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What is sales automation? A guide for small businesses


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If being more efficient is part of your sales strategy this year, automation could be the game-changer you’ve been looking for.

Searching for prospects, tending your sales funnel, and following up on leads manually is a tedious, time-consuming affair. For very small companies just starting out, this manual method may seem like the logical choice, but it’s really not the best way to scale your sales processes if you intend to grow—and who doesn’t? 

Sales automation is a better way to handle your sales process. With sales automation, you can spend your valuable time closing deals faster instead of slogging through paperwork and emails at a snail’s pace. Automation holds the key to more effective and efficient sales. 

Here’s what’s in the guide:

⚡️ Supercharge productivity with the Buyer’s Guide to Sales Apps.

The Buyer's Guide to Sales Apps: Find the best ones for your business

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What is sales automation?

Sales automation is the process by which software eliminates repetitive, tedious sales tasks and makes them happen automatically in seconds rather than hours or days. Sales automation frees sales reps from having to manage routine manual tasks that are done monthly, weekly, or even daily.

Sales automation saves time and money in multiple ways. For example, sales automation may allow you to eliminate sales positions for your business, saving money in employee compensation. Better yet, sales automation may help you to use your existing sales workforce optimally, enabling you to double or even triple your sales with the staff you currently have. Sales automation, when done correctly, can help you achieve efficiency without losing the personal touches that make your sales experience unique and without skipping any important steps of the sales process.

Benefits of sales automation for a small business

Sales processes have become increasingly automated over the years as more sales automation software has become available. In short, they help you do more with less… and that’s something just about any small business would love. 

Some of the big benefits of sales automation include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved accuracy
  • Streamlined processes
  • Faster route to closed deals
  • Improved customer satisfaction

Let’s dig into these a little more:

Increased productivity

Ask any good sales rep how they’d prefer to spend their time, and you will probably hear that they want to concentrate on the tasks that actually help them close sales, not the tedious manual processes that can drag them down.

When you automate these repetitive tasks, sales reps become more productive because they can focus their attention on the parts of the sales process that require a human touch rather than spending their time on other more time-consuming and less productive tasks. Think of sales automation as jet fuel for your sales process.  

Just as jet fuel propels an airplane on its upward trajectory, the right automation tools can speed up the sales process and put your revenues on an upward trajectory.

Improved accuracy

By eliminating much of the manual data input involved in the sales process, automation also reduces the probability of human error and increases the probability of data consistency. 

Automation tends to improve data quality. Higher data quality, in turn, can result in more accurate sales forecasting, more targeted sales messaging, fewer instances of mistimed or misaddressed sales outreach communications, and more accurate measurement of the results of your sales efforts.

Streamlined processes

According to McKinsey research, almost one-third of the sales process can be successfully automated with technology that exists today.

Streamlining different parts of the sales process leads to multiple benefits. For example, the same McKinsey report noted that when one advanced-industries company implemented automation in its bid process, it reduced proposal time from three weeks to just two hours, which led to a 5% uplift in revenue. As another example, automation in order processing cut the time from confirmed order to confirmed delivery from two to three days to one to two hours, increasing customer satisfaction and revenues at the same time. Further automation resulted in an overall cost savings of 10 to 15%. What could your business do with results like that?

How to create a sales process: Step by step guide for small businesses

Faster route to closed deals 

Some sales automation tools enable you to capture leads automatically, which can shorten the time it takes your sales team to respond appropriately. When you improve your speed-to-lead time, you will likely also see an increase in closed sales. 

Sales automation can also be leveraged in the nurture process. With the right sales automation tools, you can route leads that are not quite sales-ready into the appropriate nurture campaigns automatically. Nurtured with the right content at the right time, these leads will likely convert much more quickly than they would via manual nurturing efforts.

By automating your lead follow-ups, you ensure that your sales team reaches out to leads before they change their minds or reach out to your competitors. Then, as the deal progresses through its natural steps, sales automation tools can speed delivery of vital documents and signed agreements, helping you move from first contact to final delivery more quickly. 

