A good sales team is one that is persuasive, effective, and above all, efficient.
Having the soft skills to close a deal is paramount. But, it’s also important that a salesperson has the tools to prioritize, nurture, and in some cases, move on from as many leads as possible.
That’s where automation comes in.
In many ways, software that automates rote actions—which is becoming increasingly common for many roles and industries—seems tailor-made for sales. Many important sales tasks are repetitive, difficult to track, and even harder to scale.
Modern sales teams aren’t exempt from doing those tasks. However, automation makes them markedly easier, boosting efficiency by orders of magnitude. If your sales team is clamoring for customer relationship management (CRM) software of some kind. It’s important to understand why.
“The most advantageous feature of using sales software is the ability to manage our internal forecasts, clients and targets—as well as our client’s expectations. It’s a phenomenal tool.”
– Rick Quinn, Wagepoint, Head of Sales & Onboarding
Here are nine ways sales automation can make a sales team more efficient—and in turn, make your business more profitable:
1. Prioritizing choice leads
How does your sales team prioritize its leads and workflow? The most recent leads? The most important ones?
While all leads are theoretically valuable, some are more obviously valuable than others. To prioritize your lead list, your sales software can identify which leads will be more valuable to the sales team and assign them a lead score that automatically prioritizes them.
When someone is ready to buy, you’ll want to follow up with them as soon as possible or risk losing them. Firms that follow up with a lead within an hour are seven times more likely to close the sale than those who get in touch even an hour later. Prioritizing your leads means closing the most important as quickly as possible.
2. Building qualified lead lists
If you have outbound sales development representatives, a major part of their job is finding leads and generating lists that the team can follow up with at a later date. Many solutions make it easier than ever to search for leads by industry, company size, and other factors that will help you choose more qualified potential leads.
Forget complete and utter cold calls at this point—before the first contact is made, there should be a reasonable expectation that the person on the other end of the line wants what you’re selling.
3. Generating smart email responses and templates
How many hundreds of thousands of emails do sales reps send as follow-ups, confirmations, and first-contact points to potential and current customers?
On one hand, sales reps should make customers feel important and include relevant information in their emails—even if it’s just the person’s name. On the other hand, there simply isn’t enough time to write personalized emails to every customer.
Quality sales software uses artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to analyze how an individual interacts with your content and previous communications, helping create a personalized email based on that data.
For simple exploratory communications, a variety of easy-to-customize templates helps sales reps fire off important missives as needed—and since less than 10% of sales emails are opened, it’s inefficient to spend more than a few seconds crafting each one.
4. Dialing automatically from the CRM
More experienced salespeople will remember actually using their keypad to manually dial the numbers of contacts and customers. Image the days of doing so on a rotary phone!
With sales software, you don’t have to worry about inputs of any kind—which reduces errors and fatigue. Automatic dialers get leads on the line with one click. The time saved from not having to dial each number alone can equate to hundreds of hours saved a year, plus the system is already synced up with the rest of the sales data.
5. Leaving excellent voicemails
Voicemails are a major part of the job for sales reps. In fact, they spend about 25 hours a month just leaving voicemails.
Those are 25 hours that could be better spent elsewhere. Instead, create a library of pre-recorded, seamless, easy-to-track voicemails that the team can access and apply at any time. Let the library leave the voicemails while the sales rep gets back on the line.
6. Logging calls automatically
Logging calls is important for sales reps because calls per day is typically one of the metrics on which they’re measured. With sales software, every inbound and outbound call is automatically logged, so reps can worry more about making contact and sales than about proving that they’re working the phones.
It also allows them to keep track of how many times they’ve followed up with a single potential customer, eventually closing the opportunity out if no contact is made.
7. Scheduling appointments and follow-ups
How many times has a sales call ended with a sales rep promising to follow up with the customer later that day, next week, or after the new year? But instead, no notes were made, the appointment was forgotten, and the potential sale was stopped in its tracks.
Appointment confirmations and thank-you notes can also be automated by means of a scheduling platform, which presents your availability, sends emails and text reminders, and shoots over friendly notes after important calls.
8. Managing the pipeline
Is your sales team still using a simple spreadsheet to guide a lead through the funnel? Between passing a customer between representative and account exec, to keeping track of important information for their file, to noting potential upsell or cross-sell opportunities, there can be a lot of info for one Excel file to handle.
That’s an excellent way to ensure errors, unnecessary follow-ups, and lost leads. A comprehensive CRM system will track a lead from the moment they enter the funnel, and ensure that all data is accessible from any device, anywhere, any time.
9. Delivering scripts and talking points
Sales reps should never enter a call with a new lead blind. Your system should provide them with smart call scripts and talking points that reference things like their referral source and past history with your company.
The goal is to never waste a lead’s time by asking them things like repeating information they’ve already submitted online. This can and will cause them to lose their faith in your process right away.
Time is Money
At the end of the day, automation is important for one over-arching reason—it reduces the number of manual tasks for your sales team—letting them focus on selling instead.
The less time spent on manual work, the more time they spend closing deals and driving revenue for your business. It’s a win-win for you, your sales team and your customers, too.
The advice we share on our blog is intended to be informational. It does not replace the expertise of accredited business professionals.
Author: Eric Goldschein is a staff writer at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions. He covers entrepreneurship, small business trends, finance, and marketing.