Sales Automation: Friend or Foe?

It’s no secret that sales automation can increase productivity, cutting 8-12% of production costs and increasing sales by 10-30%. The technological miracle of automation seems too good to be true. And in some cases, it is.

It’s simply not possible to automate every aspect of sales, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t automate anything at all. On their blog, AirVM advises that “it’s important to think strategically about what automation is necessary and what is not,” because it’s not really possible to obtain 100% efficiency.

So, instead of chasing after unrealistic levels of effectiveness, it’s important to find the balance of automation that leaves you more time for actual selling, while also not taking the personal touch out of your sales process.

Not every automation solution will work for every company, but here is some advice on when automation can become your friend, and when it’s best to carry out tasks yourself.

Automation is Your Foe When…

You’re Making Cold Calls

Automation may help you dial or leave a quick voicemail, but using automation to make cold calls will quickly get you written off as impersonal. Humans are capable of greater empathy and flexibility than AI, which won’t respond well to unpredictable situations.

So, automation can help with some call-related tasks, but it’s best to leave the conversation up to humans.

Fulfilling Specific Requests

While automation can help you find the resources that you need and make you more productive, it becomes less helpful further on into the sales process when requests and interactions become more customized.

Once you become attuned to a client’s needs and how they prefer to communicate, automation becomes less relevant. Essentially, automation will help you get to a certain point but will reach its limits as the process becomes more personalized and interactions become more specific.

Customizing Content

Yes, automation can help you find more relevant content and construct better sales decks. However, this does not exempt you from proofreading what software finds for you, and then customizing the content as needed.

Imagine if you automatically find an excellent deck that was used for another company. While you can pull relevant content from certain slides, you’re much too professional to pull the old “copy-and-paste” trick.  Nothing is more embarrassing than not catching a typo in an important presentation, or accidentally including a completely irrelevant or out-of-order slide. Always read over your presentations and marketing content, even if you use automation software to help construct it.

Automation is Your Friend When…

You’re Keeping Track of Prospect Touchpoints

A good sales cadence and smooth sales process means keeping track of prospect “touchpoints.” When did you last e-mail them, and what was it about? How many times have you called them in the past month? Automation software can automatically update customer files so that you can prioritize who to contact, and how to contact them.

Keeping in touch with prospects and customers is a delicate dance, and automated contact logs can help you notice significant patterns. If you’ve called multiple times this week, maybe it’s time to back off for a bit. Conversely, maybe you notice it’s been a while and you need to know where a prospect is in their sales journey. Whatever the case, automation is your friend that helps you remember when and why you’ve contacted someone.

Scheduling a Meeting

There are tons of different calendar tools out there, many of which can be linked to your company’s software. If you connect your calendar app to your sales tools, meetings can be scheduled in just a few clicks.

The mere suggestion of a time and date can be selected and transferred to your calendar, which can even automatically remind you when a meeting draws near. Note that this is best implemented when the same calendar app is used company-wide.

Leaving a Voicemail

While many aspects of calling still require a human touch, voicemails are one of the countless phone tasks that can easily be automated with little consequence. And automating them can make leaving voicemails much less daunting.

This doesn’t mean having a robot transfer your calls, or a sinister automated voice explaining why you’ve called. Instead, you can pre-record your voicemails and have them left at the touch of a button. In one instance, this may save you 30 seconds, but over time it really adds up.

Finding Better Content

Savo Group shares that up to 40% of a reps time is spent looking for or creating content to share with prospects. Sales automation technology can “use the context of an e-mail or CRM record to suggest relevant and engaging content.”

Think of it like a filter for your search results. Instead of weeding through pages of only slightly relevant and probably unhelpful content, you can quickly and easily find and share the content that you need.

Assembling a Presentation

Presentations are an effective and engaging way to win over a prospect, but putting together a presentation is a time-consuming project. Savo explains that sales automation can make the process simpler by “linking slides within presentations to specific sales contexts.”

This means that automation can suggest a sales deck that matches your context so that you save time you previously spent going through dozens of decks in search of specific slides.

Collecting Data

Automation software collects and correlates information so that you can easily notice trends in data, such as which tasks and marketing strategies generate the best results.

In a detailed analysis of sales automation for the Harvard Business Review, Rowland Moriarty and Gordon Swartz explain that every marketing or sales action performed “captures information that answers questions about customers and their needs.” Over time, “the database becomes a rich source of information” that can assist you in better understanding and reforming your sales practices.

Automation: A Helpful but Fickle Companion

Sales automation, like any technology, has its advantages and limitations. Find the sweet spot between automation and the human touch that works best for your company and your customers, so that you can maximize productivity without coming across as unfeeling or lazy.