Selling Smarter, Not Harder: How QIC Is Speeding up the Sales Cycle Using Automation
Eighteen months ago, Queensland Investment Corporation’s (QIC) real estate team set a 5% sales target goal. Partnering with Salesforce, the company has achieved six times that, realising 30% growth — without increasing headcount. It’s all about speeding up the sales cycle by removing roadblocks, says Rebecca Aichholzer, QIC’s Head of Business Systems Success.
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As the speed of sales cycles and the pace of business have naturally accelerated, particularly driven by ever-increasing customer expectations, those of us who exist within the sales environment must adapt or risk being left behind.
This is not a challenge unique to just a few businesses. Consider the State of Sales report, which found that 82% of sales reps say they’ve had to adapt quickly to new ways of selling, and 69% of sales professionals agree their job is harder now.
QIC is a government-owned financial services organisation that has around $80 billion worth of client funds under management, it’s imperative we stay ahead of the fast-moving sales curve.
In QIC’s real estate team, that challenge is especially pressing. We manage major shopping and lifestyle destinations such as Canberra Centre in the ACT and Robina Town Centre on the Gold Coast. These destinations are fast-changing, shaped by trends and forces that are often well outside our control.
But within this environment we must remain nimble and efficient.
It’s my role to ensure our integrated CRM, sales and training technology platform can remove roadblocks, automate time-consuming tasks and cope with any level of change. If I can deliver that, our sales professionals can then do what they’re best at, spending time with customers.
The most important part of my role is to ensure our people adopt, use and love that technology. With Sales Cloud, specifically Lightning Web Components, Salesforce Paths and in-app guidance, I can happily say this has been achieved.
Of course, the improvement journey is never over, but I’d like to tell you about what we’ve achieved so far. It’s headlined by a 30% increase in sales, all without spending on any additional headcount.
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Automation improves employee and customer experience
To illustrate the power of automation, it might help to first focus on a specific use case.
Within QIC’s real estate division, we have a specialist division called Brand iQ. It manages platforms for the many brands within our shopping and lifestyle destinations Australia-wide, offering them the capability to engage with audiences outside their shops.
Short-term lease spaces such as pop-up shops and brand activations once involved the manual production of contracts, often with little notice. I had to check each one and, although we were always careful, there was always something that could slip through, something mistyped or accidentally deleted.
Sales Cloud helped us accelerate and de-risk that sales and booking process, eliminating the need to create contracts manually. Our people now use a pick list to select special conditions in a pre-populated contract, reducing the margin for error. The contract is then generated automatically and sent for signature via DocuSign.
Having previously worked my way through around 45 contracts each week, it’s a huge relief to now only be concerned with one or two with special conditions. Meanwhile, the retailer experience has also improved, with retailers able to launch their new customer experience in one day rather than seven.
That’s just one small example of a capability gain we’ve realised, the ability to do much more with much less, while driving cost-efficient growth along the way.
How else does Sales Cloud help us to perform at a higher level? Automation and having all data in one place improves the experience for all stakeholders. For our sales reps, it offers them real-time insight into how they can improve the experience for customers at an individual level.
It gives our people an automated to-do list in real time, prioritising tasks and creating milestones. And it’s easily customisable with clicks not code, so sales leaders can continue to shape the platform around the way our teams work.
Sales reps can see where leads come from and what drives conversion. The sales team has the information they need for each stage of the sales cycle. Automated processes and comprehensive, integrated dashboards help them work more efficiently.
It has helped us increase the occupancy rates of our sites by around 3% per year while halving the number of people that touch each booking.
And I haven’t even mentioned the best part.
How QIC has created a culture of sales enablement
It’s no secret that training and coaching are fundamental to sales success. The problem has always been that the training, CRM and sales processes have typically existed on different platforms.
With Sales Cloud, that’s no longer the case for QIC. On the consolidated platform, coaching is now baked into every step of the sales process. Hints, tips and reminders of sales learnings automatically appear as sales reps use the platform.
We’ve also harnessed myTrailhead, a version of Trailhead populated with QIC’s own learning content, which gamifies and simplifies the learning process.
We call it the Real Estate Academy. Over the past 18 months, our sales team has collectively completed over 10,000 training modules.
Who needs to be on board?
As I said, my job is to ensure our people adopt, use and love our technology. That begins by convincing decision-makers that the investment is worthwhile.
Most businesses have multiple standalone platforms designed to fulfil different business functions. Multiple platforms cause a great deal of menial, manual and low-value work as the workforce shifts between each. They also increase the risk of error.
Consolidating to a single platform might seem an obvious solution to these issues, but first systems managers must be able to prove to decision-makers how it will help the company reduce costs, boost productivity and increase efficiency.
So, where to start? Well, it’s critical to first identify the roadblocks created by the current system. Get familiar with the repetitive, low-value work sales teams are doing. Then, equip yourself with tangible targets and quantifiable statistics on how the platform will help the company in the long run.
Imagine what your team could achieve when these time-wasting processes no longer exist.
Our target, as I said, was to increase sales throughput by 5% year on year. After the first 18 months we’ve hit 30%. You’ll be amazed at the growth that can be achieved when you sell smarter, not harder.
All you need to know about cost-efficient growth
Watch Rebecca’s panel at World Tour on how sales leaders can achieve cost-efficient growth.