Sales automation can drive significant performance improvements throughout the sales department, which can free up agents’ time for more value-added activities and drive bottom-line revenue improvements.
What sales activities can be automated?
According to McKinsey, around one-third of sales activities can be automated, including:
- Sales strategy and planning
- Lead qualification
- Configuration, pricing, and quotation
- Order management
- Post-sales activities
- Structural support
Within these categories, an even greater number of tasks can be automated, including:
Prospecting and outreach. Automated outreach, when done appropriately, can exponentially amplify a sales representative’s engagement potential. Using automation tools for social media or email can enable a single person to contact tens, hundreds, or even thousands of potential prospects, without performing any manual work.
Lead identification, generation, and qualification. Modern sales platforms can analyze data sets automatically and use preprogrammed rules to score, qualify, and even distribute lead lists to sales staff.
CRM data entry. Manual data entry is becoming a thing of the past. Rather than having employees manually enter data into a CRM system, sales automation tools can automatically pull data from databases, or even media platforms such as LinkedIn, and directly import that information into a sales application.
Communications. Initial outreach, mentioned above, is only the first step in the sales pipeline. Subsequent communications, such as email follow-ups, social media messages, appointment scheduling, and appointment reminders can be automated.
Call logging and analysis. Some tools, such as Otter.ai, can automatically transcribe meetings or calls. Others, such as Gong, go even further, automatically analyzing interactions with customers across channels and providing sales staff with insights that can help them improve their sales numbers.
Platforms such as Salesforce digitize and automate a number of time-consuming tasks that can, in today’s modern workplace, slow down sales staff, lower productivity, and inhibit agility.
Salesforce Lightning includes features such as:
- Salesforce Einstein, Salesforce’s AI, can score leads, analyze emails, and more.
- Einstein Search, is the system’s search engine that expedites the location of key information and increases employee productivity.
- Lightning Dialer, an in-app calling feature that includes automated features such as pre-recorded voicemails.
Lightning app developers can also build custom apps, which can then automate even more activities, such as specialized workflows.
Additionally, other automation platforms, such as WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform, enable cross-app automation. This, in turn, can lead to the automation of interdepartmental processes—a necessary step for hyperautomation.
Calculating the ROI of sales automation
Automation tools, when implemented properly, can result in improvements such as:
- Increased efficiency
- Shortened process timelines
- Improved business outcomes
- Greater revenue
More specifically, in the context of the sales department, automation tools can be used to:
Improve the productivity of sales staff. When automation tools can take on much of the tedious work normally performed by people, it means that the productivity and potential value of each employee increases.
Enhance the customer experience. Automation tools can leverage data to personalize the sales experience, simplify employee workflows, and more, which can all contribute to a sales experience that is more on-target, personalized, and profitable.
Generate better sales numbers. Improved customer experiences, increased employee productivity, and the other benefits covered in this article can all translate into bottom-line results—one of the primary reasons why sales automation platforms are a worthwhile investment.
Shorten sales funnels. Better customer experiences, improved employee productivity, and other similar factors not only increase sales numbers, they accelerate sales timelines.
Reduce errors. Although humans make mistakes from time to time, rules-based software does exactly what it is programmed to do. This means that automation platforms such as robotic process automation (RPA) tools won’t make the same types of mistakes people do.
In a best-case scenario, and with the proper approach to adoption and implementation, sales automation platforms can help differentiate your sales department from those of your competitors.
Interdepartmental automation strategies
As mentioned, sales automation platforms can be integrated with other automation tools, such as employee training software, HR software, and financial software. By weaving together a variety of tools across departments, sales managers can extract even more value from their sales automation platforms.
Here are a few examples:
Hiring. HR software, such as applicant tracking systems, can streamline and automate many recruitment-related tasks, such as candidate selection.
Accounting. Integrating sales systems into financial software can save time and labor costs by automating tasks such as calculations and data entry, while also eliminating potential errors that could arise from manual data inputs.
Customer service. To create a seamless customer experience, it is important to centralize customer data into a single repository, through tools such as customer data platforms. These types of tools allow different business functions, such as sales, customer service, and technical support to have access to the same data, which helps agents better meet customers’ needs.
Training. Digital adoption platforms can automate software onboarding and training, and platforms such as WalkMe even include modules specifically designed for sales tools, such as Salesforce.
These are just a few of the many examples of how sales platforms can be used to automate even more business processes, bridge the gap between the sales department and other functions, and continuously generate even more value for the organization as a whole.