An Ultimate Guide to Sales Automation [Benefits, Examples, Tools]
Have you ever: Wasted a whole afternoon digging through piles of old files to find important information about your prospect? Missed out on qualified leads because you couldn't manage to get back to them fast enough? Spent hours adding customers manually to your CRM rather than in a few quick clicks?
If you've been nodding along to the above, it's the right time to start thinking about investing in a sales automation solution. The reason?
It takes off the weight of your shoulders and frees up more time for you to work on what matters—growing your business.
But are you clueless about sales automation and want to start from scratch? We can help you with that. This blog post will give you a brief overview of sales automation, why it's essential, and some tools to help you get started.
What is Sales Automation?
As the name suggests, sales automation is the process of automating the repetitive tasks within your sales process so that you and your team can focus on other crucial tasks that need to be completed to increase sales. In a nutshell, it automates the sales and marketing process so that you can focus on closing more deals with complete efficiency in less time with more information.
Sales automation allows every individual in various teams across an organization to interact on data organically - rather than breaking down team barriers - while creating accurate analytics throughout the entire company!
How Does Sales Automation Work?
It's no wonder why sales automation has become one of the most sought-after tools for businesses. It helps you attract more leads, convert them into customers and close more deals — all while automating it!
There are about seven steps that combine and keep your sales automation dialed in on a powerful track,
It is always important to follow up on your leads as part of your sales process to ensure that you stay on top of them. A good sales follow-up is just as necessary as a solid initial sales pitch.
If your sales rep has to juggle too many balls, they might miss the opportunity to follow up with a lead. As a result, your sales team will miss out on the chance to make an impact with these prospects, and they may not become customers after all.
This is where the role of automated guidance comes in. It can provide automated guidance and send reminders that help the reps to stay on top of their follow-up tasks. This means that they don't have to worry about missing opportunities. Instead, they can focus on closing sales deals with their leads and moving them through the sales process.
Lead magnet automation
Lead management is a critical part of your sales process puzzle, yet it's often one of the most overlooked. The reason is simple: Most companies don't have a formal process for managing leads and don't realize how much it can help them close more deals faster.
With this automation step, the sales executive can use rules and filters that allow them to create a curated list of leads just for them to work on.
Based on characteristics, including email opens and click-through rates, your friendly sales automation software can break off into neat lists or 'buckets' to work on for each sales rep to handle.
It's crucial to know ahead of time which leads are worth exploring and which should be ignored from previous outreach responses or stored records, and that's what the lead management automation does!
Automation is an essential requirement for communicating with clients and customers. Without automation, getting in touch with your target market would be complicated and inefficient.
With communication automation software, you can send customers automatic voicemails at any time, allowing them to schedule meetings on your calendar based on their availability and making it easier to develop and maintain consistently clear communication.
In addition to automating sales email campaigns, sales email automation also unsubscribes inactive subscribers from the email list. If done correctly, this will reduce bounce rates and spam complaints while saving your salespeople time and energy.
Automated data entry
Automating data entry used to be as complex as automating your sales processes. That is until a company came up with a way to do it by developing sales automation software.
This software allows users to easily create and manage consumer contact details, allowing sales reps to focus on their main priority: closing the deal rather than getting bogged down by time-consuming tasks like data entry or prospect tracking, for example!
Sales automation software handles the drudge work involved in prospecting and networking from your prospects to your customer base. What this software does goes beyond a team's human ability to shake 'n bake social media for important info.
Tracks the critical information about them, such as their profile and businesses, score leads on their win probability (to determine which ones are hot sales prospects), and organizes strewn data gathered in one central place easily accessible to all sales representatives.
Automated activity log
Sales reps in large companies need to divide their time between generating new leads, maintaining rewarding relationships with current customers, and responding to inquiries directly. However, the juggling of all that can quickly get out of hand without the right tools to maintain control.
Automated activity logging allows agents to focus on more critical tasks, such as generating leads and closing sales.
This helps your sales team avoid getting bogged down by unnecessary work and enables more time for essential things like finding new leads.
Automated record generation
All opt-in newsletter confirmations are automatically recorded and processed by the sales automation software.
The automation software will also help you manage your sales pipeline by providing insight into the hot prospects. You can see which ones need follow-up and are ready for a proposal. This makes it easier to manage your time and concentrate on closing deals.
How to Build a Sales Automation Strategy?
