Posted on 2/14/2018

Four Parts of your Sales Process that You Can Automate Today

Kristin O’Neill

Step one: Purchase a CRM system. Step two: Use the CRM system. Step three: Profits. Well… not quite. 

I’m going to assume for the sake of this post that you’ve already heard the siren’s call of the CRM and that you’ve implemented some form of customer tracking process. You’ve put your prospects and customers into the system. You’ve set up your email to be sent directly through the software. You’ve integrated your invoicing system. A good CRM system can be the keystone to sales success, but it’s never the whole archway. Unless it’s supported by a well-functioning sales process, it’s just a rock. 

Let’s take a moment to look at what other pieces of the sales process can be automated. After all, the more efficiently you work the more connections you make, and the more connections you make the more you increase your paycheck. 

For the Sales Representative:

Run the Numbers, Don’t Let the Numbers Run You

I hear “no”…a lot. When I started in sales I would get bogged down in it. I would think to myself, “They don’t like me, they don’t like my product, I’m never going to be successful.” I was getting frustrated. Luckily, I had a great boss (props to Joe Walker) who saw potential, even when I couldn’t see it. He told me to go home and read Cold Calling Techniques that Really Work by Stephan Schiffman. I went home and read it. What I realized that night is that sales takes more than strong relationships and product knowledge. Sales is also a numbers game. The next morning I went to work on a sales tracking spreadsheet. The basics of a cold call spreadsheet are simple. Set a monthly goal. Then divide by 4 for your weekly goal. Then divide by five for your daily goal. Add in a basic formula that calculates your % of target daily, weekly, and monthly. Create a template for your sales team and store it on your server. Track the number of calls you make, re-orders vs. new customers, and quotes:orders -both total number and dollar amount- for six months. Don’t worry too much about what the numbers are, just that they’re being logged. At the end of the six-month tracking time, meet with your team and review the data together. What trends can you identify? What changes can you make to help every team member achieve their monthly goal?

Learn (a little) about coding

I’m not saying that you need to be an expert in Python, C++, Java, PHP, C# … don’t panic if you’re already skimming for words instead of acronyms. Invest an evening or two in learning the basics of your existing CRM system’s language. For example, adding <NAME_FIRST> (or the appropriate tag for your system) into your email template instead of typing each name can save you time and save you from embarrassing typos. Nobody wants to send an email that begins with ‘Hello Eobert,” 

For the Sales Manager:

Automate and Track the Sales Workflow

It’s 4:59 on a Friday. Your sales team is itching to head to the weekend. Then, the phone rings. It’s a customer who has not received an update on status. She tells you that she has called three times, and each time someone promised to get her the information, but she has not heard anything for two weeks. Sound familiar? Spend some time watching your team. Are you able to identify any bottlenecks? Are things getting missed in the rush to push product out the door? No process is perfect, things can always fall through the cracks. And let me be clear that automating your sales workflow won’t eliminate angry phone calls and emails. But it will minimize their frequency and intensity. Every sales team has a different flow. Create a sales workflow to track what stage every contact is within your sales process. When you make the jump to an automated workflow system you’ll be able to identify issues in real-time and make micro-modifications without interrupting the entire process. 

Lead Distribution

There are very few things that waste more time than conflict over who gets what lead. When you automate your lead distribution system it virtually eliminates these conflicts. It’s important to set up your automated distribution system based on parameters that make sense for your company- whether that’s by zip code, area of expertise, or a straight rotation.

Automation is more than an idea, it’s a way of life. The principles of Industry 4.0 can be applied to every aspect of your business. When done right, the results speak for themselves.
Automation Alley is Michigan’s leading nonprofit technology and manufacturing business association, connecting industry, academia and government to fuel Southeast Michigan’s economy and accelerate innovation. We work tirelessly to help our members achieve success by increasing sales, reducing costs, and thinking strategically during a time of rapid technological change. 
Do you need help automating your sales process? Give Automation Alley a call to guide you on your Industry 4.0 transformation. 

About the Author

Kristin O’Neill | Automation Alley

Kristin O'Neill is Automation Alley's Business Development Representative. Kristin has worked in technical sales for four years with an emphasis on digitizing and automating the quality control process. Kristin has worked as an ISO Process Control Coordinator and has a background in customizing paperless quality assurance software. She has experience as a lead auditor for the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System. She is a former member of the Society for Protective Coatings Women in Coatings Group, and was recognized in Products Finishing Magazine’s 40-Under-40: Class of 2016.


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