Chances are, you need to look no further than your own pocket to find an example of how technology has taken slack out of our lives. At the same time, products featuring much-heralded capabilities that ultimately proved unnecessary come and go. Often, it’s hard to differentiate between the two until time tells us which ones deliver on their ROI promise.
Before marketing automation, the most pressing challenge facing sales departments was the need to identify qualified leads. However, today’s managers are more concerned with marshaling
enough manpower to handle the tremendous influx in leads that automated systems now generate. In fact, the number of non-retail sales representatives are expected to increase from 5.62 million in 2013 to 6 million by the end of the decade. Yet, while customer relationship management (CRM) software has helped companies earn 17% higher revenues by organizing the selling process, its lack of automation features leaves much untapped potential.
Enter sales acceleration software. Sales acceleration applies mechanisms of marketing automation to the sales side of the equation, leveraging computer capabilities to free sales representatives from tedious and mundane tasks. By building upon the foundation of CRM software, the technology aims to outperform people at an even faster rate. Responsive tools act as soon as leads are passed from marketing to sales.
For example, acceleration software automatically uses a variety of methods to contact leads, from phone calls to LinkedIn messages, instead of email (400% and 700% more likely to be answered, respectively). Rather than waiting for a salesperson to act, the software launches messages as soon as leads signal purchasing intent. By offering a library of pre-written templates, it frees reps from the time-consuming task of typing messages.
The same principle can be applied to redundant work outside of email. For example, MassMutual Financial Group used tools to ease the creation of complex presentation tables. They reduced production time by about 85%, requiring less than 30 minutes to complete work that previously took 3-4 hours. Similarly, a New York Allstate agent leveraged sales acceleration to compete in a highly aggressive market. Over a two-year span, the effort realized a 389% increase in call attempts and a 175% increase in lead contacts per Allstate producer.
The average sales representative calls a lead four times when 12 calls are necessary, because their attention is often diverted to more urgent tasks such as following up with nurtured leads. Calls can also easily fall at a bad time. Automating these tasks allows salespeople to complete other work while placing an unlimited number of calls at the most desirable times, therefore reaching out to as much as 48% more contacts daily and resulting in as much as 15% more sales conversations.
As sales progress, the software compiles all contact details and assigns purchasing probabilities to leads, helping sales representatives decide where to concentrate. Other solutions—such as seamless video conferencing as an alternative to travel—trim down on time, effort and costs wherever possible.
Because customers are far more receptive to messages sent in the first minutes after they display purchasing interest online, these proactive measures not only preserve the time and effort of sales members, but increase the likelihood of a sale by striking while the iron is hot.
Signs suggest that businesses are increasingly recognizing this technology’s potential. Companies that close bigger deals faster and at a higher rate spend more per capita on acceleration tools. Projections call for the industry to grow to $30 billion annually by 2017. Although some companies may be content with the productivity of their sales workforce, others seeking growth should consider reallocating dull work to a machine—just as mankind has always done.