Great people will always be the foundation for sales success.
But the successful use of automation is becoming critically linked to the future of sales.
Those teams too slow to integrate automation technology into their sales process will miss out on precious efficiencies.
Sales automation tactics can help sales leaders and teams to get more timely, relevant, and actionable data.
When harnessed correctly, these automatically generated insights can help you generate more leads, convert more sales, and retain more customers.
Interest in AI and automation innovation within the sales industry is not new. Max Altschuler, CEO and Founder of Sales Hacker, Inc., flagged the impending impact of AI on sales while speaking to Pipedrive in late 2016:
“The emergence of AI supporting sales has become a real thing, but it’s there for support, not there to replace. I’m not quite sure if people understand that fully yet. The ones that get it, and do it right, will see the results.” - Max Altschuler, CEO and Founder of Sales Hacker
There has been steady progress in the development of AI and sales automation technology in the past 18 months and early adopters have been experimenting to find the best ways to harness automation in a practical sales management context.
Sales processes take time to refine and perfect, but it's easy to see how automation can help you and your team stay on top of opportunities and close sales more efficiently.
There are some common concerns about the use of automation in sales. This article is designed to make it easier for you to understand the potential impact of this technology on the sales industry, how you can prepare for the future of sales AI, and how you and your team can start integrating simple automation technology to speed up your process.
Should you be worried about using automation?
The fear of automation technology and its impact on sales roles is reasonable.
In his Global Sales Performance Review of 2017, Pipedrive's CEO Timo Rein explains that AI-enabled computers are already replacing people to complete sales tasks for lower-value purchases in transactional industries.
It's natural to ask yourself: Will sales AI leave millions of salespeople without jobs?
The short answer: NO!
The longer answer is that AI won't reduce the need for quality salespeople.
Instead, AI (and automation in particular) will provide sales reps with insights faster by spotting patterns, trends, and signals in the sales process. This will help salespeople engage with prospects more effectively, deliver personalized experiences, and work more productively.
Ultimately, salespeople will have to spend less time on administrative tasks like data entry, lead scoring, and emailing, leaving more time for what they're best at: putting their talent, charisma, and empathy into human interaction and building relationships with prospects and customers.
Automation will become your time-saving virtual sales assistant
Automation tools have the power to turn the sales process from being driven by intuition into a proactive, data-driven journey.
AI can help you go beyond the "what" of the data and into the "why", helping you to find cues in the form of customer actions. This will give you precious insight into why one prospect might be more lucrative than another.
This means your sales team can save the time you previously spent chasing down the wrong deals and trying to understand why they were the wrong deals to chase.
If you use automation and AI correctly, you will have more time left to focus on selling with targeted communication and the help of added value in every interaction.
The human skills AI cannot replace are amplified by this technology.
The best salespeople will thrive in an AI-enabled sales world that will shorten the sales process and simplify sales management.
How should I prepare myself and my team for this future?
Automation technology has huge power and potential impact - both on your sales team and on you as their manager.
Treat this rapid advance in technology as an opportunity, not a threat.
You have many roles to play as a sales manager. You need to act as a leader, an advisor, and a coach. You also need to develop the ability to become a data analyst that looks for strengths and weaknesses based on your team's performance.
You have to motivate your sales team and continually identify priority areas to help each team member consistently upgrade their skills.
In short: you need to make sure your team learns how to become top performers, and that takes time.
Insights you can gather with smart use of new technology can give you the ability to standardize and unify processes, train your team more effectively, and make them more efficient and productive.
You can prepare for using automation tech by doing the following three things.
- Identify where your time goes - A survey by Accenture reported that more than half of a manager's time is spent on administrative coordination and control. For you, this could mean the bulk of your time goes towards gathering data like KPIs, activities, and performance stats and building them into spreadsheets. You can identify unskilled administrative tasks draining your productivity and use your new virtual assistant to ease this burden and free you up to work on more strategic projects.
- Outline the sales process - An AI-based tool can only enhance your sales process if you already have a clearly defined and effective structure in place. For example, you should have a clear picture of where your leads tend to come from, the stages they typically go through, and how long it takes them to move through your sales pipeline. Ask your team about aspects of the process they want to automate and offload, as well as activities they wish they had more time for.
- Prepare for restructuring the roles - Expect automation to cut down on manual and time-consuming tasks, which means the job description for a sales rep that was valid a year ago may no longer be optimal. Take the time to discuss the potential changes in routines with your team and revisit the way you measure their performance. For example, a new automation tool might help them weed out low-potential leads, which will reduce the number of leads they focus on, but it might significantly shorten the time needed to close the average deal.
What automation tools are available for my use now?
Automation can help you transform many different areas of your sales process, so here are some ideas for you to start testing out to make sure you and your team are maximizing your time-saving opportunities.
Use smart contact data technology to automate background research
You can use artificial intelligence technology to automatically collect and organize all the publicly available information your leads share online. The Pipedrive CRM includes a Smart Contact Data feature that allows you to retrieve lead profile data and build a clearer picture of your potential customer - all you need to do is enter your lead’s email address, then let Pipedrive’s inbuilt technology do the work.
The key advantages Pipedrive’s Smart Contact Data feature gives your team:
- Learning more about your contacts
- Pre-qualifying leads
- Shortening webforms for higher conversion
- Hours of manual research are performed instantly
That last point is bold for a reason. Pipedrive’s Smart Contact Data feature was specifically designed to help you save the hours you previously spent sifting the web for information on your leads.
Synchronize your phone system with your lead profiles
Integrating your CRM with automation technology can make phone calls so much easier to track and manage for your sales team. Pipedrive’s CRM has a number of integration partners that allow you to automatically save phone call data to the relevant lead profile in your pipeline.
Specifically, you can integrate Aircall with Pipedrive to call your prospects and synchronize your caller history automatically. With screen-pop capabilities you can know who’s calling or you can simply click-to-dial to call a prospect directly from Pipedrive. This allows your sales team to log all your calls, take notes and access everything directly from Pipedrive.
Integrate your project management system with your sales CRM
If you need to manage projects after a deal has been won, or even if need some project management during a specific stage in your pipeline, you can use Trello’s PM system to integrate with Pipedrive’s CRM to make these processes effortless.
You can set up a rule in Trello that automatically creates a card, triggered by an event of your choice in Pipedrive. Set it up so that the moment a deal is marked as won, a Trello card with contact details, deal history, and organization information appears in a Trello board of your choice.
The Pipedrive-Trello integration allows you to:
- Attach information from Pipedrive to relevant cards in Trello
- Add rules to auto-create new cards based on Pipedrive events
- Share deals, persons and organizations to a Trello board
Use Zapier to integrate all of your apps and tools with your CRM
Most sales teams use a variety of tools to manage things like live chat, project management, task management, phone calling and reporting. Your sales CRM needs to act as the hub for all of your customer data, but making sure relevant sales info moves through all of your different tools and stays updated on your CRM takes precious time.
Zapier is a workflow automation tool that lets you easily connect all of these tools and apps allowing you to do away with low-value work so you can focus your time on relationships and customers.
If you’re using Pipedrive to manage your sales process, Zapier allows you to integrate over 1000 apps with your CRM system.The Pipedrive-Zapier integration has been recently upgraded to make your reporting and monitoring even more powerful. Now you can you can set up specific workflows for when deals, people, organizations, and activities match the filters you set on Pipedrive.
Zapier can auto-capture new prospects into Pipedrive from lead ads or form apps, rank them with AI-driven lead scoring, and add them to the appropriate email marketing lists — all without any manual effort.
How To Automate Pipedrive with Zapier
- Sign up for a Pipedrive account, and make sure you have a Zapier account.
- Try some pre-made Pipedrive integrations and learn more about how Pipedrive works with Zapier.
- Check out our Pipedrive help documentation for details on connecting your account and setting up your first Zap.
- Or login and build a custom workflow with Pipedrive and Zapier.
Start integrating automation into your sales process now
The early automation adopters are set to reap the greatest rewards. Time-saving opportunities are available to innovative sales managers prepared to invest in this new technology. If you have a structured sales process, you can start to incorporate build a new automation virtual assistant for your business right now.
You’re ready to save time on admin and management and empower your team to focus on their irreplaceable skills to build rapport, inspire trust, and solve problems for their customers.