What's Sales Force Automation (SFM)?
Sales force automation (sometimes called sales automation) is all about streamlining repeatable sales processes to improve the sales management, day-to-day activities of sales representatives, and the experience for the customers. The goal for SFA is to simplify the sales process and reduce the number of repetitive manual tasks that require human attention.
What's the Difference Between SFA & CRM?
You might have seen terms like SFM and CRM flying around, and you might be wondering what are they and if there's any difference between them. Let's find out.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM can be a complex system that combines many different aspects of marketing, sales, and customer service. Besides the functionalities that are related to automation, it also helps to track customer interactions throughout the customer journey, analyse data, provide insights, and opportunities for improvement.
Sales Force Automation (SFA)
SFA can be either a functionality of a CRM system or a process that has been designed to automate specific sales tasks by combining separate tools. It focused purely on sales activities that lead to new customer acquisition and often includes prospecting, qualification, appointment scheduling, and more.
How to Use Sales Force Automation in Inbound Sales?
Inbound sales requires sharing high-quality content to generate demand. This step shouldn't be automated since you want to present your subject matter expertise that's valuable to your audience. Doing that helps to grow your business organically and attract visitors potentially interested in your offerings. This is when sales force automation comes in and converts that traffic into conversations and conversations into customers.
Why is Sales Force Automation Important?
All of the repetitive tasks will soon be automated because they waste time that could be spent more productively. Imagine having more time to do things that differentiate your business from the competition, build better relationships with your customers through meaningful conversations, and close more deals. When done right, sales force automation can help you to significantly increase revenue.
What're the Benefits of Sales Force Automation?
When it comes to using chatbots, there are many benefits that businesses can take advantage of. Sales force automation makes sales easier and more effective by saving time and streamlining common sales processes, all of which have an impact on your bottom line. Let's take a look at some of the main benefits from the sales team perspective:
Decrease Customer Acquisition Costs
The cost of acquiring new customers can be extremely high when companies use outdated sales processes to manage their sales channels. Automating some of the time-consuming, repetitive tasks helps to reduce overhead since they're performed faster and without the need for continuous human attention.
Improve Sales Team Productivity
It is extremely difficult to track customer behavior across channels without the help of an integrated system. A salesperson might have to log into various tools to track the status of interaction with every single customer. Having all of the conversations in one place, and automating some of them improves your team's productivity.
Reduce Response Times
Customers expect immediate responses to their enquiries. The longer it takes you to respond to customer needs the worse results you're going to get. Automating responses can help to greatly reduce the time for the customer to receive an accurate response to their query.
Gain Valuable Insights Into Customer Wants & Needs
If you're not monitoring customer activities in real-time, you may be missing out on potential sales opportunities. Aggregating this information can help you to see patterns in customer behaviours to enable better adaptation to their wants and needs, help to better plan your sales efforts, and grow your business faster.
Chances of making a mistake by a human representative grow proportionally with the time spent on performing a task. Keeping track of all the necessary steps, and their sequence can be tedious, and automating common sales activities saves time on manual repetition and reduces the chance for errors to occur.
What're the Common Pitfalls of Sales Force Automation?
Automating sales activities can cause some problems, especially when you don't know exactly what should happen at each stage of the sales cycle. Let's go through them to make sure that your business is not harmed by the potential negative consequences of doing it poorly.
Automating Inefficient Processes
You can think of sales force automation as a magnifying glass for the repeatable sales processes you've established. This means that it amplifies both good and bad parts, so if you don't have a proper process in place, automating it won't bring positive results since it'll enlarge existing problems.
High Implementation Costs
Although sales force automation software can help you reduce costs over time, it sometimes requires a significant upfront investment, that can move the benefits into the distant future. Unless you are a big enterprise that can afford bespoke development, it's usually better to leverage an off-the-shelf solution for your industry.
Losing Human Touch
It's important to remember to automate only relevant tasks and processes to gain the benefits and enable human-to-human connection for the right reasons. By trying to automate everything you risk losing human connection with your customers, and this is not something that will help you to grow in the long run.
How Does Sales Force Automation Software Work?
Sales force automation is performed by automation software that includes workflows and reports. It simplifies contact management, opportunity management, and task management by having the complete history of customer interactions stored in one place. Once the automation process is set in motion, it runs on its own without requiring any manual intervention.
What're the Key Sales Tasks and Processes to Automate?
Intelligent chatbots are now equipped with cognitive abilities that enable them to communicate using natural language and automate some inbound sales activities on their own. While this might sound pessimistic to some sales professionals it's worth keeping in mind that the sales tasks smart chatbots are automating tend to be the same tasks today's sales professionals hate doing.
Chatbots can be helpful to offload human representatives from tedious and repetitive tasks that suck their time and energy and let them focus on things that matter most, building relationships with customers and closing deals. There are many problems that sales professionals face every day that can be efficiently solved by a chatbot before it makes space for human-to-human connection.
