Multiply your sales reps' output with sales automation software. Get more outbound meetings and inbound leads. Stay on top of your business opportunities, nurture stalled ones and assist your sales process with email sequences, relevant digital ads and automated database management.
What is a sales automation CRM?
There are two types of CRMs on the market: Those that help you log things, and those that help you drive things forward. FunnelBud CRM is like a junior sales assistant helping you nurture leads you're not in touch with, help you structure a guided sales process to drive your sales forward in a methodical way, and let you know when it's time to get back in touch with one of your leads.
Does sales automation work?
When we say sales automation, we are not talking about replacing actual sales people. Rather, effective sales automation software can multiply the efforts of your existing sales people by automating common tasks, helping them nurture all their contacts and assisting their sales process with relevant marketing communication.
Based on our experiences with our customers, we see that the three most challenging parts of managing a B2B sales process are inbound, outbound and nurturing:
- Automated Inbound Lead Management: Can you quickly follow up on your new leads in a relevant way before they lose interest? Can you weed out the most interesting ones for manual follow up?
- Automated Outbound Sales: Can you automate your social outreach and cold calling process?
- Automated Sales Assist: Can you help your sales people nurture those contacts who are not actively engaged in a sales process, and increase the sales process velocity of those who are?
Automating the three above areas will help you:
- Get more meetings and quicker
- Be top of mind with existing contacts
- Stay on top of all your activities and not forget contacts that need to be nurtured
- Strengthen relationships with contacts who are in an active sales process
Sales Automation CRM
An Active but Simple CRM-system like SharpSpring is built to make sales people’s lives easy, streamline sales, and maximize revenue. It’s not meant to be an ERP system. If you want to understand how a ERP differs from a CRM, read this article: Why sales automation is the future of CRM
1. Automate your Inbound Sales process
Inbound Sales is the process of:
- Being visible and attractive to people searching for solutions to their problems online
- Providing valuable insights that help them solve their problems in return for their email address
- Building a relationship between them and your brand by educating them further
- Getting in touch with those who are ready to look at products or services
- Providing you with insights that will help you close the deal
To execute on the above, you need an all-in-one sales and marketing automation software because inbound sales automation integrates sales and marketing in a single coherent process.
You need to work with marketing to define the situations in which your customers start their buying journeys. Together with marketing, you need to define how you can help customers in those situations. Summarize your insights, and market those insights on landing pages, via articles, and on social media. Offer those insights in return for your visitors' email address.
Many companies find this process daunting, but our support team will help you both understand it and execute on it at no extra cost.
Then, you need to nurture leads who download those insights by offering them related follow-up material that can help them analyze, understand and frame their situation in more detail, served via emails, dynamic content on your web, and digital ads. And all the while, you need to measure which content your leads consume, and understand what that tells you about their stage in their buying journey. Use lead scoring, marketing automations and other mechanisms to accomplish this.
Finally, you need to use this information to detect buying signals and get in touch.
After getting in touch, let sales automations support you in the sale with automated reminders, contact insights, and automated marketing communication that adapts based on your contact logs. This multiplies the effort of your reps, increases sales process velocity, and lands more deals.
2. Automate outbound sales and cold calling
Although Inbound Sales as described above is all the rage today, many companies miss out on the great opportunity that outbound marketing still offers. Using technology that helps you mix digital and manual outbound sales, you can get incredible results with outbound that wasn't possible a couple of years ago.
Below are the three most common outbound sales methods our customers use.
2.1. Warm up your prospects before calling them
To succeed with a traditional cold call, you need a lot of luck. Your contact needs to be in the correct mind space, and be in a situation or have a current challenge that your pitch addresses. And preferrably, the contact should know about your company so you start with some level of credibility.
SharpSpring's sales automation software helps you gain this credibility before your call, find the people with the challenges you address, and put them into the right mind space before your call - thereby dramatically decreasing the role of luck and giving you more control. Here's how:
- Tag prospects you want to call with your campaign. If you've done the preparations, the rest will happen automatically.
- Your prospects will start seeing Facebook ads about the challenge you are targeting with your calling campaign, and your brand.
- After a couple of weeks of seeing your ads, your prospect will get an introductory email from you with the same message, with a link where they can read more.
