lead conversion rate – which automatically increases sales.
7. It makes the onboarding process a lot easier
Onboarding is the process of integrating new hires into an organizational system. Similar to sales teams, new sales reps can gain a better and clearer understanding of your organization’s sales process and workflow through sales automation software.
When newly hired sales reps understand the process, they will be able to buy into your sales goals and get on with their tasks, to contribute their quota to your goals.
Other benefits include;
8. Sales automation software helps you manage all your leads and ensures you don’t miss out on them.
9. It improves your response time to boost customer satisfaction.
10. It helps you identify and prioritize high-quality leads.
What is sales process automation? And How does it work?
Sales process automation is the process of automating several activities in the sales process to give sales reps more time to focus on sales-focused tasks while other administrative and repetitive tasks are handled by sales automation software.
Sales process automation encompasses every sales activity that is automated to streamline and unify the sales process to help sales teams nurture leads and prioritize the qualified ones to increase sales.
An automated sales process makes it easy to identify lapses in your sales process so that you can improve it and use the new insights to develop better-tailored sales campaigns.
Sales Automation CRM
One of the most important sales automation tools that you will be using more often is the customer relationship management(CRM) tool.
Without CRM software, it will be almost impossible to fully automate your sales process and reap its benefits. Think of this like a car, CRM software is like the engine of a car – it gets the entire car running while the sales automation tools are like other parts of the car, they complement the engine.
A sales automation can help you schedule and automate your tasks, while a sales CRM will help you engage and manage all your leads and prospects at every touchpoint.
How does sales process automation work?
Although it can be slightly difficult to automate your entire sales process, research by McKinsey Global Institute found that one-third of sales activities can be automated.
The implication of this is that sales teams and Automation software have to be combined to get the best result from your sales activities.
Sales process automation enables sales teams to automate repetitive tasks while human-centric tasks are handled by your sales team. Sales automation tools can help you with the following tasks:
1. Sales forecasting
Sales forecasting is the process of predicting your company’s future sales expectations in a specific period – usually weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually.
2. Lead identification and qualification.
Sales lead identification refers to the processes involved in identifying the position of an individual as a lead and a potential customer.
While sales lead qualification is the process of checking a lead’s eligibility to be a paying customer by verifying their financial eligibility and needs assessment.
3. Follow-up communications
Follow-up refers to all the activities carried out to maintain regular communication with prospects and leads and keep your business solutions at the top of their minds. Sales automation tools help you automate your follow-ups.
4. Pipeline Management
Pipeline management is the process of monitoring and managing potential and upcoming sales opportunities and consistently tracking and measuring the progress of every lead’s journey as they progress in the sales cycle.
Sales automation tools help you manage your leads in your sales pipeline from start to finish
5. Sales calls and message scheduling
Sales calls and messages are critical parts of the sales process. You can sales automation tool to schedule sales calls, messages, and meetings.
6. Talent Management
By automating the majority of your administrative and manual tasks, your sales team members can channel their knowledge, skills, and expertise into sales activities to generate better results.
7. Quota setting
A sales quota is a well-defined goal or target that a sales rep has to achieve to boost organization growth and revenue. Sales quotas motivate sales professionals to hit their sales target by developing customer-focused strategies and sales campaigns.
Sales managers can use sales automation software to set quotas for their sales team.
8. Order Management
Sales automation software can help you track and manage your customer’s orders. The order management features allow sales teams to receive, track and manage products or service orders.
Depending on how sophisticated your sales automation software is, you can track and manage your customer’s orders from initial orders to delivery.
9. Sales reports & analytics
Sales automation software can help you measure and visualize your individual and team performance, analyze daily tasks and different sales processes, and use all this information to create a self-facing and intuitive report.
10. Lead prioritization
With sales automation software, you can gain insights into positive traits and certain eligibilities of your leads to help you determine the high-quality and valuable ones to prioritize and tailor your sales outreach campaigns.
What are the stages involved in sales process automation?
Now that we have explained the meaning of sales process automation and identified ways you can benefit from it. How do you go about sales process automation?
