When you were starting out, you probably imagined running a sales team in a growing company would feel something like this.
Chasing down leads, closing deals, reaping rewards. That’s the dream, right?
So why does it often feel more like this?
Studies show that 64% of sales reps’ time is spent on non-revenue-generating activities. Inputting data, sending emails – manual tasks that aren’t stimulating for your workforce and don’t add value for your business.
But what can you do? To grow, you need to sell more, and more selling means more admin. It’s a vicious but inevitable cycle. Right?
Sales force automation (SFA) software takes this admin load away, increasing efficiency and helping you grow faster. In fact, high-growth firms are almost 10% more likely to have a sophisticated marketing and sales automation strategy.
Here’s everything you need to know about the advantages of sales force automation.
What is sales force automation?
First, let’s briefly cover what sales force automation is and what features it has that might be relevant to your business.
Essentially, sales force automation is a feature of your customer relationship management or CRM system: the software that centralises your sales information and helps your business run smoothly.
Most good CRM systems offer sales force automation features, including:
- Salesforce (duh)
About a third of all sales tasks can be automated, and sales force automation software will offer solutions for pretty much all of them, with examples like:
- Email marketing
- Contact management
- Lead generation
- Lead distribution
- Reporting and analytics
- Lead scoring
- Sales forecasting
Sounds good on paper – or, well, screen. But what tangible difference will it make to your business?
Here are the 4 top advantages of sales force automation for your company.
4 advantages of sales force automation
1. Faster response times
They say every time a lead contacts you instead of the other way around, an angel gets its wings.
Okay, they don’t. But they should!
Seriously, a lead contacting you is a golden opportunity: it shows that they’re thinking of your business as a potential solution, which means one of your hardest jobs is already done.
But you have to act fast. Organisations that contact leads within the first hour are 7 times more likely to qualify those prospects than those that respond within the first two hours, and lead response times vary significantly across industries.
|Industry/ Company Size||Average response time to a web lead submission|
|Healthcare||2 hours and 5 minutes|
|Small companies (1-300 employees)||48 minutes|
|Large companies (2501+ employees)||1 hour 28 minutes|
With a manual sales process, you’re relying heavily on luck to make this happen. The right person checking the right communication channel at exactly the right time.
Sales force automation software takes chance out of the equation.
Let’s say your lead fills in a web form, providing you with their contact details and the product they’re interested in. A CRM enabled with sales force automation will respond instantly by email with a template created by you and notify the appropriate sales rep to follow up personally.
This is great for you because it keeps your lead engaged and your team on top of incoming business, and it’s great for the client because they get to work with a reliable and accessible sales team. It’s a win-win.
2. Fewer errors when responding to customers
You might be wondering if faster response times means sloppier messaging. Didn’t grandma say that good things come to those who wait?
Well, yeah, but she was talking about baking cakes and we’re talking about converting leads to paying clients.
One of the advantages of sales force automation is that it ensures the exact right messaging goes out to every lead, every time. You only need to perfect your templates for each point of automated contact and sign them off once, and then you’re good to go.
What’s more, if you’re using an all-in-one ERP like Zoho One, your sales force automation software will update your contact management system. All your lead’s information will appear in one easy-to-use dashboard, including:
- Their contact details, even when they contact you through multiple avenues, e.g. call and email
- Their contact history
- The tasks assigned to their account
- Expected sales or deals under negotiation
- Any notes your reps make
This means that even in non-automated interactions like sales calls, your reps will make fewer errors, as they’ll have all the information they need right in front of them.
You can even notify the owner of a lead every time a new record is attached to that lead’s file so that they are always in the loop.
3. More accurate forecasting
It’s not only your follow-up process that can benefit from eliminating human error. By automating your sales process through one CRM system you’re centralising your data, which makes reporting much more accurate and straightforward.
No more copy and pasting data from different platforms into Microsoft Excel; no more guesswork as to which document titled “Sales Forecast FINAL” is actually the final one.
In Zoho, for example, your sales force automation software will pull data from within the CRM and use AI, iterative processing and Hindcasting to translate it into accurate, readable sales forecasting.
Even better, cloud-based CRMs like Zoho One allow you to access this information from anywhere, meaning you’re not relying on file sharing or file transfers.
We’re not exaggerating about the difference this can make: studies have shown that removing human bias and errors increases businesses’ satisfaction with forecasting accuracy to 76%.
4. More time actually selling
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the mistakes your sales team might make, and the tasks you don’t need them for. If they’re reading over your shoulder right now, they might be a little annoyed.
But before they challenge us to pistols at dawn, let us be clear: our point isn’t that computers can replace salespeople. It’s that right now, your salespeople are doing the boring tasks computers should be doing, and automating them can make their jobs more interesting and more effective.
Just think of all the boring manual tasks that salespeople who don’t have the advantage of sales force automation software have to do in a day.
|Task||Time spent on this each day|
|Prospecting/ researching leads||17%|
|Attending internal meetings or check-ins||12%|
Not fun, are they?
All of the above examples can be automated using SFA. Suddenly, your team has much more time for the thing they are skilled at and which you hired them to do in the first place: selling.
As well as more time for selling, SFA also offers more opportunities for it, as automated marketing features facilitate upselling and cross-promotion to your existing client base.
Let’s say your main product is training software used by Learning and Development departments. You offer a core subscription package, with optional add-ons for more classes.
If one of your clients buys multiple add-ons or buys an add-on two months in a row, you can set this as a trigger for your CRM to send them upsell email marketing.
You can also use calendar management tools to alert you when important milestones like renewals are coming up, and review potential upsell packages based on their contact history.
By increasing sales team efficiency and reducing overhead, it’s pretty clear that sales force automation software is an investment in your growth, and your sales team will thank you for the change it makes to their roles.
Potential disadvantages of sales force automation
We don’t want to sell you a dream: like any software, there are potential disadvantages to sales force automation, and you may want to consider them before taking the plunge.
1. Losing the human touch
Over-automation can trap your customers in a purgatory populated by bots. Striking the right balance between automation and the human touch is essential to using this software successfully, as most consumers believe that humans still have the edge when it comes to handling complex queries.
2. Difficult to set up and acclimate your workforce to
Like any software change, there’s going to be a learning curve while everyone figures out how to use it. This may be shorter or longer depending on the tech abilities in your organisation, and it may be hard to tell at first whether these issues will stick around long-term.
3. Software changeover is an expense you may not feel ready for
It’s a tough spot to be in if you’re a small company – on the one hand, you need automation more than anyone because you don’t have the resources to absorb loads of manual tasks. But on the other hand, digital projects can be expensive, and you can’t always afford them.
All of these reasons are why it helps to have an expert in CRM building on your side. We can take a deep dive into your processes and make recommendations for not only how to automate your processes, but also what software offers the best compromise between your needs and your budget.
In our eyes, the advantages of sales force automation as part of a well-rounded CRM solution make implementing it a no-brainer. Sales force automation can:
- Reduce costs
- Boost sales
- Improve morale
And that’s not to mention its analytical and reporting possibilities.
But it’s a daunting task, and for SFA to do its job, you need to make sure it’s set up right.
That’s where we come in. At Human Pixel, we’re experts in marrying automation and high-tech features with the human touch. It’s literally in our name.
We can advise you which areas of your sales process are ripe for automation and implement all of it for you. Find out more about our sales automation offering.