Do you know how to kill two birds with one stone, when it comes to the production process? How to make your client satisfied with the product delivered and organize the most effective and convenient workflow for your team? It’s a secret ingredient to success when you can deliver the best quality product on time, matching all a customer’s requirements and saving resources. Here’s how sales automation can help reach that goal.
Sales Automation at the Heart of the Production Process
It’s not enough to give your salespeople a task of attracting new client opportunities and consider that the job is completely done after they close a deal. It’s only the beginning of your exciting technological journey, full of unexpected moments maintaining a good relationship with that client. Your mission is to ensure the maximum reliability of your product or service for your client while also supporting and fostering the strength of your multidirectional teams.
- Single point of communication (a person or a system connecting all sides of the process and providing them all with the timely updates).
- Tracking software designed to monitor the progress and share all changes made.
- Internal chat or another process where all your specialists engaged in common activity will be able to work together and solve complex tasks.
- Additional advanced features that help your team and the client cooperate effectively.
By integrating a sales automation software, providing the possibilities above, you can be sure the project will be completed successfully and meet the completion deadline. Although such a tool is widely used in the retail world and in e-commerce for accounting, in technological outsourcing, or in product companies, as well as numerous other B2B businesses, other businesses focused on production can get many more advantages from using sales automation software.
Benefits of Sales Automation Software for B2B Companies
1. Order management automation
The production process starts with an order, i.e., at the moment when your salesperson signs a deal with a client. However, the sales automation program comes in handy even earlier, during the lead generation when a manager just has started negotiating with a lead. To store his contact data and their conversation thread, the sales manager can create a separate page for this lead in the system and update the results of conversations right there, instead of using outdated Excel sheets. That’s how you can keep all the information about your leads and potential clients in one place, with no risk to lose essential details. After signing a contract, the scheme remains the same so managers can easily update all deal records in the client’s page, including payment tendency.
2. Workflow synchronization between departments
The deal is concluded, which means you proceed to the central part of cooperation - production itself. At this stage, consistency and close interaction are the crucial factors of successful work and development of a high-quality product. It’s time to demonstrate your leadership skills by building a strong team with well thought-out management. All parties should work as a single unit under the direction of a competent manager, who’ll be guiding the entire workflow
Let’s take an IT project as an example. Typically, the development process involves two main departments: the sales department, represented by a salesperson who secured the client and communicates with him and a production department consisting of one or several developers, designers, quality assurance specialists, coordinated by a project manager. According to the advanced business requirements, it may be necessary to connect professionals from the creative departments. Depending on the project size, at least, the team consists of four people (sales guy, developer, designer, and project manager), but most often, this number is six and can even exceed 10 people.
To avoid a situation where a sales manager says one thing, a developer does something else, a QA tests something third, and a PM is at a total loss, you need to think about a workflow synchronization carefully. You must make sure that all project requirements are accurately explained to the production team, tech specialists fully understand the tasks, and a PM builds an effective development strategy to meet the promised time frames.
This is a second crucial area where the sales automation software has no equals. By using a single management system, all participants are aware of all changes, upcoming tasks, comments from a client, deadlines, and other significant details.
For example, a sales manager puts a project description (goals, functionality, technologies) and based on this, a project manager creates a new sprint (a scope of tasks for a certain period of time) and assigns tasks to appropriate developers, who, in turn, update the progress and upload all developments to the server for further testing. The great feature is that all workers can view the whole history of comments, materials, updates, questions, or other notes on one page. Eventually, you eliminate the possibility of uncoordinated actions and ensure timely results.
3. Possibility to engage the customers in the process of product creation
Since each project has an individual page in the system, you can easily have a client view the product development process, giving him access rights, so he can see how the development process looks from the inside. In this way, you not only build trustful relations with a client, ensuring the maximum transparency but also allow him to feel like a creator of his product. This means you won’t likely hear constant requests such as: “I changed my mind regarding the black background; replace it with the yellow one,” or “Add ten icons to this section instead of five” after the ready app version is launched. You run the risk to become a victim of volatile customer desires when he doesn’t participate in the process directly as if he could when joining a project page.
