Sales Automation Best Practices
Sales people are under an incredible amount of time pressure. They are expected to generate new business, manage existing opportunities, and even upsell customers. The result is balls get dropped. And that will have a direct impact on your company’s revenue.
Consider that the average sales person spends just 30% of their day focused on “core selling”. That is, the actual time they spend speaking or meeting with their prospects and customers. So many other activities get in the way and intrude on the day. The more that you can automate in the sales process, the more time that gets put back into core selling.
Sales productivity is the #1 challenge for almost two-thirds of B2B organizations.
Sales people live and breathe with their communications. When they communicate regularly and in a valuable, meaningful way with their prospects they can help engage them more and ensure that they stay happy and upgrading. But communication, especially at volume can be a drag. Consider a sales development rep who communicates with a hundred prospects a day. If they can simplify the communication process, they can get so much more lift.
Automating Email Delivery
Email communications have become the default way to connect with new prospects. But consider how you send each email. Sure, it just takes a second to find the email address of the recipient — once you know who you want to send to next. But then what are you going to say? What value are you going to add to the discussion? How do you track whether you’ve sent the email and what was in it?
Email automation tools eliminate a lot of the hurdles and slowdowns. Some will automatically tell you who is next in the sales queue so you don’t need to decide who to prioritize. Others deliver personalized templates that take the grunt work out of writing emails. And still others will automate the actual delivery and timing of the emails themselves. That automation can give back hours each day to the sales team.
Adding Automation to Phone Calls
Phone calls are core to salespeople’s day to day. When they can connect with people in real-time they are more likely to engage and advance their prospects. But phone calls also are a time-consuming proposition begging for automation. Much like for email, consider having to look up the next person to call, their phone number, punching it in, navigating a phone tree, and leaving a message. Now multiply that by 80 calls a day.
Sales call automation tools take much of the lift out of this effort. They do that in a way that is analogous to email automation. They will often prioritize who to call next, serve up the record, make the dial, and help you record the outcome of the call — including the delivery of a pre-recorded voicemail. That automation, especially for sales people that spend a lot of time on the phone, can be momentous.
Automatically Push Winning Content & Messaging
95% of sales people want great messaging available so they can engage and convince prospects. But they rarely can find the materials they need when they need them. That means that reps instead spend a lot of time looking for helpful content. Or, even worse for consistency and best practices, building their own content from scratch. The result is that almost 30% of a rep’s average day is spent building or finding content.
Up to 40% of a sales rep’s time is spent looking for or creating content to share with prospects.
Instead of forcing reps to look in a portal, on the YouTube channel, on the blog, in the content management system, or some other location, it’s more efficient to push content to reps where they work. Reps, especially inside sales reps, spend much of their day in the portal, CRM, and email. So, it only makes sense to push content to reps in each of these tools.
Advanced sales automation technology uses the context of an email or CRM record to suggest relevant and engaging content. For instance, if I’m sending an email to a CFO at a manufacturer, then I want to have messaging and content that is relevant to and engaging for that recipient.
Sales automation technology automates that process by identifying winning content for the context and pushes it to reps in their favorite tools.
Automate the Logging of Shared Content
As content is shared out you need to have a log of the activities that have taken place. Without a logging of that activity sales teams won’t know whether they have actually shared material. And marketing and sales enablement won’t learn which messages are most effective.
Sales automation technologies can limit the effort required by automatically logging the fact that a call took place, an email was sent, or a piece of content was shared. This automation significantly reduces a mundane, but important task.
Push Sales Feedback to Marketing Automatically
Marketing and sales enablement teams would love to know how well their content is performing in the field. But sales people are often too busy to give real-time feedback to their marketing colleagues. The result is marketing operates blindly, producing more of the materials they think are effective.
Sales automation tools track the effectiveness of individual pieces of content. They see the contexts in which the content is shared and how engaging it is. Automated analytics about the performance of content can be automatically shuttled back to marketing so they can see which content performs and which doesn’t. The result is that teams can invest in assets that win and eliminate low-performers.
Automatically Assemble Sales Presentations
Did you know Seismic can equip sellers with hyper-relevant sales content and create automated personalized sales presentations? Learn more.
Most sales teams want to deliver presentations to their sales prospects. Presentations can be a powerful way to communicate value propositions. And in a standard way that prospects are accustomed to. But building out a presentation is a time-consuming project. Sales reps need to know which slides are most relevant, and this can be difficult when the right slides are hiding in disparate decks.
