Anything that streamlines, simplifies, or automates the process of selling is a plus, freeing up your team members to spend more time doing what you hired them for. This is where sales automation can help.
Choosing the right sales automation solution can help save you time, money, and headaches. However, the wrong automation tool can end up causing issues rather than solving them.
Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about automating the sales process.
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What is sales automation?
Sales automation is simply using software to automate many of the repetitive tasks involved in selling goods or services. The aim is to manage and reduce the tedious routine administrative tasks of managers or sales reps.
When implemented effectively, automation tools allow your sales team to focus on more important tasks. At the same time, automation makes the online selling process seamless and effortless for shoppers, increasing the odds that they complete a purchase and buy again.
For example, Shopify Flow helps free up merchants’ time by automating time-consuming manual tasks. Shopify Flow’s pre-built templates work for both small and large teams that are looking for ways to optimize the sales process.
How you use sales automation will depend on your business structure and goals. For ecommerce businesses, sales automation software could let your sales team track top-spending customers or use a sophisticated inventory management process.
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5 sales-related tasks to automate
Here are five ways ecommerce business managers can use sales automation tools to improve their operations.
1. Email marketing
Email marketing automation can keep customers in the loop, telling them when their order is completed and shipped and when they can expect to receive it. Build in triggers that automatically send notice of any change to the delivery schedule. For both new and existing customers, automated follow-up emails can encourage future purchases.
2. Sales forecasting
Managing seasonal fluctuations in demand is challenging under the best of circumstances. Using accurate data compiled by sales automation tools makes it easier to predict those ups and downs so you can match customer expectations. Sales process automation also can make it easier for your business to navigate supply chain disruptions.
3. Customer support
Almost all shoppers view an immediate response as either crucial or very important when they need customer support. To meet these expectations, create a simple chatbot workflow that’s programmed to answer simple queries about delivery timelines, returns, and product availability. Improving your customer response time helps improve the customer experience and overall satisfaction.
4. Inventory management
Managing inventory levels manually is time consuming and complex. Set up a workflow that automatically reorders low-stock products before you run out. If a product does go out of stock, avoid disappointing your customers by “hiding” it on your web page until it’s available again.
5. Customer loyalty programs
Recording your customer data and profiles in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform makes it easier to understand your customers in ways that can boost their loyalty and retention. For example, classify customers according to their lifetime purchases. Then, set up a trigger so that when customers pass a certain threshold you can offer a discount or rewards points toward future purchases.
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3 benefits of sales automation for ecommerce businesses
As you scale your business, you’ll need to find ways to streamline time-consuming processes. Sales automation benefits ecommerce businesses in the following ways:
1. Maintains accurate sales data
Relying on accurate data is essential for effective sales forecasting and analysis. By using pre-built workflows, you’ll eliminate the need for manual data entry and reduce human error.
2. Boosts productivity
Reducing the number of hours devoted to low-value tasks lets you use business resources more efficiently. Instead of spending time on repetitive tasks, your team is free to focus on more important creative and strategic projects.
3. Improves customer satisfaction
By automating part of your customer support, you can lower your response time and boost overall customer satisfaction. Plus, you can direct more of your customer support resources to larger problems.
5 challenges of sales automation
Before you get started, here are five of the challenges of sales automation to consider:
- Initial set-up costs
- Time investment
- Data privacy and security risks
- Loss of human touch
- Changing tech
1. Initial set-up costs
The sales automation software you choose might come with a hefty price tag. Additionally, depending on the size and complexity of your business, you may need to pay a specialist to set up the software.
2. Time investment
As you get started with sales automation, your sales teams may go through a learning curve as they adapt to new processes. You may need to set aside time to train your sales managers and team members who will use the system. A platform that lets you install workflow templates for popular use cases can save time.
3. Data privacy and security
You’ll probably store some customer data with sales automation tools, so it’s vital to protect your business and customers from data breaches. Many consumers say that once a company has violated their trust, they will never give it their business again. Ensuring data privacy may incur some cybersecurity costs, but it could save you from paying fines or losing customers.
4. Loss of human touch
Too much of anything is never good, and the same goes for sales automation––overdo it and you may lose the human side of your business. Consider how you can use automation to make your customers’ interactions with your business more personal. For example, by maintaining accurate customer purchase data, you can offer personalized customer rewards and gifts.
5. Changing tech
Setting up sales automation software isn’t always a one-and-done. Between rapidly evolving technology and rising customer expectations, you may need to update or modify your system regularly. It’s best to choose a platform that evolves as your business scales, preferably in real time.
Sales automation FAQ
What are the advantages of sales automation?
Busy merchants and sales teams can use automation software to streamline time-consuming sales processes. This can save money, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction.
The key benefits of sales automation for online stores also include:
- Less human error
- Increased productivity
- More efficient use of resources
- Accurate sales records maintenance
What are some popular sales automation tools?
Shopify Flow is a popular sales automation platform for ecommerce businesses. It lets busy business owners easily build custom workflows that automate tasks in their online stores and integrated apps. Other sales automation tools include:
- HubSpot. Hubspot is an all-in-one sales automation platform suited to small to medium-sized businesses. It has features such as sales analytics, email tracking, and pipeline management.
- Outfunnel. Outfunnel isn’t an all-in-one sales software, but it does unify all your marketing, sales tasks, and customer relationship management data in one place.
- Pipedrive. This is another popular sales tool that automates follow-up emails, CRM data updates, and task delegation.
How do I choose the right sales automation tool for my business?
For smaller ecommerce businesses, choose a sales automation tool that makes it easy to create workflows without needing to code. It’s important that your sales automation software lets you automatically restock products, store data, and identify fraud from one place. Your sales automation solution should also let you connect your existing apps to complete even more tasks.