Have you ever wondered how much time your salespeople spend selling?

According to the sales statistics collected by Salesforce, that’s only 28% of their week. The rest of the sales reps’ work time goes to administrative duties, CRM database updates, or internal calls and meetings. Inevitably, this leads to missed opportunities and lower business results. The proof? Participants of a poll held by Dooly admitted that, on average, they could drive 38% more profit if they didn’t need to focus on non-revenue generating activities (NRGs).

The potential for automation is here: McKinsey’s vendor interviews revealed that over one-third of sales, operations could be enhanced using the currently available automation tools. However, the same report notes that sales and marketing tend to fall behind other departments regarding automation adoption, such as finance or supply chain.

This blog post addresses this reluctance by discussing the benefits of automating sales processes, going step-by-step through the implementation, and providing real-life examples of three companies that enhanced their sales operations.

What is sales automation, and why does it matter?

Sales process automation refers to tools and software that streamline manual, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks within the sales workflow. This allows salespeople to save time and focus on building meaningful relationships with clients, closing deals, or improving their skillset.

Automation can benefit your sales team in multiple ways. What are the most significant ones?

Eliminate manual data entry

31% of salespeople spend more than one hour on data entry-related tasks daily. It adds up to at least 5 hours a week devoted to mundane, error-prone copying-and-pasting rather than contacting or researching prospects.

Sales automation tools can handle most data-related tasks: records migration, major CRM upgrades, or daily customer profile updates. When integrated with email, these tools can extract customer details such as email address, company name, or even industry and enter them into your CRM. You can also use automation to quickly pull existing customer data from your other systems, such as ERP or EHR. Again, the volume doesn’t matter—unlike human workers, automation tools can process data around the clock with a near-zero error margin.

Besides simply moving records, sales process automation allows you to enrich your current datasets with additional information. For example, you can sync your automation tool with Google Apps (like Calendar, Tasks, or Contacts) or program them to independently research and enter customer details such as demographics, company size, location, revenue, etc.

Score, prioritize, and nurture leads

With all customer data in place, the next step is to assess the value of every prospect and set sales priorities. Here, sales automation tools compare customer information and actions (e.g., requesting a demo or visiting the pricing page) with pre-determined criteria to evaluate how close each prospect is to your perfect lead. The most significant advantage of automated lead scoring lies in quickly processing thousands of potential leads.

Based on the assigned lead score, the system can independently decide which prospects are most worth nurturing and which will waste your time and resources. Speaking of nurturing, sales automation can also prepare and distribute customized proposals that will help you minimize customer churn. All that is to make sure that your efforts target the relevant audience.

Get accurate forecasts and reports

Reliable sales forecasts and reports drive profit and help you make informed business decisions. However, manually drawing up an accurate, extensive analysis takes time and energy. Worst of all, one mistake can bring all that effort to naught.

With automation tools, you can build report and forecast templates to generate an up-to-date sales analysis whenever needed. Since your salespeople don’t need to input any data manually, errors won’t be an issue. In addition to time savings and fewer errors, automated reporting and forecasting can enable you to create new opportunities and revenue streams.

Improve client communication

Although customer interaction remains mostly personal, sales process automation can cover specific communication scenarios. This allows you to reach your audience immediately, no matter how many customers and little time you have.

Email marketing is the perfect use case. You can set up your automation tool to send a predefined email when a specific event occurs. For example, clients can receive welcome emails upon subscribing, reminders when they leave products in the cart, and cross-selling suggestions for related products when they purchase.

You can automate follow-up sequences and lead nurturing using more advanced and customer-specific triggers. Automation will also benefit other communication channels like SMS, messaging apps, or chatbots.

Increase job satisfaction

Maintaining high team morale is always essential. However, it’s even more central to success in customer-oriented jobs like sales since it can directly affect the relationship between your reps and clients.

The bad news is nearly half of the salespeople feel lukewarm about their jobs, rating their job satisfaction as “just good.” A meager 17.6% call it “outstanding.” On the upside, those who spend at least 4 hours daily on sales-related duties report significantly higher fulfillment levels than those who devote more time to other tasks.

And here’s where implementing sales process automation can also help, reducing the time needed to perform mundane work and freeing up sales teams to focus on more fulfilling tasks. Naturally, satisfied employees are also less likely to leave, which brings the added benefit of improved staff retention: all that increases productivity, happier clients, and better sales results.

Sell more in less time

Automating individual stages of the sales workflow already makes an impact, but to see the real difference, you must look at the whole cycle.

Over time, you’ll notice that your sales specialists can now focus on contacting leads, selling, and closing deals. At the same time, processes that used to take days are now completed in hours. The combination of boosted productivity and efficiency will eventually accelerate your sales cycles, enabling your business to make more profit in less time.

What can sales automation do for your business?

Implementing sales process automation in 4 steps

All that sounds great, but there’s much work before you reap the benefits of an automated sales cycle. Its implementation can be broken down into four key stages.

#1. Quantify automation potential and prioritize opportunities

The use cases listed above are common in sales, but each business is unique. That’s why there is no single implementation roadmap that works for everyone. For the same reason, the first step is to check what processes you should automate for the best results.

Start by determining the complexity of each task in the sales process. Next, consider activities performed within each workflow and how much time they take. Then, factor in the impact of automating each task and how hard it will be to implement. In some cases, starting with lower-priority assignments may be worth it to test how automation will work for your business. Another critical factor is determining whether the task involves structured or unstructured data (or both).

