Since the pandemic hit, automation in the workplace has been on the increase. It has been driven by a combination of necessity, operational readjustments, and opportunity. Increased automation is also a sign that old ways of doing sales weren't working anymore, forcing us to make changes.
In some sectors, automation caused much workforce anxiety. In the global recession of 2008 onward, automation meant the loss of lower-skilled jobs. However, for sales professionals and sales managers, automation is a route to making work easier. Job losses should be minimal, and given the positive impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in sales, a new range of jobs and skills are going to be needed to support increased automation.
Despite the advantages in sales, investing in automation can be daunting, considering the many economic challenges we currently face in business. However, here are seven great reasons you should take the leap and invest in sales automation now.
What Is Sales Automation?
Automation covers a broad range of technological advances. In sales, we are largely talking about software and other systems that simplify and make more efficient—rather than replace—human employees. Sales is one of those areas where it would be difficult to replace people with machines as it is built on human relationships. Automation has the ability to accelerate your sales pipeline while making your job much easier.
What does sales automation mean for teams and customers?
For sales teams, automation is meant to improve processes and systems. It’s designed to make work easier and more efficient. Any part of the sales processes that’s being done manually can take up too much time whereas an automated software solution can accelerate the process.
B2B customers are increasingly in favor of automation in the buying process. Since the pandemic, buyers increasingly prefer a “seller-free sales experience,” with research showing that by 2025, “80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels,” according to Gartner’s Future of Sales report.
This doesn't mean 80% of sales will happen without a salesperson and buyer interacting; it simply highlights the fact that digital channels—with automation as part of that—are going to play an even more crucial role in the sales pipeline for customers and sales teams.
Within those digital channels, for smaller ticket sales (e.g., lower-priced SaaS), the buyer’s journey could involve fewer sellers in the experience, which 33% of buyers want, according to Gartner.
7 Reasons to Invest in Sales Automation
Here are seven top reasons why now is the right time to start investing in sales automation:
1. Hitting revenue targets is easier.
Accountancy software hasn't made accountants redundant. Financial software simply makes it easier for accountants and those in financial roles to manage finance, reporting, and accounting more easily.
Sales automation software achieves the same aims for sales teams. Imagine everyone on your team spends at least seven hours a week on tasks that could be automated. That’s seven hours that could be spent talking to sales prospects and customers.
Automation allows companies to switch people from lower-value to higher-value tasks. In fact, HubSpot reporting says that companies using automation in the sales process are 61% more likely to hit or exceed revenue targets.
2. High-growth is more achievable.
Investors put money into companies they see as having high-growth potential. Most small and medium businesses can grow at a rate of around 5 to 10% year-on-year, assuming they don't hit a downturn, according to widely accepted accountancy and growth principles.
Investor expectations among high-growth companies is in the 10 to 45% range (according to the latest data), annually, especially for software as a service (SaaS) businesses. Businesses with investors need to find every possible advantage to achieve growth, including automating as much as they can.
According to the Hinge Research Institute, 31% of high-growth companies already use automation in the sales process, showing it makes a noticeable difference.
3. As much as 30% of sales activities could be automated.
Most sales teams have automated some aspects of their working processes already, even if it’s only using a customer relationship management (CRM) system. However, there is a lot more in the sales process that can be automated, according to McKinsey research.
McKinsey points out that 30% of sales tasks can be automated, from generating sales leads to scheduling calls, to automating numerous administrative tasks. This makes it easier for salespeople to be productive and spend more time talking to sales leads and prospects than doing lower-value work.
4. CRMs are an effective automation tool.
Customer relationship management systems are incredibly powerful tools when it comes to automation. Salespeople can do a variety of tasks, including scheduling meetings, generating quotes, and scoring the viability of leads.
With the right solution, you can make sales significantly easier. But you’ll need to have a strong suite of automated features. Overly complex systems can add to a sales team’s workloads, rather than reduce them, so make sure you are picking the right system for your team, needs, and stage of growth.
5. Buyers prefer increased automation.
Even before the pandemic, buyers were starting to prefer frictionless sales experiences. Automation makes it easier for them (e.g., instead of emailing to book a sales demo, a calendar tool can automate that), which helps to increase conversion rates.
6. Forecasting is simpler and more accurate.
CRM data, when used properly, should make sales forecasting more accurate. Salesforce—one of the largest players in the CRM, automation, and sales analytics market—predicts the use of predictive intelligence will increase 139% in the next three years.
When sales managers can rely on a forecast, it gives them confidence speaking to bosses and investors. In a high-growth company, forecasts and predictions are essential; these give stakeholders and investors the confidence that everything is on track. Accurate forecasts also help sales managers spot who’s off target, making it easier to deploy training and support as needed.
7. Productivity increases and costs decrease with AI.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), which at this stage of technological development is interchangeable with machine learning (ML), is a buzzword with some genuine applications for sales teams. Don’t be quick to dismiss it, but at the same time, don’t rush in unless your business is ready for AI.
When you are a midsize to large business with vast amounts of data and complex systems, that’s when AI can play a powerful role, such as providing more accurate and higher-margin quotes for sales leads. Value-based pricing software and specialists can help you achieve that. According to McKinsey, 44% of businesses find cost savings once AI has been adopted within an organization.
Invest in Sales Automation Now
Sales automation is worth investing in for all the right reasons: It makes the buying and selling process for sales teams, managers, and customers alike. That means valuable interactions and increased sales efficiency so you can watch your teams prosper and business revenue grow.