In this section, we will be discussing the four important stages that you must go through before automating your sales process.
The first stage of the sales funnel is to build awareness for your brand. This stage is when your customers find out about your business products or services through advertising and marketing.
Before people begin to request your products or services, you have to raise awareness for it through effective content marketing. This first stage requires you to develop valuable information that can solve your prospect’s pain points or needs.
Once you have developed your content, the next step is to promote the content via email marketing, social media platforms, SMS, SEO, PPC, digital PR, and other marketing channels.
You can manage your content from a central hub and make use of automation tools to automate content creation and sharing among customers.
Once your prospects and customers have become aware of your business solutions, the next stage is to arouse their interest in your products. You can achieve this by showcasing your products or service benefits to make them interested in buying them.
This stage determines how you position your brand to engage and get your potential customers interested in your services. Once you have done this, the next step is to identify your interested prospects by checking your list of new email subscribers, recent calls to your sales team, or messages sent to your social media DMs.
After gathering and collating these lists, you can use sales automation software to automate your welcome emails, reminders, sales calls, or follow-ups to help you manage the leads and ensure you don’t lose any of them due to negligence.
Now that you have ascertained your prospect’s interest in your products or services and have identified the list of highly engaged and interested leads, the next stage is to turn those interests into desire.
It is not enough to have your leads interested in your products, you need to level this up to encourage them to consider an actual purchase. In this stage, your goal is to get them emotionally attached to your product or services by reiterating their unique benefits and characteristics.
Critical to the success of this stage is your ability to be direct in your marketing to help your lead save time and progress in the sales funnel.
Consider using sales automation tools to automate the entire sale communication process – sharing and updating your product documentation, pricing contracts, or invoices to initiate sales.
This is the final stage where actual sales take place. All along, you have increased your brand awareness, aroused their interest, and invoked their desire for your products through effective content marketing, effective sales communications, and follow-up.
The action stage is where the lead generated becomes a paying customer. It comprises payment, sales confirmation, and product delivery
You can use a sales automation tool to keep track of all new deals, payments, and customer contact details. The sales automation tool can also inform you of your progress, the number of deals that have been closed, and prospects that are yet to make a payment or receive their products.
Integrating an automated billing system can help you manage your cash flow, and customers and eliminate some of the repetitive, administrative tasks. Subsequently, for your customer retention tasks, you can use sales automation software to track all your revenue and processes.
What are the features of sales process automation?
Sales automation enables sales teams to reduce time spent on recurring, administrative tasks and focus on other high-demand tasks to improve sales productivity and revenue generation.
The key features of sales automation are;
1. Sales teams Guidance
Sales automation provides data-driven guidance to help sales reps and managers identify important upcoming tasks, keep track of responsibilities, and monitor their performance through automated reminders and notifications.
Through sales automation guidance, sales teams miss or lose fewer opportunities, understand how they are performing to improve, and never forget to perform any important tasks.
Research is critical to lead generation and qualification. It encompasses all activities carried out by sales teams to find more information about a prospect and determine their eligibility for your products or services.
You can use the research automation feature to search for client information on the Internet and process the information to identify your preferred leads
3. Lead generation and Management
Lead generation involves all the processes and activities carried out to find and add leads to the sales pipeline.
Generating leads is not enough, you also need to analyze the lead’s traits, behaviors, and characteristics to score, organize and prioritize them for sales reps.
Imagine a sales rep manually doing all of this, the time, efforts, and resources invested in generating and managing leads would be achieved by sales automation software in lesser time.
The defined list of qualified leads will enable sales reps to increase sales conversion.
This sales automation feature enables smooth sales communication from emails to calls, messages virtual and physical meetings.
Salespeople need to perform several important tasks that can affect their ability to actively provide swift responses to customers with high expectations. Communication automation helps sales teams to automate emails, calls, messaging, and meeting scheduling and reminders. These automation tools can improve overall customer interaction.
Even with the busy schedules of sales reps, prospects and customers can still receive timely email campaigns/newsletters, schedule meetings, and engage with the company via chatbots on the website.
