CRMs are sales teams’ home environments, at least if you’re using them right. Sing along with me: if it’s not in the CRM, it didn’t happen, right? And marketing automation tools have long since set marketers free from basically all administrative tasks, letting them work on designing campaigns instead.
So where’s ours? Why do marketers have email automation, marketing automation, marketing CRMs, and more plug-ins than the pile of cables down the back of the desk that gives off funny fumes in humid weather - and sales people have… a CRM. Surely it’s time for some sales automation?
The first people who thought that were sales people, not surprisingly. They tried hacking low-level marketing automation software to steal its functionality to support sales, kind of like how some people will use CRMs as project management tools. It wasn’t a great fit but it worked well enough to convince engineers that it was time to come up with some dedicated software.
The rationale is obvious: If you employ sales staff, you pay them well because they’re your business’ front line. No sales, no customers, no business. You want them selling. Sales staff normally make half or more of their compensation on commission.
They want to sell. What no-one wants is for their sales staff to be manually entering data into forms, moving documents from one application to another… my eyelids are drooping just describing it. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and it should be automated.
And now it is.
Sales automation solutions now offer a whole range of benefits that take the load of managing and documenting the sales process off reps’ shoulders so they can, you know, sell. Check it out.
1. Kill Manual Data Entry: Make and Log Calls Within CRM
If a CRM is to be useful tomorrow, you have to put data into it today. But keeping your CRM up-to-date by hand is time-consuming drudge work that takes you away from selling.
The solution? Sales automation software baked into CRMs that allows you to communicate from inside the CRM, and logs calls and emails automatically. That way you never have to stop between calls to hurriedly add notes about your last interaction with a lead, and when you need that data to decide how to handle your next call to them, for instance - it’s all there.
You’ll find Close.io showcasing it alongside features that let you segment leads based on your last, automatically-logged interaction with them too. That’s automating data usage as well as data recording. Now you can get back to doing something that can’t be automated: selling!
2. Super Easy Call Logging With Transcription
Sales calls are some of the best raw data a sales department can have. You can go over them looking for what worked and what didn’t, finding specific phrases or approaches that were successful, then compare that with your buyer personas and figure out how to approach different types of leads. That same data can be used to train new reps.
One problem with this rosy picture: if you had the time to sit through hours of sales calls, figuring this stuff out - or the time to manually transcribe them - you wouldn’t be a sales rep. A monk, maybe.
It’s now possible to automate the whole process. TalkIQ.com lets sales teams record and transcribe their sales calls, in almost-but-not-quite real time. The resulting text is searchable, too. That opens a lot of doors. Specific words and phrases can be searched for. Sales managers can pick out the best and worst calls, based on performance, and show them (anonymously!) around the team.
Best-performing reps’ calls can be analyzed to see if they use certain words or phrases more, or simply read to see if anything jumps out. No hours of listening, no manual transcribing, and no throwing out a crucially valuable data source to avoid endless clerical work.
TalkIQ is on its own in this field at the moment (as far as we know; if we’re wrong, let us know!) and it offers only one integration. But that integration is with sales favorite Salesforce, so in many ways that’s a mark in its favor.
3. Mass or Custom: Outbound Steps Into the Age of Email Automation
Marketers have had email automation since forever. OK, since 1992. But it feels like forever. It’s part of the reason so many sales people believe email is a marketer’s tool. It doesn’t have to be. Emails are effective at nurturing sales leads too, but most sales teams never send even one.
When sales folks do set email up, they’re faced with a choice: rough-cut mass emails or hand-crafted custom jobs. Both come with terrible disadvantages: blast emails miss way more than they score and the trend is for them to fail worse as people demand more individualization, in both B2B and B2C. And custom emails take forever. Shouldn’t there be something in between?
Now there is. Several companies, notably Sendbloom.com, will take your email list and enrich it with data from other sources, including CRM and social. Then they’ll make that data available to your email templates. That lets you segment your list by sector, role, income, education, gender and a bunch of other, more precise or niche-relevant factors that let you effectively customize mass emails.
Meanwhile, PersistIQ.com lets you personalize messages with those same variables and use triggers and snippets to focus them even more finely, then feed them into a timed multi-touch sales strategy.
4. It’s a Date! Take the Grunt Work Out of Appointment Setting
Setting an appointment? That’s great! That lead’s warm, qualified, has purchase intent, is the decision maker. But they can’t do Thursday. Send another email. Can’t do Wednesday. Send another email. Tuesday morning’s OK. Send another email. Can it be before 10? Maybe this process sounds familiar.
Arranging to meet any busy person can be like this, but these hassle-rich, reward-poor processes where you’re essentially asking this person 20 questions to get a meet together is exactly the kind of thing we should be automating. The appointment matters, when it happens less so, so the process adds little value to the company, the client or the rep. Let’s fix it.
Some teams outsource appointment setting, and that works - but it’s another thing to manage. And some tools, like VanillaSoft.com, offer a comprehensive solution that integrates multiple calendars, plans routes and schedules for you from locations and meeting times, and handles email notifications, time zone errors and pretty much everything else. A lighter solution is Assistant.to, which lets you automatically populate the bottom of your email with time slots when you’re free.
You select the slots from Google Calendar and recipients pick out the one they like. Then those slots become unavailable and you get a notification that the slot is taken and who has chosen it.
The world is more connected and more ‘translocal’ than ever before. We can talk with people on the other side of the world. People have friendships that take no account of physical distance. At the same time, it’s more local than ever before; e-tailers were among the first to get aboard that wagon, but it’s coming for everyone. Want to sell? Get local. Talk to people in their subject of interest, their education level, their income bracket - and their neighborhood. Or lose out, to someone who does.
Upload a spreadsheet of locations and Zeemaps makes you a custom map. From there, you can add colored markers, zoom into and out of clusters of leads so you can work within the same map all the time, and add custom fields like phone number, email or anything else that seems relevant. No more trying to sell and juggle half-a-dozen Google Maps windows simultaneously!
Sales automation might feel like it’s been late in coming. But automation has transformed marketing. It’s time to let it do the same with sales, and these are some of the best entry routes to a more automated experience. It’s not about making your company robotic, but about freeing you and your staff from robotic tasks so you can be more agile and deliver more value.