By providing clients with an opportunity to give real-time comments, you save the time of your team, prevent extra work, and establish positive cooperation.
4. Precise process monitoring
We’re all only human, and it’s natural for us to make mistakes, especially in tasks connected with numbers and complex operations. Luckily, with the invention of automated programs, sometimes we can close our eyes to the human factor, being sure that errors we’ve occasionally left room for will be detected. With this in mind, project managers highly appreciate sales automation systems, which allow them to precisely monitor each step of their teammates, whether it’s an incorrect time tracking or execution of the wrong task.
Types of Sales Automation Software
For the majority of entrepreneurs, the choice of a suitable sales automation system may seem like a pretty tricky task due to the tech abundance on the market. Generally, we can divide these programs into two main types: order management systems and customer relationship management systems. Let’s determine their differences and choose your cup of tea together.
1. Order Management Systems (OMS)
At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that sales automation systems frequently find their use in the retail and e-commerce markets. Primarily, this refers to order management systems (OMS) as these are indispensable tools for businesses engaged in material production.
OMS cover the entire cycle of logistic processes: from receiving an order through sales channels to invoicing a client and supplier. A well-developed order management system integrates multichannel logic and optimizes the replenishment process to meet customer needs, as well as minimizes the time and number of events from the moment a customer places an order to the time it’s processed and sold.
It’s your choice if you’re looking for:
- Importing the orders from the ERP system
- Creating a production order
- Controlling a stock balance
- Tracking work progress
- Calculating the order execution date
- Exporting order execution information to the ERP system
- Integrating the overall production system through a special adapter
Even after the order is completed and ”closed,” the OMS stores information about its processing in the workflow and database. This is required for accounting and tax accounting, analyzing the enterprise, and obtaining financial results. Having on hand data on all orders for the last reporting period, the head or a financial analyst of the company can predict future profits and develop an effective business plan for the next period (month, quarter, or year). With the OMS solution, you may forget about storing sales information in paper form, entered into an Excel spreadsheet, or recorded in some other inefficient way.
2. Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)
CRM is an approach to managing customer relations which is based on the collection, storage, and analysis of information about partners, suppliers, and current and potential customers of the company.
You can still face cases of storing call history and contact data in Excel by small businesses. Another frequent scenario is when they use separate apps for analyzing work efficiency. These are examples of manual CRM, which, of course, is utterly devoid of sales automation. Therefore, over the past decade, the market has been enriched with a large number of electronic CRMs - integrated systems with modules aimed at performing various tasks, a single repository, and the ability to connect additional services.
There are four main categories of CRM, differing in how they are used:
- The strategic CRM. It’s focused on creating and maintaining a customer-oriented business culture by concentrating and gaining knowledge about customers and using this knowledge to improve and personalize interaction with consumers.
- The operational CRM. Its primary goal is to integrate and automate sales, marketing, and customer support. These functions are implemented through boards, which give an overview of all the company's activities, through separate pages for each client, including information about the customer, sales history, calls, important customer dates, etc.
- The analytical CRM. Its role is to analyze user’s data collected from various sources and present this data so that business executives can make more informed decisions.
- The cooperative CRM. It’s aimed at uniting external stakeholders: suppliers, retailers, distributors, and exchanging customer information between these organizations.
A good CRM system serves to attract new clients and retain existing ones, as well as objectively control the quality and efficiency of the company’s employees and departments.
What to Choose?
If your business deals with the production of material items, the order management system is the must-have element of your tech infrastructure since it can provide you with all necessary logistics, supply, delivery details in a tick, and is primarily designed for the numerous regular sales (most often, small ones).
If you’re mainly focused on continuous communications with a client and the sales process isn’t momentous, pay your attention to custom relationship management software.
Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of the Sales Processes
Sales processes automation is a dream of every business owner. What can be better than no longer wasting your valuable time on bureaucracy and manual accounting? Such sales automation software as OMS and CRM turn the cherished dream of busy entrepreneurs into reality and help them focus on more important, strategic tasks, with no risk to miss the tiniest communication or production detail.