5. Data Entry
Sales data entry is the process of inputting or adding sales data or information into the company’s database. It is regarded as one of the most strenuous tasks that sales reps have to perform.
Manual input of data increases the likelihood to make mistakes that can cost an organization so much in terms of customers or money. The data entry sales automation feature can help you input your sales data much faster and with fewer errors.
6. Sales record creation
A sales record provides a summary of a sales team’s activities, leads in the pipeline, and plans or strategies developed to achieve sales goals.
It helps you keep track of your sales processes and gives you a clear visualization of your sales activities and leads/customers.
A sales automation software can help you create a new profile for newly acquired and engaging leads and help you store the contact details of your leads in the CRM software to enable coordination.
7. Activity Log
A sales activity log is a record of all sales-related and unrelated activities carried out by a sales team. A sales automation software can show sales managers and reps their activities, performance, and steps in the sales pipeline.
A sales automation tool can help track and update the number of emails, phone calls, messages, and meetings that are sent made, or scheduled within a specific period to save time and boost sales performance.
Tips to consider when choosing your sales automation tools
Before choosing any sales automation tool, kindly look out for the following characteristics
1. Easy integration with other tools or software
You must check whether your sales automation tool allows for easy integration with other software or tools. One of the popular sales automation tools integration is with CRM software.
You have to pay extra care and attention to these to make it easy for you to streamline your tasks and work processes.
2. Data collation and filtering
Irrespective of your stage in the sales process, you are going to need so much data in nurturing your leads and closing a deal.
For this reason, your sales automation tools must be able to research information on your leads (their interest, goals, and pain points) and supply you with that information to develop tailored messages and campaigns for your leads. Also, confirm if your automation tool can help you filter and update your lead’s information when necessary.
3. Allows you to save email templates
The reality of your sales outreach is that you would have to send your prospects and customers a lot of business emails to communicate and send follow-up reminders and messages to them.
Hence, you must ensure that your sales automation tool allows you to save your frequently sent emails as a template to make it easy for subsequent communications.
4. Has a meeting scheduling feature
Based on several reports, a large percentage of promising leads and prospects are lost by sales teams due to their negligence and poor follow-up techniques.
As a result, you must ensure that your chosen or preferred sales automation tool has a meeting scheduler that allows you to schedule meetings and automate meeting reminders so you never miss out on any of your important meetings.
5. Lead scoring
Lead scoring is the process of assigning score values to your leads based on how best they fit into your criteria of qualified leads.
Ensure that your sales automation tool can help you identify and prioritize qualified leads to nurture and convert.
Sales automation tools to consider
Sales automation tools are software that a sales team uses to automate all its sales tasks and activities to make your sales process more efficient and successful. Some of the best sales automation platforms to choose from are;
Sloovi’s Outreach is an all-in-one platform that enables your sales and marketing teams to accelerate, manage and enhance campaigns by managing leads, automating sales outreach, developing customized reports, and managing the sales pipeline.
Sloovi Outreach will enable your sales teams to smash your sales target, reduce cost, and improve sales productivity by tracking your daily sales workflow, creating customized and intuitive reports, scheduling more meetings, and prioritizing leads with dynamic Smart Views.
Outreach offers four services;
- Lead generation: This feature helps you manage all your leads from a unified platform. It also allows you to add thousands of sales leads and prioritize and track every integration with a sales lead.
- Cold Outreach automation: This feature will enable you to send personalized, scalable, and automated sales outreach via emails, global calls, and SMS.
- Report Creation: This feature provides sales leaders with all the insights about the activities of their sales reps and helps you create customized and intuitive reports.
- Manage Pipelines: This feature tracks all the deals you are about to crack as they travel through each sales stage.
Hubspot CRM tracks your sales activities and sources new qualified leads. You can also manage your sales pipeline, log your sales rep’s activities, store information about all your contact in one location, and interact with the contacts in real-time. The Hubspot CRM allows you to call your prospects directly to streamline communication.
The functional advantage of HubSpot is that it helps your sales rep build qualified leads from monitored website visits and store prospects’ contact and work information. You can also manage prospecting tasks such as scheduling calls and meetings and tracking business deals.