Sales automation technologies can simplify this process by accelerating the creation of presentations that match a prospect’s need. They do this by linking presentations, and the slides within those presentations, to specific sales contexts. They then suggest tailored decks that then match this context. Sales people can then take a less automated approach and customize the deck — especially since at this point they have radically reduced the time cost of building out a presentation that matches their prospect.
Automate the Delivery of Sales Training Material
A well-trained, skilled, and knowledgeable sales person is an effective one. But there is an avalanche of training and onboarding material that sales people confront. They can’t keep up with this material. The result is that training materials are forgotten and sales people are less effective than they could be.
You could take a sales automation approach of pinging a sales person via email every time training is updated, available, or new. But the reality is that with the time pressures that sales people face, there’s a more effective route. That approach is to push winning content to sales people as they need it, much like we saw for marketing content.
Sales automation in this case relies on the identification of triggers in the sales process. These triggers can be used to push training materials, quizzes, and other learning resources to reps as they need it. An effective trigger might be, say, the introduction of new product into an opportunity. Or, the discovery of a certain competitor in the sales process. These triggers can then be used to automatically bring the relevant training assets to the rep ‘just in time’.
Time Savings through Sales Automation Best Practices
In addition to the above automations there are a whole range of other sales automation technologies that can help to save time and increase core selling activities. The list below is just a sample of some possibilities.
Calendering and Meeting Setting: Tools like Calendly make it easy for reps and their prospects to view availabilities on their calendars. That makes it much faster and automated to book times.
Connect Email to the CRM: A lot of a sales person’s activities take place in email. But they’re required by management to update data in their CRM. Data connection tools help to automate mundane tasks by connecting the two applications. Then, as meetings are added, data updated, and emails logged, a rep can do so right from their email client.
Focusing of Effort: A major time loss for sales people is determining who to speak to next. Predictive and queuing technologies can be used so that sales people always know who to speak to next by automating the queuing of the next person.
Expense Management: Oh, expenses! What a drain on a sales person’s time. That’s why tools have emerged in recent years to automate the collection and processing of sales expenses. Again, any activity that can be automated for a sales person can get more time pushed back into core selling.
Distributing Sales Content
88% of missed opportunities were because sales couldn’t find or leverage internal resources.
You’ve built some terrific material. But if it just sits idly on a shelf (virtual or otherwise) it doesn’t do anyone much good. So, what are the most efficient ways to get content into your sales team’s hands? Here are a few key approaches:
Push Content to Reps: Your salespeople don’t have a lot of time. They struggle to go to yet another tool to find critical content. But if you can push content to where they work, you’re much more likely to get great adoption of sales content. So, where do sales people work? They’re in the browser, email, CRM, and on their mobile devices. So, look for an approach that pushes content to each of these locations.
Centralize Your Content: None of the above should diminish the value of a portal. In many cases, a salesperson does just want to access content from a single browser-based access point. Sales enablement and marketing need to make the portal as intuitive and helpful as possible so sales people can quickly get the information they need — fast!
Recommend Winning Content: Salespeople are looking for content for a specific business reason. Generally, it’s because they are trying to help advance and support a prospect in a certain sales context. That means that knowing the context that the recipient is in will be a great help in identifying which content will help them. Tools like Seismic look at the sales context before suggesting sales content. That means that winning materials get pushed to the team.
Measuring the Success of Sales Content
Closing the loop on sales content requires an understanding of which content is performing best. That means more than just which content is downloaded by the sales team. You need to know which content is being shared with prospects, how frequently, under what sales situations, how engaging it is for prospects, and whether it contributes to more sales.
That requires an understanding and tracking of the sales context in which content is used with prospects — and the degree of success of that content. You can do that using technology like Seismic that encourage sales people to share recommended assets with their prospects. And then, through deep integration into Salesforce.com, track the context in which that content is shared so content managers can learn when content is most successful.
That same set of data also enables managers to discover where there are gaps in the content portfolio. For instance, they may learn that a “financial services” case study is shared extensively with manufacturers. Maybe a new manufacturer case study would be a good item to build next.
When sales teams have great, useful content they are radially more effective. Sales enablement and marketing groups can produce more and better content by following this simple content lifecycle.