“Sell me this pen.” This classic approach will not probably work for your sales team if you do not have a clear vision of how much time they are involved in actual selling. We will reveal a little secret: average sales reps spend a little more than a third (36% to be more precise) of their working hours on selling, while valueless and painstaking administrative tasks grab most of their time. It will not have been so if they address sales process automation.
Why are the statistics so gloomy?
Mostly it is due to the increasing market competition and digitization, which forces sales managers to be more attentive to clients’ needs and structure their work on all points of contact that leads in its turn to more mundane and repetitive tasks. IT solutions, such as customer relationship management systems, are designed to take this burden. However, it is not always possible.
In this article, we would lend a helping hand to the business owners and top managers who, in the endless hunt of increasing income figures, often do not keep up with the ever-changing tech world. We would define areas of robotic process automation deployment in sales, describe the benefits of it, and demonstrate 6 use cases of RPA in sales operations.
What is RPA and what can it bring to sales processes?
As we are going to use the term RPA very often let us start with a definition of it:
RPA, or Robotic Process Automation, is a technology that imitates humans’ actions within computer systems with the use of bots. It is associated with mundane, repetitive, rule-based tasks that usually consume too much time when executed manually.
The definition speaks of itself: the nature of tasks described hardly falls within the scope of work the sales team should be associated with. However, the reality is a little different.
In this regard implementing Robotic Process Automation may have several significant benefits, i.e.:
Multitasking is a stressful subject for sales team specialists. Having faced significant backlog they do not realize that 40 to 60 percent of this enormous workload can be automated. However, RPA tools can make this shroud fall. Tools like People Dashboard in Electroneek allow you to analyze the time spent by sales reps on different tasks and identify inefficient processes.
Bots allow your team to automate all routine procedures among CRM, emails, spreadsheets, and any SaaS products. It is not an exaggeration to say that bots perform as virtual personal assistants, who handle the tedious part of the work (which previously would have been assigned to a human assistant), empowering the sales managers to deliver the best service, especially when it comes to customers or projects that require keeping the upper hand.
Better client relationships
RPA provides your team with an opportunity to focus on building relationships with clients, leaving the rest to bots. For example, SDR bot collects data from leads and answers basic product questions 24/7/365 while humans focus on higher-impact work further down the funnel system.
Reporting is one of the essential aspects of the proper process and team management. The sad thing is that it takes a ton of time. Automation tools keep you informed about your employees’ daily performance, which allows you to build a robust sales strategy based on real productivity.
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RPA in sales: Areas of automation
RPA can be implemented in almost all industries for various task level. According to McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), from 13 to 50% of the sales sub-functions can be automated; with the minimum rate (13%) going to lead identification and qualification, when human involvement plays a crucial role, to the highest rate of 50% for order management processes, when you can at least implement invoicing and sales order processing automation.
It should be noted also that attracting new customers is very often based on the intersection of marketing and sales. And while marketing has gone far ahead when it comes to automation, sales productivity still mostly relies on human input. Nevertheless, there are a vast number of sub-functions in sales that can be automated as well. Some of them (order management and quotation, for instance) while being the most labor intensive, do not even have a direct impact on sales.
Below are the key areas of sales workflow automation:
Strategy of sales and strategic planning
Forecasting, workforce planning, resource allocation, channel strategy.
Identification and qualification of leads
Planning for new and existing clients, pipeline management.
Quotation and pricing
Setting quotes, technical solutions, negotiating and contracting.
Credit checks, invoicing, order processing.
Regular monitoring, follow-ups, and management of post-sale requests.
Reporting, analysis, training, administration, sales material preparation.
RPA: 6 Use cases in sales
Now when you know almost everything about RPA and its benefits for a sales team in theory, let’s consider some cases on how RPA can add value to your sales operations in practice.
Use Case 1. Data management
Challenge: A large-size wellness center sales team spends 40 to 60 hours monthly, creating and updating a database of prospects’ contact details. The database includes 5000+ contacts and is updated manually by the sales team from various sources. As the processing is executed manually, the larger the database, the more challenging it becomes to keep up with the data accuracy.