- If they click, you will be notified and can immediately follow up.
- If they don't click, they'll get more ads and then another email where you explain that you'd like to follow up with a phone call during the week. This is better and more pleasant than a standard cold call which comes out of the blue, because you are letting them know who you are before calling.
Only a small percentage of your leads will click your first email. But the ones who do will have a very high likelihood of speaking with you. Already here, your campaign overall is likely to have more conversions than standard "out of the blue" cold calling.
And the call conversion rates for those who did not click will likely also be higher, since you now operate with a level or credibility (your brand is on their radar), and they've seen the message of your pitch in ads and emails before you call. It will also be less annoying for the prospect, who will have been introduced to you. Of course, if they reply to your email, you can remove them from the call list.
By automaticing the cold calling preparation in this way, you can focus your efforts on contacts who are most likely to respond positively, and make your calls more pleasant and likely to convert for the rest.
2.2. Automate outbound follow up
It's not often that you get a yes immediately on the first call. The most common positive scenario is that you get asked to call back or send more information. SharpSpring's CRM can help you here too.
Before calling, prepare an enticing lead magnet - something of value that your prospect can download or get, most commonly a PDF based guide in the area or a great article. Prepare an email with a link to this lead magnet. Send it to prospects who request more information.
The lead magnet should give the contact several paths forward by linking to other resources. In addition, your marketing department should help you nurture the contact by including them in event invitations, webinars and newsletters. (Of course, it should be easy to one-click opt out, you don't want to annoy your contacts nor spend time on someone who is not interested in learning more about the types of situations you help solve.)
This way, SharpSpring keeps you top of mind, and the built in CRM keeps track of your prospects' lead score. When your contact shows signs of buying intent, you are notified and can resume the dialogue.
2.3. Get back in touch before your contacts' renewal dates
Do you work with contacts who have existing contracts with renewal dates, or for other reasons can't make a decision until a certain date? We used to have our trusty rolodexes to keep track of such dates and callback reminders, but what about today?
Imagine having an assistant who follows up with your prospects for you before their renewal dates and tells you when they visit your site. A sales automation platform can do just this. SharpSpring becomes your digital rolodex which can also do the initial follow up work for you.
Just add the date and other relevant information, such as an introduction message in your follow up email. Before the date, SharpSpring sends general product information and starts showing digital ads. A week later, it sends the message you prepared in a personal email from you.
The email can even link to a calendar booking system, so that you simply get a booking in your calendar when they want you to call.
By letting SharpSpring handle your date based follow ups, you not only avoid annoying leads with a series of "how about now?" emails, but the system handles the follow up much more effectively by communicating on multiple channels in a non-interrupting way, and lets you have piece of mind.
3. Aid the sales process with automations
SharpSpring will also allow you to use marketing to help you sell to existing and active contacts and opportunities. Examples of such sales automations are emails sent to contacts who visit certain pages (for example a product page, which might trigger an email offering a demo about the feature), or a sales automation campaign to active opportunities that integrates emails and digital ads.
Below are a few such examples that our customers are using:
- A recruitment firm has a series of guides about topics related to the service their provide. After speaking with a potential customer or get a new lead, the contact gets a series of emails about the topic of interest. When the contact has read a guide, a notification is sent to the designated sales rep, who checks what the contact did and if they should get in touch again to book another meeting about the topic. The guides are well written and meant to educate companies who are about to hire people in certain areas of interest, which raises trust and provides valuable insights to potential customers.
- An enterprise software vendor used to do a Power Point presentation to almost all of their new business opportunities. But they realized that this presentation was so standardized that it could be turned into an online presentation. Today, new business opportunities get an automatic email with a link to watch this presentation online. Because of this, the first meeting is almost always more informative and goes deeper into the customers' actual issues, rather than an initial description of how their products can help them. The video is a great summary of how they help their customers, so it is also frequently shared by recipients to colleagues and other stakeholders. Because of this and other sales automations, their average time to close a deal went from 18 months to 9 months.
- An IT hardware vendor has an e-commerce where their customers can buy hardware replacements and consumables. As their customers purchase products from that e-commerce site, they build a profile over their customers. Based on certain patterns, they can detect when a customer might benefit from a larger solution rather than individual hardware products. Their sales automations send relevant information to customers, and include a call to action where the customer can learn more. Their salespeople then get in touch with those who do read more.
