How businesses can make the most of sales automation
How can businesses prepare for this automated future?
The first step is to make sure you’re where your customers are. This has always been good practice, but it’s essential for the future of sales communication. As your business grows, you need to make sure direct communication is easy for your customers while keeping those conversations organized and optimized.
The second step is to implement automation where you see opportunities within your processes. You’re looking for conversations with your customers that happen regularly with little variation.
For example, if your sales team often deals with specific repetitive questions (how much will your software cost my team?), perhaps an AI bot on the website can help handle this efficiently (by calculating the team size + needs to determine a realistic price range).
Rather than starting from scratch every time, setting up integrations with tools like Zapier will allow you to use the same automation for all your communication channels, as well as bring multiple different automations under one roof.
New businesses can use automation to kickstart their communication
As a new business owner, there may not be a whole lot of communication going on yet. Your main objective at this stage should be to get more conversations started. The more chats you have with prospective or existing customers, the more revenue you’re going to make.
How can you engage better and faster with your audience?
The traditional solution would be to increase the size of your sales team. To be honest, this will also give you the highest conversion rate from leads to customers. However, it’s also challenging, as well as expensive.
This makes automating your outreach with software like Reply the ideal solution. Sure, it may slightly reduce your conversion rate, but it’s much cheaper than a sales team and will lead to higher overall results in the long run.
Be aware there’s still a limit to what automation can do. It’s not enough to take your inbound leads and just start blasting them with offers and newsletters. You need to engage on a personal level, by sending personalized messages and actually talking with them. Automated systems for handling initial inbound/outbound conversations are great, but you still need to apply the personal touch.
The benefit of sales automation tools comes from not having to deal with time-consuming, repetitive tasks, allowing you to spend more time personalizing your sales engagement.
Don’t underestimate the difference these automated processes can make for small and solo businesses. I recently spoke with a close friend who was using our automation software. He’s an amazing programmer, but he isn’t a businessman. By automating his outreach and follow-ups, he was able to focus on what he enjoys and does best. Now his biggest problem is handling all the new business these processes have brought in.
Established businesses can manage and optimize their communication
What about more established businesses? Your problem isn’t going to be starting conversations with prospective customers. Instead, you have to handle ongoing conversations with existing customers.
As your business grows, you’ll have more conversations happening on social media, over the phone, or by SMS. Remember, many of these channels were designed first and foremost for personal use. That makes them convenient for your users but not so much for your business.
Your goal should be controlling and monitoring the conversations on these messaging channels – numerous opportunities can be found there. Once your company reaches a certain size, you’ll likely need to hire someone to stay on top of this.
With the help of AI, established businesses can easily pick up buying signals to determine which prospects to qualify or not, and which customer journey to place them on. This helps them make smarter decisions by targeting the right prospects and maximizing their revenue.
Ideally, you’ll unify these business channels where possible. You don’t want them going through personal accounts, otherwise, when your social media guy goes on holiday you could be in trouble.
At a higher level, AI can also handle some of the more basic but time-consuming tasks. Software like Ahoy.ai can intelligently arrange and book meetings, something that traditionally takes weeks of frustrating emails and missed calls back and forth.
Small businesses can take advantage of automation thanks to the low cost of entry
Despite what you may have heard, automation doesn’t have to be expensive.
Many automation providers scale the cost of their solution based on usage, which means it can be very cheap for those just starting out. Typically you can implement basic automation software from $17/mo, and for anywhere between $50-$100/mo, you could have a smart, effective automation system in place.
Still on the fence? Count how many hours your team spends answering emails each day.
It’s horrifying, right?
All that time spent going through inboxes, reading emails, and composing replies. If automation can reduce that by just 5%, then it’s already a huge benefit. And as AI continues improving, so will the amount of time saved.
These systems will soon be able to build and optimize themselves over time, learning from your sales team and picking up on contextual rules. In turn, they’ll improve their own understanding and ability to compose readable answers from a growing knowledge base.
If this all sounds a bit far-fetched, it’s important to realize this is already happening. Big companies are producing and implementing their own solutions. But very soon, generic solutions will be available off the shelf, ready for use by companies of all sizes.
Large and enterprise businesses rely on sales automations to stay competitive
Back in the day, large and enterprise businesses were the first to take advantage of automation due to its initial high cost. Nowadays, they rely on them even more in their own unique ways. It may be easier for them to attract customers, but the standard of operations is much higher.
These businesses’ landing pages, blogs, social media accounts, and so on get massive traffic – it becomes much harder to identify real lead opportunities to qualify. AI analyzes visitors, makes intelligent suggestions, and finally scores them based on how likely they are to become customers, allowing businesses to focus their resources efficiently.
These algorithms also work great for existing customers, showing large and enterprise firms who to upsell and cross-sell to, which is usually a huge chunk of their revenue.
Enterprise sales teams are extremely challenging to manage. Thanks to AI analytics and data-based predictions, sales leaders can track their reps’ progress, see who’s going to hit their set quotas, and jump in when necessary to make sure team productivity remains at max levels.