The automation technology can be dated back to 1771 when Richard Arkwright first invented the spinning mill driven by flowing water. Later, it was developed by Oliver Evans in 1785 making the first completely automated industrial process. Automation refers to the replacement of humans or animals in mechanical power or some form. Eventually, the data-driven automation process became a thing in the 1960s with the introduction of enterprise resource planning systems. This only shows that, as the “work flow” becomes arduous, so is the need for it to be automated.
Automation’s benefits can be attributed to higher production rates, increased productivity, better quality outputs, efficient use of labor or materials, and shorter working hours. Sales processes are a set of human activities and these activities can be automated. However, not all companies are utilizing or even aware of it. Instead, they fully depend on their sales representatives to work laboriously around the clock with mundane repetitive administrative tasks, making the sales workflow more difficult than it already is.
What is a typical sales workflow looks like
A typical sales workflow follows a sales funnel. It is a series of steps of the sales team to convert prospects to leads and eventually to customers. It requires a systematic approach to these steps in order to close more sales, reduce the margin of errors, and build lasting relationships with customers. An early stage of a sales workflow is doing a sales outreach.
Doing sales outreach like outbound calling is a part of a sales workflow. Outbound calling to prospects asking if they’re interested in trying a new product is an example of a sales outreach. When a prospect agrees, the salesperson can do a demo over the phone or in person. During this stage, it’s possible that the salesperson may face hesitation from the prospect. This is where they handle objections. If the prospect agrees to make a purchase, the salesperson can now close the sale. A follow-up is done to ensure that the relationship made in the sales process is maintained.
Within the sales workflow, there are time-consuming and mundane tasks that take up the energy of a sales representative. These include writing down emails, data entry, looking up contact information, attending meetings, scheduling appointments, following up on a demo, and many more. Not only is it time-consuming but can also incur a lot of human errors like typographical errors, mis-scheduling of timezones, or incorrect files saved. Automating these tasks can save a salesperson’s time and job.
How does automation work?
Automating sales workflow requires you to initially identify your daily sales workflow and sales tasks. If you are doing prospecting, cold calling, and email dripping, then you can easily find a sales automation software for that. Finally, you have to look for a sales automation software with CRM functionality. For example, your sales automation can:
- Scan prospects’ bio on the website or social media for their contact information
- Verify their contact information with other contact databases
- Enter their data into the CRM for the lead cycle
- Enroll their contact number immediately for cold calling campaigns
- Send occasional emails for email dripping
- Notify them about new products and services
- Create a sales space for them to explore your products and services through content
These are the only handful of tasks a sales automation can do for your sales teams. Now, you have to identify your budget for the software. There are a lot of sales automation tools out there so it’s important to choose a software that fits your needs and budget.
How to automate sales workflow
Sales automation software makes it easy for you to automate simple tasks. This is done through “creating a task” and “setting up triggers”. You can create a preloaded task in your sales automation tool like this.
Step 1: Create a task for contact
Task1: Convert a website visitor to an appointment
Step 2: Choose a sales team for the task
Task 2: Choose sales team alpha for task 1
Step 3: Choose a trigger to the next workflow
Trigger 1: Visitor who visited this URL
Trigger 2: Visitor which had made contact with web chatbot
Trigger 3: Visitor that clicked on product pricing
Step 4: Choose a task from trigger 1
Task 1: Enroll in a cold calling campaign
Task 2: Enroll in email dripping
Step 5: Choose a task for trigger 2
Task 1: Schedule an appointment within 24 hours
Task 2: Schedule an immediate outbound call
Step 6: Choose a task for trigger 3
Task 1: Send push notifications across their browser
Task 2: Enroll in email dripping
Sales automation works differently on different platforms. That is why you should have a clear understanding of your sales workflow before automating them.
How does sales automation boost revenue?
Sales automation boosts revenue by cutting through guesswork done by sales representatives. The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report in May 2020 showed that more than 30% of sales-related operations tasks can be automated with current technology. . This potentially reduces the cost of sales and frees up time in doing administrative tasks and reporting.
The MGI report shows how each task is automatable and can boost revenue for a business. The general formula to compute the Total Revenue is Price x Quantity Sold. Generally, sales automation must optimize the price while it tries to increase the chance of sold quantity. Take a look at the sales value chain that can be automated.
Sales strategy and planning
29% of sales strategy and planning are highly automatable, including forecasting and channel strategy. Since sales automation captures significant data about previous customers and their behavior, it is easier to find and allocate talent and resources that match the changing demands and behaviors of the customers.
It gives great insight for strategizing and planning. Can forecast the probability of a product being sold based on the current trends and customer purchasing behavior. Also can adjust prices for inflation rates, cost of production, and other expenditures.
Lead identification and qualification
19% of lead identification and qualification are highly automatable. This includes pipeline management and action plans for new and existing customers. Sales automation gives the sales team lead intelligence. This means that they would be able to discern warm and cold leads with prospects’ data and other touchpoints.
This lets the sales team determine the action plan for every lead movement in the sales pipeline. This eliminates gray areas where leads are stranded in a certain workflow. Your sales quality assurance team doesn’t have to do the heavy lifting when it comes to that decision. It increases the chance of sale quality and quantity.
Configuration of price and quotation
43% of the configuration of price and quotation are highly automatable. This includes quota setting, configuring tech solutions, better negotiations, and contracting. Prices may vary with time, customer, business costs, and tax laws. Sales automation optimizes the appropriate price with every lead putting a fair price per market.
It also gives a higher chance for prospects to allocate their best budget for the product or service when offered a tailored solution. It opens up better negotiations for B2B transactions and provides long-term contracts for both businesses.
50% of order management is highly automatable. This includes credit checking, payment processes, invoicing, and other order-related servicing. These highly repetitive tasks consume a lot of time from sales teams. Sales automation, for example, can send automatic invoices to customers’ emails for every successful order or monthly payment.
It also reduces labor costs from hiring mundane jobs like data entry personnel, and human-related errors in order processing. It brings unbiased credit score checking when doing a credit score verification and approval.
40% of post-sale activities are highly automatable. These activities include regular follow-ups, handling incoming requests, and promoting new product releases. Tasks such as SMS follow-ups triggered system-generated calls, and renewal reminders can be done without the involvement of humans. Sales teams won’t have to manually do these tasks if there is a sales automation tool available.
It handles service requests such as renewals over the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or self-service options. This allocates more time for sales teams to focus on new leads. This increases the chance of selling quantity while maintaining the right price for customers.
25% of structural support is highly automatable. This includes reporting, analytics, training, provision of sales and support materials, and other administrative tasks. Sales automation can streamline reports and analytics for sales teams. This way, they can provide sales training with support materials based on their own case study.
It gives proper structural support for the sales team to know which part of the sales process they need to improve. Sales automation provides visibility and A/B testing for teams to test certain strategies that work best for them. Sales communication and information are properly disseminated to every part of the organization.
Sales workflow is a linear activity. This makes the sales process easy to follow and replicate among sales teams in an organization. But as the sales process becomes more complex, sales teams need a robust tool that can help them manage large volumes of data. Sales automation software helps them reduce manual and administrative tasks and eventually impacts the company’s revenue in the long run.