A recent article described how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the future of sales. Simply put, AI uses the simulation of human-like intelligence, including patterns of thought and predictable action, via software to predictively simplify, enhance, and automate many segments of the sales process. A key word in this description is “automate,” which brings us to sales automation. Sound scary? It shouldn’t. Automation in sales and marketing can dramatically enhance the sales process while freeing sales reps to do what they do best: build relationships with engaged buyers! Here’s a closer look at sales automation and how to use it to forge a revenue-boosting competitive advantage:
What Sales is Automation?
Often used in tandem with sales-focused AI and a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, sales automation can be defined this way:
Sales automation uses software to reduce, eliminate, streamline, or manage time-consuming, repetitive sales tasks. Automating portions of the sales process (such as pipeline management, lead generation, email marketing, routine communications, and follow-ups) empowers sales teams to nurture leads and focus on converting prospects to customers.
What Sales Automation IS NOT
Sales automation is not a cure-all for subpar products or services, nor anemic strategies or sales processes. Most importantly, sales automation is NOT a replacement for sales reps. While sales automation can make repetitive, impersonal sales tasks more efficient, it cannot provide the human touch necessary to build rapport and nurture longer-term business relationships. In fact, by streamlining many parts of the sales process, sales automation can free up sales reps to spend more time engaging with higher-quality prospects and customers.
The Benefits of Sales Automation
Beyond automating repetitive tasks, automation in sales and marketing can help sales organizations reap significant big-picture benefits. These include:
• Generating more revenue (and isn’t that what sales is all about?)
• Reducing costs
• Increasing ROI
• Boosting customer satisfaction
• Saving time and repurposing energy toward high-priority sales functions
These benefits can materialize when you design and implement sales automation – again, in tandem with your CRM and AI efforts – to accomplish these goals:
• Generate and nurture leads with higher conversion potential
• Automatically place interested prospects into the pipeline
• Use intelligent lead scoring to qualify and prioritize prospects
• Use more robust data (including AI-driven data sets) for more innovative KPI-based forecasting, as well as more responsive decisions and sales process enhancements
• Better sales pipeline management
• Personalize the customer experience and fluidly guide the buyer’s journey
• More closely align marketing efforts with the sales process
• Enhance customer communications with relevant and timely messaging, including follow-ups and recommendations
• Automate time-consuming, non-productive, peripheral tasks that take the salesperson away from selling
How to Use Sales Automation as a Competitive Advantage
If you are afraid of the very concept of automation in sales and marketing, chances are your competitors share that trepidation. But when you forge ahead and embrace sales automation as a strategic and tactical part of your sales operation, you can leave slower adopters in your dust! Also, by integrating your sales automation with your CRM system, you’ll outperform competitors by streamlining your sales operation for greater efficiency and higher conversion rates. Finally, because sales automation can help your team stay in touch and engage with customers, satisfaction and loyalty can improve, making it much harder for your competitors to poach your client base.
Is Sales Automation in Your Future?
The answer to this question is simple: It better be – if you want to stay competitive and be more responsive to customer needs and expectations. Your sales team will also appreciate how sales automation makes their jobs easier, helping them focus on the right prospects for higher conversion rates.
Contributed by Anton Brummer