What is Sales Automation?
Business process automation has been around for a long time, and sales is a process that is more balanced when automated. We need to be able to automate manual, repetitive, administrative, and time-consuming tasks our sales team regularly does. Sales automation should allow our sales team to focus on selling and understanding our customer’s needs.
Sales Automation and Dynamics 365
Dynamics 365 offers a highly customizable system for a well-balanced and automated sales process. This balance makes sales efficient without sacrificing the personal touch of a human to nurture our customers. We’ll have a robotic sales process if we automate too much, and our customers might go somewhere else. Our sales team is inefficient if we automate too little, and they can’t focus on what they do best—selling and nurturing our customers. As a real, live person, our sales team adds an irreplaceable element of humanity to sales and will be the differentiating factor to make our offer unique.
How can Sales Automation help?
Sales automation helps in:
- Data analysis and report generation
- Lead generation, prioritization, and distribution
- Sales collateral and email template generation
- Meeting scheduling and deal management
- Contracts and documents for proposal conversion
New trends in Sales Automation
Trend #1: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence
One of the top trends in sales automation this year is the adoption of artificial intelligence. About 40% of traditional sales functions can be automated. With technological advancements in natural language processing, this can reach 50% or higher, with human interaction providing value for our customers. This can help tremendously through the use of chatbots, machine learning, and big data analytics. Chatbots can assist our sales team in repetitive tasks for lead generation, customer support, and sales functions
Although CRM systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365 already helps in simplifying some tasks for our sales team, there will still be a percentage of leads that are not followed up. These are leads that we have spent time and money on but are left to wither away. If we use artificial intelligence as our lead generation qualification, we could have 100% touch rate as a result. Through the use of artificial intelligence, we can keep leads warm for more time until they can be qualified. Our sales team needs to become subject matter experts on the product or services that we offer. They only need to step in when subject matter experts are needed in the sales process, making them more efficient.
The goal of artificial intelligence is to provide our sales team timely recommendations based on big data analysis to help with decision making. There is a significant shift from the analysis of historical data to using data to be more predictive, giving suggestions to our sales team on a possible course of action. Dynamics 365 is fully capable of doing all these with customization and integration with LiveChat systems, chatbots, MS Cognitive services, and more.
Trend #2: Augmented Reality is the real deal
Another trend I see is how augmented reality can help our sales team engage our customers more efficiently. Augmented reality can help our sales team do product demos remotely removing the repetitive tasks of traveling back and forth between different locations. Our sales team will only need to travel when they are required physically, like closing the deal and getting the sale. Another use for augmented reality is to help our product experts/engineers assist our sales team remotely when our sales team are physically present with the customer. This saves time by removing the need for the product experts/engineers to travel and gives our sales team assistance when needed
Augmented Reality allows for our customers to view a digital model of our product and they can play with and try out this digital model. Our customers will feel connected to our product when they engage a digital model as if they already bought and owned it. Customers are more inclined to purchase products they already feel connected to or have previously owned. We can also use augmented reality to set up virtual shops so our customers can try our products before they buy, redefining the way we do online shopping. Augmented reality paves the way for these experiences to happen, and I’m excited how this will help our sales team boost our sales. With Microsoft becoming aggressive in leading the augmented reality space, we are confident that it could easily integrate with Dynamics 365 soon.
Trend#3: Let’s get social
Along with augmented reality and artificial intelligence, I see a trend moving to social selling. It was difficult for us to sell online to our customers before. Years ago, we lacked structure for building engaging content. We also did not have the structure for targeting our leads with the products they are most likely to buy. But now, artificial intelligence helps us have a focused approach to social selling while augmented reality provides the structure for creating engaging content. Dynamics 365 uses social engagement to let our sales team get highly valuable social insights. With some integration to Azure Machine Learning and Microsoft augmented reality platforms, interactions will get much more interesting for our sales team, as well as for our customers
Social selling will be more useful in the future when the internet of things and wearables becomes widely adopted. Before, we targeted customers through social media on their laptops, tablets or phones. With wearables and the internet of things, devices are now more connected than ever. Imagine communicating with customers with devices we never thought of before. Smart watches are just a start; imagine having smart mirrors where we can engage them through suggestive selling. Customers haven’t shaved yet? Let’s offer them a product for shaving. Customers have pimples? Let’s offer them products for improving their skin. These innovations will bring new meaning to the word social selling and redefines the way our sales team socially engages the customer. Instead of just using social media, we can be communicating with them in their social life through smart wearables and smart devices.
Trend#4: Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies
Technological advancements in blockchain technology can also improve the way we close deals and sign contracts. Thirty big banks, tech giants, and other organizations are uniting to build business-ready versions of the software behind Ethereum. With Ethereum Smart Contracts, we can manage agreements with our customers, like proposals, closing deals, and contract signing. And these Ethereum Smart Contracts will be backed by financial and technological institutions. Blockchain is something to look into a few years to help make sales more efficient and paperless. Soon, paper money and paper contracts will be a thing of the past.
The future of Sales Automation
There are predictions that by 2019, the entire sales process will be automated from beginning to end. Chatbots will handle lead generation, identifying and qualifying them, creating proposals and contracts, and negotiating with buyers. While this is technically possible, people will more than likely buy from other people. Who would want to buy products from a piece of AI? It would be wise to have a clear view of our sales process so we have a better idea where automation can be used to boost our bottom line. It is best to balance our sales automation and efficiency with personalized selling. Dynamics 365 is well-positioned to help our sales team gear up for what’s coming in the future.