Digital marketing has changed the priority back to the customer. It’s easier to research and buy with confidence, and customers can find more solutions to their problems than ever before.
In the small business world of increasing competition and more demanding buyers, it’s time to start delivering maximum value.
As you know, there aren’t any more hours in the day, and too many businesses still struggle to add value and build relationships that will propel them forward. With all the minor duties that eat up your time, it’s hard to get ahead if you aren’t putting sales automation to use.
Sales automation handles most of the non-sales tasks for you and your team, empowering you to get back to what you do best — selling. With a blend of tools to support you, you’ll be able to push more leads into the pipeline, speed up sales cycles, and close more deals.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or take a massive investment for sales automation to start pushing your business to the next level. Keep reading to learn how it can help you achieve your goals.
What Is Sales Automation?
Sales automation starts and ends with a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Small businesses use CRMs with different add-ons that make work easier.
With the right CRM tools, you don’t have to spend time on small tasks like sending emails or updating information. You can put the focus on talking with leads without the risk of letting any of them down.
Sales Automation vs. Marketing Automation
Sales automation and marketing automation are sometimes thought of as the same operation. There is certainly some overlap in where they’re used in the customer journey, and they are equally critical for defining your space in the digital landscape.
Marketing automation is essential for any business, whether it’s a hands-off online retailer or a person-to-person environment like enterprise sales. You see automation commonly take place throughout the customer journey to accomplish several goals, including:
- Building brand awareness
- Generating leads
- Engaging customers
- Encouraging customer loyalty
With improving AI, for example, chatbots are improving the customer experience by reacting to and solving problems faster.
Your digital marketing channels can all be automated to an extent. Tracking data is a major component of marketing automation. From your social media posts to your email campaigns, you can find leads and engage with them on a personal level without having to do anything manually.
Through marketing automation, you can track users visiting certain web pages and put your advertising in front of them in other places like Facebook or banner ads on other websites. In B2B contexts, your lead magnets will draw in leads with useful offerings like white papers, e-books, or coupons. For most businesses, the ultimate goal is to build lists and boost email marketing campaigns.
This is where there’s an overlap between marketing and sales automation. In the early stages where you build interest in your services, you can start to pick out which leads might buy. With more of the busy work being taken care of to queue up leads, you have the opportunity to research prospects and make contact quickly to start the sales conversation.
How Sales Automation Tools Work in the Sales Funnel
Automation is key for any B2B operation, but you can also find retail operations using CRMs to manage their sales. Sellers of high-involvement products like cars or luxury furniture often have their own sales cycles. Sales reps in these industries need to build relationships, follow up reliably, and offer value at every turn to steal business from the competition.
To that end, you can use sales automation at several steps of the sales process.
Building better sales and operations systems are the most cost-effective paths to growth. When we talk about our Clone the Owner™ concept, we emphasize putting strategies in place that you can sustain and depend on to deliver results. A major component of this is sales automation.
Through the right mix of sales automation tools, you create a consistency that you and your ever-evolving team can enjoy. There is less work put into training or brainstorming new ways of finding success. You have processes in place that can grow with you and make the demands that come with that growth easier to manage.
Sourcing and Assigning Leads
Marketing automation takes care of a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to finding leads. Your digital marketing efforts attract consumers with a current and relevant need. Marketing automation can get information and organize it, letting you enjoy pre-qualified prospects before you have to lift a finger.
This may be enough for some businesses, but if you’re proactive, you can take control of lead generation with social networking and lead databases.
LinkedIn is a great place to find industry connections who can connect you with leads. If you’re assembling a sales team, you can encourage your people to own a portion of your lead generation activity.
They can also be active with their own content strategy to raise their profile and attract followers. But to find leads the easy way, they can use LinkedIn’s automated prospect finder, Sales Navigator.
Tools like Sales Navigator let you filter prospects with different criteria like regions or job titles. You can also use lead databases that contain a treasure trove of company data to search through. Some services let you follow leads as they take action, so you can jump on openings right when they pop up.
As a manager of a growing company, you may consider assembling a sales team. You can save time on assigning leads by having software do it for you. Rotation tools help you automatically divvy up leads or give certain leads to specific reps based on factors like region or product category.
Finding and Storing Lead Information
The basic job of any CRM system is to hold information in a way that’s uniform and easy to search. Obtaining the information can take hours of research, and you can’t always be certain that the information is up to date.
You can automate lead enrichment to save time and better understand your leads. Enrichment tools look through company data and fill out lead information. You get more insight to help with discovery calls and more accurate information.
By searching data on the company profile, these tools can also qualify leads and see whether they’re a good match for your company.
Storing the information in a central location makes customer communication more consistent and more professional. It makes it easier to hold yourself and your sales reps accountable while ensuring the customer gets the best service.
You can look at your sales teams’ leads and follow up on deals. It also lets the salesperson get help from their teammates.
