Automating your sales system is one of the most important steps you can take to reduce costs and boost revenue. Even if you already use a LinkedIn message automation tool, you will want to extend the automation to other aspects of your business.
Sales automation will reduce the amount of time your team spends reporting and administrating. At the same time, it gives you access to extra revenue via the prospects you wouldn’t have time to reach if you did everything manually.
While you likely understand the advantages of LinkedIn InMail automation to some extent, many decision-makers don’t understand the enormous value of sales automation across more use cases than just to automate LinkedIn.
If you need more inspiration to automate sales, consider that companies that already automate sales have higher efficiency, customer-facing time, sales, and customer satisfaction.
Once you are convinced of the value of this automation, how do you go about implementing it? It can be easier than you realize to create an automated sales system, especially with the best LinkedIn automation software.
Even though most sales tasks can be automated, from scheduling a LinkedIn post to sending a quote for a service, only about a quarter of companies have automated one of their sales processes.
For some companies, this is due to the simple fact that the executives don’t realize how beneficial it is. Or they may not realize how possible it is for most processes.
We’ve already touched on the benefits of automating sales, but it is worth going into more detail. After all, decision-makers will have to make an initial investment in automation, so they want to make sure the investment is worth it.
McKinsey, one of the biggest consulting brands in the world, is known for gathering useful data and information, including from sales automation, and turning the insights provided by the data for global strategy. It’s a well-respected leader in the world of business, helping companies improve their performance. It offers real-life examples of the benefits of sales automation.
One of the examples comes from an advanced-industries company that automated part of its bid process. Before the automation, everything was done by reps, from gathering documents to researching specs to creating the proposals. The automation, however, means that enterprise resource planning data automatically fills in pre-designed proposals. Then, a sales rep simply reviews it.
The company noticed the following benefits from the automation:
Based on that data and real-world experience, there are a few major ways that sales automation benefits every company:
Before you begin the process of automating sales, you will need to look at the various tasks involved to confirm which ones can be automated. You will notice that a surprising number of them can be. In fact, McKinsey estimates that about a third of all tasks related to sales can be automated.
The data shows that the following are the parts of the sales value chain that are most automatable using today’s technology:
And this figure is just with today’s technology. As technology continues to advance, the figure will likely increase.
As you look at opportunities for automation in sales, you will find them throughout the entire sales journey or sales value chain. Think of this as a larger scale of how a LinkedIn automation agency can automate various steps throughout the interaction funnel on the platform. After all, you use a LinkedIn post scheduler to regularly post content that gets comments or views. Then, you can automate LinkedIn connections with the people who comment on the posts or are in your groups. From there, you can automate LinkedIn messages to add more personalization and push prospects along the sales funnel.
If you look at your sales interactions as a whole instead of just those limited to LinkedIn, you will notice a similar breadth of opportunities for automation.
To give you an idea of how you can automate various parts of the sales journey, consider a few examples. How your company uses sales automation will depend largely on your industry, products or services, and overall sales process.
One of the most common examples of automating lead management is the use of chatbots. Chatbots are getting more advanced as they let you engage with website visitors or prospects without having to use your team’s valuable time. But bots go beyond webchats.
Chatbots can look through your data to choose customers and reach out to them via email, text, or another channel. Thanks to advances in natural-language processing, bots can maintain a natural-feeling conversation, handling early interactions with ease. Your customers will appreciate increased transparency, while your sales reps will have more time selling.
The right systems make it easy to automate email marketing campaigns. You can use templates or write your own email content and set it up in sequences for email drip campaigns or welcome sequences. Or you can plan weekly newsletters out for the entire month and have them automatically sent once per week.
Automation can also help prevent the email list from getting out-of-date. For example, it could check for inactive subscribers and remove them from the email list. This helps reduce potential complaints about spam and bounce rates.
No matter your client base, you need to stay active on social media. The platform will simply depend on your clientele. For example, many B2Bs focus on LinkedIn while B2Cs may focus on Twitter or another platform. No matter your choice, social media post scheduling is an effective use of automation. As with the emails, you can write multiple social media posts at once and set up the social media post scheduler to post them when you want, whether that is a few times a week or once a day.
Alfred includes a free social media post scheduler that makes it easy to plan your social media engagement ahead of time. It comes with social media post templates to help you plan your posts quickly.
We already discussed automating email marketing, but that refers to the emails you send to get prospects interested or keep people as clients. What about the conversations you have with clients as part of building the relationship or planning which services or products they need?
Just like you can automate LinkedIn messages, you can also automate emails for this purpose. Or you can automate text messages. For example, consider automating reminders about upcoming meetings.
Requesting proposals can be time-consuming and highly repetitive. But natural-language processing solutions and automation can dramatically reduce the time this process takes. One of the advanced solutions some companies use is to figure out which questions need to be answered and then propose responses.
Identifying potential churners is one of the many challenges in sales, but this can also be automated. Advanced tools exist that can create customer profiles looking at interaction preferences, web data, and buying patterns. These can more accurately predict churn and prevent it.
As your systems check for potential churners, they can also do general lead scoring. This can help you decide which leads to focus your energy on. This becomes even more important as you scale up, as does your lead generation management.
As mentioned, you can’t automate everything in the sales process. Sometimes, your team will have to meet one-on-one with your clients or prospects. But you can automate the process of scheduling these meetings. Just have your team keep their digital calendar up-to-date and automate the ability for prospects to schedule meetings.
Just as your LinkedIn automation tool’s journey isn’t done after you send a connection request, your interactions with B2B clients aren’t done after you make the sale. You need to follow up to encourage repeat clients.
