What's Keeping Sales Organizations from Automating?

 

As a business owner, you should strive to automate as many processes as possible.  With automation, your company can move faster and make fewer mistakes. With automation, nothing slips between the cracks. With automation, your business doesn’t wait on your people, and your process keeps marching forward. Automation is the not-so-secret weapon that can scale your business. If it can be automated, it should be automated. There, I said it.

When you liberate your employees from boring and repetitive tasks, they are free to focus on the things that add value to the business and move it forward. Though every department can benefit from automation, the sales department stands to gain the most. Your sales teams must be responsive to customer needs and proactive with outreach. Your sales teams are the face of your company, and when they make a mistake, it sends the wrong signal to your would-be customers. The busier your team is with mundane tasks, the slower and more error-prone they’re going to be with important ones. Whether it's responding to new prospects, getting discounts approved, or confirming appointments, automation will make your sales teams more effective.  

And while automation is one of the most powerful tools in the enterprise arsenal, it’s not as prevalent as it should be. That’s why I want to address the two most common objections I hear when I ask executives about what’s keeping them from automating their business.

We’re too busy.

This is by far the most common, and most ironic, answer. When I ask executives why they haven’t gotten around to automating their processes, they say they’re “too busy.”  It’s ironic because they’re busy with the very tasks they should have automated long ago. Saying that you’re too busy to automate is like furiously digging holes with your bare hands and saying you’re too busy to look up and grab a shovel. The companies that are “too busy” are the ones that will benefit from automation the most. If you weren’t busy, you wouldn’t need automation. This problem is really rooted in a lack of analysis, not a lack of time. These busy bees haven’t stopped and looked at the upside to investing in automation.

Make the time. Set aside 30 minutes to take a break from digging, look up, and take a quick inventory of what is making your team busy. Do you have people wasting hours manually re-creating the same reports week after week? Does someone have to remember to send customer onboarding messages? How much time are you spending transcribing information from one system to another? What happens if someone makes a mistake? The 80/20 rule holds true here: You’ll find that a few key tasks are taking up the majority of your time. The analysis will highlight the costs of manual effort and help you better understand the benefits of automation. Once you measure the impact, you’ll be more motivated to find the time to automate.

If you don’t do this now, then when? Do you ever really plan on being “less busy”?

We’re not ready yet.

My first question is: What are you waiting for? If you’re waiting for perfection, that might simply mean that you’re waiting forever. Instead of waiting on your process or your business to be perfect and stable, automate what you can and tweak as you go. Break your daunting end-to-end process into several bite-size steps. It’s far easier to focus on automating a specific step than an entire process.

But, before you jump in and start building, make sure you pick the best tool for the job.  One important question to ask is if the tool can be used by an admin, or if it requires a developer. Early on, as your processes are still being defined, flexibility is very important. Sure, automation can be perfect today, but what happens in six months when your business changes? Who will make that change? How long will it take? Ensuring that the tool you pick is flexible and easy to manage will be critical to keeping your business agile.

You don’t want to find yourself locked into a process because it’s too hard or too expensive to change. That’s why I recommend staying with tools that are point and click to administer and don’t require a developer. They’ll be quicker to set up and easier to change over time. Sure, point-and-click tools might not be as effective as having your own developer on hand, but what they lack in capability they make up for in speed and flexibility. Stay away from writing code until you find a part of your process that’s important and “here to stay.”

Saying that you’re too busy to automate is like furiously digging holes with your bare hands and saying you’re too busy to look up and grab a shovel.”

Iman Maghroori | Master Solution Engineer, Salesforce
 
 
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