Businesses now operate in an ever-changing environment where even the simplest of tasks are automated. With that, it’s incredibly important that you adapt to the trend if you’re looking to have your business survive the heat and attract more customers than your competitors.
Whether you’re advertising your brand, negotiating a deal, or entering into a partnership contract, automation will save you the headache of handling most of the repetitive, mundane tasks that eat up most of your days. In the end, you’ll not only cut down costs but also increase your productivity and build improved customer rapport; all these are crucial factors toward the success of your small business.
So, how do you automate the CRM sales processes in your business?
Start by defining the sales process
The sales process is often lengthy and involves numerous tasks that are typically repetitive in nature. Some of the most common ones include prospecting, leads engagement, qualification, and order management among others. For small businesses, these processes can be quite confusing if they are not properly planned for right from the onset.
We discuss each below:
Prospecting is simply the process of finding potential consumers for your goods or services. When starting out a business or releasing a new product, the goal is to reach as many potential customers, clients, and buyers looking for such products with the hope of developing new business and expanding your market.
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At this point, your strategy should be to get in front of as many people as possible to inform and possibly elicit their interest in your products.
Leads engagement and nurturing
So, you’ve now broadcasted your products and a few prospects are already showing interest, what next? This is where active engagement with the leads comes in.
To successfully convert prospects into buying customers, you need to nurture them using tactics like providing personalized content that targets their specific needs. You can also choose to engage them more on social media or email by answering their questions in a timely fashion.
At this point, you’ve possibly collected a significant amount of data from users and visitors that have interacted with you, your products, emails, website, or social media profiles. To ensure you’re not wasting time with users that have no real intent to purchase your products, it’s important that you create qualification criteria.
Lead scoring refers to the process of sorting out your leads and assigning them certain numbers and scores based on their behaviors and interactions with your company’s resources. This helps you narrow down to a smaller group of users with the highest potential to purchase from you, now or in the future.
Arguably the most important step in a sales process, order management can make or break your business. As a general rule of thumb, you need to close deals as quickly as possible and keep your customers engaged at this stage to ensure they don’t change their minds mid-way or start considering moving on to your competitors.
For more successful order management, be sure to streamline communication and collaborations between all the departments involved here including the sales team, finance, and procurement units. Some of the key processes to watch at this point include order approvals, tracking, and record keeping.
- Take your time to study the specific clients you’re dealing with to understand their unique expectations.
- Establish whether the steps you’re implementing in the definition stage are actionable and practical.
- Be sure to base the decision points for each process on measurable inputs. Put simply, ascertain whether you’re in a position to calculate and take the risks regardless of the direction your prospects take.
Use an appropriate CRM software
The kind of CRM software you adopt will strongly determine your success in implementing your sales processes. Remember, not all CRM tools support automation of interactions with your prospects at all stages. Some are limited to specific events while others are strongly dependent on manual input to function properly. However, the best CRM for small businesses allow you to automate every function that you defined in the sales process. What’s more, most give you room to make adjustments when prospect expectations exceed your capacity and foresight.
3 essential CRM features to look out for
Investing in a powerful or expensive CRM won’t add any significant value to your business if your team or employees find difficulty working with it. As such, ensure the tool you purchase comes with an intuitive interface, is easy to understand, and supports easy reporting.
b. Easy integration with other tools
This is possibly the most important element to look for in a good CRM software. You want a system that helps you consolidate data from a wide variety of tools that you use every day in running your business.
For example, a good CRM system should be able to integrate seamlessly with your email autoresponders, social media management tools, invoicing software, etc. In the end, this system helps you organize all the necessary data in a single place for easier tracking and accessibility.
In this digital age, no business owner wants to work with a tool that can’t relay or support data access outside the office space. A reliable CRM therefore should be cloud-based which means you can easily access all its functionalities from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
Besides, it needs to be mobile compatible to ensure you can see whatever is happening at your business even while on the go.
Other key features to consider include:
- Easy customization
- Ability to provide clear analytics
- Supports customer segmentation
- It’s important to take into consideration the added cost of automation brought about by the CRM software. While these tools significantly reduce manual work, they can also cost your smooth interactions with clients and sometimes your budget.
- Also, be sure to check your preferred tool’s efficiency in adopting all the sales processes that you defined. Not all CRM software are effective in undertaking all the manual work. Some work the best while under human supervision even when they can easily automate all the hard work.
Prepare your sales department for automation
When transitioning from a manual to an automated sales process, your teammates or workforce needs to be prepared for any major changes expected to occur to the workflow. To do this effectively, consider coming up with a plan that thoroughly prepares them for automation.
Some of the most effective ways to implement this include:
- Be honest with them about the changes that automation is expected to bring in your business. This helps to allay most of the anxieties and fears that the introduction of automation might bring. For example, if you expect to make some reshuffles or lay-offs as part of your business transformation process, ensure that this is duly communicated.
- Involve your employees in decision-making and make them feel part of the upcoming changes. It’s been proven to be a law of nature for people to be more invested in any outcome for which they’re involved from the start.
- Don’t also forget to provide sufficient training to your workforce. New technology will obviously require new skills or addition of trained experts – a lack of either of these will be a sure set up for failure to meet your business objectives.
- Optimizing tasks by defining key questions that help in qualifying prospects. This way, they can quickly collect crucial information which is then entered automatically into your CRM databases.
- Encourage your sales reps to convince customers to use the automated setup. This can be accomplished through teamwork between the marketing department and sales team. To make the process more effective, consider helping them in designing ads that make prospects more curious about your automated sales process.
- The motive here is to keep these prospects engaged and nurtured which in turn helps them become more familiar with your brand and products. In the end, customers will begin to trust the process leading to improved conversions and profits.
Make the sales process more flexible
As your small business continues to expand, your customer base is also bound to grow which often diminishes the good rapport you initially had with your customers. In the same measure, the customer management becomes more complex thereby increasing the need for automation using CRM tools.
During this growth phase, it’s recommended that you keep your sales process flexible and open to future automation tools. This means you can revise the automated processes whenever needed and especially when you’re looking to accommodate changes due to a growing customer base. The end result is to ensure that no existing customer feels neglected which is very common as businesses get bigger.
How are you leveraging the power of automation to grow your small business? Share with us in the comments below.
Hugo wasted no time to get into his role at Profit Engine after leaving full time education. He has spent a year in his role mastering the process of Content Creation. With a background in English language he has been able to use his skills to great effect to the point where he is the head of content creation at Profit Engine. For his pastimes, he is an avid lover of reading, music and travelling .