According to research by HubSpot, most sales reps spend only about a third of their day on “sales-critical” activities (aka making money.)
The rest of their time disappears into manual tasks like prospecting leads, attending training, reading product catalogs, writing emails, entering data into Excel, scheduling/attending meetings, and putting together endless quotes and sales reports.
Top sales reps have a secret weapon – sales automation software. It lets them maximize the time they spend actively selling and closing deals.
This post looks at six types of sales automation software (listed below) and makes vendor recommendations. They’re game-changers for most reps. Will they be right for you?
What Is Sales Automation Software?
“Sales automation software” refers to any piece of software that automates manual sales tasks. When used effectively, sales automation software boosts sales productivity by 14.5% and reduces marketing overheads by 12.2%.
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Sales automation software takes care of tall the most repetitive, menial sales tasks – the jobs salespeople hate. This could mean prospecting, data entry, emailing, deal management, meeting scheduling, quoting, reporting, or all of the above.
The 6 Most Effective Types of Sales Automation Software
Sales Automation Solution 1: CRM
Vendor Recommendation: Salesforce (Sales + Service Cloud costs $25 to $200 per user/month, 30-day free trial)
Customer relationship management (CRM) software consolidates and organizes all the information you have about your customers, and your interactions with them, into one place.
It makes it easier to manage leads and customer records while crafting richer, more meaningful customer experiences.
Today’s CRMs provide data on customers and leads at a granular level and make it easy for teams across your organization to access it in real-time. This accessibility breaks down silos and enables coordinated, highly contextualized, and personalized customer interactions.
Salesforce’s Sales Cloud provides sales reps with a single source of truth for customers. Available on all devices, it automatically prioritizes leads to nurture, assigns reps to deals, and prompts reps to make contact at the optimal time to turn MQLs into SQLs and SQLs into customers.
Sales Automation Solution 2: CPQ
Vendor Recommendation: KBMax ($100 per user/month)
Configure-price-quote (CPQ) software software is a powerful sales automation solution geared towards manufacturers of complex, configurable products. It makes selling engineer-to-order products a breeze, no matter how massive your product catalog and how many options or dependencies it contains.
Visual product configuration allows sales reps to view and configure products in 3D, generating prices and quotes in moments. Product rules built into the CPQ prevent configuration mistakes, ensuring every product is configured for engineering efficiency. No more customer-sales-engineering-manufacturing back-and-forth.
CPQ takes lots of manual sales tasks out of the equation. Dynamic pricing saves sales reps from having to look up prices for each configuration change. Quotes and proposals are generated automatically. And there’s no need for manual data entry. AI algorithms furnish reps with product suggestions and recommendations that drive up the deal size and boost satisfaction.
KBMax eases your engineering team’s workload too with CAD and design automation. The CPQ generates technical drawings, BOMs, and CNC cut sheets with a click of a button. And unlike Salesforce CPQ, KBMax can be used by customers as well as reps. Click here if you’d like us to show you how it works.
Sales Automation Solution 3: Marketing Automation
Vendor Recommendation: ActiveCampaign ($9-$479/month for 25,000 contacts, 14 day free trial)
Marketing automation software empowers sales reps to close deals by creating highly integrated and personalized customer experiences. How? By automating everything from emails (with pre-configured templates and drip campaigns) to social media and market segmentation.
There are so many different marketing automation tools on the market, and lots of them are great. Some, like CoSchedule, specialize in one thing – in this case, social media content calendars and posts. Others, like Hubspot, Klaviyo, Marketo, ActiveCampaign, and SendinBlue, automate various marketing tasks in response to customer behavior.
ActiveCampaign combines marketing software staples like contact management, segmentation, and email marketing with a user-friendly drag-and-drop workflow builder. It integrates with CRM to create context-driven customer experiences that flow into one another perfectly.
Sales Automation Solution 4: PIM
Vendor Recommendation: Pimcore (Free Community Edition)
With product information management (PIM) software, all of your product information – and each possible configuration – is consolidated within a single platform.
A PIM serves as a single, authoritative source of truth for your sales reps. With accurate, up-to-date product specifications, images, schematics, manuals, certificates, and more, a PIM makes it easy for sales reps to locate the information they need to help customers order the right products to meet their specific needs.
A powerful and intuitive PIM can reduce your training load for new employees and new products, remove bottlenecks created by siloed tribal knowledge, and facilitate omnichannel consistency.
Top PIM vendors include Salsify, Akeneo, and Pimcore for medium to large enterprises and Plytix or Pimcore for SMEs.
Sales Automation Solution 5: Meeting Scheduling Software
Vendor Recommendation: Calendly ($0- $12 per user/month)
Scheduling meetings is a massive waste of time for sales reps and one of the most straightforward sales tasks to automate.
There are many different scheduling apps available, including MeetingBird, Doodle, Rally, and HubSpot Meetings. Calendly is one of the best – it’s simple and just works. It integrates with your primary calendar and lets others schedule meetings with you. It checks your availability and creates different meeting types for different purposes depending on your schedule.
With Calendly, you can send prospects and customers a link that lets them view your availability and put a meeting in your calendar. Once they’ve selected a time that works, the meeting is automatically saved in both calendars.
Sales Automation Solution 6: Workflow Automation
Recommended Vendor: Zapier ($0-$599 per month)
While workflow automation software isn’t restricted to sales automation use cases, it’s one of the most potent sales efficiency maximizing solutions you can implement. It’s capable of automating any repetitive or predictable business process or workflow you can think of.
There’s a fair amount of overlap with the other sales automation solutions outlined above. So why have we included workflow here as a category of its own? Simple: it covers just about everything that’s left.
Popular workflow automation tools include Nintex and KissFlow, which offer drag-and-drop workflow builders and electronic forms. But for ease-of-use and a wealth of integrations (more than 3,000), nothing compares to Zapier.
Popular “Zaps” (automated tasks in Zapier) for sales reps include:
- Updating and organizing your CRM
- Notifying business managers of new leads
- Sending out emails triggered by specific behavior
- Sharing social media posts to Slack
- Adding new leads to email marketing software
The possibilities are endless!
The Bottom Line
Top-rated sales reps know that relationships are their most valuable asset. They leverage sales automation software to spend less time on admin and more time on relationship building and lead nurturing – the “human” side of sales that no AI can replicate.
We hear it all the time: technology is taking over every role in every industry. Top-performing sales reps of the future will be those that can marry innate personality traits such as confidence, charisma, and competitiveness with a firm grasp of sales automation software as it evolves. Mastering the tools in this list will be a great way for any rep to get ahead and supercharge their performance.