Guest Column | June 8, 2020

Sales Automation Benefits VARs Need to Know

By Megan R. Nichols

Sales Advice Data Analytics

Much of the work of value-added resellers' sales staff is tedious and repetitious administrative tasks. It cuts into time that could be spent following up on leads and ensuring customer satisfaction.

Sales automation solutions can be employed across the sales pipeline to streamline communication with potential customers and automate steps in the sales process. These tools typically link up with existing data-collection strategies, allowing you to take advantage of information from suppliers, customers, and web analytics. You can streamline the sales process, make better predictions, and even automatically adjust different elements of your sales strategy. 

Here are the major benefits that these tools can have for VARs, plus how your business can start using sales automation.

1. Automated Sales Quote And Contract Generation

With a sales automation tool, your representatives can use previous data, contract templates, and product listings to automatically generate quotes and contracts for customers who are getting ready to buy. This allows them to focus more on persuading customers and providing product information, rather than collecting prices and drafting contracts. 

2. Automated Lead Identification And Distribution

Sales teams can define criteria that filter your total pools of leads down to those most likely to convert. Then, they can follow only the ones that are most likely to provide a strong return on investment.

Once your sales team has identified the leads they want to pursue, a sales automation system can distribute them among available representatives, letting them start following up immediately.

3. Advanced Demand And Stock Forecasting

Big data has become increasingly important for almost every business. The massive volumes of data we produce every day can be used by specialized algorithms to reduce indirect expenses, optimize resource usage, and improve forecasting. 

With sales automation, you can take advantage of previous sales and stock information, as well as data on prior quotes and opportunities, to more accurately forecast demand. This lets your business better communicate future needs to suppliers and create more accurate quotes and shipment timelines.

4. Centralized Customer Support Info

These solutions can automate most parts of the workflow related to customer service. Follow-up communication, appointment scheduling, customer onboarding, and sales quotes can all be done by most tools. You also can usually update customers on information like product availability, new deals, and updated shipping times.

Sales automation also can store and centralize customer support info without manual input from sales reps. With the right tool, you can ensure every staff member who helps a customer has access to all necessary chat logs, purchase history, and client info.

Sales reps and customer support staff also can use these tools to automate report generation, further reducing the amount of administrative work they need to do.

5. Automated Call Transcription And Analysis

Without manual record-keeping and transcription, it can be difficult to extract important information from calls. Sales automation tools can record, transcribe, and analyze important calls, isolating valuable information like appointment dates or a customer's budget and needs. Like other customer-related info, this data can be automatically collected and centralized, providing easy access to all your staff. 

Automating this data management also can significantly reduce the time your sales reps will need to spend on transcribing calls and identifying relevant information.

Some call automation tools also enable real-time coaching features. These let sales managers hop on calls with representatives and guide them through the sales process without disrupting the customer's experience.

6. Dynamic Product Listings And Automatic Customer Updates

With sales automation, you can continuously update pricing, product availability, and shipping times without the need for manual intervention. These features will be especially useful if you must manage rapidly shifting shipping timelines and stock availability. The right solution lets you automatically update product listings, giving customers the most accurate information possible.

For example, if you have an item that is in high demand, you can use sales automation to regularly update product availability based on the latest information from your suppliers, often with little or no manual input needed. Other storefront information — like price, product specs, and delivery timeline — can be automated similarly.

Ways To Integrate Sales Automation Tech

For a smooth deployment of sales automation tech, any VAR should follow a few best practices. Chart out the sales systems and tech that are already in use at your business. Then, identify the elements of your workflow that you want to streamline or optimize, and familiarize yourself with what these tools can offer. Use this information to select a solution that suits your company's needs and integrates with currently used tech.

Build a team to help deploy the technology across the company. You may need a combination of IT workers and HR professionals or communication specialists to ensure every worker who will be using the new tools receives the information and training they need to utilize them effectively.

You should also prepare for a trial period during which you will phase-in the tech and experiment with it at a small scale before adopting it companywide. This period will give you a chance to see how the sales automation process integrates with your existing tools and workflows. You'll also be able to estimate training times and work out any kinks in the system that may trip up a wider deployment.

Streamlining Sales With Automation Tools

Repetitive and tedious work can slow down the workflows of sales reps and other staff at VARs. Sales automation tools can help smooth out some of these issues and streamlining the process. 

These tools also can provide powerful forecasting features to VARs willing to step up their data collection. With the right info, resellers can more accurately predict demand and availability.

VARs that want to integrate sales automation tech should prepare for a phase-in period where they can identify how to connect these solutions with existing systems and determine how best to use these tools. With an automated system in place, your business can take off.

About The Author

Megan R. Nichols is an industrial writer for sites like Thomas and IoT Evolution World. Megan also publishes easy to understand manufacturing articles on her blog, Schooled By Science. Keep up with Megan by subscribing to her blog.