How you can improve the success of sales and marketing with automation

by GlassHive - Aug 11, 2021

We all want to be the top performers when it comes to sales and marketing. Better performance means more revenue, growth, and better success. But what makes some sales and marketing teams more successful than others?

How are best-in-class services salespeople sending more than 1,100 emails, making more than 622 calls, scheduling 12 meetings, and closing four new deals every single month?

We’ll let you in on the secret: It’s years of work, processes, procedures, training, and execution.

Okay, yeah, we know that’s not what you wanted to hear. But there is something that the cream of the crop is doing that any sales and marketing teams, even the new ones, can leverage to up their performance: Automation.

What can you automate?

A lot, as it turns out. Sales and marketing has a lot of tedious work associated with it. As technologies become better at understanding the intent of actions and more tools give you the ability to plan and execute simultaneously, you’ll be able to automate more and more of your workflow.

If you want an in-depth look at what parts of your sales and marketing process you can automate, check out this article.

It all starts with strategy

Maximizing the impact of automation in your sales and marketing processes isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. As with many other things, it starts with strategy.

Don’t worry; you don’t have to create a strategy similar to those enterprise-level top-performers. You need a strategy that considers where you are as a business and where you are with your sales and marketing team. Here are three key areas to consider

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of our sales and marketing?
  • What does our resource allocation look like, both human and financial?
  • What would the perfect marketing solution look like for our team?

Even if you’re starting from scratch, understanding what resources you have at your disposal and setting some initial goals can help get you started. And if you’re refining existing strategies, it’s essential to understand what your current efforts look like, pre-automation.

Identify weak points

Strengths are important, and we certainly aren’t trying to be overly hard on your team. Understanding your sales and marketing weaknesses helps to identify areas where additional resources or strategy can be most impactful.

An excellent place to start is industry-wide struggles documented through surveys and studies.

Overcoming common weaknesses

40% of salespeople say the most challenging part of the sales process is lead prospecting. A sales automation tool that does contact research for you would be a game-changer to overcome this struggle..

Up to 50% of buyers choose the vendor that follows up first. When time is a commodity, having an automatic lead notification system is the difference between making and missing a sale.

Nurturing leads produces 20% increased sales opportunities on average. Automating in-depth marketing journeys lets you nurture leads without needing manual follow-ups.

These are just a few examples of how you can leverage automation to overcome your most prominent sales and marketing weak points. Whatever your unique challenge, ask yourself, “could automation help overcome this issue?” 

Chances are, it can.

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Track your time-takers and time-makers

Do you know where your sales and marketing team spends most of their time?

Understanding what activities eat most of your staff’s day is an excellent way to deploy sales and marketing automation for maximum impact. 

Give sales as much time to close as possible

For sales, it’s often about giving them as much time as possible toward their highest converting activities. 92% of all customer interaction happens on the phone, and salespeople make, on average, 52 calls every day. All of this calling leads to better sales success, with 80% of sales taking five follow-up calls to close.

If calls are the highest-converting activity a salesperson can perform, your sales process needs to do everything possible to maximize the amount of time sales reps make calls. That means streamlining your lead funnel, task assigning, and activity logging.

Play to sales’ strengths

Salespeople hate data entry. It isn’t why they got into sales, and it certainly isn’t their favorite part of the job.

Improving the success of your sales team means playing to their strengths. And generally, that’s their ability to form relationships and close.

They don’t want to spend hours prospecting or organizing lists. They find logging activities tedious and may not even try to record their activities throughout the day if it needs to be done manually.

Instead, use automation to play to their strengths. Conduct contact research automatically, and use account-wide score standardization that lets your salespeople quickly filter their list for the right leads. Automatic lead data organization helps your sales team identify leads at a glance without spending valuable minutes searching through emails or call logs.

Additionally, make sure you have sales software that automatically tracks and records sales activities on and off-platform, attaching them to the relevant lead. Making sales reps bounce back and forth between their email and your CRM can lead to many lost information and bottlenecks in their daily workflow.

If you can deliver these types of automation to your sales team, you might just have a group of closers on your hands.

Give marketing the ability to do more with less

There is always more marketing work to do.

