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Sales automation tools streamline repetitive tasks so you can focus on selling. Explore popular solutions and how they can integrate with your CRM in this complete guide.

What Is Sales Automation?

We’ll keep it simple, Sales Automation in the process of leveraging software and artificial intelligence (AI) along with other digital tools to automate time-consuming sales tasks that normally take significant time away from selling activities.

Today’s Sales professions spend just 34% of their time selling.

Salesforce

With that shocking statistic, let’s review the benefits of sales automation. In general, automation can dramatically increase the efficiency of a sales team by automating phone and email outreach, activity management, and ultimately increasing conversions and revenue. Improved efficiency means significantly more time selling.

You’ve felt the pain too, sales teams struggle to keep up with data entry, quote generation, and other tasks that take them away from selling. Automation is perfectly suited to handle these tasks which in turn, increase sales and revenue. 


The Rise Of Sales Automation

The rise of B2B sales automation is directly correlated with the operationalization of data. Let’s be clear: whether B2B leaders realize it or not, AI has penetrated nearly every aspect of common business processes, and sales is no exception. 

Think about it: Traditional sales software applications have long since been deployed in streamlining daily tasks associated with prospecting and pipeline management. But it’s evident that even the most basic applications have been bolstered by the advent of machine learning and AI in new ways — empowering business development professionals to forgo aforementioned non-selling, administrative work. 

By 2020, 30% of all B2B companies will employ some kind of AI to augment at least one of their primary sales processes.

Gartner

Incoming activities were only half the battle, though; advancements in AI and data management helped keep existing information within an organization’s set of applications up-to-date without any manual input. 

As these use cases matured, the next evolution presented itself in the form of what today is known as a sales automation platform. The future promised to consolidate applications supporting sales processes. Finally, sales professionals and leaders found a central hub that integrated essential, but disparate solutions into one place. What’s more, these platforms incorporated the use of B2B contact and company intelligence to help identify, connect with and close the right prospects, at the right time.



Man with briefcase

How Does Sales Automation Work?

Sales automation is the process of automating various steps in your sales process so that your sales reps can focus less on administrative tasks and more on the stuff that really matters: connecting with and selling to your prospects and customers. It also ensures that your sales process is streamlined and uniform while maximizing the efficiency of your sales resources. 

Your team’s sales process is an important asset. You’ve established it so that you have an iterative process for everyone to follow. A sales process also makes it easy for you to identify gaps to improve upon. Sales automation software only makes your sales process more solid by streamlining the quality of certain tasks and freeing up time and energy to spend prospecting and nurturing leads.


Sales Automation Tools

Sales automation tools are types of software that enables companies to automate the sales process. That is, tools that are programmed to do the repetitive tasks that sales reps waste time doing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. 

Sales automation tools are useful because you can choose how much or how little of the sales process you want to have automated. Some tools offer the total sales process, from automated lead research to reporting and team analytics. Other tools are more specialized and focus on one or a few tasks such as automated meeting scheduling. 

The benefits of sales automation tools are numerous, with the biggest selling point being increased productivity of your sales team. 

Businesses who tested automation increased revenue by 32%, and increased conversions by 77% after 12 months.

Ways To Automate The Sales Process

  1. Prospecting – It’s harder than ever to find quality B2B contact information, company insights and leads that will ultimately lead to sale or conversion. Prospecting new leads with automated software increases the quality of contact data, allowing your sales team to target their approach with contact information that’s guaranteed to be 95% accurate! Better yet, the ZoomInfo platform integrates with your techstack to further enrich your leads and provide deeper actionable insights. Learn more about integrations
  2. Engagement – ZoomInfo’s world class data and technology allows for email automation set on specific cadences for target buyers, phone call tracking and automated follow-up tasks to unify your sales efforts. Explore sales acceleration & engagement.
  3. Qualifying Leads – In a perfect world 100% of our leads would convert, but we know the process from top of funnel to conversion is much more complicated. It’s important to qualify each lead and implement a lead scoring methodology to ensure your sales reps are provided with actionable insights with the greatest chance of converting. Learn how you can enrich your leads today. 

Sales Automation + Your CRM

Sales automation tools are often thought of as their own entity, when in reality they are frequently integrated within CRM systems. Sales automation CRM systems are automated, yet they still prioritize the human aspect of selling by ensuring you connect with your best fit buyer. A sales automation CRM not only automates your entire sales process from generating leads all the way to closing deals, it also helps put systems in place to ensure you have repeatable success and revenue. 

  • Currently, only 49% of businesses say they have fully integrated systems. 
  • High-performing sales teams are 2.1 times more likely than underperformers to have these systems in place
  • 81% of sales reps believe it is important to have a connected view of data across the entire customer journey

Sales Automation Core Components & Functions 

There are a host of components that sales automation softwares can help sales reps do in order to make their daily operations more streamlined and boost their actual productivity in terms of generating leads and nurturing customer relationships. 

