A sales process gives you a game plan for converting leads into customers.
With the right system in place, you can keep prospects organized, ensure you’re reaching out at the right time, and build strong relationships with customers that will last for years to come.
Unfortunately, following through with a sales process takes time.
There are dozens of little steps in the process of connecting with leads and convincing them to buy––and when you have multiple prospects in your sales funnel (more on funnel management here), you may be wasting hours each week just trying to get them done.
Those tedious tasks could be costing you. The more time you spend logging sales notes or sending emails, the less time you’re dedicating to finding high-quality prospects and pitching your services.
Thankfully, automating some of those tasks can help.
Sales automation knocks out some of your crucial (yet time-consuming) tasks, giving you more time to focus on what you do best: selling.
There are dozens of ways to use automation to streamline your sales process. Here are five ideas to help get you started.
1. Lead scoring and prioritization
All leads are not created equal. Some people will be ready to buy today while others may never express real interest in purchasing from you. If you treat each lead the same, you’re only wasting your time.
Knowing which is which isn’t always easy––especially if you don’t have the time to spend uniquely nurturing each lead. Instead of manually checking in to see if a lead is prepared to purchase, a lead scoring system can help you identify when it’s time to connect.
A lead scoring system places a specific weight on an individual in your system based on their actions. When a lead engages with a piece of content, reads an email, or interacts with your company in any other way, they will receive a specific number of points.
ActiveCampaign’s lead scoring tool lets you set specific points for each lead engagement.
Points accumulate, letting your sales team know which leads may be closest to making a purchase. Leads with the highest score or who have completed certain tasks should be a priority, while less-involved leads can go further down the list.
Assign weights to your different actions depending on how significant they are to the lead nurturing process. Using a weighted system helps you better prioritize leads to connect at the right time.
For example, if a prospect engages at an in-person event, they should receive more points than a similar lead who only opened an email.
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2. Sales emails and follow-ups
Email is a go-to form of communication for just about any sales professional. Unfortunately, when you’re trying to manage dozens of conversations, it gets difficult to get a good email sales campaign up and running.
It’s hard to stay organized when you’re trying to manually track when to send a follow-up or check in with a lead––and there’s little room for error. If you accidentally reach out to the wrong person, send the wrong message, or miss a follow-up entirely, it could mean a lost sale.
Through automation (for example, by using a CRM), you can put follow-up messages and initial outreaches on autopilot. It even allows you to set specific guidelines, telling the sequence to end, change, or keep going based on how the lead responds (or doesn’t) to your messages.
Set campaigns to auto-run for specific prospects' email addresses.
However, you need to be careful with email automation. You still want each message to be personalized and unique to the customer, so don’t try to create a generic template to send en mass. Instead, spend a few minutes tweaking messages to fit the individual’s needs.
Bonus tip: Use email templates for prospecting and following up. Copying-and-pasting sometimes gets messy and adds an additional step. It also leaves more room for error. Creating and saving templates helps you pop in the right information and messaging whenever you need it.
3. Scheduling calls and meetings
There are few things that waste time like trying to schedule a meeting. You suggest a time, the prospect comes back with suggestions of their own, and by the time something is scheduled, a week has passed.
As more and more time goes by, a prospect may begin losing interest in what you’re offering––or worse, they may connect with a competitor while you’re wasting time trying to nail down a meeting.
A scheduling tool removes the time-sucking communication that goes into trying to get a meeting or call set-up. Instead, you just need to share a link to your calendar or available time slots. From there, leads and prospects are able to select a time that works for their schedule.
Copper’s meeting scheduling feature lets leads or customers choose from available time slots in your schedule.
You can also set restrictions to your calendar, so you don’t have to worry about double-booking or a prospect scheduling during other commitments. This keeps your calendar full and organized––as if you had your own personal assistant.
Bonus tip: Use your scheduling tools to send automatic reminders or updates about upcoming meetings or calls, especially if they’re scheduled far in advance. Automatically sending a message to a lead you’re supposed to connect with should help ensure they don’t forget––preventing both of you from wasting your time.
4. Lead list building
Closing sales efficiently all comes down to having a strong lead list. Unfortunately, scouring the web to find individuals or companies who may be interested in your offer is incredibly time-consuming.
Automating your lead list building process does the grunt work for you, giving your sales team a high-quality, defined list of people to reach out to.
To use an automated lead list building tool, you simply provide criteria such as job title, industry, and location, and you’re presented with individuals who match those descriptions. Tools, like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator, pull this information from databases or social media platforms like LinkedIn:
LinkedIn Sales Navigator lets you use an advanced search to find people who meet your unique lead specifications.
While an automated lead list is a great place to start, it’s always best to do a little research on each prospect before reaching out. Put in the effort to make sure their job title, company, and any other information provided is accurate first.
Bonus tip: Dozens of other sales professionals are going to use similar lead lists, so you need to find a way to stand out. When researching each lead, look for a personal connection you can comment on to build an initial relationship.
5. Lead enrichment
Just having a lead’s name and job title probably isn’t going to be enough to close a high-quality sale. In order to make a real connection that leads to a signed contract, you’re going to want to have as much information on the lead, their company, and their industry as possible.
But––like every other task on this list––finding that information takes time. You could easily spend hours of your day just discovering insights about leads and companies.
A lead enrichment tool uses online data sources to help pull information about your leads and the companies they work for, giving you a complete, accurate profile of the individual you’re trying to connect with.
Copper automatically pulls lead data right from your inbox, filling in important information for you.
You don’t want to fully automate your lead enrichment. This is an ongoing process that you should continuously build upon. A CRM will help you keep prospect profiles updated and organized as you continue to learn more and more.
Bonus tip: Make sure other team members are able to build upon the same lead profiles. When everyone is working together to create complete images of each individual, you can create a more comprehensive plan to connect.
Use automation to help you save hours in your sales process.
But be smart when implementing automation into your practices.
Any time you automate a sales process, make sure to keep your eye on how smooth the system is running. Mistakes do happen and if you allow careless errors like sending the wrong follow up message or using the wrong lead name to pass by you, it may ruin your credibility with a potential buyer.
You also need to be careful that your connections with leads and prospects don’t seem overly digitized. If it’s obvious the process has been automated or you’re not properly responding to a contact’s questions or concerns, they may lose faith in your sales process.
Instead, use automation to supplement your current processes and systems. Sales automation should enhance what you’re doing and make your job easier––not completely replace it.
Look for ways to include automation in your entire sales process: start with how you find and get to know your leads, then how you connect with them through emails, meetings, or calls. Finally, use automation processes in lead scoring and prioritization to connect with the right prospects at the right time.
This list is just a start to all the ways you can use automation in the sales process. As you begin to implement more and more automation tools into your process, you can identify new and unique ways to assist you and your sales team where you need help the most.