In an increasingly competitive world, it’s important to take any edge over the competition you can.
Sales automation is one such edge – it involves using digital tools and platforms to optimize your sales processes, giving you more time to pursue those leads.
We’ll look at what exactly automation is, and five strategies you can use to strengthen your sales operation.
What Does Automation Mean in the World of B2B Selling?
For most B2B businesses, sales is a fairly social, interpersonal affair. It’s rarely the work of a single moment.
Instead, sales are the result of a sustained effort and relationship building. These relationships cannot be manufactured on a fully automated assembly line. It is built through high-quality, personal interactions.
Rather than automating the entire process, B2B sales automation is about enablement – empowering your sales teams to work more effectively. Far from replacing your sales teams, it is about supercharging their capacity to build great client relationships.
It is crucial then to remember that, at the end of the day then, automation should usually only be an auxiliary to your B2B sales team. But it is an incredibly powerful one.
Why Use Automation in Your B2B Sales?
Automated systems help your staff focus on the important things. Automation in B2B sales frees your teams from repetitive and administrative tasks. It allows them to concentrate on building client relationships instead.
But sales automation can be more than just a time-saving tool. More fundamentally, it allows you to refine and streamline your entire sales and marketing pipeline (or funnel).
Some of the benefits of sales automation include:
For many B2B businesses, the pipeline can be tricky to manage – for example, juggling different leads and deciding where to focus energy. You will have leads at different stages, including:
Juggling all that takes effort. You need to progress all the existing leads (each on a different journey) while also nurturing fresh leads. Fortunately, automation can bring help and structure to make this plate spinning less arduous.
It can provide transformative approaches to pipeline management and help your team make the best of all of their leads. In fact about a third of sales processes can be automated, freeing up your team to focus on other tasks.
What Does Good Automation Look Like in B2B Sales?
The best way to start planning your sales automation strategy is to map out all the workflows involved. Think about the following.
After mapping this, identify your weak spots. These could be points customers leave the pipeline, or areas of work that cause delays and eat into precious lead-chasing time.
Could automation improve these problematic steps in any way? The more administrative a task, the more appropriate and possible it is to automate it. But even customer-facing tasks – conversations, demos, and negotiations – can be supported (in the background) by automated processes.
There are different approaches to implementing sales automation. Some platforms provide comprehensive automated support for your entire sales and marketing pipeline. Many other options provide more discrete, focused, and automated support.
Nevertheless, whatever your circumstances, there are automation tools to help.
7 Proven Sales Automation Strategies
Now you have an idea of where you might want to add sales automation to your processes, let’s consider a few of the best ways you can implement it.
1. Automated Lead Prospecting
Automation tools can help when bringing new customers to your business. Rather than employ someone to manually crawl through various websites and business listings, you can get prospecting software that let you:
Automation can reduce the research and record-keeping workload. This leaves your agents with more time to focus on the customers themselves.
2. Automated Lead Engagement
A smooth and efficient pipeline is integral to success. With sales usually taking quite some time to complete, you need to remove any friction from the process.
A lot of sales automation software will allow you to create automated sequences to support the whole range of leads across your entire pipeline. A sequence is a pathway of actions that will be automatically triggered – for example, sending periodic emails or direct messages to your cold or lukewarm leads to foster their interest.
Automated tools can also monitor how your leads respond to your marketing. Engagement may indicate a greater propensity to buy. For example, your sales team may be alerted if contacts engage with a particular email, download a report, or watch a webinar.
It can even monitor the changing circumstances of contacts themselves. For example, if their company reaches a milestone, that might trigger an automated email response or notification for your team. Automation can thus help ensure you reach out at the optimum time for each lead.
Finally, if your leads want to book a demo or an appointment, the scheduling and set-up of these can be automated (removing further administrative pain).
No matter whether your leads are hot, lukewarm, or even cold – automation can help your team to nurture them all in a timely and effective manner.
3. Automated Personalized Messaging
Your sales and marketing team probably uses a wide range of content to move leads through the pipeline. Automation can assist here – helping your sales repos get their message across efficiently and effectively in the following ways:
Deriving value from other forms of content marketing, such as webinars, whitepapers, blog posts.
Providing tactical support during customer interactions. Some tools monitor phone conversations and emails, offering guidance if particular issues emerge. For example, naming a competitor product may trigger real-time response tips for the agent.
As well as helping to move leads through your pipeline so they want to engage with your sales team, automation can also help your sales reps get the best out of those encounters.
It allows you to set up high-quality, standardized approaches to all your sales touchpoints. But at the same time, leave room for personalization.