Answering Common Questions
In many cases product- and service-oriented companies tend to not show costs the prices on their websites, because there are many variables and every solution is different. This statement might be true, but customers will continue to look for this information elsewhere, and whoever answers these types of questions first, in many cases in the one who will be given a chance to fulfill their need.
It's usually possible to discuss the question of variable costs and talk about how the pricing model works in your company and potentially how it differs from other solutions available on the market. You can also explain the factors that might influence cost savings and other elements that can push the costs up. All of this demonstrates openness, helps to build relationships and establish trust.
Answering these types of questions can be easily automated by a knowledge base chatbot, which will help your customers to get the precise answers they're looking for quickly, enables scalability across channels, and off-hours support while saving the time of a human representative and letting them focus on things that matter most. This is a win-win situation for both buyers and sellers alike.
The ability to automate inbound sales activities has revolutionised the way many companies operate. Sales teams are now capable of automating their inbound sales efforts thanks to the rise of messaging and chatbots, both of which allow them to engage and qualify prospects through conversations in real-time.
Instead of slowing down and calling or sending emails to lists of potential buyers, waiting for replies, and risking disturbing uninterested people you can now automate the process of evaluating prospects that are interested in the areas relevant to your business based on their needs, considering how well they fit your offerings to save time on visitors that are not going to result in a sale.
Whether you're at the beach or stuck in a meeting a sales qualification chatbot can step in and qualify prospects for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While it can streamline the process and make everyone's life easier it's worth remembering that it does not replace a real human being, so you still need to be able to engage in real-time conversations with some customers that have special needs.
After you have established that the prospect fits well your offerings it's best to progress the conversation further and let them book an appointment for your services. Depending on the type of your business you should let your customers choose to schedule an appointment either at your establishment or the location of their choice within your area of operation.
In an ideal scenario, every conversation will end in a closed deal, but the next best possibility is to either connect the prospect to a salesperson in real-time or schedule a meeting if no one is available at that moment. This way you can further clarify the details, and create a tailored offer that better suits the more specific or unusual needs of the client.
All you have to do next is to integrate the calendars of your business representatives with the various types of appointments depending on your needs. In the simplest form, this would be a calendar of a person who deals with customer enquiries and another one that is responsible to perform the actual service. After the initial setup, you can wait for the meetings to start to appear in the relevant calendars.
An appointment scheduling chatbot does all of that and takes care of sending out confirmations and reminders to both sides automatically so you don't have to remember about sending them. You can also set preferences for every type of appointment and control which days and times you make available for your clients to book time with your representatives to have everything under control.
Salespeople have to complete many activities associated with inbound selling, and some of them are as tedious as manual data entry. When asked about what the most annoying aspect of their job is they often mention having to manually update records in the database after every single conversation they have with a customer. Instead of concentrating on building relationships, they have to waste their time and energy on manual and labour intensive tasks that can easily be automated.
After adopting a conversational approach to inbound selling the need for manual data entry disappears completely allowing for sales reps' productivity to skyrocket. When you have qualifying conversations and appointments handled by a chatbot you don't need to manually record every detail, a conversational business platform can do that for you and make all the necessary information like names, addresses, etc. available to you at any time.
You can also have transcripts of all the conversations you've had with clients attached to their records. Having all of the information collected about the past interactions colocated in one convenient location makes it extremely easy to access whenever the need arises. Best of all, it happens automatically, without the need for any human attention.
It might seem challenging to set up a new real-time communication channel especially when you wish to also automate it with chatbots. The common question that quickly arises is how to efficiently route an influx of different conversations to the most appropriate sales representatives. This can quickly become even trickier when your business has several locations covered by separate teams.
To solve this you need to set up rules to route visitors not only depending on their interests, but also based on their location, and sales reps' availability, and make sure that prospects are distributed evenly among them. This helps to ensure that your staff members are treated fairly, and your customers have the best experience possible by being routed to the available salesperson as soon as possible.
A chatbot isn't just some passive tool, it actively engages with potential customers through real-time conversations, can show a little bit of your personality, and progress the conversation from the initial encounter to closing the deal. It can also collect useful information about your customers allowing your sales team to learn more about them, better adapt to their needs, and improve the sales process.
By integrating your business with a conversational business platform you can use an intelligent routing system to connect visitors to the right business representatives, qualify potential buyers in real-time, schedule appointments, and capture all the important details. All of these are available to your customers even when sales reps are asleep, or on vacation.
Chatbots seamlessly convert incoming traffic into conversations and then conversations into booked appointments all the time. By performing these types of sales tasks chatbots allow salespeople to focus more of their time on doing what they do best, building better relationships with customers through one-to-one conversations, and closing more deals.