It’s estimated that businesses can automate more than 30% of sales-related tasks.
Out of a normal 8-hour workday, you can save nearly three whole hours of busy work with the right blend of sales automation software. More and more business owners have been able to build better customer experiences and grow revenue by giving themselves more time to focus on selling.
Like it or not, success is largely defined by how you use sales automation tools, and it will only become more important as time goes on. But even though you need automation to get ahead, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Instead, you need to be introspective and discover your unique business needs to find the tools that will deliver the highest ROI. In this article, you’ll see that process doesn’t have to be complicated, and you can start making positive changes with simple steps.
How to Find the Best Sales Automation Software
Every sales automation CRM and integration carries benefits along with a host of costs. You’ll need to balance the two, understanding the breadth of pros and cons to any solution that might work.
Some may be too expensive, others may cost valuable training time, or they may simply not produce the results you need. Without forethought, you may find yourself working with impractical solutions.
When you’re ready to take advantage of all that sales automation has to offer, make your decision with the following factors in mind.
Do you want to spend less time writing emails? Is it hard to stay on schedule with all of your meetings and demos? Are you having trouble getting quality leads from your marketing automation efforts?
You have to start your search for the best sales automation tool by asking “Where does it hurt?” Once you know your specific goal, you can have a more productive conversation with sales automation software providers.
Some of the key tasks and goals that businesses accomplish with sales automation include:
- Data collection and organization
- Email creation and sending
- Scheduling meetings
- Managing payments and invoicing
- Generating leads
- Providing sales reports
- Organizing sales pipelines
All this leads to revenue growth, a goal that 61% of businesses accomplished in 2020 thanks to automation. When you think about your goals and where you can improve your sales process, you’ll find fitting niche services that offer greater value.
Ease Of Use
Sales automation tools aren’t replacing salespeople. Instead, they’re giving them more time to flex their indispensable asset — their creativity.
You and your team earn more time for face-to-face interaction with your prospects and clients. Your business will grow, and so will your customers’ lifetime value.
The problem is that as much as sales automation software can save time, it also costs time when you have to learn new technology.
As you evaluate any sales automation option, consider how easy it is to use and whether you will be able to get the full use out of it. Demos are the best way of viewing the software’s UX, and it should become apparent whether it will be easily adopted.
If you see high value in certain sales automation tools, but the usability is a little more complex, research the level of support you can expect from the software provider. Is personalized training available as part of your subscription? How much ongoing support do they provide for new team members, software updates, and immediate needs?
For more robust tools like Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs), you may be able to add another layer of automation through a digital adoption platform (DAP). If it’s supported by the sales automation software, a DAP can be an on-demand coach for growing teams that shows users how to best use different features. They also provide resource libraries for self-service help.
Easy-to-Use Sales Automation Tools
As a general rule, the more refined the job, the easier the tool is to use. Large enterprise tools like Salesforce can do everything, but they can be not only overly functional but also harder to use as a result.
For a small business, you can look to simple, intuitive tools that can whittle down your administrative tasks. For example, Calendly is easy to learn and can immediately handle all of your call and meeting schedules. If you want a basic and easy-to-understand CRM, Copper or Pipedrive can take on administrative tasks and free you up for more client time.
When you’re handling a lot of the operations and sales or managing a small team, starting with simplicity is a great way to get fast results and, in many cases, save money. Still, when growth is on the mind, you’ll need to look for software that can keep up.
Most businesses are growth-oriented, and eventually, you may add team members and need more out of your software stack. As you look to the future, you’ll need software that can grow with you or become integrated into a larger system.
Companies that offer scalable solutions will usually have three or more pricing tiers, which helps you manage costs by reducing wasted functions. You will usually have monthly or annual subscriptions, allowing you to respond to sudden changes in the business.
Sales automation businesses usually offer software as a service (SaaS), wherein the system is online and not on a company’s computers. This makes it easier to scale because you don’t have to worry about new software installations or hardware requirements.
Scalable Sales Process Automation Tools
Salesforce is the most scalable CRM, but its enterprise-sized solution isn’t ideal for small businesses and startups. If you need a CRM that can handle an exhaustive list of tasks and supply more workflow management as you grow, consider options like Keap or Hubspot instead.
You don’t need to look to CRMs alone for services that can grow with you. Supporting your email marketing activities, for example, is an essential service to expect from many sales automation tools. A scalable service like MailChimp can help you manage more follow-ups as your business earns customers.
If you want scalability, look into the subscription tiers to see if one solution can grow with you and accomplish your ultimate vision. If you feel like there are gaps, where one tier doesn’t provide enough power and the others provide too much, you may be able to negotiate a custom solution with your service provider.