Sales automation can be tricky, and your approach should be tailored to best suit your business. Here are some key points that aid you in building your solid sales automation strategy;
1. Define your goals
You must determine your goals as the first step in creating your sales automation strategy.
This will help you to focus on the right metrics and track them over time. Measuring the effectiveness of your sales automation strategy can be challenging without a goal. Here are some common goals that companies have when they use sales automation:
- Increase revenue by X% per quarter or year
- Reduce churn by X% per quarter or year
- Improve the quality of leads
- Increase lead conversion rate by X% per quarter or year
- Increase the number of sales calls per week/month/year
- Reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a sale
And the list goes on based on your objectives.
Goals can be met when they're clear and straightforward. As a marketer, it's always good to remember that the main objective of B2B sales automation is to use effective strategies to turn potential customers into quality leads and convert leads into loyal customers who want to come back for more of your brand's offerings.
2. Define your buyer persona
The goal of every business is to offer customers the best product that meets their needs. But how can you know what those needs are?
The answer is simple: by creating a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It will help you understand who your customers are, what they want, and how to reach them.
Here is how an ideal buyer persona looks like,
A customer's ideal characteristics include the following:
- Demographics (age, gender, location)
- Psychographics (personality traits, values, interests)
- Income level
- Education level
- Social media platforms where they hang out: -Facebook and Instagram -Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn
The ideal customer is also the one that you most want to target with your promotions based on their interests and what attracts them long-term.
Having a deep knowledge of your product and business but from the customer's point of view will clear up any misunderstandings as early as possible to avoid being drastically off in your marketing strategies.
3. Map an engaging automated user journey
A company's customer journey can be significant to the overall success of a business as it involves all the personal interactions that customers may have with your brand. Sales automation is the key to tailoring these interactions based on data and research.
Personalization is crucial when communicating and establishing a relationship with your customers. You can craft content with the buyer persona that speaks to their pain points.
And, of course, it is not always possible to manually enter your customer's name on every mail. And it would be a nightmare if you had a vast database.
These things make B2B sales automation much more essential. Using email automation software, you can send automated email campaigns and personalize your content with their name and GIFs(people love to see interactive things over plain texts).
Here is what you can do when you have an automation tool for defining your user journey,
- Personalization at its best: All you have to do is create an email copy with the editable templates. Set the sequence for the email to hit the user inbox. It can be once in two days or even once a week. The best part is that you can establish a solid relationship with your users without lifting a finger.
- Push notifications to push them close to your brand: It's a great idea to send people to make notifications via text messages, primarily if you want information distributed quickly and efficiently. Of course, people are interactive with messages rather than emails. If done right, you can reap better results, as the average open rate of SMS is as huge as 97-99.
4. Take the advantage of multichannel automation
Email is not the only platform to reach and communicate with your audience. There's a lot more to automation than emails! There are many things you can do with your current automation software that you probably aren't even aware of yet!
You can use social media, where your subscribers/followers become a part of your community and help each other through discussions. They rely on each other and form tight bonds. An excellent side effect of this is that it allows customers to feel more involved in what we do and gives us important feedback about ways you can improve as a company for them.
5. Score your leads
Lead scoring is vital for lead nurturing. You can assign a score for those who have clicked a specific button or link. Based on the action they take, start scoring your leads. Once the leads reach the specific score, you can automate the workflows to nurture them.
All workflows should be assigned specific lead scores that trigger the automation. This makes it possible to monitor how interested a subscriber is when engaging with your company via the various campaigns you have available at your disposal.
Here is the lead scoring example from Artic,
The workflow scores the user based on the action they perform on your campaign. In this workflow, it starts scoring the lead from visiting your particular webpage. This webpage can be your checkout page or your product page.
- If your lead visits your webpage, it assigns them 2 points.
- If they submit a form and regularly interact with your emails, it assigns more points to that specific lead.
- It also assigns points if your lead clicks on any links embedded in your emails.
In this way, you can pinpoint the hot leads who are ready to purchase your product or service while enhancing the lead nurturing process for those who scored fewer points.
This can help you set up funnels and streamline workflows for maximum efficiency.
Remember: A higher lead score does not necessarily reflect a subscriber who is honest about spending money with your business. Still, it is one of the best interest/engagement indicators that are generally easier to get conversions.
6. Filter your contacts
You may have low open rates even after creating a perfect engaging workflow. This may happen because you are sending emails to the wrong people.
