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What is sales pipeline automation?
If you own or help run a business, you know that a sale isn’t just a singular event. Successful companies know that you can break down nearly every deal into stages. Behind each stage, there’s a coordinated flow of CRM and marketing tactics, technology and data analysis, and management strategies.
To get that flow, those same successful companies also automate, and you can do the same kind of automation to help your company be more successful. In today’s sales environment, great companies don’t have time for tedious manual tasks, so they find and implement the best tools to automate their sales pipelines.
It’s a complex process that needs to be carefully orchestrated, so let’s take a peek behind the curtain to see how it all works. Automation is also crucial in finding and capitalizing on new sales opportunities. We’ll cover how that works and show you how you can use it to your advantage.
Sales Automation and the Sales Pipeline Stages
Every sales pipeline has a half dozen different stages, depending on how they’re broken down. Companies may do them slightly differently, but the basic ones are fairly easy to identify.
Start with prospecting. Salespeople are constantly looking for new customers, and automation helps them do this as effectively and efficiently as possible. It eliminates the need to manually perform tasks like lead generation, social media outreach, email marketing, and ad targeting. Automation also helps them track prospects and make sure follow-up happens in a timely fashion.
The next stage is lead qualification. Generating huge numbers of leads is an ineffective strategy if they aren’t qualified properly, and automation is a key factor in this. It provides lead scoring and grading functions, which can help salespeople hone on the best and most viable candidates.
A different set of automation tools enter the picture during the demo or meeting. Salespeople and managers use them to save time during the presentation, and an effective presentation is essential to move a potential sale forward.
The next stage is the offer, which can include a quote, a proposal, or both. Automation tools can help track these as they pile up for different products and projects, and they can also help track the associated deadlines and scheduling.
The negotiation stage may be the most important part of the sales process; once again, automation tools play a major role. They help streamline tasks like contract generation and management and the pricing schemes associated with each negotiation.
They can also track approvals to provide instant feedback about how each sales team is doing. Once a sale is closed, they can also provide information provided by automation tools that can be used to shore up those areas where performance needs to be improved.
Finally, let’s talk about follow-up. Suppose you capitalize on your sales with loyalty and referral programs. In that case, you need automation tools to do it effectively, and automated customer satisfaction surveys can be used to gather more vital information. That leads to great customer service and brand loyalty, so getting each link in the chain right the first time is important.
How to Automate Your Sales Pipeline and Maximize the Benefits
While the needs of each business differ slightly, there are common threads in the process of automating that shine through with the best companies, and you can use these threads to realize many of the benefits of this kind of automation.
One is that they institute and rely on a great customer relationship management (CRM) system that matches their specific business needs. Once those needs are matched, performance improves throughout the CRM system.
Another is that they always integrate their CRM with any marketing automation tools. That ensures the instant availability of reliable data for analysis. It helps these companies fine-tune their sales funnel to track and measure conversions down to the last sale. Integrating the CRM system with marketing automation tools provides performance benefits throughout the system, which means more sales and improvements in your company’s bottom line.
The array of automation tools you use is an important part of maximizing your benefits. A typical list includes tools for lead generation, email marketing, appointment scheduling, quote creation, and sales follow-up. The most successful companies always add new automation tools and fine-tune their performance. You can do the same to meet your specific business needs, and the best benefit is that the performance of your sales funnel will continue to improve over time.
Great companies break down this process effectively, analyze each stage, then make appropriate improvements. They know which stage each lead is in and which ones are converting, allowing them to develop and advance their strategies based on reliable metrics. There’s no reason you can’t follow the same process to improve the performance of each stage of your sales process, then adjust your strategies accordingly to optimize performance as you perform more automation and your data becomes even more reliable.
There are companies that don’t have the time or the resources to do this kind of automation, but that doesn’t mean they should get left out in the cold.
Suppose your company happens to fall into this category. In that case, Brainsell has experts with the knowledge and experience to automate your sales pipeline according to your business and your individual needs, and using them effectively is the ultimate way to improve sales performance and profits.
Choose the Right Sales Automation Tools
The sales market is saturated with tools available to automate the sales pipeline, so it’s important to know how to evaluate them and select the right ones. With that in mind, here are some factors to consider.
The first is the ease of use. If you can’t implement the tool and get and understand the data, you’ve just added another time sink you can’t afford.
Integration is critical as well. Any sales pipeline automation system should work seamlessly with your CRM system, and you should be able to gather, find and manage all your sales data in one place so you can analyze it accordingly.
Do your sales pipeline automation tools have effective customer support? If you have a problem using it, can you get near real-time support, and will that support be available on a 24/7 basis?
These are huge questions. Few things are more frustrating than getting stuck using an automation tool, so the support needs to be prompt and helpful, with whatever hand-holding and directions you need to get you through any unexpected issues.
Summing it Up
Now that you know something about sales automation tools and how they can automate the sales process, you also know something about what we do.
We’re experts at every aspect of business growth, whether it’s CRM, marketing automation, integration, or technology.
We can be your secret weapon to help you use them all effectively, so reach out and let us show you how you can successfully automate your sales pipeline.