AI For Sales, Artificial Intelligence, Future of Work

7 parts of your sales process you should automate

AI For Sales, Artificial Intelligence, Future of Work

Editor’s note: this guest post is from our friends at Mailshake. Like us, they value maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of emails. Enjoy their list on the essential parts of your sales process you should automate to kill your team’s outdated sales rituals. Stay tuned for our follow up on their blog in May.  

Research from HubSpot found that the average sales rep spends just a third of their day talking to prospects. The rest of their time is spent on tasks like prospecting, writing emails, entering data, and scheduling calls.

This is recent data – from last year – so why, in 2017, were sales reps still spending so much time on administrative-type tasks when there are so many faster, better ways of doing things?

The fact is, common sales processes can easily be automated to improve efficiency, productivity, and performance. And that will ensure you’re focused on the right objectives, instead of wasting time on tedious and routine tasks. The more you can integrate technology into your sales process, the more time you’ll have to actually make more sales.

Here are 7 parts of your sales process you can (and should) be automating.

1. Finding Prospects

Finding qualified prospects – i.e. companies and their respective decision makers who would benefit from your product – is an essential part of the sales process. It can also be incredibly time-consuming.

While manual prospecting is uber-effective in terms of ensuring every prospect on your list is highly-qualified and detail-rich, when there are so many tools that can speed up this process and still get you great leads, it really isn’t worth the time.

-Head Reach will find targeted decision makers, alongside their respective social media profiles and emails.

-Lime Leads lets you search a database of over 20 million B2B contacts (along with their email and phone numbers).

-LinkedIn can be leveraged to build highly-targeted prospect lists.

You can also save tons of time by learning how to effectively scrape the search results.

Whatever tool you choose, it’s fair to say that you will need to leverage a certain amount of human intelligence when it comes to sorting and analyzing the results. However, there’s no good reason for any sales rep to still to be prospecting entirely by hand in 2018.

2. Lead Scoring

Not all leads are created equal. Things like budget and where they are in the sales funnel impact how valuable a lead they are, and how much time should be assigned to nurturing that lead at that time.

This is why it’s common practice for sales teams to assign quality scores to leads. It helps reps prioritize who to contact and how much time to set aside for them – whether that’s time for sending emails, making a phone call, or visiting someone in person.

Lead prioritization automation is built into tools like Salesforce, which will score leads based on certain criteria, either manually or according to a set of rules.

3. Writing and Sending Outreach Emails…

While there’s a lot to be said for personalization in sales emails, there’s only so much personalization you can do when sending outreach emails at scale.

This is in part where lead scoring comes in.

You’re wasting time if you’re sending leads with very low scores highly-personalized emails, but you’re missing a trick if you don’t put in the extra effort for a lead that’s close to converting.

In all cases, however, you should be using templates.

We’ve included a number of outreach templates in Mailshake that we’ve tried and tested and know work. That said, we always encourage you to make these templates your own – after all, do you want to risk sending the exact same email as a competitor?

4. …And Following Up on Those Emails

Ask five people how many follow-up emails you should send, and chances are that each one of them will give you a different answer. What they will probably all agree on, however, is that you should be automating your follow-ups using email sequences.

This means that follow-up emails will be sent automatically after a set amount of time, to prospects who haven’t responded. If they don’t reply again, another follow-up will be sent after another set time period, and so on (depending on how many emails you add to your sequence).

In all cases, the sequence will end automatically should a prospect reply.

This is something that’s really easy to do using Mailshake. We’ve even built in the ability to detect autoresponders, to make sure no opportunities get missed.

5. Call Logging and Note Taking

The impact of note taking on listening skills in educational settings has been widely studied (you can see one of the more recent studies here), and it kind of just makes sense that the findings will apply to any situation in which we’re expected to listen or speak and take notes at the same time.

The fact is that if reps are taking notes while making calls, it will be impossible for them to be fully engaged in the conversation.

At a minimum, calls should be recorded for reps to review and take notes accordingly once they wrap up. Better yet, use a tool like Voice Base or Vocalmatic to automatically transcribe calls on your reps’ behalf.

6. Scheduling Meetings

There are multiple tools and plugins that remove the back-and-forth and allow meetings to be scheduled in a few clicks. There is literally no good reason to do things the old-fashioned way.

If you’re still emailing prospects, asking when’s a good time for them, and waiting to hear back, only to find out that what works for them doesn’t work for you, then going back to square one – it’s time to stop.

Basic scheduling tools can integrate with your calendar and allow you to arrange meetings.

A more sophisticated solution, like x.ai, is even more advantageous for salespeople, as it uses artificial intelligence to communicate with leads and automatically schedule meetings for you. More importantly, it boasts features perfectly tailored to specific parts of the sales communication process, like their “Meet Without Me” feature, which lets an SDR schedule a meeting between a prospect and an account executive without attending themselves. Of course, x.ai also offers custom analytics and reporting designed to improve your time management and productivity for your sales team.

7. Reporting

Sales reporting has historically been a clunky and painful procedure forced upon account managers, who can easily waste hours each month collating data in custom spreadsheets and sharing it with their superiors.

In fact, many companies still operate in this way.

They really shouldn’t be.

Sales reporting should be automatable in any CRM. Alternatively, you can create custom dashboards in Google Analytics, or better yet, use Google’s Data Studio (it’s still in beta, but it’s awesome – reports are live, interactive, and can even be branded).

In fact, when it comes to numbers, everything should be automated – the only thing you shouldn’t be automating in your reporting is your analysis and commentary.

Are there any other parts of the sales process you think should be automated? Any tools you’d recommend that we didn’t mention? Tweet @mailshake and @xdotai to let us know what we missed!

About the author: Sujan Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency helping companies leverage the latest and greatest marketing strategy to fuel their businesses. In addition to running his marketing agency Sujan is also a partner at a handful of SaaS businesses, including Quuu.coNarrowLinktexting.com & Mailshake. His SaaS companies help 10,000+ marketers scale their social media, mobile marketing and content marketing efforts.

Lead image via widewalls