25th Oct, 2021
, , Designation
- Long sales cycle can be detrimental to business growth and revenues
- Here are six sales automation strategies to simplify sales processes and workflows
The three steps in the sales cycle definition taught in a business school are awareness, consideration, and decision. But every sales professional and representative knows that the sales function comes with several other business-critical processes. These include nurturing leads, scheduling calls, logging outcomes, follow-ups, and finally, closing the deal itself.
Today, businesses leverage sales automation solutions and sales force automation tools to simplify the sales process. Businesses recognize that implementing streamlined sales cycles and sales strategies will result in higher efficiency, productivity, and revenue. Let us dive deeper into how sales automation solutions are being deployed in B2B lead generation to shorten the sales cycle and optimize the process.
How longer sales cycles can hurt companies
While some products may justify a long and drawn-out sales process, more often than not, they’re a leading indicator of a business slowdown. This is particularly true when the average deal volume is not very high. An unusually slow sales cycle implies that businesses are bogged down by manual and repetitive tasks that eat away their time. Sales representatives cannot focus on what they do best, which is to pitch and build customer rapport. Instead, they might spend more time manually scheduling appointments, answering follow-up emails, and logging customer data. Needless to point out, this approach is inefficient and a waste of precious human resources.
Longer sales cycles can also hurt a business in myriad other ways. More time spent in the sales funnel implies greater uncertainty and wavering customer interest that might eventually drop off. They also strain business resources and time. Longer selling cycles also give competitors the edge to swoop in and take away prospects that were carefully nurtured. Thus, any sales cycle longer than the traditional five-step process may lead to:
- The unpredictability of success and revenue
- Lack of accurate customer tracking in the sales funnel
- Waning customer interest
- Inefficiencies and higher backlog
- Customers seeking quick solutions may give up
- Higher usage of company resources
- Risk of losing prospect to competitors
How to shorten the sales cycle with automation tools
Streamlining sales funnel conversions with CRM software
The basic premise of a sales funnel is to guide a prospect from the awareness stage to a paying customer. Nurturing ideal leads at each stage of the customer sales funnel requires lead data and targeted sales processes.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools and software solutions are centralized platforms that allow businesses to track and build customer relationships efficiently. All lead and customer data is collated and managed in one place, ensuring a seamless flow of information in real-time. Furthermore, they offer valuable cross-division data-driven insights that result in better sales planning.
CRM tools give businesses the ability to automate processes that are repetitive, mechanical, and tedious. This allows sales reps to focus on what they were hired to do – closing deals with prospective customers.
With a centralized repository of lead and customer data, workflows can be automated to target specific customer segments in varying funnel stages. Cross-functional collaboration with the marketing, finance, and project teams is also simplified.
Read our blog “Critical Element to Keep the CRM Engine Humming” for additional insights on industry-best practices to bolster the productivity and efficiency of enterprise CRM processes and maximize ROI.
Automating email sequences
It is important to recognize that email continues to be a potent tool of communication between salespeople and potential customers. This is particularly true in B2B lead generation processes. In addition to email marketing campaigns, B2B companies receive a significant number of leads from inquiries and referrals.
With email playing such a pivotal role in communication, using email automation tools becomes necessary to optimize the sales process. Email marketing automation tools can also benefit B2C brands in lead generation through emails and help increase customer engagement. Using solutions that send welcome emails, automatically schedule, follow-up, and track opening and response rates goes a long way in eliminating manual effort and time. Customer outreach programs and sales follow-up efforts are also greatly enhanced using such tools.
Easy-to-learn and feature-rich, most email automation tools offer a variety of critical customer data. For instance, using AI and NLP technologies, these tools can trigger pre-defined responses and engagement by gauging the mood of the customer. They can also decipher more complex customer responses, track their behavior while interacting with the email, and start/stop email sequences accordingly. This can be particularly beneficial for companies that rely heavily on email to build customer relationships.
Lead scoring automation tools
Knowing how prospects and leads interact with sales efforts can aid in minimizing the time required to close a deal. When customers open links to landing pages or respond to CTAs, it is essential that they are classified into relevant categories for effective targeting.
Sales teams stand to benefit greatly by using lead scoring tools to do this. Having automated lead scoring systems in place will help support more accurate decision-making. Furthermore, such tools will also help in gauging the overall performance of a sales strategy by providing reliable measures of success.
Lead scoring tools can help analyze the number of clicks on a sales-follow up message, the engagement rates of outreach campaigns, and what tactics work the most effectively. When sales teams have their prospects classified based on engagement, they are able to prioritize lead engagement better and focus on closing high-value deals. In addition, lead scoring tools give the sales division valuable data to dynamically alter their planning and strategy based on authentic data.
Automate scheduling processes
Gone are the days when sales representatives and customers used to exchange endless emails or calls to schedule a demo or discuss pricing. Businesses nowadays realize the need to remove such inefficiencies and ensure a fast-moving sales cycle for growth.
Sales automation solutions like scheduling solutions enable prospective customers and sales officials to set up calls or meetings quickly without hassle. With dedicated scheduling solutions, sales representatives can direct their energy away from time-consuming tasks (such as updating calendars) towards more productive customer-oriented actions. Having automated scheduling will ensure that the sales teams can focus on building deeper customer connections and rapport – a critical factor of success for any business.
Automating daily tasks and logging outcomes
Daily tasks like manually reporting the lead contact data, logging sales process outcomes, and crunching numbers for sales reports is time and energy-consuming.
Delegating such tasks to a smart sales tool system can save valuable resources that are better spent elsewhere. Businesses with large sales operations and teams must particularly use such data collection and analytics tools to track their performance. These tasks also include updating customer databases, verifying customer information, preparing end-of-day reports, and collating numbers across functions.
Lead assignment automation
Another crucial component of the sales productivity equation is the lead assignment. Businesses with multiple products and offerings usually train groups of sales representatives to obtain expertise in select products. When companies ensure that the right people are following up with the right leads, the chances of conversion are much higher.
Using sales force automation tools to undertake the lead allocation process helps optimize productivity to a great extent. With smart automated tools that assign leads, businesses can set the parameters to control which lead will be allocated to which salesperson. Matching the right customer interest and requirements to the appropriate sales personnel is the first important step of closing any deal.
An intelligent lead routing system ensures that every lead will be properly guided through the sales funnel by the right person. To match leads based on the query, time of day, and the skill set of the sales representative, the routing process must be governed by the right set of guidelines.
Watch our video “Enabling Sales through Technology” to get an extensive preview of Denave’s technology solutions that helps simplify sales processes for improved lead management and targeted customer communication.