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Using Automation and Cloud Integration for Business Growth

  • While the news is full of stories about how artificial intelligence (AI) will change the workplace, it’s worth remembering not to ignore the basics.

    A decent CRM system with sales automation that integrates with other cloud apps will provide a solid foundation for your business growth.

  • AI, CRM Automation and Integration

What is Sales Automation?

Sales automation is computer software that helps organizations manage their sales process. Usually as part of a CRM system, it creates an automated flow that tracks new customers, or leads, from their initial inquiry through the sales process.

Sales automation lets you effectively manage your leads, creating efficiency in the workplace with team collaboration that drives the sales process. It’s about reducing the manual processes and making sure your leads are followed up in a timely manner, so you never miss another deal.

Sales automation helps you prioritise your workload, ensuring time is not wasted with duplication of effort or in manual data entry and in sifting through information.

Sales Automation for Lead Generation

Sales automation is most effective when used in conjunction with Marketing Automation. This is where you can fine tune your customer experience (CX) strategy, providing a seamless customer journey by integrating all your platforms, for example, your website, booking platform and social media.

Having arrived at your website or social page your new lead may be completing a signup form that flags their interest in your product or service.

Using marketing automation your web form and social leads are integrated directly with your CRM system, so the new inquiry is immediately logged as a prospect. Using Drip Marketing you might send a personalised, automated “thank you” message and create a task for a sales person to follow up.

You might also be applying integrated lead scoring and lead enrichment software that will help you prioritise the best leads for your business.

Let’s look at this in more details.

Web-to-Lead Forms

  • If your new leads come from your website, using Web-to-Lead forms is a must. Some CRM systems have their own integrated forms feature or they may have a native integration with the form software you use. If not, you can connect most leading form software using the third-party integration platform Zapier, for example, Gravity Forms, Ninja Forms and Wufoo.

  • Web Forms: CRM Automation and Integration

The various fields on your form can be mapped to your CRM, and custom fields added as required to capture the data you need straight to your CRM. When the form is “sent” it will create an Account and Contact in the CRM along with a record of the transaction as an Account Activity.

To maximize your website’s potential, it’s important that you are providing opportunities for your prospects to engage with you. If they simply visit your website, read something and go again, you are relying on them to come back and buy. Make sure you provide interesting content where they need to enter an email address to download the document or a free offer that they can’t resist to help convert your web visitors to leads.

About Zapier

Zapier lets you connect over 1,000 different apps and pass data between them. I’ve used the example of a web form above, but this could also be other sources. If you’re running events through apps like Eventbrite you could capture your attendee data back to your CRM, and also your newsletter signups. You could integrate your email marketing system, like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor, as well as other cloud apps such as Google Sheets and Facebook Leads Ads.

Setting up the integration is simple, and you’d be surprised at how this could change how you work. Zapier integrations can perform all the manual tasks you hate, letting you get on with something else.

Drip Marketing

As well as sending out a “thank you” message to your new leads, you can run extended campaigns that send personalised emails at pre-defined intervals. As your new leads come in from your website, they are added to an email campaign, sending them appropriate messages as they move through the sales cycle. Maybe you want to send links to your product resources on the first day and then propose a special offer two weeks later. Drip marketing takes care of all this without you lifting a finger!

Make sure you don’t over automate though – your customers will still appreciate the human touch.

As your leads progress, you might also apply lead scoring and enrichment software to help identify your best leads and prioritize your sales effort.

Lead Scoring

  • To help prioritize your sales activity you can use lead scoring to assess which ones are most likely to turn into sales.

    It’s likely that when you look at your new leads, in your mind you consider their fit with your product based on a variety of criteria in your qualification process.

  • Prioritizing leads: CRM automation and integration

This could be their location, size of business, role of the inquirer, budget available and other considerations of their ability to buy. If you are running marketing campaigns you may look at who has opened your messages, clicked through on your weblinks or even who has responded to you.

But rather than manually assessing this information you could score the various information and activity to give each lead a rating. Your sales people might then just check this figure before picking up the phone to follow up. This is known as lead scoring and is a good use of cloud automation.

For example, the highest level of engagement, such as an email response, would be given the highest score. Working backwards you’d give a lower score to each positive activity and negative scores for negative activity.

So, if I was a software company selling to small businesses with less than 50 employees in only Spanish speaking countries in the Americas, my scoring might look something like this:

  • Email response = 20 points
  • Clicking a link = 15 points
  • Location is one of USA, Mexico, Argentina, Chile = 20 points
  • Location is one of China, Japan, Thailand, India, Brazil = -20 points
  • Business size < 50 employees = 10 points
  • Business size > 50 employees = -10 points

Using this scoring a new lead located in Florida, USA, with 30 employees, who has clicked on a weblink in an automated email would have a score of 45 points. Whereas a lead from Japan, with 150 employees who responded to your email would have a score of -10 points.

Lead Enrichment

Lead enrichment software can be used to increase the quality of the information from what the contact has given you. Using publicly available data, such as social media, the lead enrichment software helps increase the likelihood of a sale. It works best for B2B where, for example, if you have the company name it could find a match and return you the business location, number of employees and other relevant data.

Managing your Leads

Having prioritised which leads are best you might then start making contact, assessing the prospect’s urgency and intention to buy.

Having qualified the lead, sales automation lets you track the opportunity through the sales process. With Really Simple Systems CRM you can customize your sales stages to fit your internal processes, monitoring each opportunity as it moves through the sales pipeline.

By setting a probability, the percentage chance you think a sale will close, you can give each deal a weighting, allowing you to accurately forecast your sales. For example, if you have won an opportunity you could say the percentage sale probability is 100%. If you have lost an opportunity the percentage probability would be 0%. You might therefore score an opportunity anything in between these two, maybe starting at 10% for a new lead and escalating the probability as it moves through your pipeline until it finally closes.

Centralised Hub: CRM automation and integration

A Central Hub with Full Visibility

At all stages of the sales process automation is working away in the background recording your activity and interactions. You can set yourself reminders to follow up or assign a task to a colleague and integrate your emails to and from your contacts to the CRM. This gives 360 degrees of visibility, creating a central hub for team collaboration.

Should you make any changes to the opportunity at any stage this will be recorded in the account along with any quotations created and purchase orders stored.

The CRM dashboard provides graphs and charts to monitor your sales and keep track of your tasks, with links through to detailed reports and forecasts.

Integration with Accounting Software

Once your sale has closed, you can take further advantage of automation and integration with an integrated accounting software app. This lets you generate an invoice directly from the sales opportunity and record it in your accounting software, synchronizing the customer data between the two systems.

You’ll also be able to check the customer’s balance from the CRM and see when payment has been made.

Save Time and Grow

If you are not already using CRM automation and integrated cloud apps you probably haven’t got time to read a blog about it! However, it’s likely that your competitors are already steaming ahead and closing deals while you’re still sifting through your notes.

Take some time out to learn how you might use automation and integration and see for yourself how quickly your business will respond.

About the Author

Helen Armour

Helen Armour

Helen is the Marketing Manager at Really Simple Systems, a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Chartered Marketer.