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5 Tips to Use Automation to Improve Sales Performance

Too many businesses still rely on archaic systems when it comes to enabling their salespeople. And the impact is immense. Not only do inefficient processes directly affect your bottom line, but they also have a very negative influence on your staff’s wellbeing.

Automating sales processes is one of the most effective ways to see a spike in profits and help sales teams run smoothly. Studies have shown that early sales automation adopters tend to see an uplift in sales of up to 10%. Another survey found that nearly 50% of respondents didn’t get enough sleep because there “wasn’t enough time in the day” to get their work done.

These stats show us that many companies are still not taking automation seriously – even though almost a third of all sales processes can be automated!

Sales departments are notoriously labor-intensive. The effort required to manually manage, nurture, and convert leads is enormous. And scaling manual processes along with business growth can be a nightmare.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how your company can get more efficient through automation tools, allowing your sales staff to prioritize connecting with customers over menial admin tasks. 

Time Tracking

Sales managers need to understand what their team members are spending their time on. There’s no way to spot inefficient processes without knowing exactly which activities are eating up your sales team’s time.

Before even thinking about automation, it’s critical that you know where to automate. Sure, you can simply do what your competitors are doing and invest in the same tools as everyone else. But without knowing whether they’re right for your business, you could be throwing money at a problem that doesn’t exist.

Fortunately, there are tools that automate time tracking and make it as unobtrusive an activity as possible. These applications are essential if you want to build solid intelligence on how your sales team spends their time. 

Don’t leave it up to your sales staff to guess where they’re spending most of their time. You want to make these decisions based on data, not feelings. Enable your staff to track their activities with as little effort as possible and you’ll get a crystal clear view of the tasks that can be streamlined through automation.

Email Automation

A HubSpot study revealed that salespeople only spend a third of their time on sales. If your business highly depends on efficiency in the sales department (as many do), this is a frightening statistic. 

Research also shows that email correspondence is one of the main culprits when it comes to robbing salespeople of their time. In fact, research has shown that they spend up to 21% of their day reading, writing, and sending emails.

Email automation will go a long way towards reclaiming some of that time. But what is email automation and how can it be implemented?

Firstly, it’s critical to build knowledge on the processes your salespeople follow here. Are they writing each email individually or do they use a template that’s manually personalized for each recipient? What about follow-up emails? Do they use a similar manual process for these?

Email correspondence often follows a similar pattern – a pattern that can be automated with a CRM tool that integrates with your email client. Tools like these offer a host of features that add a massive amount of value to email correspondence between your salespeople and the leads they’re nurturing. They also represent a surefire way to limit the amount of time your sales team spends on low-value tasks like writing and customizing emails.

Lead Qualification

When you’ve got a large number of leads coming in from various sources, it’s absolutely critical to know which of them are really worth engaging with. This is especially true for organizations that have a high-touch sales process that usually takes a long time to complete.

Automated lead-scoring is an innovative and highly effective way to take the qualification process out of your sales agents’ hands. Doing that frees up their time to engage with and nurture leads, which is something that can’t be automated.

The sales automation landscape has a number of CRM tools that excel at AI-powered lead scoring. Qualification logics are based on a number of variables that are unique to your company, meaning the process of customizing the software for your business is very important.

In most cases, reputable CRM tools also allow your sales teams to constantly fine-tune the variables that drive qualification. As your knowledge of your buyer personas develops, it’s vital that your CRM solution allows you to tweak lead scoring logics. Be sure to choose one that offers this level of flexibility.

Data Entry

Manually capturing customer engagement data is an enormous waste of your sales team’s time.

Every time there is any kind of contact with a lead, the details and outcome need to be logged – the effectiveness of your company’s sales process depends on this data. If these tasks aren’t automated, a massive drag is placed on your resources.

So, be it the initial contact via web form or ongoing telephone conversations, your CRM solution must make data capturing as effortless as possible, if not remove the need for data entry altogether.

Fortunately, there are a number of amazing products on the market that do exactly this. Automated data entry is a critical part of streamlined pipeline management, ensuring your business never loses information critical to wrapping up a sale.

Typically, these applications reduce the need for manual data entry by syncing with calendars and mail clients, logging telephone conversations and text messages, and automatically enriching the profiles of all your leads.

And the benefits of using an automated data entry solution don’t end with “greater efficiency.” There are plenty of really great reasons to implement a solution like this.

Firstly, it reduces user frustration. When you allow a salesperson to get on with the job of selling – the thing they were employed to do – you’re giving them the gift of job satisfaction. No one gets into sales because they like entering data into a spreadsheet.

Secondly, you’re cutting down on capturing errors. Humans aren’t infallible. Even those few that enjoy data capturing. Distractions happen. People misclick or capture the wrong value in the date picker. An automated data logging solution makes mistakes like these a practical non-issue.

Lead Distribution

When a lead comes into the top end of your sales funnel, a lightning-fast response time is critical.

When studying the impact of delayed response times, Vendasta found an 80% drop in lead qualification when a five-minute waiting time became a ten-minute waiting time. 

That’s right, by making your new lead wait a mere five minutes longer, you’re reducing the chances of qualifying them by 80 percent.

How does a sales team go about reducing these response times? Is automation an answer? Surely just throwing more salespeople at the problem will go away?

The underlying issue here is often that the people manually monitoring incoming leads and allocating them to a salesperson often act as bottlenecks. Being humans, they can only focus on one task at a time. And if your company is generating more leads than these people can cope with, response times will suffer. Along with your conversion rates.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem, and it’s called lead distribution.

Tools that specialize in assessing incoming queries and intelligently allocating them to sales agents will dramatically reduce response times. If your current manual sales processes can’t accommodate the number of incoming leads, it’s vital that you consider implementing one of these solutions.

Some Final Thoughts

Sales automation isn’t a magical silver bullet that’s going to solve all of your business’ problems and instantly double your profits. But it is a great place to start if you want happier, more productive staff and increased revenue.

With automated processes to back them up, your sales workforce can do what really matters – engage with customers. With these new priorities, you’ll likely see shorter sales cycles, reduced admin fatigue, and better conversion rates.

Sure, messing with processes that have become entrenched in your business can be daunting. But just because something isn’t completely broken doesn’t mean it can’t be streamlined. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that “good enough” is sustainable. Audit your sales processes, take the leap, and get them automated as soon as possible – the rewards are real.

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