AI-based Automation to Attain Higher Sales Closure Rates

Sales is one of the most important departments of an organization. In recent years, automation of sales processes and sales force operations have garnered massive attention from global organizations looking to accelerate their digital transformations. Together with IT, Business Analytics, Data management, and Marketing Automation, Salesforce Automation shall form the crux of business continuity in 2021. However, Sales still lags when it comes to adapting and utilizing automation to its fullest extent. In fact, it ranks farther down compared to HR, Customer Service, and Supply chain management.

What is Sales Automation and Why Sales Executives Need It?

According to McKinsey, 30% of the sales processes can be completely automated.

Industry experts recommend automating parts or whole of Sales operations using AI tools and software. These automation software tools focus on time-consuming and repetitive tasks that can be easily outsourced to a robotic automation process or virtual assistants. From data entry to report-making to data visualization applications, sales force automation tools could be a mix of all these and much more in the current context of sales intelligence trends.

Let’s first understand how the industry defines Sales Automation for Field executives.

According to Gartner, Sales Automation is defined as “systems that support the automation of sales activities, processes and administrative responsibilities for organizations’ sales professionals.”

The core functionalities are listed as below:

  • Account Management (Advanced Sales Leads and Orchestration tools)
  • Contact and Relationship Management (advanced CRMs)
  • Sales activity management
  • Sales forecasting
  • Mobile applications, such as Mobile CRM, Field Rep Performance Management
  • Sales and Revenue Generation Reporting
  • Real-time Partner relationship management (PRM)
  • Order Management (Invoicing, CPQs)
  • Post Sales Activities management

According to Act.com, Sales automation tools are meant to assist sales teams in the selling process.

A sales software tool like Hubspot allows you to put prospecting on autopilot, and free up more time to close leads with sequences and workflows.

According to McKinsey, sales automation enhances the quality of customer engagement by virtue of prolonged customer-facing time, higher customer satisfaction, efficiency improvements across sales, and sales sub-tasks.

Without sales automation, managing the core functionalities will consume a lot of time. It is going to affect performance, profits, and overall product/service cycle’s efficiency. Automation can not only ease up the job of sales executives and managers but can also accelerate productivity and achieve maximum ROI. It also assists in acquiring real-time data throughout the entire process and keeps the sales rep motivated. Automation in the sales field is on the rise and as per an independent market intelligence report, it will grow to $8 billion by 2023. If applied properly, sales automation in organizations could improve overall productivity and ROI. As such, field sales executives can focus on what they do best i.e. selling while automating all other repetitive tasks.

Data-Driven Sales and Simplified Sales Operations

According to studies, internet users generate about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. Sales automation can not only improve your sales efficiency by eliminating the volume of manual tasks but also streamline recurring activities and ensure the entire sales management runs water-tight.

How does automation help?

This graphical representation provided by McKinsey can help SDRs better understand what part of their tasks can be automated.

Opportunities exist all along the sales value chain
Opportunities exist all along the sales value chain [Source: McKinsey]
With this huge amount of data, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can be set to automate and enhance digitized processes. Here, ML and AI are of significance as 91% of data entered into internal databases is incomplete, making it much harder for the staff to pursue leads. Sales executives with the use of AI-powered analytics tools understand their customers and develop data-driven sales strategies for maximum conversions. While businesses are forming data-driven strategies, field sales executives can focus on being in the field. Easy, remote access to such enormous and critical data allows them to stay up to date in real-time and concentrate on customer’s feedback/concerns promptly. Collectively, sales executives get access to whole customer information, product portfolio, stay motivated and improve productivity.

Time Management

Research shows that only 22% of sales reps use any sort of time management methodology. And 27% of sales professionals waste more than an hour per day on data entry. For them, the automation of repetitive tasks can lead to better organizing and monitoring sales reports. It is also reported that around 80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the meeting. While 14% of the time is spent on prospecting, 13% on managing existing accounts, and 13% on connecting with customers.

Sales executives and managers can mitigate such hurdles by creating and keeping track of appointments and setting up auto-reminders. For the fieldwork, they would also be able to deploy advanced GPS, which allows salespeople to reach their destinations on time and save a ton amount of time.

Sales rep task time allocation
Source: Act.com

Customer Experience

According to the latest projections, over 95% of customer engagements will involve artificial intelligence by 2025. With machine learning deployed to learn from ever-growing consumer data, sales managers and executives can provide proactive, smart, integrated, and convenient interactions for the customers. Tracking and analysis of customer data help salespeople to improve prospects and better understand customer’s demographics, order patterns, and preferences. The better experience will also guide marketers towards excellent campaigns to generate advantageous prospects.

Decision Making

Sales agents struggle most with prospecting (37%), closing (28%) identifying the lead (18%), and qualifying leads (17%). It is also cited that the biggest issues with prospecting are setting up appointments (14 %), the consistent cadence of contact across channels (13%), reaching the right stakeholder (12%), creating targeted strategies (12%), and lead qualification (10%). With automation implemented at processes, field salespeople can make sure that field sales data goes to the management in the right way, in real-time, notifying issues beforehand. Saving a lot of time, managers can respond to any challenges without disrupting the working pipeline. As a consequence, the sales review will turn out more positive, and in the long term, improve trust and relationships.

Sales Forecasting

According to research from LinkedIn, an estimated 24% of forecasted deals within a sales funnel will eventually go dark. With the help of sales forecasting automation software, managers understand previous and current sales trends while keeping their eyes out for opportunities. Using ML and AI, sales teams can make predictions about their sales forecast and provide managers with relevant insight into the revenue pipeline. They will be able to foresee revenue contracts, book revenue for guidance, and much more with intelligent predictive capabilities offered by the Sales Force Automation Platform.

Automation has helped many field sales executives to become more productive and efficient. They can now see more, do more, understand more, and achieve more. With automation, they can increase sales closure and reduce administration time. In the future, automation will further simplify the sales process and increase productivity and efficiency.