Your sales team is the life force of your organization; after all, a business cannot sustain itself without sales. What if you found out, however, that around 62% of your sales team’s time is spent on routine tasks, rather than focusing on its core purpose – to sell?
HubSpot’s annual sales survey revealed that salespeople spend a significant portion of their day on carrying out administrative tasks such as writing emails, data entry, and scheduling meetings. In today’s digital age where there is a tool or software for pretty much anything, it begs the question why sales team’s daily tasks cannot also be optimized for maximum efficiency.
Fortunately, through sales force automation, this paradigm is fast changing, with several solutions that can help companies increase their sales teams’ productivity.
What is sales force automation?
Sales force automation refers to any software, tool, or process that helps to cut down the amount of time that a salesperson spends on routine administrative tasks, instead allowing them to focus on prospecting and selling. Apart from increasing productivity, sales force automation has been proven to reduce errors and increase the chances of conversion thanks to a smoother, more tailored sales process.
Several companies today are using sales force automation tools to improve sales efficiency:
- Aggreko, a supplier of temporary power generation equipment, for example, uses a profitability prediction tool that allows sales representatives to tweak their product offering and tailor it to meet their margins.
- The leading developer resource worldwide, Stack Overflow, uses Calendly, an automated scheduling tool to assist in its recruitment operations.
- Gusto, a cloud-based HR management platform, uses MadKudu’s predictive modelling tool to identify high-quality leads, allowing its sales team to prioritize their efforts.
- Dreivers, a P2P car trading platform, automated their sales contracts leading to a 25% reduction in costs
How does Sales Force Automation differ from Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?
Sales force automation is often considered a subset of CRM. However, the two differ slightly, in that the former’s key objective is to help optimize a business’ strategy for new customer acquisition, whereas the latter focuses more on analysing relationships with existing customers.
Sales force automation features are often included in CRM tools – for example, any information related to customer onboarding, interactions with sales reps, or the sales journey is usually visible within a CRM system. This gives account managers a unified view of the entire customer lifecycle.
However, the scope of sales force automation only applies to activities in the pre-closing phase, before a lead becomes a customer. This includes prospecting, scheduling, qualifying, and closing, among others. CRM, on the other hand, refers to systems that help to analyse the entire customer journey, right from prospecting to closing, to after-sales service, upselling, retention and more.
What are the benefits of sales force automation?
The key objective of sales force automation is to allow companies to increase the efficiency of their sales teams. It helps to do this by:
- Increasing productivity:
Sales force automation frees up salespeople from routine administrative tasks, allowing them to focus on more productive activities like speaking to customers, developing sales strategies, and analysing data, which ultimately contribute to the company’s bottom line.
- Reducing the length of the sales cycle:
Often, contracts can be delayed simply because salespeople have limited capacity and cannot carry out all the tasks required to close customers. Automation helps to relieve some of this burden, increasing the speed of moving through various stages in the sales funnel.
- Increasing conversion:
Sales force automation allows reps to customize their pitch depending on individual needs. It also increases salespeople’s responsiveness. This in turn leads to an enhanced customer experience, which can often result in a higher rate of success in closing new customers.
- Decreases sales costs:
Automation not only helps to reduce the cost of manual work involved in sales, but also increases revenue as the sales process becomes more seamless and optimized. Freeing up salespeople’s time means they have more time to focus on finding high-quality leads who are likely to generate more business for your company.
- Offers valuable insights:
As with any digital tools, sales force automation allows teams to gather a wealth of information and insights around the sales process, which can help to develop a solid acquisition strategy. Advanced analytics and modelling tools can also help to streamline sales efforts, which correspondingly increases organizational efficiency.
- Minimises the risk of errors:
Salespeople can get extremely busy, which means that when it comes to administrative tasks, there is a high likelihood of error. Automation helps to ensure consistency throughout the sales process, whether in the formatting of sales reports, regularity of data, or even compliance with any organisational or legal requirements.
Although sales force automation offers several benefits, it is vital for businesses considering adopting any of these tools to learn more about them and plan for their implementation beforehand. Choosing the right tools, ensuring a robust training program for your staff, and developing a phased rollout plan for your new technology is critical to ensuring its success.
What are the best Sales Force Automation tools?
Sales force automation can be implemented for various tasks associated with different stages of the sales cycle. For example, in the prospecting stage, an organization may take advantage of retargeted advertising to convert potential leads. In the qualifying stage, online forms could be used to quickly eliminate customers for whom your products are not a good fit. At the closing stage, an automated deal management tool could be used to quickly draft a contract. The options are endless.
Some of the most well-known sales force automation tools are:
- Reporting automation
Sales managers can often get tangled in a web of spreadsheets and either provide incorrect or obsolete data to their sales teams. Instead of manually creating reports and attaching them to e-mails, managers can make use of smart reporting tools like QuarterOne or the HubSpot Sales Hub to automatically deliver deeper insights and detailed reports at a higher frequency to their sales reps.
- Lead prioritization automation
Sales managers often waste a lot of time simply assigning and prioritizing leads to various reps. Additionally, leads often fall through the cracks of the sales process, which represents a loss of business for the company. Instead, using a lead rotation tool like LeadAssign or Ringlead helps to automatically assign leads to various reps by geography, vertical, company size and several other criteria, reducing the confusion around lead assignment, and ensuring tighter follow-up.
- Record creation automation
Manually adding sales records to your CRM is not only time-consuming, but it can also lead to inconsistencies in information or formatting, which are harder to reconcile later on. Integration tools like Zapier can help to directly connect your lead sources to your CRM, eliminating the need for creating lead records, and reducing the risk of error.
- Sales collateral automation
How many times have you received a copy-pasted message from a sales rep, with a “Dear Customer” to begin the e-mail? Not only are these ineffective but they are actively detrimental to user experience since they are impersonal and often irrelevant. Instead, consider using a smart automation tool like HubSpot Sales templates to create customized and personalized sales collaterals that will be more meaningful for your prospects.
- Meeting book automation
Scheduling meetings with prospects is often cited as one of the most time-consuming tasks that sales reps have to do. Having to play cat-and-mouse when it comes to coordination and follow up can be easily avoided, however, thanks to quick scheduling tools such as Calendly and Arrangr. Automated meeting scheduling offers greater flexibility to both, the sales rep as well as the customer, and avoids tedious back and forth.
- Contract management
Even at the tail end of the sales funnel, drafting sales proposals, generating quotes, and finalizing contracts can be a manual and time-consuming task. This is why smart tools like Contractbook can be used to automate the entire lifecycle of customer contracts, allowing auto-generation of contracts, making it easier for sales reps to obtain signatures and organize different contracts quickly and easily.
Through the power of sales force automation, you can not only look forward to growing your business, but also helping your sales team feel more motivated and engaged; a win-win for all!