It’s a new year, and with that the annual ritual where tech companies proclaim their predictions of what’s ahead. Who are we to ignore this rite of passage? Rather than listing out a standard top 10 list, we wanted to hone in on one very important thought.
2018 will be the year that automation reaches field sales professionals—finally. We’re not just talking about reps, rather we believe automation can, and will, deliver benefits to everyone who touches the lengthy and complicated enterprise sales processes, including sales managers, sales executives and sales ops (as well as reps of course).
You may be thinking, “surely this is already happening.” After all, automation is prevalent across B2B sales. The reality is despite all the hype, the answer is no. While many parts of the sales process have been automated, the steps that are handled by field sales are most often manual. They require detailed organization, significant time investments and an incredible amount of patience. And unfortunately, any dropped ball can mean deal stall, or worse.
Let’s examine the current landscape of automation in B2B sales.
PHASE 1: Suspect to Prospect (Inbound and Outbound Marketing).
AUTOMATION LEVEL: HIGH
Inbound Marketing is highly-automated; Outbound Marketing frequently- automated. This is where Salesforce Pardot, Hubspot, Marketo, MailChimp, Prospectify, etc. come in. These vendors offer sophisticated automation which is used frequently by marketing teams to identify and engage prospects to the point that they are considered an official “lead.”
PHASE 2: Prospect to Opportunity (Sales Development Reps).
AUTOMATION LEVEL: SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASING
We’ve seen an increasing amount of automation in this phase, brought on by vendors such as Yesware, Outreach and others. Many benefits have already been attained, helping take a “lead” to an “opportunity.”
PHASE 3: Opportunity to Close (Field Sales).
AUTOMATION LEVEL: LITTLE TO NONE
Once the “opportunity” is created, it is handed over to a field sales rep and at that stage, most of the steps come from a methodology such as MEDDIC or Miller Heiman. It’s a manual process to not only enter details into a CRM, but more importantly how to make the daily decisions about what twists and turns they should take, weigh different actions, and report back.
In 2018, it is our expectation that automation, which has delivered huge benefits across the sales process, will trickle down to the most complicated sales role—field sales—through a new category called Sales Activity Automation. This automation will likely present itself in many ways, including but not limited to:
- Embedding plays, definitions and sales methodologies such as MEDDIC, Miller Heiman or even custom processes. Reps will be prompted with all the steps, processes and requirements and guided with the recommendations that help them take the right action at the right time.
- Automating manual tasks such as data entry and data maintenance. Today reps spend 5.5 hrs a week entering sales activities into a CRM according to Hubspot. That’s more than one month of selling time each year that could be automated.
- Aggregating all “scattered data” from all of your systems and link to the source, regardless of system or website. Data is currently stored in each of the dozens or even hundreds of tools and websites that companies use daily. Automation can serve as a fabric that weaves together this data to improve decision making.
- Make pipeline reviews more productive. With automation, we can ensure data rolls up to management in real-time, flagging issues in deals before negative impact. Managers can spend more time coaching and helping work through issues rather than asking questions about what has already occurred in the past. This will not only help make 1:1 review sessions more effective, but will help improve trust and relationships.
Through Sales Activity Automation, organizations can finally drive consistent CRM strategy adoption across an organization, increasing sales process adoption, visibility across the pipeline and quota attainment.
2018 has the potential to be a huge year, getting sales away from searching and reporting, and instead spending the time on what matters most - building relationships and trust. Want to learn more, sign up for a demo today.