Last updated: June 17, 2022 Sales process automation: Freeing sellers to sell – and excel

Sales process automation: Freeing sellers to sell – and excel

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I recently met with a multi-billion-dollar B2B enterprise to discuss the ins and outs of their sales process and where innovation could potentially help. Their process was well-defined and meticulously architected. But when they boasted that it ran “like a well-oiled machine,” I realized how a modern approach to sales process automation could improve their results.

Traditional customer relationship management (CRM) tools operationalize sales processes, capture customer data, and act as a system of record. But even when these systems have been optimized, or in this case “running like a well-oiled machine,” they treat all components as part of the machine. That is, they view each component as performing some small piece of linked tasks in pursuit of business opportunities.

When organizations follow this logic, they often put a sales process in place that treats sellers as part of the machine, reducing their effectiveness. Sales process automation, done right, puts sellers in the best position to succeed.

The real role of automation in sales

Selling is a repetitive task in the respect that each opportunity progresses through a series of sales stages with common tasks performed, but every sales journey is dynamic and has distinct ebbs and flows.

That’s why organizations hire top sales talent. Skilled salespeople can navigate the nuances of selling and the unique journeys.

Effective sales automation elevates the seller and empowers them to spend more time on value-add interactions, essentially treating sellers like pilots of the sales process instead of a small part in a big machine.

Sales process automation: Distraction-free selling

Interestingly, the first step to improving sales is often the most overlooked. Many organizations have sales processes and systems plagued by extraneous noise.

This noise — everything from manual data entry, senseless notifications, unqualified lead flow, disjointed customer data, disconnected interaction logging, manual configuration and quoting — distracts sellers and reduces productivity.

Advanced sales systems help focus sales efforts by eliminating the mundane and elevating the meaningful:
  1. Manual data entry and any sort of interaction logging needs to be reduced to a bare minimum through email, calendar, and telephony integration.
  2. System notifications should only be turned on for situations that matter.
  3. Tasks and lead assignment need to be dynamic, prompting action where it makes sense.

Removing sales barriers, eyes on the prize

Progressing sales opportunities shouldn’t feel like an internal staff and approval scavenger hunt. Every additional step required to advance an opportunity delays how quickly you can get a quote in front of the customer.

Effective sales automation reduces and removes sales barriers. It centralizes account intelligence, supports collaboration, and provides self-service quoting, standard contract language, preconfigured offer letters, automated deal-desk, and approvals.

Any and every reduction in manual labor and paper pushing improves the sales process with the added benefit of better sales focus.

When a seller can take action immediately, they avoid the “I need to do this later” mental distraction and focus on closing the deal, not navigating the internal process.

Automating the sales process: No more guesswork

With extraneous sales process noise eliminated and sales barriers minimized, sellers can clearly see the benefits of automation, driving adoption.

In fact, sales tool adoption can increase dramatically, giving organizations a successful foundation to improve sales results through intelligence.

Practical sales intelligence helps boost sales focus by removing the guesswork from selling. Intelligent scoring helps sellers and sales managers understand lead and opportunity health, allowing for proactive engagement.

Next-best action recommendations and guided selling further increase sales velocity, increasing account engagement time and simultaneously decreasing paralysis by analysis.

Organizations can also leverage intelligence to improve forecast accuracy and pipeline throughput to keep sellers focused and on track.

Embedding intelligence within a sales process can dramatically improve sales performance and allows for a closed loop that can be refined through iteration. However, this requires a connected foundation and an equally intelligent approach to the sales process.

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Grant Smith

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