Sales is one of the oldest professions, but it’s also one of the most important. It’s key to any company’s growth strategy. After all, even a great product can’t sell itself!
As a whole, salespeople have been excellent at adopting useful technology. If there’s an app or a tool that can make their jobs easier, they’re quick to pick it up! But with so many advancements in sales technology, some new tools aren’t used to their fullest potential.
One under-leveraged tool is intelligent automation, which entails connecting your technology into comprehensive workflows that complete tasks—you guessed it!—automatically. These workflows can be as simple as moving lead data between your marketing app and your CRM in real time or as complex as automatically generating, approving, and sending contracts. And they’re intelligent because you can add artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) to the process.
For non-technical sales professionals, automation may seem really intimidating. After all, you’re not a coder! Thankfully, intelligent automation platforms are increasingly user-friendly and easy to pick up. The Workato platform, for example, calls its integrations recipes, because they are instructions for getting work done between your apps. And recipes are written in everyday English; to build an integration, you just need to know the logic of the process you want to automate.
Here are three ways that intelligent automation can help all sales professionals sell smarter—not harder.
It can reduce administrative work.
In an ideal world, sales professionals would spend all of their time persuading prospects. Unfortunately, the sales cycle creates mountains of administrative work. You have to log demos, update opportunities, and send follow-up emails.
There are many apps that can help the average rep make the most of their time. But sales processes often span multiple apps, which means you have to manually move information between them.
A common scenario is demos. You might, for example, manage your schedule through Calendly, host your demos using an app like RingCentral, but store all your lead data in Salesforce. When you’re juggling a high volume of leads, logging demos or updating opportunities quickly becomes tedious!
Demo logging is a great opportunity to use intelligent automation to remove most of the manual work. For example, you can use a Workato integration to bridge the gap between Calendly and Salesforce by automatically logging scheduled demos.
You can also use an integration to remind you to log demo notes an hour after their scheduled start time. The recipe will send a Slack notification to the rep who gave the demo, asking what the demo’s status is. By simply clicking buttons and using drop-down menus, the rep can update the status inside of Salesforce—without ever leaving Slack.
Best of all, you can tweak this workflow to fit any sort of sales or upsell cycle by customizing the Slack messages depending on what kind of team member help the demo. For example, if an Account Executive (AE) gave the demo, it’s likely that the lead is not recorded in Salesforce yet, so Workbot—a bot Workato built to help you do work in other apps directly from Slack—can prompt them to create a new opportunity in Salesforce, which they can do directly from Slack.
This scenario is just one example of how intelligent automation can relieve sales reps of manual work. Learn more about how we streamlined our sales ops with automation >
It can help you time travel.
The way that salespeople think about the sales cycle is often very linear. We tend to imagine it as a straight progression of steps from lead outreach to delivery. But in practice, every salesperson knows that the sales cycle isn’t a perfectly linear progression of carefully controlled steps. It’s more frequently a hodge-podge of patterns and achievements/milestones.
These milestones range from making the first contact with a prospect to technical wins, business cases, budgets, security reviews, approvals, paper process, booking, and ultimately ensuring a successful deployment of the solution. Each of these steps has a different lead time associated with it, and sales reps are tasked with seamlessly juggling the micro-processes needed before completing each step.
In my experience, the very best sales professionals can effectively time travel, hopping back and forth between steps as needed. They have the foresight to ask important questions about Milestone Z (such as “Who will be key to successfully implementing this solution?”) while they’re still working on getting to Milestone C.
But it’s been shown that most people are bad at multitasking; only 2% of the population can truly multitask effectively.
So what’s a salesperson to do? Leverage technology, of course! Intelligent automation is incredibly useful for helping sales reps time travel. Automation platforms are increasingly user-friendly, and you can construct powerful workflows that help you juggle time-sensitive micro-processes. These comprehensive workflows can complete tasks automatically based on “if-then” logic. So if you need to coordinate demo logging with your follow-up emails, you can build a custom workflow with just a few clicks—no code required!
More importantly, intelligent automation can help you build a 360° view of every customer. In order to truly time travel, you need to be aware of every single touchpoint your business has with a client. In fact, 68% of sales professionals say it’s critical to have access to a holistic view of the customer across departments, according to a recent Salesforce study.
By connecting all your apps, you can make sure that the right information (such as all the support cases the customer has opened or whether they’ve participated in any recent promotions) is available to you whenever you need it. Intelligent automation also makes it possible for you to access that information from wherever you spend most of your time—whether it’s your CRM or a chat app like Slack.
It can make negotiation and contract approvals easier.
You’ve done it: you’ve made it all the way through the sales cycle to the contracting phase. You might think that the hard work has already been finished, but the truth is that getting a contract signed is more difficult than it looks. You need to prepare the paperwork, have it approved, send it, get all the right signatures, and then make sure it’s filed properly.
Intelligent automation can help speed up the process. For example, you can use Workato to integrate DocuSign (or another e-contract service) with your CRM (such as Salesforce) to automatically send contracts. When a lead is marked “Closed Won” in Salesforce, Workato will automatically send the correct contract and fill in the customer’s information.
Another Workato recipe can monitor DocuSign, waiting for the signed contract to come back. When it does, Workato will automatically place the signed contract in your CRM and associate it with the correct contact’s profile. You can also receive a Slack notification letting you know the signed contract has arrived.
You can even automate custom contract approvals—which require a lot of communication between the prospect, the rep, and managers higher up the chain of command. With Workbot, reps can request certain deal terms in Salesforce directly from Slack. Workbot enters those deal terms into the correct Salesforce account and triggers a price request. The request goes to a specific Slack channel, where a manager clicks “approve” or “reject.”
You can create any variation of these automations that works for your business. On the surface, they may seem like simple integrations, but they bring real value to the sales team by eliminating a lot of tedious work. Automation also decreases the likelihood of human error when moving data around. And because the processes move automatically, it can significantly speed up the contracting process—so deals close faster, customers are onboarded sooner, and you get that commission check!