by Sujan Patel on 06 Nov, 2018 ~6 minutes read

Everybody knows the sales process is all about building relationships with individuals. And building a relationship takes time, effort, and lots of persistence, so it’s a process that couldn’t possibly be automated.

Right?

While the answer to that question isn’t black and white, it might surprise you. While there’s no substitute for a thoughtful and personal relationship with customers, an approach like that isn’t scalable unless you’re selling very high-priced products.

To ramp up your sales team’s effectiveness and output levels, you have to take some of the burden off their shoulders so they can do what they do best. That’s where automation comes in. The sales process is ripe for automation, and the market is rich with plenty of automation tools and strategies your business can affordably deploy.

Here’s how you can leverage automation techniques and tools in your sales process today:

Lead List Generation

Just 8% of salespeople state that the leads generated for them by their marketing teams are of high quality. With numbers like that, salespeople have to get creative with their time if they want any chance of hitting their sales goals. Luckily, LinkedIn Sales Navigator helps take some of the time-consuming prospecting work off their hands. All they have to do is configure their preferences – such as regions to target, job titles, and vertical – to build a rock-solid lead list.

Once they’ve set up an account and configured it, they can then begin saving leads and companies. That allows them to easily track real-time updates on new leads, as well as follow leads’ personal updates, company news, and other relevant information they can leverage to help personalize that first conversation with the prospect. Once set up, LinkedIn Sales Navigator will keep their pipeline full with its automatic account and lead recommendations. All they have to do is log in each day and check them. Be sure to maintain a clean list and boost your deliverability by using an email verification tool.

Initial Outreach and Lead Nurturing Emails

After they’ve created their lead list, the next step is to send out the first email to start that initial conversation. While some salespeople do this manually and individually, they can also leverage an automation tool for this task. For example, Mailshake will streamline the cold email outreach process by helping craft the initial email cadence with proven email templates that can be customized. With the click of a button, they can send out a blast to dozens or even hundreds of people all at once.

The best salespeople know that the secret to increasing sales is persistence and follow-up. In fact, 92% of salespeople give up after four ‘no’s’ – but 80% of prospects say ‘no’ four times before they say ‘yes.’ Arguably, the best feature of a tool like Mailshake is the automated follow-ups. Once the initial blast is sent out, salespeople can also set up follow-up emails to nurture and check in with prospects based on a particular schedule, or whether they’ve submitted a form or booked a meeting, etc.

Scheduling Meetings

Scheduling meetings is one of the biggest time-wasters salespeople face in their day-to-day. The endless back-and-forth can add up quickly, and is completely unnecessary thanks to scheduling automation tools like Calendly or Hubspot’s free meeting scheduler. Utilizing a tool like Calendly allows salespeople to share a scheduling link that allows invitees to schedule an appointment with them based on their stated availability. As soon as the invitee has picked a time, the tool automatically sends both parties a calendar invite.

Retention Emails

Salespeople have a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer again versus a 5-20% chance of selling to a new prospect. So once the initial sale is concluded, they’ve got to stay top-of-mind to keep that business relationship going. Thanks to automation, generating repeat business can be as simple as regularly scheduled follow-up emails. These post-purchase drip campaigns can be set up and spaced out thoughtfully based on certain time periods related to usage, perishability, typical order frequency, and more.

For example, if a salesperson sold a 30-day supply of product, they could set up the email automation tool to send an email one week before it’s time to reorder, saying something along the lines of “By now your supply of X is likely running low. Should we schedule a new order for you?” Taking it even further, they could email past customers at a set interval after their initial purchase to ask for referrals to colleagues in their industry who could also benefit from the product.

Website Pop-up Chat

A quick win for the customer and your salespeople is to deploy live chat customer service software that can develop and nurture leads, aid with e-commerce sales, or answer FAQs for your salespeople to free up their time to focus on more important matters. LiveChat is one such service that welcomes website visitors, points them in the right direction, or passes them along gracefully to a salesperson.

Opt-in Follow-up Emails

The marketing team is working hard to bring inbound leads in through your website, blog posts, and other lead-capture avenues. Upon capturing a lead, there’s typically a lag time of days – or even weeks – before a salesperson reaches out. A better approach would be to use that opt-in as a trigger that kicks off an automated email sequence to start the conversation. That’s the beauty of email automation: the sales reps don’t have to personally reach out initially. A well-crafted template email from the sales rep can do the trick. They can even combine that template with a Calendly link to have the client request a call.

Call Transcriptions

The best sales managers and salespeople learn from each call how to improve their objection-handling process and overall value proposition. Listening back to your calls is one way to do that. A faster way is to transcribe your calls using an automation tool like Gong or Chorus. Often, they can detect essential conversation points such as how discount requests were handled, at what point a competitor was discussed, and more. Some services will even provide clean summarized notes for future reference to help cut down on note-taking and data entry.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

With every customer interaction, salespeople can walk away learning a critical lesson about what to do or not do next time. Since there’s always room for improvement, it should be standard practice to seek out feedback of all kinds, whether positive or negative. The best way to do that is through a customer satisfaction survey. Deploying automated email surveys can yield much-needed feedback from customers on which areas need improvement, and which areas your company is doing well in. Make sure to ask permission in your survey to use positive comments for own marketing purposes, such as a social media post or a customer quote on your website.

The sales process an integral part of every company’s growth and survival plan. Its successes and failures affect every department and every office, meaning any investment in sales automation is an investment in your company’s future. With the multitude of affordable and effective sales automation tools now within reach of even the smallest companies, there’s no excuse not to leverage at least some part of sales automation. Your customers and your sales team will thank you for it.

How has automation impacted your day-to-day activities and processes? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author:

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel is a partner at Ramp Ventures, makers of Mailshake, Pick, VoilaNorbert, and Right Inbox. He has over 14 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.

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