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Growth Marketing

3 Steps to Climb the Sales Automation Ladder

Written by Denis Zhinko / July 26, 2019

Denis is the Head of CRM and Collaboration Department at ScienceSoft with 12+ years in software consulting with the multi-platform focus on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce. Denis has managed projects on CRM, CXM, Portals, System Integration and Connectivity for businesses in Healthcare, Retail,Telecom and Banking, including CRM solutions for 7+ mln bank clients and 5+ mln media subscribers. In his spare time, Denis is a keen motorcyclist, tennis player and volunteer.

When companies are too CRM-enthusiastic, they may take the plunge and try to automate all their sales activities in one go. However, such an approach won’t bring desired outcomes but may hamper the existing sales-related processes. According to our experience, automating sales requires thorough planning and consecutive execution, or the iterative approach. It allows avoiding classic problems of sales automation, like disjointed and inefficient sales processes and poor user adoption.

If you’re eager to know how to mount the stairs this approach has in store, here we go. Let’s consider your sales automation process while taking two CRMs (Salesforce Sales Cloud and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, mentioned among the leaders in the Gartner Magic Quadrant report) as examples.

Sales Automation in 3 Easy Steps

1. Start Simple With Quick Gains for Sales Reps

It is a good idea to begin your sales automation with basic CRM functionality, which tangibly facilitates sales reps’ customer communication. Knowing their customers and leads inside out helps your sales reps to reach their immediate goals, like making their outreach both effective and personalized. The good news is that such functions are available starting from the basic CRM editions, so getting them doesn’t require large investments.

In Dynamics 365 for Sales and Salesforce Sales Cloud, managing customer relations is performed with Leads, Opportunities and Accounts records. The difference between them is mainly in the record page layouts, but the core function of these records remains the same regardless of the vendor. Using these features, sales reps can get a deep knowledge of their customers due to creating a 360-degree customer profile.

With the Accounts feature, sales reps get detailed info about the customer, like the company’s name, industry, size and other data valuable for the sales process. Along with the company’s data, the customer profile can be enriched with information from the Contact record about key decision-makers in the company. Their names can be accompanied by contact info (email, phone number, address, fax, etc.), and their job title. Besides, sales reps can see the activities relevant to these accounts from the lists like related contacts, cases, contracts, files, notes and activity timeline. The last one can be particularly useful since it shows which interactions (emails, phone calls, and meetings) took place or are about to happen with a particular account or contact.

2. Take Hold of Your Sales Teams

Now, when the basic sales reps’ needs are seen to, step on the next stair to get more complicated managerial CRM capabilities. They aim to help sales managers to create a well-structured process and supervise how it’s followed.

Automating standard internal procedures and processes is essential for sales managers’ control over their sales teams’ work. To this end, they may use Workflow, available in both Salesforce and Dynamics 365. For example, if a sales manager wants their reps to proceed with a follow-up activity before a contract with the customer expires, they may set up a workflow rule with a time-dependent trigger. According to this rule, a sales rep will be reminded to confirm whether a client wants to extend the contract within a preset number of days before the contract’s expiration date.

A feature of Salesforce, which helps to automatically distribute leads among sales reps is called Lead Assignment Rules. It’s possible to introduce lead assignment rules to match leads with proper sales reps. This feature spares sales managers from the necessity of manually assigning leads, and still ensures the correct lead assignment process.

Certain CRM features are aimed at showing a sales manager how the process he imposed is followed. Among these features are Sales Path in Salesforce Sales Cloud and Process Bar in Dynamics 365. Located within an Opportunity record, these features will reflect sales stages, sales reps’ activities, and drive sales pipeline reporting.

Tracking sales reps’ performance becomes much easier with such features as Salesforce Reports and Dashboards and Relationship Analytics in Dynamics 365.

Salesforce Reports and Dashboards allow highlighting sales reps’ strong and weak points along with factors influencing their productivity. And knowing the employees’ strengths and weaknesses backwards and forwards allows sales managers to improve their reps’ performance.

Performance analysis in Dynamics 365 is carried out by the Relationship Analytics feature, which assembles relevant information from throughout the CRM’s database and creates a graphical display of KPIs and activity histories for any lead and opportunity.

3. Get Ready For Advanced Sales Tools

Finally, land on the last stair fit for users experienced enough to employ some advanced analytical abilities of CRM that pave the way for better developing and maintaining customer connections and support proactive decision-making. These abilities empower sales reps and managers with valuable insights and predictions, timely notifications and reminders. Such AI-powered analytics is represented by Dynamics 365 AI for Sales and Salesforce Sales Cloud Einstein.

The AI-powered Einstein Lead and Opportunity Scoring in Salesforce or Predictive Lead Scoring in Dynamics 365 can help to efficiently choose “hot” leads that are likely to convert. They prioritize leads giving the highest score to those having the most in common with previous successfully converted leads. Thus, sales managers don’t have to prioritize leads manually and sales reps can focus on quality leads and close more deals.

If to speak about Salesforce, sales reps can also increase their win rates using Einstein Opportunity and Account Insights. This feature notifies sales reps when game-changing moments in their deals are about to happen, like when a contact mentions a rival. Or if there hasn’t been opportunity-related communication for a while, sales reps get reminders to proceed with certain steps to retain an important customer (for example, to schedule a call or send another email). What’s more, using existing opportunity data and recent sales rep’s activity, Einstein Insights predict the probability of winning a particular opportunity in the near future.

To Wrap It Up

The iterative approach to sales automation based on the “simple-to-complex” pattern may help to avoid classical pitfalls of sales automation done in one go and ensure positive outcomes of a CRM project. So, the message for companies is: “be consistent.” Consistency gets you to the top of the success stairs, where the maximized benefit is achieved out of CRM.



Chris
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