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Picture this: It’s the 1980s, and the first startup wave is just beginning. Reps are still closing sales via phone calls or in-person meetings. Salespeople regularly work until 10 p.m., pulling long hours to reach daily cold-call quotas of 100 contacts or more. Without Wi-Fi, smartphones, or email to help them wrangle their responsibilities, sales reps double as professional cat-herders.

Despite all of those technological shortcomings, in many ways, your sales forefathers had it easy. Modern sales teams may have tools like Gmail, Slack, and iPhones, but they also experience constant interruptions via those same platforms. The on-demand nature of their jobs requires them to be "connected" 24/7, ready to reply to prospects' quote requests at all hours. Between pursuing clients and juggling administrative tasks such as scheduling and call logging, their schedules make the sales jobs of the ‘80s look like a breeze.

My opinion? There’s never been a better time to work in sales. Sure, the growing demands of the job can seem overwhelming. But advances in sales force automation are reducing the amount of time spent on grunt work, which frees sales professionals to invest their energy where it counts: connecting with prospects.

'To Automate, or Not to Automate?' Is No Longer the Question

When companies look into automating their sales processes, they’re often directed to look into Customer Relationship Management. While CRM systems alone are immensely useful in automating sales tasks, the most powerful CRM platforms can open up a world of fully-integrated automation tools to really boost efficiency and alleviate your workload. Let’s examine a few areas where automation is improving the sales process:

1. Email

Salespeople send approximately 120 emails a day, often with little insight as to whether their messages resonate. Sales engagement platforms enable sales reps to see when prospects view and click on emails, and they provide customizable, time-saving email templates as well.

2. Phone calls

Many sales reps have anywhere from 100 to 300 callbacks in their pipelines, and they may only make it through 25 of those a day (if that). Considering that it takes about 8.4 cold calls to reach a live prospect, that's a lot of time spent on the phone for minimal results. RingDNA and similar dialing apps speed up the process by auto-logging calls and generating local numbers so people will be less averse to picking up when they see an unknown contact on their caller IDs.

3. Voicemails

Nearly 80 percent of sales calls go to voicemail, and 90 percent of first-time messages don’t receive return calls. Voicemail automation allows you to record a friendly, to-the-point message and deliver it at the click of a button once you realize no one is answering.

4. Call logging

Only 57 percent of sales reps log all their calls. They simply don't have time for it. In today’s fast-paced sales environment, reps should not be wasting hours on data entry. Call logging automation tools record every outbound and inbound call in your CRM as they occur.

5. Appointment scheduling

Only half of salespeople feel they have time to send appointment confirmations, and only 36 percent follow up with thank-you notes after meetings. Instead of sending emails back and forth, use a scheduling platform that lets clients know when you’re available, automatically sends email and SMS reminders, and even generates thank-you emails to maintain a friendly touch.

6. Lead prioritization

Up to 50 percent of sales go to the vendor that responds first, so you need to be lightning fast if you don’t want to lose customers. Solutions such as Pardot score and prioritize leads so sales reps know exactly which prospects to pursue first each day.

7. Providing timely content

The right content helps close deals, overcome objections, and build relationships. But identifying content that matches every prospect’s industry, geolocation, and persona can be a total time sink. Data enrichment tools help by tracking consumers' buying patterns, thus allowing automated systems to recommend content that speaks to their pain points.

These are just a few examples of how automation is helping sales teams work more efficiently — the options are nearly limitless, and they’re changing all the time. But by always looking for ways to automate your processes, you’ll find that you’re able to work smarter and spend less time on tedium (and more on connecting with customers).

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Anati Zubia, a self-proclaimed “Old Soul Millennial,” is the perfect blend of modern marketing leader and technology geek. As the director of marketing for AppointmentPlus, she has responsibility for leading strategic marketing and business development. Her passion for SaaS and cloud-based applications has only continued to grow throughout her 16 years of marketing within the technology industry.