  • Sales Dialer: With sales representatives making ~50 calls per day and almost 20% of that time is spent leaving voicemails. This creates a large inefficiency that cuts into sales and revenue. Dialers are electronic devices that help automate dialing while calling up prospects. Some tools like the Zoominfo platform are able to  integrate straight into your CRM, this drives further increases in call-to-connect rate and pipeline revenue all while increasing efficiency. 
  • Email Template Creation (including A/B testing elements) With email being a critical component of any lead generation and prospecting strategy, many sales reps and account managers struggle with consistent high-quality content, email engagement and cadence. Before automating this step, sales reps should A/B test various email templates, see what works, define the message that resonates with the target audience and finally implement the targeted go-to-market solution. 
  • Business Contact and Task Management: These automated systems are leveraged to manage tasks, track time, and allow for efficient collaboration between teams. Most importantly automating these operations allows for task reporting, tracking and ensuring you’re up to speed with your contact information and sales operations. 
  • Trigger-based Workflows: Now this is where it gets interesting, leveraging AI and software to identify events and user activity such as abandoning a shopping cart, viewing the same webpage multiple times or a specified combination of web behavior, trigger-based marketing allows for increased customer engagement and revenue. This is achievable because automated workflows are ideal for handling tasks that require large amounts of data, or processes that often are compromised by human error.
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Benefits For Sales Leadership

Sales Automation can help enable sales leadership to be better leaders. Automating various aspects of the sales process allows for sales leaders to keep better track of their teams, as well as helping sales reps carry out their actual jobs. Below are some key ways in which sales leaders benefit from various forms of automation.

  • Process Implementation: Every sales process provides your reps with the talk track and strategies they need to close each deal. These include call scripts, overcoming objections and upselling. Let’s review where sales automation comes in. You can integrate your sales playbook into sales reps’ workflows in your CRM system. This ensures that your sales team will be able to access this information for the right people, at the right time. The more targeted and customized the sales approach is, the more likely  you are to close the deal. 
  • Better response time:  Response time is critical to the successful conversion of every lead. Email automation is one of the many time saving benefits automation can bring to your sales team. If a prospect is showing interest in your product or website, a message should automatically be sent to them, and a sales rep should be notified. 
  • Activity capture: More specific to Salesforce, activity capture tools boost productivity while allowing you to keep your email and calendar synced with Salesforce. It does this by capturing email and events from your Microsoft or Google accounts and adds them to the activity timeline of related Salesforce records. 
  • Task creation: Automating tasks based on priority allows the sales team to know which items should be done over others, if a hot lead should be followed up with, keeping them on track, rather than focused on things that can wait. 

Benefits To Sales Team 

Your salesforce has a large number of daily responsibilities outside of selling which impacts your bottom line. Sales Automation directing impacts the daily operations of your go-to-market strategy. Sales reps have a multitude of daily responsibilities, many of which prevent them from actually being able to reach out to prospects and therefore actually making sales. 

Researching prospects: Tools such as LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator can apply custom filters that search for rich data such as job title and location, and then provide a list of qualified prospects on a regular basis. Insight tools for email retrieves details from prospects’ CRM records, social media profiles, and company, providing you with actionable insights and a better chance of closing the deal. 

Sales Outreach: Sales outreach has never been more efficient. With the right software, reps can automate their outreach processes, follow-ups, and have calls scheduled within one platform. This allows for increased operational efficiency, better lead data and higher close rate. Additionally, things like email automation workflows are designed to nurture potential customers. Email automation is multifaceted and can generate templates for A/B testing, and even alert reps when a lead requests a free trial or demo. 

Administrative work: The main benefit of sales automation is to manage all those small yet repetitive tasks that end up taking up large portions of sales reps’ time. From logging daily activity to setting task reminders for important follow up, the small tasks add up and keep reps from nurturing prospect relationships.


Pain Points Of Sales Automation

Sound too good to be true? Well, as with any kind of technology, there are certain things to be wary of when it comes to automation. For instance, just because something can be automated, doesn’t mean it should be. Below are a few downsides of sales automation. 

  • It can become impersonal: With any kind of automation, you risk losing the human touch. That is, you could end up with some kind of outreach that sounds robotic, cold, and uninviting to the recipient. 
  • Integration: Picking the right automation software can be tricky, and they won’t all integrate with the CRM platforms you currently use. 
  • High investment: Automation platforms are expensive. They are an investment. There’s no getting around that. And maintenance has to be done regularly.
Case study: Hotel Engine increased sales productivity 5x with ZoomInfo, and 3x demos scheduled.

Frequently Asked Questions

A roundup of common question on sales automation applications and best practices.


What are AI applications for sales?

While there tends to be fear around AI, it should be noted that AI in sales is not about replacing people. Sales can be supported on multiple fronts when leveraging AI. Tasks such as time-consuming follow up, nurture campaigns and prospect research can be automated allowing for more time spent on customer interactions and selling. AI can also assist with lead scoring by and remove much of the manual work required for each touchpoint. With AI supporting sales you’ll gain insight into leads more likely to convert. 


What is customer service automation?

Providing  excellent customer service is more important than ever. Customer service automation leverages solutions such as chatbots to increase customer engagement and help centers to provide quick solutions for queries that don’t require human-to-human support. This significantly reduces the human resources required for many aspects of customer service. Transferring these interactions where human support is not required increases operational efficiency and ultimately, revenue. 


How do I automate my sales prospecting process?

As any salesperson knows, spending wasteful amounts of time prospecting the internet can be frustrating, slow and very inefficient. Prospecting isn’t glamorous work and your time should not be spent referencing Linkedin to find accurate B2B contact data. With sales automation supporting many tasks such as sending personalized emails, your team becomes more efficient than ever, allowing you to spend more time selling leading to increases leading to a lift in revenue.

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About the author

Ethan Simmons

Ethan is a content manager at ZoomInfo, the go-to-market leader and sales intelligence solution.

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