Regardless which industry you work in, you’re likely familiar with automation — the process by which tasks are programmed to be completed automatically. The vast majority of organizations have embraced automation, using it as a means to optimize and accelerate essential business processes and enable their workforce to focus on more pressing assignments.
It’s for these same reasons that automation software has become indispensable for sales departments the world over as a means of increasing productivity and, ultimately, sales. In fact, automation drives a 14.5 percent increase in sales productivity, according to a study from Nucleus Research. In this blog post, we’ll look at some common questions about sales automation software — Salesforce in particular — from businesses like yours.
How does using sales automation software help increase sales?
If you’ve ever worked in sales, you’ve probably heard the colloquialism “Time kills all deals” more than a few times. In all likelihood, you’ve witnessed it in action at some point, or even experienced it firsthand. Maintaining momentum and consistently providing value are the keys to turning a prospect into a qualified opportunity, and eventually winning the deal.
Why, then, do sales representatives only spend 35.2% of their time on selling?
Sales reps spend an inordinate amount of time on tasks that don’t generate revenue, such as administrative work, research, and documentation. By implementing sales automation software to automate these tasks, businesses enable their sales teams to prioritize selling, reduce the amount of time of the average sales cycle, and close more deals.
Higher sales volume isn’t the only benefit a sales automation system can provide. For all their hard work and dedication, salespeople are still only human and are therefore prone to making mistakes. Automation eliminates the risk of human error, which builds credibility with customers and saves you money spent correcting these errors. As an added bonus, eliminating errors also improves overall data quality. With accurate, up-to-date information, you can apply data analytics to establish a marketing base.
Finally, sales automation makes it easier to add a personal touch to the sales process. That statement might seem counterintuitive but by automating routine procedures, such as writing thank you notes to leads, you enable your sales team to dedicate more time to clients.
Which aspects of the sales process should businesses automate?
As mentioned above, sales automation software is useful for automating administrative tasks and document generation (such as contracts, invoices, shipping labels, statements of work, and so on). An increasing number of sales teams are using automation for quoting and discount approval. Sales reps need approval in order to extend discounts to prospects, and these requests often need to receive approval from multiple levels within the business.
Salesforce has developed a capability specifically for this purpose. Salesforce offers a suite of standard quoting functionality as part of the Sales Cloud product. If your organization requires more advanced functionality, Salesforce offers a powerful product called Configure Price Quote (CPQ). CPQ uses a preprogrammed set of rules to automatically generate these quotes, which ensures that quotes are always consistent and accurate. Salesforce CPQ also enables sales reps to easily show clients every potential quote configuration, price, and discount available.
How should businesses prepare to automate the sales process?
It’s incredibly difficult to automate a poorly designed sales process. To avoid this issue, identify inefficiencies in your current sales process. Not only will this save you the time and effort of automating things that already run efficiently — it’s also a good indication of which stages of the process would benefit most from sales automation.
The other major thing to consider prior to implementing sales automation software is change management. Salesforce automation relies on technology to function, so you need to ensure that your team is actually willing to adopt that technology. Depending on which industry your organization is in, this could take a bit of convincing.
The best way to address change management in this context is to build constituent buy-in before you start your project; by doing so, you’ll make it easier to roll out and implement the project. Be sure to actively involve end users in the identification of pain points — after all, it’s their lives and workflows you’re trying to enhance. By laying the groundwork for both processes and people, you’ll create a rock-solid foundation for sales automation.
How does using Salesforce simplify sales automation?
From a feature perspective, Salesforce has four key toolsets that simplify sales automation system implementation in a Salesforce instance:
Workflow: A tool that enables you to automate business processes with if/then statements, called workflow rules, without the need for coding. You can use Workflow to automate processes such as sending emails, creating tasks, sending outbound messages to other systems, and updating fields. While Salesforce still supports workflow rules, it has no intentions to enhance Workflow in the future, instead encouraging users to make use of the next item on our list.
Lightning Process Builder: Similar to Workflow, Process Builder is a point-and-click workflow utility, included in Salesforce Lightning, that enables you to automate simple if/then business processes. Process Builder supports three types of processes:
- Record change process
- Event process
- Invokable process
According to Salesforce, each process consists of action groups and criteria that determine when to execute an action group. With each business process you automate, Process Builder will add that process to a graphical representation, so you can view your work as you go. Process Builder is designed to grant the user greater control, as well as simplify automation by reducing work that would require multiple workflow rules to a single process. Unlike Workflow, Process Builder can’t send outbound messages — however, you can work around that issue by using the next feature on our list.
Apex: This is a programming language that enables developers to execute flow and transaction control statements in Salesforce. According to Salesforce, Apex is stored on the platform as either a class (a template for Apex objects) or a trigger (an Apex code that executes before or after a specific event occurs). If you need to send an outbound message with Process Builder, you can call an Apex class to run logic and execute processes.
Cloud Flow Designer: Like Workflow and Process Builder, Cloud Flow Designer is a tool that enables you to automate business processes by constructing flows rather than writing code. In Salesforce’s words, “a flow is an application that automates a business process by collecting data and doing something in your Salesforce org or an external system.” Cloud Flow Designer is more sophisticated than Workflow and Process Builder and should be used to automate more complicated processes, such as using complex branching logic or sorting through records.
How can working with a Salesforce partner simplify sales automation?
The truth of the matter is that there’s no guarantee that a Salesforce partner can simplify the sales automation process — that is, unless your Salesforce partner also has sales experience. That said, if they lack prior experience in sales or management consulting, a good Salesforce partner can still suggest the right sales automation toolset to implement and provide an implementation roadmap, so you don’t design yourself into a corner.
Not only do the consultants at VennScience have prior sales experience — they’ve also been exposed to a wide variety of business models over the years, which gives them valuable insight into different use cases. Our consultants possess the expertise to educate you on sales automation best practices and then show you how to use technology to implement those best practices.
If you’d like to learn more about how automation can streamline your sales process, or about how VennScience can help you implement Salesforce automation systems, contact us.