Unlock the power of sales automation with these 7 essential processes
What is sales automation?
Sales automation uses software to automate key sales processes like lead generation, sales forecasting and email marketing. It streamlines and automates repeatable tasks so your sales team can focus on connecting with customers and prospects.
Sales automation vs. marketing automation
While automated sales and marketing tools can save time and effort by automating repetitive tasks, their objectives and priorities are different.
In marketing, automation streamlines promotional activities that attract traffic and generate new leads. Automation is possible for tasks like content creation and outbound communication. Marketing automation helps you reach many people simultaneously.
Sales automation performs various activities to help you generate sales. These processes may include lead qualification and scoring, nurturing clients and sales forecasting. Put simply — marketing automation aims to funnel leads to sales, while sales automation aims to engage prospects in a predetermined process to close more deals.
Advantages of sales automation
Improved lead generation
Lead generation and qualification can be time-consuming, but sales automation can streamline the process. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, automation can handle over 30% of sales activities.
Automating tasks like pipeline management, appointment scheduling, lead importing and follow-ups saves your team time and can improve the lead experience, too.
Sales automation tools can import prospects into your CRM when they submit a lead form and launch a welcome email series. Rather than waiting for your sales team to reach out manually, your leads will engage with your brand sooner, creating a more positive relationship.
Increased revenue and reduced costs
Sales automation is a powerful tool to secure leads and close more deals faster. Identifying and targeting high-value leads speeds up the sales cycle, boosting revenue.
Additionally, according to a study by McKinsey, 44% of businesses report reduced business costs when using artificial intelligence to support standard business processes. Using email automation software, for example, you can send thousands of customised emails every day.
Streamlined marketing process
Marketing and sales typically work together closely. So, when you automate sales tasks, you may also choose to automate marketing tasks like sending emails, publishing social media posts and running ads.
Automating these tasks can increase the number of marketing-qualified leads entering your sales funnel. Then, sales automation can help turn these sales-qualified leads into actual customers.
Personalised customer experience
Tailoring messages for each potential customer can be time-consuming. But sending the right offers at the right time can boost your chances of making a sale.
As your software collects data on each lead, leverage automation to create personalised follow-up responses. Automation makes this possible at scale, so one salesperson could nurture dozens of leads simultaneously.
Optimised data-driven decision-making
Your sales team makes many decisions daily, including which leads to prioritise, when to try to close a sale and what deals to offer.
Making good decisions requires accurate, high quality data that's easily accessible. Many CRMs with sales automation features automatically track lead activity across multiple channels, providing you with up-to-date information for nurturing prospects.
Challenges of sales automation
While sales automation can create personalisation at scale, it has its limits. While automation tools can create personalised emails based on customer journeys and activities, they can’t offer the kind of personalisation that account managers can. If your offering is business-to-business, relying too much on automation can backfire — customers and prospects value authentic, personalised relationships with you.
Problems with technology
Problems with technology can occur for various reasons, and any downtime can keep you from accessing vital lead information. While you may not be able to totally remove this risk, you can mitigate it by choosing the right sales automation tools from an experienced and reputable software provider.
Costs of automation tools
Sales automation software can be costly, and small businesses with tight budgets may struggle to find tools with advanced features at their price point. Look for software-as-a-service options and choose the right plan to meet your needs.
Essential sales automation tools
Scheduling software makes it easy for your clients to book appointments with your sales team. By sending them a link that shows your team's availability, the prospect can book an appointment that works for them. This reduces friction in the call-scheduling process, increasing the likelihood that customers will book.
Email automation programs
Email automation is common with both CRM and email marketing software. You can set up automated messages and distribute them when users take a specific action, such as when users abandon a cart, sign up for a free trial or submit a lead generation form. Email automation software often includes email templates and reporting features as well.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software
CRM software manages your audience in a single dashboard, importing prospect data from multiple sources. You can track all prospect interactions, organise customer information and automate some communication. It’s an essential tool for personalisation and outreach.
7 sales processes to automate
1. Sales prospecting
Prospecting is made easier with sales automation. Automated tools search online for new prospects and deliver their information to your CRM while avoiding duplicate contacts. Some tools will alert you when new leads are available.
2. Enriching and prioritising leads
Automation tools can score leads so your team knows which prospects are most likely to purchase (and which aren’t). Your group can prioritise the highest-intent leads based on demographic fit and recent interaction with your business.
3. Maintaining customer data
Data hygiene is crucial for lead management, as relevant and up-to-date data is essential for your sales team. They need this information to determine which leads to pursue and how to nurture them.
Automation tools can maintain customer data without manual work, importing data from multiple sources online, including your website, social media and email marketing tools.
4. Emailing and communication
Communication is central in lead nurturing, so automating it where possible can be an enormous time saver. Use email automation features to set up drip campaigns, follow-up emails, welcome messages and triggered autoresponders. Use audience segmentation to send targeted messages to the right audiences.
5. Scheduling meetings
Meeting scheduling software is a game-changer for prospects and your sales team, simplifying the booking process. Send a link to prospects and allow them to book a time when you’re available. The software automatically blocks that time on your schedule and sends all parties email reminders.
6. Performing data analysis and reporting
Robust data means better decision-making, so leverage automation in data analysis and reporting. Sales automation tools offer improved sales forecasting, pipeline management and customer data analysis. Many streamline the reporting process, generating and sending reports to key team members.
Some tools use artificial intelligence and machine learning to track and analyse telephone calls. They may offer reporting features like sentiment tracking and suggestions on improving customer calls and often spot patterns that manual reviews miss.
7. Creating and managing documents
Signing and sending contracts digitally is increasingly the norm, so having an e-signing tool in your tech stack can be beneficial. These tools let you create templates, set up and send contracts and receive signatures from prospects. Some tools help save time by auto-filling company information.
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