Sales process automation is the future for you and your company.
There is no doubt about it – the advent of technology has enabled vast progress in the speed and accuracy with which people are able to carry out simple tasks. From interactive voice response systems, to data analysis software, to smart home devices, the applications of automation are endless. And businesses are no stranger to the game; in fact, many have started adopting a wide range of automated processes to enhance their operations.
One of the most widely adopted of these practices is sales process automation; after all, sales are the heart of any business. The daily life of a sales representative involves a myriad of tasks that are time-consuming and repetitive. Scheduling meetings, making calls, creating contracts, negotiating deals, and more – would not their time be better spent if these tasks could be taken care of for them?
This is where sales process automation comes in handy. The subsequent discussion will cover the importance of sales process automation along with tips on how to implement it successfully in your business.
The importance of sales process automation
Simply put, sales process automation is the task of streamlining manual and repetitive functions of the sales department to enable them to concentrate their efforts on work that requires more importance.
This is generally done with the help of software applications that can increase employee efficiency, manage large amounts of data and reduce the chances of human error.
Some advantages of sales process automation are:
- It helps to increase employee productivity
- It gives sales teams access to real-time intelligence and business data
- It improves the accuracy of your sales process
- It enables sales forecasting and predictive analysis
- It supports data-driven strategy formulation
- It streamlines the length of your sales cycle
- It enhances the utility of a small sales team or low sales budget
Sales automation is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must for any business. Recent research from McKinsey suggests that early adopters of sales automation report efficiency improvements of up to 15%, and sales uplift potential of up to 10% - numbers that can mean the difference between being a market leader or not in today’s competitive world.
The seven-step sales process
“Sell me this pen”.
Any aspiring or existing salesman has heard this phrase. The typical sales process is as much an art as it is a science. And when it comes to SaaS (software-as-a-service), it can be equally tricky to clinch a sales deal.
The typical SaaS sales process varies in length – it can take as little as two weeks or as long as six months. Usually, it involves a series of seven steps that can be modified or adapted to suit your business.
Let us understand these steps now, along with some examples of how they can be automated:
The very first step is finding a pool of early-stage leads who may be interested in your product. Prospecting offline typically involves speaking to people at trade shows or conferences, phone calls, or mass communications. However, digital marketing, hypertargeting, and referral programs are just some examples of how this process can be automated online.
For example, many companies use digital advertising to retarget potential leads who clicked on an ad, or expressed interest in a particular search term.
Not every lead will turn into a customer. For example, someone who may be interested in your product may not have the business structure or budget to support it. This is where qualifying leads helps weed out unlikely prospects and save your salespeople some valuable time in subsequent steps. While it is possible to qualify leads through a quick introductory phone call, some businesses have opted for greater efficiency through sales process automation.
Banks, for example, typically pre-qualify customers using smart online forms that allow only eligible customers to proceed with a credit card application.
- Doing the research:
You have got yourself a pool of qualified leads and are ready to pitch your product to them. But hold on – before you try to push a product that they may not need or want, it is always better to do your research first. An initial conversation can always help to set clear expectations and understand the prospect’s challenges before making a more personalised product recommendation. Doing your research on their specific scenario also increases the likelihood of clinching the sale.
- Making the pitch:
This is probably one of the most personal steps in the process, because it involves scheduling and running a presentation or demonstration that conveys your prospect’s need for the product, and how they can benefit from it. Your presentation should be tailored to address specific pain points, and you should be prepared to answer any questions about the product afterwards.
An example of automation at this stage could be a tool that helps salespeople to schedule meetings or send reminders about a proposal to a customer.
- Answering questions:
Rarely does a pitch conclude without any questions from the prospect. Doing your research beforehand and having a list of ready answers will help to build trust and confidence. It also helps to listen to your potential customers, using them as a source of feedback and to identify additional opportunities for upselling or cross-selling in the future.
The endgame of any salesperson is to close the deal, which can involve signing a contract, delivering a quotation, or agreeing upon a proposal. However, until the ink is on the paper, you should be careful to ensure that you continue to remain attuned to your customers’ needs – there may yet be some negotiation to overcome. Once a mutually beneficial decision has been reached, the sale can be considered closed.
Contractbook is the perfect tool example of a software that enables sales process automation. With smart collaboration tools, a digital signature setup, and automated workflows, Contractbook can help to increase the efficiency of the seven-step sales process, freeing up salespeople to engage in more value-generating tasks. In fact, Dreivers have reduced their costs by 25 % by using an automated setup with Contractbook and their CRM-system.
Sales process automation: best practices
It is not difficult to create an automated sales process, it is how to improve your sales process that is the harder challenge!
But there are a few basics you need to keep in mind to have an effective strategy for sales process automation. Although technology does play a big role, do not forget that the customer is the centre of your sales process, and that every interaction with them is important to create an ideal customer journey.
Some of the best practices to keep in mind are:
- Select the correct tools that can help your sales team. The flashiest tools are not necessarily the ones that will result in the most improvements to productivity.
- Map out your customer journey to identify opportunities for automation. Consider shadowing sales reps or carrying out research that can pinpoint specific areas where improvements to the sales process can be made.
- Test smaller improvements to the sales process over time, rather than completely overhauling the existing system. This will prevent your sales team from getting overwhelmed with a new process.
- Make sure to have a solid plan for training and educating both customers and staff about your new software.
- Collect and analyse data to ensure that your implementations are having their intended effects – consider ditching steps that add unnecessary complexity to your salespeople’s daily tasks.
- Take feedback from all stakeholders in the process. Both your sales team and your customers should be comfortable with the new process improvements.
Creating and mapping out a sales automation process not only helps you, but your sales team close more deals and generate more leads. It also ensures a consistent and satisfactory customer experience every time which means more loyal customers in the long term. So what are you waiting for? Start optimising your sales process today!