Emerging technologies have made it easier than ever before for businesses to connect with customers, boost productivity and free up team members to focus on big-picture, creative tasks. From project management tools and comprehensive customer relationship management software to AI-powered chatbots and data-driven marketing, technology is boosting both productivity and the bottom line across industries.
The sales department may not be the first place many would think of adding automation. After all, to be successful when it comes to sales, businesses must be able to build trust and strong relationships with current and potential customers – a distinctly "human" accomplishment. Still, technology can provide valuable support to a sales team as well. For example, business intelligence and data analytics can help a company develop a portrait of their audience for more successful targeting and marketing. Of particular value, though, is the variety of sales automation tools on the market.
Providing both versatility and ease of use, sales automation software can provide data-driven lead generation and sequencing, automated reports, scheduling and communications services, and more, and programs are often easily customizable for a business's unique needs. We asked 16 entrepreneurs from the YEC to talk about the software suites and strategies they use for sales automation. They discuss their favorite tools and share the features and functions they find most useful for their companies.
1. Boomerang for Gmail
"Once an app, Boomerang is now a built-in function of Gmail. With the app, one could not only time when emails were sent, but also automatically reach out again after X amount of time. The great part about it was how neatly it kept every email thread with a one-button installation. This is all native to Gmail now, which is something very few know. There are many new functions available now, so be sure to update." – Joey Bertschler, uniworld.io
"My favorite sales automation tool is HubSpot, a customer relationship management tool with built-in marketing and other customer relationship tools. Specifically, HubSpot allows you to send meeting links to leads via email so they can book a slot on your calendar, and it has email sequences that can be kicked off to follow up with new leads as, for example, you look to schedule your first intro call. It's a great and robust system." – Keith Shields, Designli
3. Meet Alfred
"My business model focuses more on business-to-business clients in the graphic design space – in fact, they contribute 80% of our revenue. LinkedIn is the best platform for searching and reaching out to business-to-business clients like founders, marketers, directors, etc. We use Meet Alfred for automating our outreach process. It handles everything from sending connection invites to follow-ups and email automation." – Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz
"Although my business doesn't have a major focus on sales, I've found that ConvertKit is an extremely helpful sales automation tool with several relevant applications to my business. It has been an instrumental tool for building my mailing list, since it allows me to automate my email funnel. Then, I can focus more of my energy on more important tasks." – Bryce Welker, Beat The CPA
"According to research, 98% of visitors leave a business website without offering a way to contact them. Leadfeeder helps teams find out which pages customers are visiting and how engaged they are. It also solves the big problem of contacting them by providing them with a means of sharing company and contact information, which you can use later on for quicker outreach." – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
6. LinkedIn Sales Navigator
"LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a great sales automation tool. It provides users with access to quality leads, targets suitable prospects, provides detailed user data and more. You can search for specific types of users with its advanced search filter options so you get the most relevant results." – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
"We use Leadiro for automated lead generation. It comes with a huge database, which is updated regularly, and it allows you to filter through its data based on a variety of metrics to target the leads that are precisely relevant to your business. There's a free version, and paid subscriptions are just $99 a month." – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
8. Chatbot for customer support
"Today, people use Facebook and Twitter to ask for help from customer support and to generally get answers to questions. I think that using a chatbot to respond to commonly asked questions or to retrieve data for simple inquiries is a great way to serve customers. It's also a time-saver, because customer support can then focus on more complex issues." – Blair Williams, MemberPress
9. Slack routing
"We use Slack routing. When you have the right kind of tier criteria for your sales teams, you can route communication effectively to the right sales professional via Slack. This is a great, time-saving automation to ensure that a hot lead stays hot." – Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting Inc.
10. Post-sale drip emails
"Post-sale drip emails are one of the easiest ways to increase lifetime customer value by offering them exclusive promotions on products they haven't yet purchased. You're able to target an already engaged buyer in moments, when your brand is already top of mind, making it even easier for them to place an additional order since they trust your business." – Firas Kittaneh, Zoma Mattress
"We use SendGrid for sales automation as part of our digital marketing campaign. We create content and automate the campaigns based upon user segmentation, response and results. This has helped us in generating leads." – Piyush Jain, SIMpalm
"An automation tool we recommend is Zapier. We use Zapier to automate alerts – new leads coming through our website show up in a Slack channel – and for so many other small automations throughout the sales process." – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
"MeetEdgar is a social media automation tool that schedules and posts your content for you. That way, you're putting out content consistently while building brand awareness and increasing your online following. This saves our company time and money by promoting our content and improving lead generation." – Jared Atchison, WPForms
15. Marketing automation
"Marketing automation can be one of the most complete tools in the automation process. Increased efficiency and productivity, as well as monitoring of all phases involved, help strengthen business activities and provide greater benefits." – Kevin Leyes, Leyes Media & Team Leyes, by Leyes Enterprises
16. Data tracking
"Our favorite use for automation is data collection. It’s not always easy to track consumer data in real-time when we want to make a marketing move or public outreach attempt. Automated data tracking makes it easy to pull a report, view the results and make a quick decision." – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC