Here’s a question: How should sales teams spend their time? If your answer was anything other than “selling,” you’re in the wrong business. But as it turns out, that’s not how most teams operate. A recent study shows reps spend just about a third of their day selling. A full 21% of their day is spent writing emails, 17% is spent entering data, 12% is going to internal meetings, and another 12% is spent scheduling calls.

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That means it's really important that your reps' days are optimized for efficiency and, well, selling. There are two primary ways to ensure that sales teams actually have time to sell:

  1. Make sure the right teams own the right tasks.
  2. Decrease the time spent on “non-sales” tasks, or better yet, automate them.

Your company's organizational structure might not be up to you, so you might not be able to fix this first point. But you can certainly take steps today to act on the second -- introducing automation into other parts of your sales process, like an automated email prospecting system (just make sure your emails are still relevant and personalized!).

Sales force automation, sometimes referred to as SFA, is a crucial way to augment the usefulness of your CRM. Your CRM manages the lifecycle of customer interactions and data during the your buyer's journey. Sales force automation tools exist to increase sales team efficiency.

These tools and integrations might decrease the amount of data entry your salespeople are responsible for by automating much of the entry process. Or they might make phones calls easier and faster by offering a single click dial that automatically transcribes and enters that transcription into your CRM. There are many sales force automation platforms and tools out there. Which one will make your sales organization's lives easier?

Sales Force Automation Examples

So, what does sales force automation look like in action? Here are a few examples.

1. Reporting automation

At HubSpot, our sales teams get a daily morning digest with all the data they need to know for the day -- from high-level team results to deal status and rep productivity. The dashboard distribution sets up friendly competition and ensures that reps are holding themselves and each other accountable. In addition, it saves valuable time -- no more pulling data manually, screenshotting charts, and attaching those reports to individual emails.

How to get started:

If you're keeping data in Excel or Google Sheets, automating your reporting won't be easy. You might be able to set something up, but chances are it'll get complex quickly.

If you're using a CRM, consult the system's help documentation to determine how best to set up an automated email schedule for your reports. If you use HubSpot CRM, build out your first sales dashboard now.

2. Sales lead automation

Lead comes in. Lead sits in database until sales manager has time to check on it. Sales manager looks at lead and, without any defined method, assigns it to rep of his choice.

Does that situation sound familiar? Sales managers often spend too many hours manually rotating leads. That time should be spent coaching reps and helping close deals.

How to get started:

First, create a standard set of criteria for lead rotation -- something more than just a "gut" test. Is your team divided into territories? If so, document the specific boundaries of each region.

Once you're satisfied with your criteria, use the lead rotator or round robin tool within your CRM to divvy up leads according to your plan.

3. Lead prioritization automation

Much of a rep’s time is spent sourcing leads. But once you have a list of target accounts, how do you know which ones to call first?

Not all leads are created equal: Certain behavioral and demographic characteristics make some much more likely to close than others. It's crucial that you automate your prioritization process to make sure the best leads get the first follow-ups -- without spending hours poring through the data yourself.

How to get started:

Utilize an automated lead scoring system. Assign scores to your leads based on your own criteria, or utilize a system that predicts likelihood to close for you. Once you have your scores, create views of leads with the highest scores / propensities to close, and call those leads first. If you keep your marketing database separate from your CRM, set up an integration between the two to ensure that the best leads pass seamlessly between the two systems.

4. Record creation automation

Here’s how sales reps often divide their days: For every two hours spent selling, they spend an hour on CRM administration -- creating contacts and companies, logging tasks to follow up on, creating opportunities, and associating them with records. Newsflash: If you can cut down on that hour of admin work, you'll sell more.

How to get started:

Explore the workflow automation section of your CRM.

If you're not sure which processes to automate, here are a few to get you up and running:

  • Create a task whenever a lead visits the pricing page.
  • Create a deal when a contact fills out a demo form on your site.
  • Create a task to follow up when a contact's trial is expiring.

5. Sales collateral automation

Reps spend a third of their time finding or creating content to send to prospects. Why is that the case? The average sales organization stores content across five or six different content repositories. Yet only a third of sales teams prioritize improving content access and utilization.

Sales teams need actionable content that's centralized and trackable. Having content in an easily accessible place saves time for reps before and after every prospect interaction.

How to get started:

If you don't yet have a central place to store content, start with an internal wiki page or a shared Google Drive folder. Share the folder with your marketing team, and ensure there's a place to add ideas to the content creation pipeline. As your library grows, find a more robust document tracking solution with more advanced analytics to insure you have full transparency into how your prospects are interacting with your content.

6. Meeting-booking automation

While sales reps love meetings, the process of getting one on their calendar is incredibly frustrating -- the back-and forth, the dreaded reply-all. Booking meetings, quite simply, wastes time.

How to get started:

Use a tool like HubSpot Meetings to create custom booking links for each of your reps. Many tools come with a free trial, so it's easy to get started. Add the custom scheduling links into your email templates and signatures, and make sure your marketing team integrates them into their lead nurturing campaigns.

1. Sales Hub

2. Toky

3. HelloSign

4. Bonjoro

5. Aircall

6. Better Proposals

7. MoData

  • About: MoData facilitates the integration of your sales and marketing data across your CRM, Marketing, Sales, and customer outreach systems. You'll enjoy hundreds of sales reports, history tracking, pipeline inspection, forecasting, deal predictions, and more.
  • Price: Available upon request

Want to learn more about sales automation? Check out our ultimate guide.

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Originally published Jul 17, 2019 6:12:00 PM, updated July 17 2019

Topics:

Data Entry Automation