Improved customer satisfaction

Customers will be more satisfied when the sales process unfolds with clarity and precision. Automated follow-ups and forms mean less uncertainty and less likelihood that the process will break down at any point. Customers benefit from a responsive system, but your sales team does not have to engage in constant hand-holding because there is no place for a customer to fall through the cracks.

Budget-friendly tips for customer satisfaction

What are some good sales automation tools?

There are plenty of sales automation tools out there. The question is, which ones should you use? Your needs are unique to your business, and your system should allow for customization to meet your specific needs. 

The best automation solution is often to find software that can do a variety of automations for your sales team, so you aren’t switching between different apps all day. This is where customer relationship management (CRM) software comes in handy. You can record and organize every bit of information you have on customers and potential leads. This is a great place to start when it comes to automation.

Here are a few popular, helpful sales CRMs for businesses:

  • Hubspot Sales
  • Salesforce
  • Zendesk
  • Zoho CRM

Ready for the next step in automation? RingCentral’s CRM integration feature pairs your business phone with your existing CRM to record your calls and store data at the same time. For example, here’s how RingCentral’s Salesforce integration looks. Dial your business phone within Salesforce and never let any touches fall through the cracks:

RingCentral Salesforce integration

Learn more about RingCentral’s solutions for Salesforce.

In addition to CRMs, here are some other automation tool categories to look into:

What can sales automation software do? 9 Real-life examples

Any good salesperson would be asking themselves at this point, what can sales automation do for me? Here’s what you can do with sales automation tools, combined with RingCentral:

  1. Get a list of new, qualified prospects along with details about their preferences delivered to your RingCentral inbox every morning without having to lift a finger when you set up filters using LinkedIn Premium or a similar tool.
  2. Cull lists from your lead enrichment resources like webinars, new email subscribers, ad respondents, and even site visitors who watched a video. 
  3. Customize email templates, saving you hours of time each week while still allowing your emails to be personalized enough to impress prospects.
  4. Automate an entire email campaign or series so that follow-ups happen automatically and stop automatically when the prospect responds.
  5. Use a meeting and appointment tool with your software so prospects can sign up for meetings on their own. Then, get a notification that you have a new appointment and watch it appear in your version of the schedule, too.
  6. Get a quick summary of your previous sales calls, including analysis and AI suggestions for improvements in some cases.
  7. Record your phone calls, emails, and meetings automatically and track them in the CRM with no manual work on your part. 
  8. Input customer information, product details, and prices into a proposal or quote automatically and set up timed reminders if you don’t get an immediate response.
  9. Set up workflows so other team members who need to sign off on your projects can do so automatically.  

Pretty cool, huh?

Potential pitfalls of sales automation

While sales automation has many benefits, there are also pitfalls to overcome. Sometimes, automated emails can come across as too robotic, or repeat too many times and become tiresome, especially if they are not personalized. And make sure to freshen your email subject lines regularly.

Sales prospects don’t want to feel like a cog in a machine or a faceless entity that only sees bots and impersonal communications. Working some personal touch points into the process will alleviate this problem and add an important human touch to the process. 

Avoid relying solely on sales automation so you maintain the human side of the process. After all, it’s the humans in your business that make your brand unique and valuable!

Sales automation: Level up your small business

RingCentral will help your business make the most of the sales automation software that has the features you need, and some systems and tools are even free for you to use in some cases, like Hubspot Free CRM

Without a fully featured phone, video, and messaging system like RingCentral though, these integrations will not pack the punch you need. RingCentral is the ideal partner for your sales automation tools, bringing all the separate pieces together so they can work seamlessly as one integrated whole. 

RingCentral gives you everything you need to make your sales automation work to its full potential. As with so many advanced technologies that are changing today’s business environment, it takes a combination of tools with different capabilities and functions to give the best results.  

Want to see how RingCentral can help you automate? Get a demo and find out today what sales automation in combination with a voice, text, and video phone system could do for you.

Originally published Jan 06, 2022, updated Jun 17, 2024

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