The most successful marketers in the world find a way to stretch how much they can get done in a day. Often, being better at marketing means being more efficient. After all, much of marketing is a numbers game. Here are a few stats that show just how influential being able to do more in a day can be.

59% of B2B marketers say email is their largest revenue-generating activity.

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The right marketing automation software can drastically improve what is possible within 8 hours.

Here is a (by no means exhaustive) list of marketing activities you can automate with the right software.

  • Branding of all your marketing assets
  • Collateral hosting, organization and sharing
  • Marketing funnels, including journeys
  • Marketing plans
  • MQL to SQL handoff
  • Analytics and data 
  • KPI setting and progress tracking

Automation lets you get more done than you ever thought possible in an 8 hour day.

Execute and improve

Now that we understand some basics of how industry leaders implement sales and marketing automation software into their workflows let’s work on strategies to execute and improve.

Set a standard of performance

Automations alone aren’t enough to drive improved sales and marketing performance. You have to take the time to set goals and standards that you continually revisit and reset to drive consistent improvement. It’s also important to consider what automation has done for your processes; where it’s saved time, where it’s let your team get more done, etc.

The most important standards you can set for sales and marketing performance are:

  • KPIs
  • Regular reporting 
  • Team emails and shoutouts
  • Revenue opportunity goals
  • Open and Click-through rates
  • Follow up times 
  • Marketing plan and journey updates

When you have your KPIs set, automation can help keep track of your ongoing performance. Sales and marketing software can record, organize and produce reports on KPI performance so you always know how your efforts stack up against your goals.

Creating KPIs that help your sales team close

KPIs, or key performance indicators, help set goalposts for your team. They work for sales and marketing and are a handy tool for keeping track of performance and ensuring everyone is aware of goals.

But it’s not enough to create KPIs. Going in and setting a KPI for 100 new SQLs every month without any supporting KPIs is a recipe for disaster.

Think of KPIs like you would a project. You don’t tell your team, “We need a brand new IT infrastructure,” and leave them to it. You set milestones, deadlines, and processes that get you to your big goal. KPIs work the same way.

When setting KPIs, it can be easier to work backward. For sales and marketing, you can start with the number of closed deals every month or quarter. 

Even before that first KPI, you need to do a deep dive on past sales performance. It’s vital to understand how your sales funnel generally operates to understand some good baseline KPIs for your team. 

First, make sure you know the average revenue each deal nets you. For now,  don’t worry about different services or items being different prices. What we are looking for is a good average.

Next, look at how many sales activities it takes your team to close a deal. This should include follow-up emails, calls and meetings. You may not have the data to find the exact numbers. In that case, meet with your team and get a feel for their sales experience and consider only referencing the past quarter of sales.

Once you know how much the average deal nets your business and the average number of activities it takes to bring an SQL to a sale, you can begin setting your KPIs.

Some sales software has tools that let you create contracts that can be signed virtually, helping your sales rep close even more efficiently.

KPI 1: New deals

We know when we say how many new sales do you want, you immediately think, “All of them. Every one.” I mean, who doesn’t love revenue? 

When developing impactful and realistic KPIs, you need to consider how many new sales your business can handle each month. If you’re a service provider, you may love the idea of 5 or 6 new contracts a month, but your staff and workload may only be able to support 2. 

Setting the right KPIs also promotes a positive cycle of accomplishment for your sales and marketing team. When your KPIs are realistic and attainable, your team can see their work’s impact and feel the excitement of hitting milestones.

Automation can also help streamline the deal-closing process.

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KPI 2: Meetings

Meetings are the last step before a closed deal. Not every business relies on meetings for revenue generation, companies selling consumer goods, for example. But if B2B services or sales are in any part of your sales funnel, setting KPIs for meetings is essential.

Any time a sales rep has a face-to-face meeting with a prospect, it is an opportunity to close. Treating it as anything is selling your team short.

When you set KPIs for meetings, consider how many meetings on average it takes for a rep to close. For your team, it may be 2-3 meetings. Or maybe you have a team of sharks and they close after one meeting. Whatever your average is, set that as a KPI.

This KPI tells you at a glance how many deals are at the finish line. If you have a sales rep who’s had two meetings with the same business, you need to give them whatever resources are required to close that deal.

