Automation is the talk of the business town these days.
Organizations are looking for use cases in their business functions to apply automation. Sales and marketing are no newbies to this either.
Every webinar, event, blog article, whitepaper, and social media post around sales I come across these days talks about sales automation.
The sales automation software market is growing exponentially every passing year. And why shouldn't it? The market demand explains the growth.
Global organizations are looking for intelligent automation solutions to improve sales efficiency and productivity.
But isn't the ultimate goal to close more deals?
And to close more deals, you need a strong sales pipeline.
You will get a lot of information online on how automation can help improve the productivity and efficiency of your sales team.
In this article, we will focus on in-depth strategies to improve your sales pipeline.
But before that, let us clearly define the sales pipeline and its various stages.
What Is A Sales Pipeline?
TechTarget defines a sales pipeline as a representation of sales prospects and where they are in the buying process. Simply put, it is a tool that helps the sales team understand the status of various prospects in the buyer journey.
The objective of the sales pipeline is to:
- provide an overview of prospect status in the buying journey
- enable forecasting sales and business revenue
- help understand the health of your business
Tracking potential buyers using the sales pipeline helps you gain clarity on what the future holds for your business. Insights driven from the sales pipeline are used to build effective sales strategies.
How To Improve Your Sales Pipeline Using Automation
According to a McKinsey report, you can automate more than 30% of sales-related activities. Let us look at automation strategies you can implement at every stage of the sales pipeline to improve your sales pipeline performance.
Prospecting is a sales process of identifying key prospects who fit your buyer persona and might need your product or service.
At this stage of your sales pipeline, the critical activity is outreach. Your sales team uses strategies such as email outreach, marketing activities, lead generation, and cold calling to increase the awareness of your product/service amongst prospects. It also includes sales follow-ups and assigning prospects to sales reps.
To improve your sales pipeline at this stage, leverage sales automation techniques to help your team save time and eliminate manual errors. Here are a few ways in which you can automate prospecting activities:
- Template and Automate sales prospecting emails - Sending one-on-one sales prospecting emails to contacts is an ineffective way of using your sales resources. Leverage automation to send customized, personalized, and segmented emails to your contacts. This helps save time and effort and improves the success rate of your sales emails.
- Automate sales follow-ups - Sales follow-up emails, calls, and reminders take up a lot of time for your sales staff. But it doesn't have to. You can use your CRM to create automated workflows with templatized emails to follow up with your prospects.
- Automate sales rep assignment - No more quarrels over what gets assigned. Use automation workflows to design assigning prospects and leads to sales reps based on territories, industries, or whatever category you use in your sales organization.
The lead qualification stage in the sales pipeline is about qualifying prospects who need your product/service and have a clear buying intent.
At this stage, you can improve your lead qualification process with automation in the following ways:
- Lead Nurturing - Automating lead nurturing campaigns helps your sales team nurture your prospects and accelerate the qualifying process. It also helps capture prospect data to understand prospects' challenges, interests, behavior, and preferences.
- Lead Scoring - Lead scoring activities are a great way to identify the intent of your prospects. Automating this process helps bring efficiency to the process and gain data intelligence to promote better sales meetings.
- Segmentation - Automate segmenting your prospects to improve targeted messaging. This will help improve the effectiveness of your lead qualification process.
After qualifying leads, the next step is scheduling one-on-one meetings and demos with qualified prospects.
At this stage, it is essential to avoid manual errors - enter automation.
Use automation to automate scheduling meetings with prospects. Use automated calendars to enable prospects to request demos based on their availability. This reduces inefficiencies and speeds up the sales process.
Did you know that 42% of sales teams using a CRM use it to automate meeting scheduling? That's right. Don't fall behind; start automating your meeting scheduling right away.
Other ways in which you can leverage automation to improve this stage of your sales pipeline are:
- Automated Product demos that are personalized based on prospect challenges and requirements
- Automated content sharing post meetings and demos
Quotes and Proposals
For complex products and services with multiple features and offers, sales staff spends a lot of time generating customized quotes. It adds confusion and frustration to both sales teams and the client.
A general sales quote generation process includes the following steps:
- Collate product/service information
- Create a pricing table
- Create a quotation document
- Send quotation for internal approvals
- Follow up with managers for approvals
- Send the quotation for signatures to the client
- Follow up with the client for the signed quotation
- Add details of the quotation and contract on the sales system
Use automation to automate these steps in your quote/proposal process to save the valuable time of your sales staff and deliver a good customer experience.
Here are a few ways in which you can automate quote/proposal generation:
- Use automated templates for product/service information, pricing, and quotation/proposal document.
- Use forms to automate sales quote creation by allowing prospects to select products/services.
- Use automated electronic contract management solutions for internal quotation approvals and follow-ups, as well as sending quotations to clients and following up with them.
- Use online software tools for automated quote generation such as Hubspot Quote Software, Proposify, RFPIO, ClientPoint
Negotiation and Commitment
Sharing documents and sales enablement collateral is a significant part of the final stage of your sales process. It is an easy trap for your sales team to make manual errors between all the chaos and excitement of closing a deal.
The best way to avoid human errors and ensure efficiency is to automate sharing standardized sales documents with the prospect based on specific timelines.
Bringing it all together
Sales automation improves and speeds up your sales pipeline by pushing prospects down the funnel faster. It also helps boost your sales conversions, saves your sales team valuable time, shortens your sales cycles, and enhances your customer experience. Leverage sales automation to redefine your sales pipeline process completely.