If a client follows up with a team member who is out of the office, you can access their CRM and review all of the customer notes. You can see where the customer sits in the pipeline, what kind of communication they’ve received, and what expectations were set.
With that information, it’s easier to keep a consistent message and reinforce your salesperson’s integrity. At the same time, it makes your business look more responsive and keeps the prospect moving through the pipeline.
Keeping updated notes is essential when you’re managing several deals at different points in the sales cycle. As important as it is to stay organized and on task, it can be tedious inputting all of your notes every time you talk with the customer or they follow up.
Automatic logging tools can pull information from your interactions with leads and input all of it into your CRM for you. Many CRMs have this built-in, but there are also native tools that can work alongside your CRM.
These tools also let you track the customer’s activity that doesn’t involve communication. If they click an email link, for example, that action can be logged.
Auto-logging clicks and other actions mean you don’t miss anything significant. When they’re synced with segmentation tools, you can be certain that they’ll get the most appropriate email follow-up.
Scheduling Meetings and Calls
Setting up a meeting time can feel like a negotiation sometimes. If you’re waiting on emails or phone calls, it can steal time from more important sales tasks you could be doing.
Meeting and call scheduling is sometimes a free service with CRMs, but there are plenty of online services that can also help. Rather than ask your prospect for a good time and then figure out your schedules through several emails, you can send them a calendar and have them pick. It will automatically update your calendar so you have a reminder and you can be sure that there won’t be any conflict.
If you’re a B2B company, you can keep your phone lines clear by making this part of your contact page on your website. When somebody clicks on a CTA in an email, they can book a call, add notes, and not have to wait or jump through hoops to get the right person on the phone.
Every lead source and customer action gives you a chance to split leads into different lists. Depending on how they enter your CRM, how they seek information, and what their company data says, automated tools can score leads and divide them into groups. It takes the labor out of sorting qualified leads and leads that need to go into a nurture campaign.
This is the major benefit of sales automation — being able to manage customers in bulk while still providing a personalized experience for each one. With all-inclusive tools like Keap, you can do both in a single, easy-to-use platform.
Personalization happens a lot in marketing automation. When it’s your birthday, you might get a birthday message with a special discount. Even something as simple as mentioning you by name adds a personal touch that helps marketers significantly increase their transactions.
Marketing and sales automation let you define different criteria for sorting and scheduling email blasts. For example, you may send more emails to leads that downloaded white papers or attended an event.
With smarter tools, you can change your subject lines, CTAs, and body text. Let’s say you have two lists of leads that were automatically filled based on an action, like clicking a link in an email. Some clicked the link and went to a piece of content while others opened the email but left without clicking.
You can send messages that relate to them. For the customer that clicked the link and got the content, you can put them on the list that gets the “Want more great content like this…” subject line. The customers that left can receive an “Are you still interested in this…” type of subject line.
All of this can be set up at one time. You can set up your campaigns for automation, write your emails, and set your schedules for a few months without having to stay on top of them the whole time.
With email templates, you can make your work even easier. You can create them yourself with Google tools or take advantage of a sea of email templates that you can buy online.
Reviewing Sales Calls
Imagine being able to analyze your conversations and find winning strategies that the whole team can use. With AI, that’s now possible.
Artificial intelligence can look at your conversations to understand what is effective with customers. New technology can look at not only the content of a conversation but also non-verbal cues that can give valuable insight. In terms of training, replicating good behaviors, and developing a sustainable system, this kind of technology can give an organization a major edge.
You can help your chances of closing sales and keeping clients by following up quicker and staying on task. As mentioned, CRMs give you a way to support team members and offer better, faster service.
By following customer activity, you and your team can see where leads are in the pipeline and deliver relevant marketing material and custom email messages. You can fix customer issues faster and speed up deals.
Measuring and Reporting KPIs
You need to keep reps on task and working towards deals. With a CRM and different reporting tools, you get a birds-eye view of the process.
CRMs organize customer data, so it makes sense to get reports showing how your sales reps perform at each step of the sales cycle. You’ll see how many calls they make each day, how many leads they log, or how fast they respond to customer actions, among other things.
With information like that, you can find clogs in the pipeline and good behaviors to pass on in training. It makes it easier to streamline the process, which leads to a faster sales cycle and a higher win rate.
Get Started With Sales Automation Today
Sales automation gives you more predictable results, which in most cases equals more leads, higher revenue, and greater customer satisfaction. It takes away a lot of the guesswork that comes with sales. When you start using these tools, you’ll notice that your business will land on a winning growth strategy and stick with it.
Marketing and sales automation is growing and getting more complex, and it’s overwhelming for many SMB leaders to get started. That’s why we at Online Marketing Muscle don’t stop at giving you the tools to succeed — we show you how to use them. For information on how our cost-effective services can help you scale your business, contact our team today.