February 23, 2017

A Closer Look at Sales Automation and Its Key Strong Points

Sales automation, in this case, refers to deploying a system that allows you to automate prospecting, list building, outreaching and following-up. Scalability with an automated system is 5-10 times higher than without one because you can increase the volume that you want to target, without the need to hire more SDRs to manage everything, as you would do with cold calling for example. When you’re targeting prospects via automated outbound lead generation the average deal size that you’re getting per customer can be increased, something that I’m tackling here point by point.

I’ve put together this article to explain how targeting the right prospects, scaling sales in a qualitative way, turning SDRs’ roles into value-adding ones, all contribute to an increased average deal size, something that’s always a priority for your sales department.

You can cherry-pick who to target

With outbound lead generation through sales automation, you can reach out to the potentially highest paying companies because you can choose who you want to target. It’s very different from inbound lead generation where you let the prospects come to you. With outbound, you choose who you want to target and this allows you to carefully select the potentially highest paying companies. Consequently, that helps you increase the overall deal size because you don’t rely on who is coming in but on who you want to target.

You can quickly check the product – market fit

By automating your sales and outbound lead generation processes, you can target a new market/ industry in a very short period. Within 2 weeks, you can engage in conversations and then the rest of the investments can follow. Let’s say you’d want to target the Telecommunications industry in the UK. Within 2 weeks, you’d be able to target 250-500 companies and start having dialogues. Whether or not a sale comes in depends on whether you’re a product-market fit. You’ll definitely get objections, rejections, tips and insights from the prospects with whom you speak. That is one of the biggest benefits because normally a company relies on several channels to generate their leads: inbound, referrals, AdWords and more. But before you commit your investment and sales people on multiple marketing and sales channels, you can first reach out to the market and find out if there’s even a business potential there. If there is, then the follow-up investments are justified. If there isn’t, then you’ve just avoided a big risk.

Although the outbound lead generation through automation doesn’t necessarily help you get a product-market fit, it does help you try out new territories and determine whether or not and to what extent you’ll have a product-market fit with a given market.

Let’s assume you are targeting market A and you want to know how well your product fits in the new market. You can achieve this is by observing the market and interacting with it through conversations.Targeting the market in a real way will not only help you understand needs but also identify opportunities.

Case study: IBM’s voice to text recognition software

In order to better grasp the importance of pinpointing and understanding real market needs, I’ve selected a well-known example: IBM’s voice to text recognition software.

In the 1980s, IBM wanted to create a voice to text recognition software and to sell it to executives. They phoned up over 1000 executives and told them that they were working on this software and that it was almost market ready and asked them if they’d buy it if it cost them this much and this is what it would do. A very big part of the sample size said that they would buy it.

Then IBM asked themselves how real the response from the market actually was. In order to find that out, they performed the mechanical turk test where they employed a few women that were extremely fast at typing and put them in a room with a speaker. Then they invited several executives to test the product. They told the latter that the product was ready and that they could buy it after testing it. As they spoke, the executives could see the text appear on the screen. When asked if they wanted to buy it, nobody wanted to. The main reason was that a lot of the information that executives needed to speak up was confidential in real life. Many things that were being typed by them couldn’t have been spoken out loud. This is how IBM avoided a lot of investment to develop that product.

You can scale and descale anytime you want

Scaling is something that many companies struggle with and it usually happens once you have reached a sales team of 5-6 people. When you start a company, close the first few sales and get the first new clients in, things are manageable. You run into the scalability issue once you start scaling and target (for example) 5 or even 10 different industries with the aim of getting 20 new clients every month because the funnels stay the same. You will still have a sale rate of 1%-2% in 1000. This means that 1%-2% from the leads or the prospects that you target will become a sale. Therefore, if you want to make 1 sale/ month, that’s 1000 prospects, if you want to make 20 sales/ month that’s 20.000 prospects. However, there’s also the risk of reaching out to 20.000 companies and have a very low sales percentage because you approached them badly and did not scale your approach qualitatively.

Scalability is enhanced by a qualitative approach to sales

A qualitative approach to sales implies increased efficiency and accuracy. Telling your sales development representatives that next month they need to work 5 times more is not enough if you want to scale successfully. Your SDRs did not just become 5 times more efficient. They basically became 5 times more active without becoming 5 times more accurate. Consequently, they will be making many mistakes and this will hamper your scalability efforts.

Scale properly by focusing on value-adding members

In order to scale properly, you need not focus on only one level but on scaling the entire funnel. By automating outbound lead generation that problem goes away at least to the point where you only need to scale the most value-adding members of your company. These are the account managers.

Oftentimes, what will happen is that a company deploying outbound lead generation will only need to train account managers. However, they are the ones that take the longest time to train because they need to have a very in-depth knowledge of your product, of the market and have the professional acumen to speak to the target market. Training account managers takes a long time and they it is also much more expensive than training a marketing person or an SDR for example.

Consequently, you will want to:

  1. Train your account managers as fast as possible
  2. Get as much return from them as possible.

Sales automation adds value to the role of SDRs

Sales automation helps evolve the role of the SDR by taking the tasks away from sales development representatives. The tasks which are taken away allow their roles to evolve into more added value ones.

If you want to scale the SDRs who find and qualify the leads, you have 2 different departments to scale. The SDRs add value only when they are providing opportunities to account executives and there is a training term of 2-3 months before an SDR will refinance himself (they have done enough work to justify the salary that they have been paid in the previous months). The refinancing of an SDR will take you 2-3 months and that means that if you want to scale it to 10 SDRs, then you are paying 20-30 salaries without having got a return and all of them need to be successful for you to get that return.

This type of scalability is a barrier to expansion. With an automated outbound lead generation method, this bit goes away completely. Software such as HubSell will automate 80%-90% of the work of an SDR leaving only the most skilled-related work to them, such as objection handling, qualifying, handing over. As a consequence, the SDRs only focus on things which are value adding without wasting any time, and at a much higher volume because they don’t need to do the rest of the things. For example, if they’re only using 10% of their time, it means that the activity that they were normally doing during the 10% is now 100%. Therefore, SDRs train themselves much faster. Instead of 60-90 days, they train themselves in 6-9 days. As a consequence, the refinancing interval becomes much shorter.

To sum everything up, with an automated outbound lead generation tool what happens is that:

– you don’t need as many SDRs and you can evolve the role of existing representatives into a more added value one.

– your SDRs will be trained much faster which means that the refinancing interval becomes much shorter.

– you can reach out to the potentially highest paying companies because you can choose who you want to target.

– you can target a new market/ industry very quickly.

– you can scale and descale anytime you want.

Over to you – can you think of any other benefits of outbound lead generation through sales automation? Are there any tips or lessons that you’d like to share?

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave comments and questions in the dedicated section below.