You must ensure your audience is engaged before you send out an email campaign. Some of your contacts will never open your email again. It might be because of their low interest, signing up just for a lead magnet, or maybe even a myriad other reasons. There are so many possible "accidents" that could happen that we aren't going to waste time researching and listing each possibility here.
Here is a practical workflow from MailerLite that automatically removes dead subscribers from your email lists,
- This workflow starts with a promotional mail that pushes the inactive subscribers to take action.
- If the subscriber hasn’t interacted with the first mail, it pushes another mail but with a different subject line and content.
- If they haven’t interacted with your second mail, the workflow marks them as Inactive subscribers, and their data will be removed from your active subscriber's list.
This workflow automatically dusts off your subscriber list and helps you stay updated with subscribers who can become your future customers.
So whenever you find people like this in your list, remove their data. In addition to skewing your metrics, dead emails can add too much money spent on marketing automation tools.
7. Focus on building a quality relationship
Last but not least, start looking at the bigger picture. Implementing a solid marketing automation strategy can be a lengthy process. It's essential to take time when executing the most suitable strategy according to your audience.
But no matter how much you automate and optimize, don't lose track of your customer persona - because they are the makeup of your business, after all!
So keep these points in mind while communicating with your subscribers,
- Always offer high-quality content: No matter what type of content you create and send to your subscribers, always make sure that it’s high quality. If you don’t provide value in the form of content that helps people solve problems or answer questions, then they won’t want to read any more from you—and they certainly won’t share your content with others.
- Avoid salesy sounds: Don’t be overly “salesy,” because nobody likes being sold to. If all of your emails are pitches—and nothing else—your audience will stop reading them. Instead, include a mix of content that’s useful and relevant to your readers.
- Give what they need: You can easily find out what your readers want to see by sending them a short survey in an email. This will help you increase your open rate as well as engagement with existing audience members.
- Make it simple to unsubscribe: Don't hide the unsubscribe button from your subscribers. If they don't want to receive your emails anymore, they should be able to unsubscribe easily. Don't make it hard for them—they're your customers!
So instead of automating everything at once to increase exposure through raw numbers alone, focus on establishing loyal relationships with customers by participating in their social media discussions rather than simply sending random adverts their way each day.
8. Analyze, rinse and repeat
How can you find whether your sales automation working without any flaws? How can you enhance the performance of your campaign?
The simple answer: keep tracking your analytics.
Every automation tools offer the analytics feature. If you use an email marketing automation tool, you can track the click-through rates and the number of new subscribers or unsubscribers from your campaign.
Effective tracking allows you to learn from your mistakes and put more effort when needed. This will ensure you get the most out of your marketing efforts. This will help you identify what is working and what isn't. With this information, you can focus on the activities that bring results and stop doing those that aren't.
Best Practices to Create a Perfect Sales Automation Process
1. Organize your content
You must keep your content organized to run your automation platform without breaks. Isolate webcasts, white papers, blogs, and videos on individual website pages and have a central hub for everything like this that enables you to understand what your customer specifics needs are straightforward.
- This way, you can automatically send the right content to your customers at the right time. Here are some tips to help you get started.
- Keep your content organized by topic. For example, you could have a page for each webcast, white paper, and video that you produce. This makes it easy for you to manage your content and also helps customers find what they need when they need it.
- Have a central hub for all of your content on a single website page so that customers can easily access everything related to their business questions.
- Create a calendar of webinars, white papers, and other content so that your customers can easily browse through it. Also, consider adding an email subscription form on this page so that customers can sign up to receive updates about new content as soon as it’s published.
- Make sure that the links in your emails go to the right place. For example, if someone clicks on a link in an email and ends up on a page that doesn’t have the information they wanted, they will be frustrated and unlikely to return.
2. Analyse your existing process
Before determining if something can be automated within your sales process, ask yourself the following questions:
- How long does each task take currently?
- What task is happening 'manually' which needs to be automated?
- What processes are happening within your organization that is not being tracked or recorded in any way?
- How could automation help with these points?
By asking yourself these questions, you will get insight into how and where you can introduce new technology solutions that cut downs your time.
3. Clearly define your goals
Once you've identified what needs automating, you can work out your goal!
Maybe you want to save time? Get rid of some lag-time in communication? Increase the efficiency of your business processes?
Whatever it is, note down how you intend to measure that when building your automation plan. Once this is all done, you know where your sweet spots - are and those areas in which you need a sales automation system.