Solution: A bot automates the process of contact data gathering and updates in CRM. Moreover, it crawls the web and other sources to find additional information and context to the prospects. The update is executed automatically and minimizes any errors.
- The more meticulous and structured data management process
- Enhanced sales-oriented approach
- 500+ FTE hours per year saved
Use Case 2. Reporting
Challenge: A sales team lead monthly and quarterly accumulates data on the productivity of 13 sales reps based on their activity within various sales channels: phone calls, emails, or offline communication. Then a manager inputs the data into the CRM and calculates monthly and quarterly bonuses depending on the individual input of each team member. The results are represented via charts and diagrams in the monthly and quarterly reports. The whole process, from data accumulation to building a report, takes from 3 to 5 workdays.
Solution: A bot automates the accumulation of data as it crawls all the sources that contain information on phone, email, and offline activity of the team. After the data is gathered a bot inputs it into the CRM where the individual bonuses are automatically calculated. A bot can create a report with comparison charts and diagrams on a team’s productivity based on the information. Moreover, a bot provides with an email sent to all the stakeholders upon completion of the process.
- Enhanced opportunities for the analysis of team results
- The more structured reports management process
- 120+ FTE hours per year saved
Use Case 3: Contract and document management
Challenge: When it comes to big deals and large-size customers, a usual contract management cycle from invoicing, document preparation, KYC procedures to actual contract drafts and signing, for a sales team in a mid-size manufacturing company can take 1 to 2 weeks.
Solution: A bot assistant provides a sales order automation and contract management process. It prepares a set of documents based on the CRM data, makes a background check, forwards the documents via email with the help of virtual contract management applications, and marks the completion of contract processing in the automated selling system.
- Contract management cycle reduced by 5 days
- Enhanced customer experience
Use case 4: Follow-ups
Challenge: A mid-size online training academy sales rep monitors daily existing accounts activity, identifying the ones who have payment overdue issues or have failed to renew their subscription, input such customers’ data into the CRM as a new opportunity and do the follow-ups. On average, it takes from 15 to 30 minutes per day.
Solution: A bot automates the process of checking the clients’ statuses, creating an opportunity in the CRM, and then notifies the sales representative to do follow-ups.
- Enhanced customer experience regarding clients’ needs
- 250 – 500 FTE hours saved per year
Use case 5: Bid sites and RFP monitoring
Challenge: A mid-size furniture company sales representative spends 15 to 30 minutes, monitoring open bids and RFP on various websites. In case he finds something appropriate, he manually downloads files into the system and initiates processing among team members.
Solution: A particular bot it created to crawl bid sites, browses for RFPs, and makes notifications whenever the appropriate opportunities appear. The file downloading is also made automatically into the designated folders.
- An enhanced bid monitoring process
- More than 500 FTE hours per year saved
Use Case 6: Competitive pricing monitoring
The next use case is an excellent example of implementing RPA at the intersection of sales and marketing as has been mentioned above.
Challenge: A large-size clothing retail company sales rep spends 1 to 2 hours per week searching around various websites to track competitors’ prices. All the data on multiple items is gathered in an Excel spreadsheet and updated weekly.
Solution: An RPA bot is developed to browse competitors’ websites and collect the data daily. The data gathering and input is automated. Moreover, all the stakeholders are notified whenever there are significant changes in the competitor pricing
- A sales rep now is entirely involved in attracting and nurturing leads with no need to execute manual web scraping routine
- About 1000 FTE hours saved per year
Reveal more automation cases for sales teams powered by ElectroNeek RPA
Let them actually sell that pen
In this article, we demonstrated the areas of RPA, highlighted its benefits, and provided you with 6 illustrative use cases of robotic process automation.
As a final note, it should be stated, that for the sales team today’s reality may seem devastating, as despite the technological advances most of them still face situations when they spend a massive amount of time on data entry, management, cleaning up, updating CRMs and even making corrections when it comes to orders-related human errors.
RPA can take the burden of tedious tasks and provide your team with the precious time that can be efficiently spent on the tasks they love the most: communication with clients, adding value to clients’ relationships. As a reward it would bring much more revenue not to each of your team members on an individual level, but to the entire enterprise.
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