A sales automation tool, particularly a CRM, usually hosts a broad array of features to build efficiency into many sales process stages. Some of the most common features you can expect from a quality CRM include:
- Storing and managing contact information
- Activity tracking
- Lead management
- Email templating and scheduling
- Workflow creation
- Reporting and analytics
- Deal management
For your money, you’ll want a rich collection of features to support you and your team to make your tasks easier. This is why solutions like the Keap platform are so valuable — they offer comprehensive features in an intuitive system, saving you time and money on separate software.
With more features built into your sales automation software, you’ll save money because you’ll need fewer solutions. You’ll also reduce the number of keystrokes and the amount of training needed by keeping all of your functionality maintained in a single dashboard.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs don’t have to look to Salesforce for a full range of features. Scalable options like Keap or Freshworks offer excellent add-ons to expand their use and take on new business demands.
The costs of marketing and sales efforts can be hard to justify because the returns can be vague or slow to appear. As a small business owner, it’s understandable to be budget-conscious, especially when adopting new technology with unclear benefits.
Beginner software that doesn’t take much time to learn is usually a cost-effective solution for small businesses.
An excellent option to get started is Agile CRM, a fairly robust sales, and marketing engine that starts at $8.99/month. For even more control and communication automation from prospecting to purchase, Keap Lite offers invoicing and additional business communication automation. These are just some of the many services you can start using for under $100/month.
When you’re just getting started, a traditional CRM may not be the best use of your money. Even if it’s free, sales automation software with added features that take up space and training time can be a waste.
Focus on what you need to accomplish and get the solution that will save you time and money. If contact management isn’t the issue, but you have problems with lead generation, the free version of Leadfeeder can focus on pulling leads from website traffic. For email campaigns, Sendinblue and ConvertKit have free versions for basic functionality.
There are plenty of ways to get great value out of free and low-cost sales automation CRM platforms and more. In many cases, if you save money with a limited feature set, you also save time trying to understand it.
The more scalable, feature-heavy, and expensive something is, the more integrations it will offer. This is an important consideration in building a seamless system with communication between its many parts. The more services you can integrate into one system, the more it will run itself.
CRM services are focusing more on integrations, with many supporting hundreds or even thousands of add-ons. If you’re currently using an email service provider, advertising platform, or customer support feature like chatbots, make sure you choose a CRM that will work with them. When talking with your salesperson, try to see how your current software performs in a demo.
If you use web apps, a good way to connect them is through Zapier. Many CRMs boast their Zapier integrations to create workflows from one service to the next.
With Zapier, you can pull contacts from Facebook forms and add them to email lists in Mailchimp. Then, you can create a new lead in your CRM and assign it to a salesperson. And you can do all this without lifting a finger.
Some sales automation CRMs, like Zoho, let developers use their APIs to include more integrations.
An application programming interface, or API, allows two programs to communicate with each other. For example, an online shoe store might let you sign in with Google, connecting their user information with an account on the website. By offering access to their API, a CRM gives more apps a secure way to pull important lead and client information.
Analytics & Reporting
Your sales activities, like your marketing tactics, should go through a constant process of improvement. To that end, your various sales automation tools will ideally have tracking and reporting built-in. You will gain insights to take to training sessions and find effective practices to share with your sales team.
Prospect.io is a perfect example of using analytics to convert more leads and create better email campaigns. Autoklose is a similar, cost-effective campaign manager that can help you grow your email campaigns.
Sales automation companies are taking reporting to the next level with AI. CRMs, email campaign managers, and more can help score leads and improve each team member’s sales quality. If you need help improving your emails or even how you talk to customers, AI-based tools can give you on-demand coaching.
As part of the systems approach that we cover in our Clone the Owner® guide, analytics can be crucial for building durable practices. When you automate your analytics, you can find those behaviors that promote growth and those that set you back.
With the consistency of the reporting, it’s much faster and easier to build an effective system around adjusting your procedures. Growth becomes more of an iterative process than a search for the next great idea.
Finally, the level of customer support you can expect should be a key consideration. Free tools and long lists of features are crucial, but customer support could determine their actual value.
The sales field doesn’t always require a tech background. But the more capable that sales automation tools become, the more complicated they are to understand. In many cases, a team won’t get the full use out of the software.
A good customer support team can create a more tailored solution for their clients. If they can support your add-ons and offer special packages, you can get the best value. Plus, a customer service line and resource library will give you and your team the confidence and knowledge to get the most out of the software.
Final Thoughts: Choose the Perfect Sales Automation Software
One of the biggest marketing mistakes is not researching what works for your business and your customers. The same idea applies to your sales automation software. Consider your business goals, your abilities, and your limitations, and you’ll find the tools to start winning more clients.
Now is the time to take advantage of sales automation, and Online Marketing Muscle is here to help! Contact our team to learn how we provide CRM solutions to boost your revenue, earn more business, and improve the customer experience.