Like so much in our space, sales automation is part-platform/part-principle.
It’s not enough to simply throw software at your sales team—it’s about immersing them in the core principles and practices of automation, illuminating the ongoing benefits of generating proposals using tested technology rather than their fingertips. I.e., once a sales person sees how integrating sales automation tools and practices into their day-to-day means more sales and commissions, they’ll move from skeptic to evangelist at a heart-stopping speed.
And while most every business understands and enjoys the benefits of back-end automation—a CRM system for customer records; an ERP system for company operations; BI tools for tracking of the market—not every business has been all that adept in automating their front end-processes.
But tools centered specifically on automated quotes, proposals, and other “acquisition-centric” business-drivers are becoming the difference maker among businesses that lead (best!), follow (ok, still moving forward), or get out of the way (rather, just go away). We’re going to look at some expectations attached to automation—speed and integration—and unexpected ways they often deliver as well.
Automation benefit 1: speed/efficiency
The basic benefit of any business technology is increasing the speed at which you do business, and making staff involved as efficient as possible.
A CPQ solution or similar sales automation platform not only allows staff to send more proposals and quotes more quickly, but automated features like tracking and email responders ensure, respectively, more complete insight on each step of the sales process/greater oversight for sales managers, and timely (typically, immediate) replies to customer inquiries.
Additionally, every sales automation solution has at its center a codified, repeatable approach to doing business, which means built-in tools that are easy to use, and proposal templates and quotes that are 100% on-brand. The surprise benefit is that automation doesn’t mean trading speed for accuracy, as it often can. The business properly executing automated sales processes benefits from work that’s done both quickly and cleanly.
Automation benefit 2: integration (platforms and people)
There are two kinds of integration for automated proposal and quoting systems. The first is what your IT team typically talks about—e.g., “Will our front-end CPQ integrate with our back-end CRM?” Yes, it must: this is, frankly, an expectation. Technology platform integration challenges in business systems should basically be—unless you’re trying to use Apple and Microsoft products concurrently on every device in the enterprise—ancient history.
The less expected benefit is how an easy-to-use suite of sales automation tools becomes integrated into the everyday of your sales team. They’ll check-in on a specific quote or proposal on their phones while they’re OOO because they want to, not because they have to. In no way does this mean that the work schedule goes from 9 – 5 to 24/7. But it does mean the flexibility an automated platform delivers makes it easier to do a quick check-in whenever and from wherever, which keeps business moving.
And maybe it’s because as a CPQ provider and integrator we’re entrenched in the space, but we believe automating sales, quotes, and proposals is no longer a “should we…?” for a competitive business, but a “how do we do it even better?”