This stage is all about understanding your processes and the automation technology. To achieve this, assign a sales team member as an SME. Your SME will collaborate with an automation consultant to evaluate the feasibility of your implementation, set priorities, and develop metrics to measure the outcome.

#2. Test prioritized use cases

Once you know which tasks you want to automate, it’s time to experiment. Deploying an automation pilot project will allow you to test and tweak the model before a large-scale launch. Think of the pilot as a trial or beta version of a fully automated process.

Top sales tasks to automate

The pilot usually doesn’t encompass the entire process but focuses on its critical stages. Its goal is to validate the automation project and prove its worth rather than bring instant results. Another reason is that small-scale deployments cost less and are faster to roll out, minimizing potential disruption. Lastly, the focused scope makes pinpointing and fixing any issues more accessible.

Another good practice is measuring the pilot’s performance against the manual workflow to understand how much time automation can save you. Additionally, it’s a great way to dig into the process and spot any flaws before they are reproduced during implementation.

#3. Choose the right technology

One of the fundamental goals of the test phase is to try out various automation solutions in search of the one that will be the best fit for your business. What are the most common technologies used in sales process automation?

Automation solutions: a quick overview

Machine Learning (ML) — An AI-based solution capable of learning and improving performance on a task. It uses statistical algorithms and mathematical models to analyze data, discover patterns, and make predictions or decisions.

Natural Language Processing/Generation (NLP) — A field of AI that focuses on enabling machines to understand and interpret human language to generate naturally-sounding texts.

Smart Workflows — Automated workflows that use AI and ML to optimize business processes by identifying bottlenecks, optimizing resource allocation, and making real-time adjustments.

Virtual Agents — Chatbots and voice assistants that use scripted rules and AI to communicate with humans in natural language, helping users find information or answer questions conversationally.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) — A technology that automates repetitive, rule-based, and manual tasks. It uses pre-programmed algorithms (“bots”) to perform tasks such as data entry, copying and pasting, and filling out forms, freeing humans to focus on higher-value tasks.

While all automation solutions have their uses, RPA has some advantages that make it particularly useful in sales. It excels at handling data-heavy, repetitive tasks such as data entry, generating reports, or common communication scenarios.

RPA is a tried and tested tool used in various industries, including sales, for a long time. Due to its maturity, most major RPA platforms offer integrations with the most popular CRMs like Salesforce, Marketo, or HubSpot.

For the same reason, automation companies already have the experience to manage a smooth RPA implementation. Finally, RPA synergizes very well with the other solutions, making it a perfect stepping stone for future, more diverse automation projects.

#4. Scale, improve, and plan ahead

You’ve chosen the processes to automate, validated them, and found the best technology for the job. Now, you can start deploying full-scale automation of the selected tasks.

Remember that the work doesn’t end once a process is automated. Continuous performance monitoring will enable you to improve the automated procedure and ensure timely maintenance.

With the first automation deployment complete, the process starts anew: pick the following procedure to automate from the backlog and use your newly-gained experience to improve your sales operations further.

RPA in sales: the success stories

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are three real-life examples of successful RPA implementations in sales.

Cobmax: 50% less time spent on copy-paste

For Cobmax, a telecom, sales, and customer service provider from Sao Paulo, rapid growth meant new opportunities and a big challenge: it had 50 people working overtime, moving records between CRMs, and creating hundreds of new customer profiles. Unfortunately, despite their best effort, the overwhelming influx of clients led to delays and errors.

The change for the better began in 2016 when Cobmax set out to deal with the endless copying and pasting with the use of IBM’s RPA platform. As a result, the company reduced back-office tasks by 50%. The success of this first initiative encouraged a wider RPA adoption: today, Cobmax trains its citizen devs and has a dedicated automation team that seeks new improvements.

Cobmax - automation case study

Synergy: 99% billing errors out, courtesy of bots

In the case of Synergy, a leading Australian energy provider, the problem lay in handling transaction processes and excessive documentation spread across SAP ERP and other platforms. Tedious tasks cost the company precious time, while errors generate financial losses.

To address these issues, Synergy decided to use Automation Anywhere RPA tools. As a result, over less than 15 months, the company managed to automate sales processes such as quoting, procurement, and reporting, achieving 163% ROI and 99% error reduction.

Synergy - automation case study

Riyad Capital: 66% faster client onboarding

Riyad Capital, an investment company based in Saudi Arabia, struggled to keep up with requests from new customers. Each client who wanted to open a new account required detailed data and identity verification, sharing documents with external institutions, and then notifying the customer of the outcome.

These repeating task sequences were handed over to UiPath’s RPA bots, allowing Riyad Capital to reduce the processing time by 66% and save more than 20,000 working hours annually. While some validation still needs to be done manually, the company can now process twenty times more requests without errors, while its staff is free to spend more time on other tasks.

Riyad Capital - automation case study

Bottom line

It’s easy to see why sales and automation are a perfect match: efficient sales are the lifeblood of any business, and automation is all about efficiency.

But to make that match work, you will need the help of expert automation developers and consultants who will guide you through all stages of the implementation. At Flobotics, we combine technical prowess with business understanding and experience in developing RPA solutions for sales to help our partners save time and resources. So if you want to join them and automate your sales processes, contact our Flobotics team!

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Filip Nasiadko

Filip Nasiadko

CEO and co-founder at Flobotics. Sales expert with a track record of driving revenue growth and process automation evangelist.

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