A great way automation helps your team keep track of meetings is through integrations for scheduling. Calendar integrations are a great way to save time when a sales rep is ready to set a meeting and easily record when meetings occur. You can share calendar availability and set the meeting within your sales software. Outlook also has email integrations that make scheduling a breeze.

KPI 3: Calls

In our experience, the most significant difference between average sales teams and top-performers is this KPI. Out of GlassHive’s thousands of users, the average sales rep makes 2% of the calls a best-in-class rep makes. No other KPI has that large of a disparity.

So why is that?

Well, people have gotten used to electronic communications — even sales reps.

Now, this may be less of a factor for tenured reps, but a lot of newer sales reps have grown dependent on the convenience of electronic communications like emails and direct messages. It makes sense, as you can take the time you need to develop the perfect message, answer any question, and even spell-check your response. 

All of that is great, but nothing can replace a sales rep who knows how to make calls. 80% of sales require five follow-up calls. But 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up call. That is a HUGE revenue opportunity gap created by a lack of sales follow-through.

Some sales software can make call tracking and logging easier, automatically attaching calls to the appropriate prospect. Unfortunately, no software can overcome the hurdle of making the call in the first place.

Make sure your call KPIs support your meeting KPI. If you think it takes 50 calls to lead to one meeting, align those KPIs. In the case of calling, more is better. Even cold calling produces significant results for most sales teams.

KPI 4: Emails

Best-in-class salespeople send nearly 1,200 emails every month. The average salesperson? 84. 

Again, there is a huge gap between average performance and best in class. On the surface, this difference is daunting. In reality, it is an easy opportunity for your team to tackle.

We’re not talking about setting a KPI of 1,000 emails a month for your team. You can set a KPI that is higher than you may initially think.

When setting your own email KPIs, understand that, generally, sending more than one email to a prospect increases your chances of hearing back by 25%.

A good, maintainable cadence for mass-marketing emails is 1 per week. This leaves you breathing room for 1-to-1 follow-ups and other timely emails.

Automation can have the most significant effect here. You start by building sets of emails that answer frequently asked questions or overcome regular sales resistance points. Having an email with the right message and supporting collateral ready to go can enable a sales rep to send many more emails in a day with much greater effectiveness.

Whatever your current numbers are, set your email KPI to be more. Maybe double, maybe triple. If your sales team is only sending one follow-up, set a KPI that makes them aim for 3 or more.

Emails are an easy KPI to reach and can have a positive influence on your sales success.

Mock sales-team KPIs

Here is an example of how to set up sales KPIs for your team.

Let’s assume we have a B2B service business where we sell contracts that last 12 months for an average of $5,000 per month. This makes each closed sale worth $60,000 in revenue.

This business is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy, as they just hired a new junior salesperson to help with the early part of the sales process (emails, calls). We want to generate 3 new deals a month.

The junior sales rep will work with high-funnel SQLs, sending 35 follow-up emails and making 20 calls each day. We know from industry averages that it takes 8 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Theoretically, each of our junior sales reps should reach between 2-3 prospects a day. When a prospect shows interest following calls from a junior rep, the lead is then sent to our senior sales rep team.

Our senior sales team consists of two reps who are focused on closing any lead sent to them. On average, they need 2 meetings to close. They also have an average of 5 meeting follow-up calls before a closed deal. 

When a prospect is handed off from the junior sales team, our experienced sales reps send an additional 20 emails and make 6 calls to the lead before setting a meeting.

With this information, we can begin setting our new sales KPIs. We work backward from our revenue goal.

New revenue: $180,000

Meetings: 6 (company), 4 (personal, senior rep)

Calls: 550 (company),  440(junior rep), 110 (senior rep)

Emails: 900 (company), 600 (junior rep), 150 (senior rep)

An important thing to keep in mind when you set your own KPIs is ideal vs. actual. Your ideal KPIs assume every workday is the exact same. No sick days, holidays, or differences in productivity. We recommend building a little bit of wiggle room into your KPIs that take into account a real, functioning workplace.

Keep your finger on the pulse

Managing sales and marketing is just as important as that sales and marketing happening. All those KPIs we just went through mean nothing without the management to back them up.

While a lot of management can’t be automated, much of the visibility you need to properly manage can be.

