Establishing a smooth sales process within your business is vital for growth. There are numerous points throughout the customer journey where opportunities can be lost if processes are not watertight. Sales automation saves time, prevents leaks from occurring and increases efficiency.
Sheila Mitham, CEO of Inbound FinTech, is a guest author on the Walpole Partnership blog this month and considers the impact that sales automation can have on a business or organisation. As the founder of one of the UK’s leading digital growth agencies, Sheila knows all about the importance of an efficient sales cycle and the key role that automation plays in turning leads into opportunities and customers.
Here she outlines 9 key ways that automation can help to improve your sales process and drive more revenue for your business:
1) Remove the barriers to purchase
Having great products and services will only get you so far. This is especially true for B2B companies operating in industries where the sales cycle is long. There are so many factors involved and lots of barriers to purchase, meaning risk is high for communications to break down and sales opportunities to be lost. Automation helps remove these barriers by minimising delays, aiding customer decision-making and building trust.
2) Reduce human error and time-consuming tasks
Having too many manual processes causes delays and human error. Here are just a few of the common challenges and mistakes that can impact businesses:
Costly time spent adding leads to your CRM manually
No strategy in place for prioritising leads
Deals being lost when not following up leads in a timely manner
Inefficient communication processes for arranging calls/meetings
Poor organisation of sales collateral
Sales automation software removes time-consuming tasks, which hinder sales reps, managers and key stakeholders, and reduces the risk of human errors.
3) Build a clearer picture of your prospects with lead enrichment
Gathering as much information as possible about your leads puts your sales team in a powerful position. Build a comprehensive picture of your prospects with the help of lead enrichment tools, which enable you to have better communications and further qualifying them.
Here are some of the top lead enrichment tools:
These handy tools gather information from countless data sources to help sales teams to improve data quality and gain a deeper knowledge of their leads. Beyond company size and job title, you can learn about their social media presence, which vendors they use, and their responsibilities at the company.
4) Sales and marketing alignment
Ensuring that your sales and marketing teams are aligned is key for operating a successful lead nurture funnel. Using automation to align processes within your CRM is the best way to make sure that teams communicate with each other effectively. Prospect journeys are fully tracked and visible for all team members.
As the CEO of a digital growth agency, steeped in inbound marketing, I know the importance of “Smarketing” – a term coined by lead gen experts HubSpot. It increases efficiency, improves communication and provides better lead visibility and attribution.
One of our clients achieved a 40% increase in sales-qualified leads (SQLs) by implementing sales and marketing alignment within their business, after just 3-months.
5) Improve lead and deal management
You can set up workflows in your CRM to automatically create and edit records in your database, for leads that meet pre-determined rules. The rules can be anything from website visits, engagement with ads and emails, or webinar attendees. CRMs like HubSpot enable you to integrate with a wide range of third-party tools and platforms.
Automation also provides time-saving solutions for deal management. The HubSpot Sales tool allows you to record calls and meetings, and track when prospects open and click on emails. This reveals the interest level shown by leads and the urgency required by your sales team.
Want to remove all that tiresome copy and pasting when creating proposals? You can automatically populate proposal templates with details from your CRM, including pricing, product/service details and contact information, and set up triggers to prompt stakeholders to review and sign off documentation.
6) Utilise automated email workflows
Automated sales workflows help to convert leads and get deals over the line. If you create a slick process for prospecting, arranging calls and meetings, and following-up on leads, automation does the rest.
Within your workflows, you can set up sequences to automatically follow-up with leads who don’t respond to earlier emails, or tasks to intervene with ad-hoc communications. Most automation tools enable you to add personalisation tokens, to pull in lead profile information automatically. Just don’t forget to create rules to stop certain automated messages, depending on actions taken and lifecycle stage.
7) Make your sales team accountable for tasks
Using automation to assign tasks to your sales team increases proactivity and holds people accountable for their responsibilities and service-level agreements (SLAs).
"In 52% of companies, marketing is held accountable for sales productivity" – HubSpot
Make the right team accountable and encourage team members to own their tasks. Set up tasks, triggers and reminders for all manner of actions, such as calling prospects, arranging meetings and signing things off.
SalesPro in HubSpot and standalone meeting booking tools, like Calendly, can be used to schedule meetings, including CTAs related to the meeting type, such as a conference call, consultation or demo.
You can also record meetings, which is beneficial for evaluating sales calls and ensuring all key points are captured or transcribed. Tools like Chorus even have AI capabilities, which can identify keywords, phrases and competitors from the language on the calls.
8) Use sales automation in combination with lead scoring
Lead scoring can be a complicated process and assessing the quality of leads is hugely time-consuming. However, if you get all the key people together from within your business and establish what constitutes a good lead, you can create a profile to map out in your CRM. Then automation can do the ongoing heavy-lifting with lead scoring and qualification.
Automated lead scoring uses a range of profile, demographic and behavioural data to determine the quality of leads, automatically qualifying them and triggering certain workflows or tasks for sales reps. This increases productivity and moves leads down the funnel.
9) Increase visibility and automate reporting
Automation tools can offer your sales team the visibility required to see what’s working and where the weak points are, so you can make improvements and shorten the sales cycle.
Use your CRM to create custom dashboards and automated reports, for daily, weekly or monthly emails. This saves the laborious task of digging into your systems to locate the data you need.
Top sales automation tools to transform your sales process
I’ve outlined below some of the most effective sales automation tools on the market:
HubSpot – Sales might be just one of three key pillars with HubSpot, but it boasts some powerful tools and features
Infusionsoft – Effective acceleration tool for businesses to automate processes throughout the customer journey
Salesforce – Powerful cloud-based CRM tool with a wide range of automation capabilities
Pardot – B2B automation platform, powered by Salesforce, for supercharging the lead pipeline and funnel, empowering sales teams
Outreach – Cutting-edge customer engagement platform for optimising the customer lifecycle and helping businesses to close more deals
Pega – Highly-intelligent digital process automation (DPA) and customer engagement tool, leveraging AI technology
Autopilot – Flexible, end-to-end customer journey automation platform to increase process efficiency
It’s time to embrace sales automation. There are so many ways automate tasks to save your sales team time, remove bottlenecks and drive more revenue for your business.
We’ve worked with Walpole Partnership on a range of campaigns, related to their CPQ software, where the quality of leads is paramount. Well-structured lead nurture strategies, plus automated and aligned processes, are vital for ensuring the highest ROI from campaigns. An effective sales cycle depends on a combination of the right technology, the right processes and everyone pulling in the right direction.
Sheila Mitham is the Founder and CEO of Inbound FinTech, a UK-based digital growth agency specialising in inbound marketing, PPC and account-based marketing for Financial Services companies. Based in the heart of the Financial District in London, Inbound FinTech has helped countless SaaS and FinTech companies to drive quality leads and grow their businesses online. IFT is an award-winning Google Partner, a Gold-Tiered HubSpot Partner, and was a finalist in the 2018 LinkedIn Marketing Awards for its lead generation strategies.