What is Sales Force Automation?
Sales force automation means automating your sales process and making them more intelligent, efficient and error free. Using automation techniques to smooth out processes and give customers a better experience than ever before, you’ll be wondering why you haven’t been using automated systems forever.
It’s not about employing robots, or about building factories and production lines, nor is it about becoming fully impersonal and alert. It is about using technology to the full to give you and your team a competitive advantage over every other business in your market.
There was a time when sales were made face to face, and a relationship was often built between buyer and seller. As time has progressed, sales have become more and more impersonal, and it’s hard to build a relationship between the two parties.
This relationship is important in both directions – the buyer needs to know that the seller is interested in the problem they need solving and can sell them a reliable solution. The seller needs to know that they are not wasting their time and that the buyer actually wants to buy something.
As businesses grew and communication was often not face-to-face but more likely to be over the phone or across the internet, Customer Relationship Management systems were developed. Noting down what the customer wanted, when they wanted it, what they had previously purchased, and so on – the only problem arose when the customer unexpectedly called, and you needed to find the right piece of paper.
CRM systems improved and became digital, and now it was just a matter of seeking out the right record on the computer system. With the advent of the internet, CRM systems moved online making it easy for multiple users to work with them and for the information to be accessed from anywhere.
There was still a problem though – every piece of information had to be entered by hand. Sales force automation takes this one step further by automatically entering information about your customers and leads for you.
Through various lead generation techniques and processes applied before a sales rep even comes into contact with a potential lead, a profile of the person can be built, and the information stored for later access.
This gives the sales force an almost psychic ability to know what the lead is interested in and what problems they may be trying to solve. But there’s more – the automation system can figure out which are the best leads for a sales rep to follow up, and will be able to automatically schedule this for the rep, as well as tracking all the communication that follows.
But what if the sales reps forget to contact someone or return a call? Simply, the sales force automation takes care of it – reminders and notifications are automatically generated, and if they are not acted on, the next person in the chain is notified. This can be another sales rep to take over the lead, or a manager to investigate what the problem is.
When no leads slip through the cracks, the business can function at its highest efficiency and generate the most revenue possible.
Contact management and information sharing have been taken care of, and precautions are in place to make sure nothing gets missed out. So, does this mean your sales force is fully automated? Far from it!
A Manager’s Dream
As a manager, the one thing you have to do is keep on top of your team of sales reps. You need to know who is doing well, who needs a push in the right direction, who is converting the most leads, and so on. You also need to know how the sales figures are looking.
It’s common practice for sales teams to send in their daily or weekly reports, or sometimes for the manager to run a report on these different aspects of the sales team. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, these reports don’t always come through on time. Maybe the rep is super busy and can’t spend the time logging in, running the report, saving it, emailing it, and so on.
Maybe the manager doesn’t have time to do it for every rep, and slowly but surely reports go missing, and sales figures start to drop. Targets are missed, and revenue is down, all because nobody could find the time to produce a set of reports.
With sales force automation, these reports can be generated automatically and sent to the people who need to know. It’s right there, waiting in the inbox, without having to lift a finger.
With the minimum of effort and interruption, the manager can evaluate employee performance and see a sales forecast analysis very easily. They can make changes as needed and not have to wonder why a particular report hasn’t been filed.
This builds confidence in the sales force and gives the manager a full set of information to work with. When key reports are missing, a manager is at best ineffective. When everything is produced and seen on time, the manager can function at full efficiency and bring out the best in their team.
Automating the rest of the sales process
Once the lead is in your sales pipeline, every step of the way can be aided by automation. Leads can be rated and ranked, and sales reps can see exactly where they are within the pipeline. Sales reps that are mobile and operate in different areas can be tracked and can be chosen to close deals based on their geographic location.
When a deal is closed, and an order is placed, notifications can be sent to everyone who needs to know.
This lets managers know that revenue is on the way, but also allows teams that sell physical stock to keep track of their inventory more easily as they will know instantly when something needs to go out.
Sales force automation is the ultimate in streamlining and efficiency while giving amazing advantages to both the sales force and the customer alike. If you haven’t already begun automating your business, you need to get started today.