For many years, sales was thought of as an art, not a science. And while some sales reps have that unteachable, instinctual ability that turns people into sales legends, it’s hardly scalable. But with the growth of automation across sales organizations, and the amount of data available to managers and executives, the best sales organizations are rapidly adapting and thriving, and depending less on instinctual ability.

In a recent Series Pass webcast in partnership with Conga, our own growth and innovation evangelist, Tiffani Bova, interviewed Thomas Baumgartner and Maria Valdivieso de Uster from McKinsey and Company's marketing and sales practice. In this incredibly informative webcast, Thomas and Maria shared the latest sales growth research from McKinsey and Company featured in their new book, Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders (2nd Edition), and discussed why, despite an increase in automation, they don’t think the death of the salesman is approaching. In fact, salespeople have a huge opportunity to excel with automation. Here’s a look at four best practices from McKinsey and Company’s research.

1. Automate and motivate more

In the report, Maria and Thomas found that 40% of sales activities could be automated with today’s technology, which could increase to 50% as technology continues to advance. “There are certain roles...where 85% of that can be automated, which is quite high,” Maria said. “But it’s quite challenging to automate the sales process when the sale is complex and solution-like.”

No matter the level of automation for your sales team, motivation tools are a powerful way to increase performance. Hoopla is a sales motivation platform with friendly competition and gamification which uses leaderboards and recognition to drive better performance. Track metrics right from Salesforce on TVs, the web, and mobile apps.

2. Don’t get bogged down in reports and processes

“According to our research, salespeople are not able to spend enough time in front of customers,” Maria said, “They’re bogged down with enough reports and internal process and traveling and everything else.” She added that that are a lot of low value-add activities taking place in the early stages of opportunities or customer journey that can be automated, but often aren’t.

Apps help you save time completing manual processes, such as updating opportunities, assigning leads, creating quotes, uploading data, and more. Apttus X-Author for Excel is a tool that combines the productivity and functionality of Microsoft Excel  with the security and power of Salesforce so that you can work efficiently and effectively in your preferred user interface, Microsoft Excel.

3. Focus on the right sales activities

Maria emphasized that sales reps need to focus on adding value. Automating the low-value tasks through technology means that reps can focus on the right opportunity, the right product, at the right price, and know exactly where and when to go to close deals. “This change in technology is having a huge impact on how sales organizations are going to be enabled in the future,” Maria said.  

One task that frees up your sales reps is the automation of signature gathering. DocuSign is a secure tool that transforms decision, approval, and agreement processes into a simple and easy electronic signature action on any device, anywhere. With DocuSign, over 80% of documents are completed in a day, which equals a 95% faster turnaround time for signatures.

4. Remember that people still want to talk to people

With the movement toward automation, it’s natural to wonder how sales reps fit into the big picture. Ultimately, adaptation is important, and sales teams must focus on providing value. At the end of the day, humans still want to be sold to by humans, according to Maria. “We truly believe this is going to help enable [reps] to be in front of customers, building the right relationships with the right senior person who’s the right decision maker,” she said. “And then actually building, understanding the needs, building the right value proposition, and executing against that.”

To register for upcoming Series Pass webcasts, or to watch previous episodes, visit the Series Pass homepage.