A challenge many business owners face when growing their business is how to increase revenue without increasing overheads and reducing profits; in other words how can you do more with less? In fact, sales productivity is the number one challenge for almost two-thirds of B2B organisations. The good news is there are steps you can take to increase your sales productivity. One way is through the use of sales automation. In this article, you will learn five ways you can use sales automation to your advantage to improve productivity and achieve your revenue and profit goals.
The Benefit of Sales Automation
Have you, or your sales team ever missed out on a business opportunity because you were too busy and forgot to follow-up with a new inquiry? Or are you frustrated with the hours invested in adding information into your CRM, or excel, when you should be making sales? Do you call leads in alphabetical order rather than the most qualified? If you’re nodding your head, you are in need of a good CRM with sales automation.
What is sales automation? Basically, sales automation tools take the manual and time-consuming tasks you need to do in order to keep your business running, and automates them. Not only does this make your business much more efficient, but it also improves your accuracy and fast-tracks your sales process. At the same time, however, the element of ‘you’ is also vital to sales. We no longer live in a world of B2B and B2C, it’s B2H - business to human. By saving time with sales automation you are able to provide a more personalised “human” approach to sales that will set you apart from the competition.
Is the traditional sales funnel dead?
The sales funnel was once the king of the sales process. And it worked … once upon a time. Yet today, I hear people touting that the traditional sales funnel is dead. Why? Because the way people buy has changed, and many lead generation tactics haven’t changed to align with the modern consumer. The sales funnel views customers as an after-thought and not the driving force they are. The sales funnel might produce customers, but it doesn’t take into account how customers can actually help your business grow. That's where the flywheel comes in. In the old sales funnel, customers are an outcome. You spend all your time and energy acquiring that one customer and once you do, you’re back to square one. With the flywheel, you use the momentum of your happy customers to drive referrals and repeat sales, which helps keep your business spinning and growing. The flywheel is all about force and friction. The amount of force applied to it will influence how fast it spins, and any friction will slow it down.
The same thing happens in business. The first step is to identify those points of friction, and make them more efficient so your business can grow. Friction can be caused by the timing or type of content you send to a lead. For example sending the same emails to all leads as part of a drip marketing campaign can be annoying and affect your close rate. Force, on the other hand, keeps the wheel spinning. For example, if you have identified a certain blog article or case study that leads find helpful and that boosts your close rate - you can use automation to send out the relevant article based your lead’s activity - when the time is right for them.
Why the flywheel works
The flywheel is a business model covering marketing (attract), sales (engage) and delight (customer service). And, when it comes to attracting consumers, the flywheel works because it centres on a crucial element brands need to succeed in the modern market: consumer trust. As Brian Halligan (CEO of HubSpot) has said, trust in modern society is at an all-time low. But consumers do trust someone: their friends and colleagues. Ask anyone these days about why they purchased a product and most times, it will be because of word-of-mouth. In fact, according to Nielsen, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising. That’s why the flywheel works, because it revolves around enabling your customers to be your best sellers and the major driving force at the ‘attract’ stage of the Inbound Methodology.
5 ways sales automation can improve your business
1. Fill your pipeline with quality leads
To keep your pipeline flowing, you need a consistent stream of qualified leads (not all leads are created equally)! Manual prospecting can quickly eat away at your time and energy, especially when you’re unsure which leads in your pipeline are the most qualified. Firstly, you need to determine what a qualified lead means to you. For example, if your idea of a qualified lead is a company with five sales people in the manufacturing industry with an annual turnover of $10million, you can use sales automation to add a lead to your pipeline when they meet that description. This will ensure you focus your sales efforts on the most qualified leads first, and by using sales automation and a CRM you can be confident no qualified leads are ignored.
2. Follow up with leads at the right moment
If you’re managing contacts and lead data manually, you may be missing out on sales due to missed follow-up opportunities. Did you know that 80 percent of sales requires five or more follow-ups to close? And, according to studies, you have just five minutes to follow up with a new lead before you lose their attention and potentially their business. With the help of sales automation, you can make sure you are following up with your leads at the right moment. The important thing to note is that it needs to be a touch point that is appropriate to their level of interest.
For example, you could use automation to trigger an email that sends straight away to the contact after they have filled out an inquiry form on your website. This ensures the prospect hears back from you straight away, without you having to worry about manually emailing them yourself. Or, if a warm to hot lead is on your website (this might be based on the number of pages they’ve read, or a certain page they’ve looked at - like a pricing page), you can use sales automation to trigger a notification to your sales team to call them. Following up in the first five minutes is crucial because the lead is still engaged and interested.
3. Utilise the power of chatbots
Today, 80 percent of the touches inside your business are human-based touches and handoffs. To build a scalable business that doesn’t compromise the human element and experience people have with your business, some of these manual touch points should be automated. Automation bots, like chat bots, can be doing some of the work to ensure your prospects and customers get the information they need quicker. In fact, your customers want to deal with chat bots. Many people today don’t have the time or patience to wait for an answer, or to wait for it to suit your timing. They want the information when it suits them, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Harnessing the power of chatbots is a simple yet incredibly effective form of sales automation that keeps your prospects, leads and customers consistently engaged, and your flywheel spinning.
4. Identify bottlenecks and friction in your processes
Friction and bottlenecks will slow down your flywheel, which means slowing down the growth of your business. Friction can occur anywhere throughout the customer journey. However, if you have leads that aren’t moving through the pipeline you need to identify where and how to fix it as soon as possible. A CRM that has a pipeline and dashboard reporting will help you to easily identify where the friction and bottlenecks are in your sales process. Then you can test different tactics to see if it removes the issues in your sales process. For example, does your pipeline reporting show that contacts aren’t moving from the Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) stage to opportunity? Review the touch points that you have with contacts between these stages and test different tactics to see if you can increase the conversion rate from one stage to the next. You may want to test a different email copy or timing on a call. Using automation for these touch points will ensure nothing falls through the cracks and your prospects aren’t forgotten, and it will also provide insights so you can see what works best.
5. Meet new customer expectations
The modern consumer has changed, and so have their expectations. A common challenge for many businesses is having internal processes that stay up to date with changing expectations of consumers. As consumer expectations increase it is vital you’re offering a frictionless and consistent customer experience, that meets their expectations along the entire customer journey. Sales automation tools can help you communicate with customers in a way that ensures a smooth handoff to customer service, providing all the information they need to deliver an outstanding service that will delight your customers and have them coming back time and time again, while also singing your praises to their network of friends.
Customers expect you to know them. They expect you to have the right data and know their next move before they do. Sales automation allows you to meet customer expectations with little to no friction through the use of tailored and personal sales experiences.
The benefit of sales automation goes beyond the pipeline. It’s about keeping your customers happy and your flywheel spinning.
Do you need to improve your sales process?
If your sales process isn’t working or it’s too time consuming, I invite you to book in a complementary strategy session to discuss what is the best solution for your business.
Book your strategy session with Stacie today by filling out the form below.