4. Lead Generation with Automated Webinars
Another way you can engage with your customers is through webinars. By using automated webinar platforms you can pre-record resources for your prospects. They can then be broadcasted on a recurring schedule for your customers to watch.
There are numerous benefits to using automated webinars, these include:
Lead capturing: You can program them so viewers will need to input their name, email address, and business to gain access to the webinar. Your sales team can then use this information to reach out to potential customers.
Improved engagement: By providing a resource that is genuinely of value to viewers they are more likely to see your company as a trustworthy source of information.
Data analysis: Automated webinar platforms allow you to extract data on the performance of the webinar.
Increased efficiency: Automated webinars are prepared in advance, so you can deliver a perfect webinar experience without any of the technical errors that might occur. It also frees your sales team from having to repeat webinars, so they can dedicate their time to other things.
Automated webinars have the potential to engage your current customers and also attract new ones. And, once they are set up, there is minimal effort needed from your team.
5. Automated Quoting
Your team has put in all the hard work, and now a lead is interested. Perhaps they want a quote or – better still – to purchase. Automation can once again help to make the next steps as frictionless as possible.
The Request for Quote process can be automated, making it quicker for everyone. Options such as PandaDoc quoting software allow agents to create, send, and sign quotes. Plus, rather than a rep laboring over what exactly to quote, a rules-based, automated system can prepare bespoke quotes based on the lead’s data.
Once the initial agreement has been made, you can also pre-prepare contracts that, with the right software, can be automatically sent to customers for approval. This minimizes the risk of something getting delayed in someone’s inbox, as well as ensuring timely reminders are sent if need be.
Finally, you can automate the post-order process so that clients know what to expect and when (for example, with automated email updates on their orders).
6. Automated Customer Support Triggers
Once your lead has made a purchase, automation can continue to support you in maintaining and optimizing the relationship.
For example, chatbots and self-help tools can support customers, and automated usage monitoring can trigger support emails to ensure customers get the best from their purchase (or alert a rep to intervene).
Chatbots are an efficient way to deliver support to clients. Their queries are answered immediately and at any time of the day or night. They also deliver a service that customers want as research shows that 81% want more self-service options.
You can use them to automatically guide customers to the best option for their needs or answer basic questions as can be seen in the example below.
If the conversation reaches a point that human interaction is called for, the chat can seamlessly be passed to a customer service rep. This way your customers consistently receive a high level of support.
If customers are nearing the end of their subscription to your service, automated processes can trigger the renewal process. Alternatively, should the circumstances of your client change, automation can identify this (perhaps providing an up-sell opportunity).
For many B2B businesses, a customer’s decision to purchase is just the beginning of a longer sales journey: retaining customers for the future is crucial. Automation can help you nurture customer loyalty well after the initial purchase!
7. Automated Customer Onboarding
Another way automation can support B2B businesses is by putting customer onboarding on autopilot. By setting up automated processes to guide new customers through the onboarding process, you can ensure a smooth and efficient experience for them while freeing up your sales team to focus on building relationships with existing customers.
This could involve providing video tutorials and guides, walkthroughs, emails, and useful popup messages. One SaaS company that has excelled at automated onboarding is email marketing company Moosend.
They provide new users with a series of emails explaining how to get started. Each has a clear CTA and links to further resources that could be useful. They also provide a bar at the top of each email so users can monitor their progress throughout the onboarding process.
What are the Benefits of Sales Automation?
Automation is all about optimizing your B2B sales and marketing funnel. Done well, it offers the following benefits.
Increased productivity and efficiency: Your staff can concentrate on building customer relationships.
Less scope for mistakes: Automated record-keeping and administration means less scope for troublesome human error.
Optimized customer outreach: Your team can stay in touch with leads across the breadth of your pipeline.
Standardized and robust pipeline management: Automated systems formalize the movement of customers (and their data) through your pipeline. You have better oversight of the entire process, allowing you to make improvements as needed.
Sales automation can also help streamline the process of onboarding new hires in your sales team, ensuring they have the tools and workflows they need to be productive and build strong client relationships from the outset.
And a better sales pipeline should ultimately mean better sales!
Key Takeaways for Sales Automation Strategies
In today’s fast-paced world you need to use every tool you have to give your business an edge over the competition. Sales automation can help do just that.
From automated webinars to lead engagement, a streamlined pipeline to improved customer support your sales team is sure to see the benefits.
If you’re not already, now is the time to explore what ecommerce automation can do for your team.
To achieve the best results with email outreach, we recommend using a professional email automation software