Sales Automation was the hot tool of 2017, but crashed just as quickly as its reputation was tarnished by spammy practices and undifferentiated content.
What is next, and how can sales teams be both effective and efficient?
The hot tool of 2017 was definitely sales automation. The idea was simple, if you looked at successful sales people in the era prior to sales automation, they had “hustle”. They would diligently follow up with prospects, often ten times or more. They would check if the prospect had received their email if they had not heard from them. They would be in touch with hundred of potential buyers at once, each going through a steady cadence until they ultimately relented and took a meeting.
It was effective. It was effective because it was rare and it was human.
When a buyer received that “hey did you get my email” message, they felt empathy for the sender. Clearly it was a person sending the communication. Not wanting to be rude, impressed by the persistence, and envious of the rare level of hustle on display, the buyer ultimately said yes.
But that was BEFORE sales automation.
For a brief while, the game worked. Buyers took a while to learn that it was all automated and the pretense of there being a diligent, persistent sales person was just a sham. The salesperson was not hustling, the buyer was being hustled.
But what should sales teams do instead? Quota needs to be hit, quarters need to be made, and there is still something to be said for the underlying idea that you need to work hard, and stay top of mind with a buyer in order to make a deal happen.
If your team is still trying to automate “hustle” rather than building real relationships, you are setting yourselves up for failure.
Targeting: Knowing the next company to talk to or the set of key buyers you should connect with is something machines are good at. Automation can help with this.
Research: Finding key insights on buyers, their companies, and their industries is something that artificial intelligence does better and faster than humans. Automate this.
Discovery: Can you discover common ground, mutual acquaintances, or potential introductions? Is anyone at your company talking to anyone at their company already? Let automation help discover this for you.
Persistence: You need to stay in touch with buyers over the long term. Let sales automation assist with this by showing you who is falling through the cracks and helping you find the right reason to reach out. Don’t let sales automation grind out an automated sequence of generic emails and voicemails.
There is plenty that sales automation can and should be doing. However, the building of relationships is one thing that cannot, and should not, be automated.