4. Consider options
You might be tempted to grab any existing customer relationship management software tool with built-in lead management features, but you might want to think again.
Spend time thinking about what makes your company unique and which specific features will help your organization make a good first impression with new clients.
5. Test before implementation
Once you land up with the perfect tool and automate the workflow, don't directly publish it. Take a minute and test the workflow. Find and fix the roadblocks that stop the workflow from completing successfully.
Here are some tips on how you can test your automation before publishing it:
- Create a draft post, and check if the workflow is working as expected.
- Make sure you are saving your draft at each step of the way.
- Test with different types of content, like images, videos, and text-only posts.
- Try out different browsers and operating systems to check if there are any issues with compatibility.
- Test with a small group of people who will give you honest feedback on how well the automated tool works.
Once you do that, you can safely publish the workflow.
Examples of Best Sales Automation
1. Chatbot automation
Lead generation is the beginning of a sales pipeline, so it's often one of the first stages of one's sales automation system. You can use software to generate leads in an automated way, such as landing pages and pop-ups with forms.
However, adding chatbots into the sales automation system has become increasingly popular, as about 35% of people use chatbots to get detailed answers on your product.
Chatbots are interactive conversations on web pages designed to mimic employees or other business representatives trying to help customers make purchases and move forward through the sales pipeline by asking them questions about their specific needs at any given moment.
Here is an example of chatbot automation,
With this kind of automation, you can make your prospect take immediate action on your website without the need to spend hours to get a reply to their query. Thus, you can pull more leads into our bucket and start moving them into your pipeline.
2. Lead capture with a sales demo
If you have B2B software and want to collect more leads or get your calendar booking slots filled, you must implement a product tour software. Interestingly, customers aged 18 to 34 are 130% more likely to book a place if a virtual tour is available on a website.
Wingman uses the interactive product tour on their website to capture leads. If someone visits their website and takes the tour, they're prompted to fill out their email address to initiate. This is a great way to start building your email list!
A product tour is an interactive experience that allows users to learn about your product. This can be done through a video, animation, or even text with images. The idea behind a product tour is that if someone learns what your product does and how it works, they'll be more likely to purchase it.
3. Lead nurturing
While there are lots of channels that you can utilize to reach your leads nowadays, email has been a very successful one for many years. Luckily, it is still one of the cost-effective ones.
With the help of email automation, you can set up automated cold emailing campaigns and follow-up emails based on specific triggers, information gleaned from your CRM datasets, etc.
A typical lead nurturing email automation system looks similar to Automizy's workflow,
Automating your email campaigns will streamline what was once a complex process, and turning leads into customers will feel almost effortless. It's the perfect way to keep your business growing without constantly babysitting each campaign.
Benefits of Implementing Sales Automation in Your Organization
With the best sales automation tools, you can reap multiple benefits for your business. Here are some of the significant advantages,
Simplifies the sales process
As automation removes repetitive tasks from your plate, you can focus on things that bring sweet results to your business rather than on hectic tasks.
By automating some of your manual tasks, you will have time to focus on improving your customer acquisition process and maintaining relationships with existing customers.
Cut downs the sales cost
When you deploy sales force automation software, costs related to the sales process will fall. In addition, increased efficiency and effectiveness of that process can lead to significant increases in revenue for your business. This is because the software will help you to create a more streamlined and efficient process that helps you close more deals.
Track, analyze, and improve
You will have more time to focus on problematic areas, such as customer complaints, and improve your response times, enhancing your reputation.
You can use this information to improve your processes and develop new future strategies for dealing with similar issues.
Customer complaints can provide valuable insight into how customers view your company and what they expect from you. By analyzing the data and taking action, you can improve your customer service and create a more positive experience for everyone.
Minimize human error
Have you ever left a potential client hanging? Have you forgotten to follow up with a potential customer for an important meeting or deadline? No more errors.
With the help of automation, you can stop making these careless mistakes. Automation can take the place of your memory and save you from embarrassing situations. It will also help your business grow by freeing up your time so that you can focus on other essential tasks.
Better insights into customer behaviors
You can gather more information about their preferences by monitoring and recording how your leads and customers interact with your company.
By monitoring and recording how your leads and customers interact with your company, you can gather more information about their preferences. This will help you target them with better offers in the future.
Essential Features to Look for in a Sales Automation Tool
When it comes to B2B sales automation, you can find various software solutions. But the best ones combine simplicity with flexibility, allowing your team to get up and running quickly while also providing a scalable platform for growth.
