When you think about the activities that are essential to making a sale, you probably think about actions that require the human touch of the sales rep—listening to a prospect’s needs, developing a solution for them, and asking for the sale when it’s time to do so.
And then there’s everything else. A sales rep’s day always involves tasks that require manual effort, but don’t get their prospects any closer to a “yes” (at least not directly).
According to a recent InsideSales.com survey, sales reps only spend 35.2% of their time actually selling*, with the majority of their day spent on administrative tasks, research, and other non-selling obligations. These can be things like:
- Logging activities and updating lead records in a CRM
- Looking up prospects’ phone numbers before a call and writing up call notes afterwards
- Researching a prospect online (i.e., finding their location, job title, and social media accounts)
- Emailing content to prospects depending on where they are in the buying cycle
For sales managers, common non-selling activities could include things like assigning leads to their reps or training new reps on the team’s sales process.
* InsideSales defined “selling” as prospecting, external customer-facing meetings, and following up with clients.
What Is Sales Automation?
Sales automation refers to any software tool that automates or facilitates manual tasks for a sales team.
The practical purpose of sales automation is to eliminate as much as possible from a sales rep’s day that doesn’t involve relationship-building and direct interaction, while reducing the amount of effort an organization spends on managing their sales process.
Despite what the name may imply, sales automation doesn’t replace sales reps, or the need for sales reps to do the actual work of selling. In fact, sales automation makes sales reps more valuable as it allows them to focus more time and attention on truly essential actions like qualifying and working leads, improving their sales process, and giving their best prospects more personal attention.
Seven Types of Sales Automation
Sales automation can take many different forms. Some teams use automation platforms that focus on one specific part of the sales process—such as prospecting or cold emailing—while other teams rely on CRMs and pipeline management platforms that automate numerous activities throughout the sales process.
Here are seven ways that sales automation can take some of the busywork and frustration out of a sales rep’s day. (And not that we like to brag, but Nutshell’s sales automation-friendly CRM offers or integrates with almost all of these helpful tools.)
1) Automated record creation
Sales automation software can immediately generate CRM records when a form is filled out by a website visitor, or when a business card is scanned, saving reps from having to create new contact and lead records manually.
2) Automated activity logging
One of the most annoying “non-selling activities” for sales reps is the need to log emails, phone calls, and other customer communications for the benefit of their managers. Sales automation software can log those activities as soon as they happen, without the rep having to lift a finger.
3) Automated research
A sales automation platform with the ability to scour the Internet for information can help sales teams in a number of ways, from gathering publicly available information on prospects and adding it to their lead records (see: Nutshell Intelligence) to searching social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to identify potential customers.
For outside sales reps, prospecting from the field leaves a lot up to chance. Utilizing a tool like Lead Machine empowers reps to work more effectively and close more sales by targeting the best leads within a chosen territory.
4) Automated data entry
In other words, anything else that involves typing. For example, if you want to create a proposal for a prospect, sales automation software can auto-fill details such as names, addresses, product details, and price. An automated dialer like Click-to-Call eliminates the need for sales reps to punch numbers into their phones for outbound calls; one click, and it’s ringing.
5) Communication automation
Again, sales automation doesn’t replace the need for reps to do their jobs; no software platform can put one-on-one communication on autopilot.
On the other hand, a lot of the grunt-work involved in connecting, delivering content, and following up with prospects can be automated. Communication automation can entail...
- Marketing email automation which subscribes prospects to targeted email campaigns when they reach a certain sales process stage, and unsubscribes them when they move to a different stage.
- Personal email sequences that allow sales reps to schedule and deploy one-on-one email drips to prospects that automatically stop once the prospect replies. (In Nutshell, these sales email sequences can also be triggered based on pipeline stage.)
- Meeting scheduling tools that make it easy for prospects to find available spots on your calendar and select the time that works best for them.
- Automated voicemails that allow sales reps to drop pre-recorded messages into their prospects’ mailboxes when they don’t answer their phone, rather than having to go through the same “Sorry I missed you!” script over and over again.
6) Lead management automation
There’s a lot of administrative work that sales managers and reps have to do to ensure that each active lead gets the right attention at the right time. One of the first things a manager does when a lead comes in is assign it to the rep who’s most likely to close it, based on factors like the prospect’s geographic location, or how comfortable each rep is with a specific product line.
Sales automation tools like Nutshell allow managers to set automatic lead assignment rules based on their own criteria, which reduces the number of little decisions that can bog down a manager’s day.
Then, after a lead is assigned, sales automation can eliminate the need for reps to manually advance leads in their CRM when stage goals are completed, or update the lead confidence when a lead progresses from stage to stage.
7) Automated guidance
With automated guidance and reminders implemented in a CRM, sales reps always know what they have to do next in order to keep their deals moving forward, ensuring that important tasks are completed on time.
Nutshell’s sales automation also includes stage guidance, allowing managers to include advice and direction at every stage of the sale, which helps new reps get up to speed quickly.
Sales automation separates the amateurs from the pros
The difference between amateurs and pros is consistency. Sales automation creates the consistency that’s necessary for a team to accurately measure the health of their sales funnel and the impact of their efforts—and make improvements accordingly.
Want to get started with sales automation? Try Nutshell free for 14 days to see how our award-winning CRM takes the unimportant stuff off your team’s plate so you can focus on closing deals.