Sales Force Automation
WHAT IS SALES AUTOMATION?
Sales automation software is an integrated application of customizable sales tools that can be used to automate and streamline the sales cycle. Sales automation functionality might include automated sales activities, forecasting, pipeline management, and tracking of customer interactions. Effective sales automation software allows companies to analyze the entire sales cycle.
IMPORTANCE OF SALES AUTOMATION
In today’s hyper-competitive business world, sales automation has become increasingly important. Sales automation tools can eliminate many of the essential, but time-consuming, manual tasks that eat up valuable selling time. Sales process automation comes with a number of other benefits including:
- Make the most of each opportunity: Sales automation systems ensure companies don’t miss out on any potential opportunities by managing follow-ups and also setting reminders through each stage of the sales process. Sales reps can concentrate on improving the quality of their customer interaction instead of managing follow-up procedures.
- Prioritization of sales tasks: Automatic lead rank assignment means sales reps will spend their time with the highest quality leads. Cold leads and hot opportunities can be easily sifted through while reps will also have access to factors such as overall deal value and the probability of a deal closing.
- More accurate forecasting: Sales automation software provides companies with the tools to accurately calculate forecasts based on opportunities, quotes, and orders.
- Improved up-selling and cross-selling: The best sales automation systems help reps to gain a greater understanding of their customers by providing access to customer demographics, order history, and other important customer metrics. With the availability of this information, reps are better positioned and more likely to up-sell or cross-sell as more targeted campaigns are rolled-out.
- Informed sales coaching: With sales automation software, sales managers are kept up to date with each sales reps’ activities including opportunities, sales figures, and customer contact histories. With this information sales managers can pinpoint the areas that underperforming reps should refocus their time around.
SALES AUTOMATION BEST PRACTICES
When implementing sales automation software in your organization there are a number of best practices that can be followed to ensure successful adoption of the system.
1. Sales Process Evaluation
To get the most out of a sales automation system, companies should evaluate their current sales process to understand what inefficiencies need to be addressed. Companies should consider whether their sales reps are spending time on administrative tasks that could easily be automated. With these weaknesses identified, it is easier to establish a set of sales automation goals to strive for upon implementation of the system.
2. Sales Automation Goals
A clearly defined list of sales automation goals can add important visibility to the sales automation software implementation process. Easily understood metrics such as increased revenue, reduced costs, cutting sales cycle times, or increased cross-selling are suitable goals for a sales automation project to strive for. When it comes to achieving enterprise-wide buy in, these clearly defined goals can help to market the project within the organization.
3. Pilot Sales Automation Tools
With a clearly defined set of metrics in place, it is time to pilot some sales automation tools. The pilot phase must not be overlooked and involves the identification of key sales automation system users, system roll-out, utilization and impact measurement, and the introduction of a use it or lose it policy. Companies must also demand white glove service from sales automation software vendors. Measure the success of the pilot by running a utilization report on how many team members are using the new system.
4. Identify Sales Automation Evangelists
The key sales automation system users identified during the pilot phase can act as system evangelists going forward. 10-15 system users who understand technology and business workflow can help to secure buy in across the enterprise. Ensure the sales automation system meets the expectations of this key user group. Regular communication with these evangelists is key. Their level of satisfaction with the sales automation system can make or break the implementation process.
5. Sales Automation System Buy In
For sales automation to succeed, project leaders need to secure executive buy in. To secure this buy in, sales automation project leaders might have to make a presentation at the next executive meeting. One way to win over the board room might be to present the results of the successful sales automation system pilot process. With a system that is on track to meet the clearly defined sales automation goals, project leaders are best placed to secure the all important executive buy in.
6. Sales Automation Software Roll Out
Once the sales automation system roll-out process is initiated, regular follow-up meetings and reporting must be instigated to accurately track the progress of the chosen solution. The sales automation project will need to be maintained on an ongoing basis and regular sales automation training sessions will need to be established.