- A business phone solutions provider used to call existing leads 2-3 times to try to book a meeting. When customers didn't pick up the phone, they didn't have a good way to keep trying without annoying their prospects too much. Today, any contact that has been inactive in the CRM for 4 weeks are automatically added to a sales nurturing workflow. The nurturing campaigns invite them to webinars, events and send newsletters. When a contact registers or click a link, they're pushed back into the CRM call list, and followed up by their sales rep. This is helping the company juggle many times the amount of contacts they used to be able to keep in touch with earlier. They have piece of mind that inactive contacts will be nurtured, and they can focus on the interesting ones who are showing active signs of interest.
Do you want to see some more sales automation examples? Click here to check out 6 sales automations you can use today.
Is it really possible to sell automatically?
Probably not, but that's not the purpose of sales automations.
Rather, sales automations are meant to help salespeople be more effective, by acting as their assistant, handle tedious tasks, take care of those hundreds or thousands of contacts that a sales person can't nurture manually, and pass on the hot ones to the rep so that he or she can put all their focus on those that are likely to close.
That way, you ensure that your best sales reps are able to add value where they're best able to do so, with higher higher conversion rates and more sales as the result!
How do sales automations affect the customer experience?
Most sales experts would agree that the better informed a sales rep is, the they were able to answer questions, and the more relevant they could be, the better the customer experience, and as a result the higher the sales.
Sales automations help reps achieve just this!
By taking care of those contacts and leads who are not yet ready to speak with a sales rep, the rep can focus on those who are, and thereby provide higher quality service.
In the cases where the sales automations send automated emails on behalf of the rep, you need to be careful to only send to contacts that the rep does not have an existing relationship, and highly relevant messages based on the contact's profile. But the fact is that by automating such emails, you can create highly compelling, high quality messages that a sales rep just can't consistently produce.
Of course, for any later stage contact, where the rep should use a truly customized message, then automations should only support sales reps passively, by showing for example digital ads and sending marketing emails such as newsletters and webinar or event invites.
By following these principles, your reps can provide higher quality service, more effectively, to more contacts, and thereby improve the customer experience and increase sales.
Sales automations that help you sell more with improved customer experience
Sales automation fields
Add fields that allow you to create sales automations that are highly personalized and timely, for example contract end dates that send emails and show ads before a renewal, interests that send relevant messages, or even a personalized message that is added to your automated emails.
Automated sales sequences
Create email sequences mixed with ads that use your sales automation fields to nurture your leads. Add branching paths to make your sequence highly personalized.
See which emails your contacts open and click, and which pages they visit. Track lead score and get notified when they return to your website. Trigger relevant sales sequences automatically based on their behavior.
Automate based on lead score
Lead scoring can help you pick out the interesting leads that should be followed up manually among a large database of contacts that your system nurtures automatically. Define interesting pages and activities that signal buying intent, and notify sales automatially. Track everyone in an easy to use CRM and pipeline manager.
Try our own demo sales automation!
Do you want to see what Marketing Automation feels like from a customer's perspective? Our 7-week interactive marketing demo will show you exactly that, using fun and interactive emails, videos and screenshots once per seek that adapt dynamically based on what you do. Try it now!
SharpSpring: All-in-one Marketing Automation & CRM with help included
SharpSpring is an easy to use Marketing Automation and CRM solution that helps you get leads, manage your deals, and sell more. Complete with features such as contact tracking, lead scring and automations. Offered by FunnelBud a premium SharpSpring agency, complete with Professional Services and implementation at no extra cost.
Landing pages, newsletters, automations, segments and more. Rather than a bunch of tools - one for newsletters, one for events, one for lead scoring - let SharpSpring manage it all.
Contacts, accounts, business opportunities, pipelines, email sync, reports and more. Integrated with Marketing so you get leads right into the CRM. Work as one team in SharpSpring!
Want to learn more about SharpSpring?
No more juggling multiple tools. All your contacts in one place. Great features that help you get more leads, sell and align your sales and marketing teams. All customer communication saved in one place. Low cost, and Professional Services from SharpSpring experts included to get you going fast. Get in touch with us now and let's talk!