One of the most common examples of this is automating the ordering and tracking process. You can also use chatbots to automate responses to basic or common questions.
Once your customers receive their product, it typically needs to be activated. This is yet another task that bots can handle. They can create license certificates and automate emails with license keys for activating purchases. Combine warm or cold email templates with some personalization, and this process is easy.
Alfred makes it easy to add hyper-personalization to all your interactions on LinkedIn and other platforms. There is built-in personalization for things such as job title, name, and company. But you can add even more personalization by importing your .csv file with leads. Alfred automatically captures the extra columns and lets you use the information within them.
One of the best use cases for sales automation is in reporting and analytics. You can use a system that automatically generates reports on information such as email open rates, click-through rates, contact engagement, form completion, and more.
Alfred includes LinkedIn analytics to give you insights into your interactions on that platform.
Many companies have started automating at least part of the payment or invoice process. Depending on your goals and the systems you use, you can send reminders for payments, issue invoices, and accept payments.
Although this use case is often overlooked, automation can also help keep your sales representatives on track or remind them about important appointments. This can be as simple as automated reminders about upcoming meetings. Or it could be more complicated, such as a system looking for leads that haven’t been contacted and letting reps know.
Some of the interactions your team has with prospects or clients need to be recorded. But having your team write down when the interactions occurred relies on them remembering to do so and takes time. Some systems can automatically record these interactions, including the channel in the case of multichannel marketing.
As you evaluate what to automate, remember that not every single process can be automated. Some will still require a human touch. By automating any task, however, you give your team more time to focus on those tasks that can’t be automated.
Once you’ve decided what parts of your sales process can be automated, it’s time to start planning that automation. The following information will help you set realistic expectations and maximize your chances of success.
You can’t just incorporate automation overnight. Instead, you need to ease into it for a smooth transition. Think of this as similar to how there is a LinkedIn message limit, and you have to slowly build up to it.
With Alfred, you don’t have to worry about the LinkedIn limit on connections, as Alfred automatically detects your account type and sets a conservative limit. From there, Alfred sticks to the limit, so your account won’t be flagged. If you wish, you can increase the limit.
During this stage, you look at all the tasks in the sales process and quantity or figure out which subtasks can be automated. From there, you prioritize which ones to automate first. Do this throughout the entire sales funnel.
Next, you will go through your prioritized list of automatable tasks. For each area, review what’s involved and map out a plan.
Start by skipping any activities that don’t provide value. Then, standardize processes within the consolidated data and collocated sales support. Then, automate the manual, repetitive, or time-consuming tasks.
Finally, you are ready to scale up the automation. In other words, don’t automate everything all at once. Instead, do it bit by bit, scaling up as you go.
With those general phases in mind, it’s time to look at some tips for automating sales.
While the previous steps guide you on setting up your automation, there are also stages that your automation should take prospects through. These should line up with the stages in your traditional sales funnel. It will likely be some variation of:
To start, make sure you have realistic expectations regarding the automation process. It will be easier for some companies to automate their sales than it will be for others. The following factors reduce the time it takes to automate and the success of your sales automation:
Remember that even if you have all those things or most of them, every company is different. You will need to think about your starting point before you can begin, and you will need to look at competitors and the needs of your clients to set goals.
We mentioned this in phase three of the sales automation process, but you don’t want to automate everything all at once. If you do, it becomes too complicated and leaves too much room for error.
Instead, start with the tasks that you are most likely able to successfully automate. This should focus on the tasks that are least critical. Someone should spearhead the automation efforts for these tasks, testing and refining the processes.
It may seem obvious to include the sales team, support staff, and reps in the automation process, but some companies overlook this. Maybe executives don’t think about it or just want to focus on cost-cutting. No matter the situation, however, the sales team must be involved in the automation process. They know what is necessary and have the experience using the system. They know what your clients prefer and which overall processes have worked well.
In addition to helping plan the automation, your sales team also needs to get more training and/or resources as part of the automation process. After all, they will be spending their time differently from before. The repetitive tasks they previously had to do manually are now automated. So, they need to know how to use the automated system.
But they will also have to refresh or hone their skills on the tasks they spend more time on. You’ll likely increase targets for productivity, thanks to automation, and this is feasible if your team has enough training.
Sales automation is incredibly useful, but it has a time and a place. You need to accept that your prospects will need to build a relationship with your sales team for them to convert. Sales of any high-ticket item, especially B2B sales, require a relationship of some sort. This allows your prospects to trust you and your team.
If you overly rely on automation, you may accidentally sacrifice these personal connections. That would hurt your bottom line instead of boosting your revenue.
There are two important parts to avoiding this issue. First, incorporate personalization into your automation. That way, even the automated tasks have a hint of human touch. Second, know which tasks you can’t or shouldn’t automate and don’t automate them. Ensure that prospects can reach a human when they need to, and pre-emptively plan on the most important interactions being with a real person, not an automated system.
Remember that the point of automation is to free up your time so you can focus on those crucial interactions that require a human touch. It’s not to completely eliminate the human touch.
Sales automation is essential to improving your company’s sales efficiency. It reduces the risk of human error and lets your team focus their time and energy on things that can’t be automated, such as adding a personal touch and building a relationship with prospects.
Alfred is here to help with a variety of sales automation tasks, from LinkedIn lead automation to marketing to sending automated messages.
Contact Alfred to schedule a demo and take advantage of its 7-day free trial, no credit card needed. Once you put Alfred to use for a few days, you will find yourself wanting to expand your automation.