To get the most out of this tool, make sure it ticks the maximum number of features on this list,
1. Bi-directional integration with CRM
A CRM will allow every person responsible for keeping your business alive, from sales to customer support, to collaborate and share information to make better-informed decisions through enhanced visibility.
CRMs should integrate with marketing tools (like marketing automation) used by your marketing team and be bi-directional, ensuring that any changes made in one device (building campaigns or updating contact data) are automatically reflected in the other.
2. Workflows for automation
Automated workflows are templates that can be used immediately and applied to many situations. Templates are built around scenarios your business will likely face, and you can change them if needed.
So ensure that the automation tool comes with pre-made templates so you can easily edit texts and keep them running in minutes.
3. Landing page builder
For your marketing efforts to succeed, you need a tool that lets you create landing pages easily. Look for a tool that lets you create custom templates so you don't have to start from scratch whenever you want to design a new page.
You should also consider how easy it is to create various landing pages, including different layouts and designs. Ensure it also integrates/has a built-in email automation system to ease your efforts.
4. Pipeline management
Look for sales management software that will help you streamline your sales pipeline. These sales pipeline automation tools can send out automated follow-up reminders, create a forecast based on prospect needs and trends, and report by product, lead source, and other metrics.
They'll enable you to create a sales funnel that tracks each stage of the sales cycle and provide metrics on how many deals have been closed. These tools will help you visualize your sales pipeline at a glance and make it easy to see which leads are moving through the pipeline faster than others.
Documentation features within your sales automation software are essential to managing customer engagements and fostering collaboration. With our document-sharing tool, for example, you can track who sends the content to a prospect or decision maker and how often it's shared.
More importantly, you can determine a prospect's level of interest based on which documents they've engaged with the most!
6. Third-party integrations
Check whether the automation tool supports third-party integrations. To implement automation deeper, the tool must support integrations with third-party applications. This way, you can connect your CRM or marketing automation software and start automating tasks right away.
Best 5 Sales Automation Tools in 2022
The leading marketing automation tool Marketo Engage by Adobe offers companies advanced technology with salient features such as email marketing, analytics, and web retargeting.
It is an online platform that employs data management which helps generate qualified sales leads internally to drive revenue growth. Marketo is a comprehensive enterprise customer relationship management tool that offers mobile engagement, content personalization, and more to reach your clients.
Getresponse is a one-stop shop for all your automation needs. It has everything you need, from designing a simple landing page to nurturing and converting through funnels. Email marketing allows you to customize pre-made templates, set autoresponders, create workflows, and more.
It allows you to create a landing page and promote using paid ads like Facebook and Google ads without leaving their platforms. And on top of that, they also have a webinar, conversion funnel, live chat, web push notifications, and SMS marketing under a single umbrella.
Storylane lets you collect leads from your website via an interactive product demo. It captures the lead when they opt-in to view your product demo. The sales demo is the difference between closing a sale and losing a prospect.
Storylane helps you surpass this situation, as it automatically personalizes your demo by pulling your client's data from your integrated CRM. You can also get insights on who viewed your demo to move them through the pipeline and trigger follow-ups.
Regarding marketing automation software, HubSpot is currently leading the pack. Their powerful messaging and email publishing tool allows you to create automated workflows to help your business grow in a way that would otherwise require much manual labor.
Personalized automation, file storage, sharing tools, lead tracking scorecards, analytics data, all this will help you automate your marketing tasks for enhanced growth and gain an all-encompassing marketing plan that works for businesses of all sizes.
Pardot by Salesforce is yet another powerful business marketing automation tool. Pardot enables the marketing team to establish lasting relationships and close deals more efficiently.
Features include lead qualification, email marketing, sales alignment, Artificial Intelligence, and ROI reporting tools to remove inefficiencies from the sales process. This B2B tool helps expand both profit margins and customer base.
Get, set, and automate!
Sales automation removes all manual processes associated with sales and marketing. This ensures that automated tasks are transparent throughout the business, allowing more time to be given to other strategic functions.
Automation software provides a platform where any business can automate your workflows, helping you to convert leads into loyal customers in fewer steps than before. If you do your lead nurturing correctly, you can convert most of your leads to loyal customers.
And once your prospects are warmed up, you can use sales automation software like Storylane to tailor a personalized sales demo to engage prospects and help them decide if your product is right for them.
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