For instance, your sales and marketing software can automatically track all those KPIs we set earlier with the ability to view them company-wide or by the salesperson.  You can also dive into individual activities by the salesperson, campaign, or lead to get the full picture of your teams’ performance.

And don’t worry if you can’t do regular daily check-ins. Many sales software can send you automated reports with all the data you need to catch up.

Rally the team

One part of using automation to improve sales success is setting KPIs, but another very important part is letting the team know when they’re doing awesome.

Automating monthly emails with month-over-month comparisons and sales summaries is great, but you can also automatically send out a win-wire email whenever a sales rep closes a deal.

This can help your team stay rallies around their goal by staying aware of how their peers are doing as well as getting that great endorphin rush when they make a sale.

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Revenue and ROI

Like everything in your business, keeping track of the ROI of certain activities and resources is vital to growth. Now that we’ve set KPI’s and discussed how to keep track of them, we can start to make the connection between your sales and marketing effort and ROI.

Your sales and marketing have a built-in cost. As its baseline, that cost is the human resources and any additional software/tools needed to carry out marketing. There are, of course, additional costs like advertising budgets, content production, and list acquisition, among others.

Determining the return on investment of these marketing costs and activities requires that first, you overcome your baseline costs, and second you can analyze how each additional dollar spent impacts your revenue.

Say you set aside a budget of $10,000 for strategy, content production, and marketing on a new item you’ll be selling. $1,000 goes to strategy, 3,000 to content production, and the remaining $6,000 to be spent on marketing.

Let’s say this campaign takes place over a quarter. How can you gauge your ROI when it’s all said and done?

The right sales and marketing software can help you keep track of every activity that relates to the campaign. Every email, click, form fill, follow-up, call and meeting and be tied directly back to the campaign. When you close a deal, you’ll be able to say for certain it was because of the marketing budget. 

Even if results are less than you imagined, you can look back through your data and analytics to see what emails or content did well, and what could be improved. Using automation to gather data for each campaign, email, activity and lead gives you the information you need to improve the ROI on your next marketing campaign

Build an email optimization machine

The right set of automation tools can make your marketing team seem like a bunch of superheroes.

Building out comprehensive marketing plans and email journeys are an incredible way to give your business months and years’ worth of marketing that can be reused as much as needed. 

Taking the time to build a library of content and strategy can enable your marketers to automate entire funnels and journeys that reliably generate results. The right combination of these tools can deliver an interactive and consistent journey that begins at the brand introduction and can result in potentially multiple sales opportunities. 

What’s even better is that over time, these plans can be reused or edited to improve over previous iterations. Maybe you find out the consideration phase for a certain product is a month long. Using that information, you can dial in the email cadence to maximize what information you can present in that timetable.

You can also view the overall performance of marketing plans and email journeys, letting you know at a glance if improvements are needed.

With 81% of SMBs relying on email for new customer acquisition, your ability to tackle as much email marketing as possible can be a real revenue growth opportunity.

Quicker follow up, quicker close

Earlier we mentioned that 50% of buyers choose to buy from the company that follows up first. How are businesses leveraging automation to accelerate their lead follow-up times?

Automatic notifications.

A great way to set up your sales software is to create a lead-escalation plan. The general idea here is that when a lead passes a certain score or takes a particular action that an automated notification goes out to your sales team letting them know that the lead needs a follow-up stat.

There is a lot of ways to set up these triggers. Sending out a notification whenever a lead becomes hot is a great start. You can also have certain activities, like an email click-through, trigger a notification letting a salesperson know a lead is ready for follow-up.

Internally, you should stress the importance of follow-up time with your sales team, especially as a lead moves further down your funnel. This is one of those instances where minutes can really matter, and having a quick sales response can directly correlate to more sales.

Imagine your ideal sales and marketing software

Now that you have some basis of how you can improve sales and marketing with automation, take some time to imagine what types of automation tools would benefit your team most. It could be that all of the examples we used here hit home, or maybe every single one missed the mark. Regardless, take the time to consider the ideal sales and marketing software for your business. 

Hey, maybe GlassHive is the right fit. What’s great is you can try it out for free. Dip your toes in and see how warm the water is, or reach out to a GlassHive rep to learn a bit more about what GlassHive can do for your business.