The CRM will also help you nurture your customers – send personalized emails, and measure the success of your prospecting efforts.
3. Sales Hub
The sales hub is a sales prospecting tool that provides you with detailed information on your prospect’s email engagement by monitoring your emails and enabling you to send and schedule emails.
Its email tracking alerts you when prospects open your emails, click on links or open the email attachment.
The functional advantage of this prospecting tool is that it provides detailed information about your prospect’s response to your email. It also helps you schedule another email to your sales prospects after a failed one
Calendly is a business communication software that enables sales reps to schedule, prepare and follow up on sales meetings.
Calendly also enables sales meetings flexibility – by sharing meeting links to prospects and customers and requesting that they choose their preferred time and date. It allows integration with Google, Office 365, Outlook, and CRMs like HubSpot, etc.
It is fully optimized for all devices and has website embedding.
SalesBlink is a sales outreach and engagement tool that helps sales teams to automate sales outreach and connect sales reps to qualified leads.
Some of its best features are; a domain finder, meeting scheduler, email search, company finder, email verification, cold email and call outreach, sales CRM, and pipeline management.
Sales reps can use this software to automate follow-ups, personalize messages, track lead activities and provide customer support.
ZoomInfo is a market intelligence platform that sales and marketing teams can use to gain access to valuable information that can help them find new potential clients.
This tool provides sales teams with insights on over 50,000+ customer data that you can use to create target lists. It allows you to integrate other tools or software with its platform to close more sales deals and hit your sales targets.
8. Overloop (formerly Prospect.io)
Overloop is a multi-channel outbound sales platform that helps sales reps to plan and manage outbound campaigns – from the conversational stage to finally closing the deals.
Overloop helps sales professionals manage the entire sales pipeline, track sales performance, and achieve their sales targets with personalized campaigns by mixing cold emails and LinkedIn automation to help you close more deals.
Disadvantages of sales automation
The main setback with sales automation are:
1. It might take time to get used to it
Sales automation technology can take time for your sales teams to fully understand and get accustomed to the functionalities and attributes.
Depending on how sophisticated your sales automation tool is, your sales teams can struggle with finding their way around it.
2. It can be difficult to integrate your existing workflow into your sales automation platform.
Before choosing a sales automation tool, your sales team might already have tools and workflows that might be difficult to integrate into your sales automation tool.
Depending on your sales team’s existing workflow and tools, you can struggle with finding the right automation tool.
3. It lacks a human touch
The use of sales automation tools for all your personalized messaging and prospecting can reduce your creativity and takes out sales reps’ intuition in the sales process.
It is important for you to understand that to achieve the best results, sales teams must combine sales automation tools with the human effort to create balance. By doing this, one technique can make up for the other.
Whenever your sales automation underperforms, you can make up for it with your sales skills and expertise.
In summary, sales automation is the use of software to streamline your sales processes and allows sales reps to automate recurring tasks and schedule meetings, messages, and task reminders.
Sales automation tools help salespeople to reduce the majority of their manual tasks to update contact details, schedule meetings, and increase sales.
If you are on the lookout for an all-around and robust sales CRM with full automation function, consider using Sloovi Outreach, a sales automation and engagement platform that can help you update over a thousand leads, build stronger relationships with customers and win more sales deals.
Sign up for the free plan today!
Sales automation FAQs
1. What is sales automation?
Sales automation is the use of software-based technologies to automate repetitive sales tasks, and sales processes from the lead generation stage to lead nurturing.
2. How can you get started with sales automation?
Consider talking to your sales reps to gain a better understanding of their day-to-day tasks, challenges, and existing tools to find a suitable sales automation tool to make the sales process a lot more efficient and successful.
3. How can your sales team benefit from sales automation?
Sales automation can help you focus on more important tasks, and streamline your sales process to find and qualify more leads, nurture them effectively and close more deals.
4. What specific tasks can sales automation help you achieve?
Sales automation can help your sales teams perform lead generation, manage customer relationships, schedule appointments, and automate email campaigns, sales reporting, and analytics.