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Top‌ ‌8‌ ‌Sales‌ ‌Automation‌ ‌Tools‌ ‌for‌ ‌Startups‌ ‌in‌ ‌2020‌ ‌

sales automation tools

Startups today have no time for routine tasks related to data entry and administration. This is where sales automation comes into play, which helps optimize your manual tiresome and time-consuming assignments. 

Marketing automation allows your sales assistants, managers, and CMOs to focus less on the organization of the whole marketing process and more on their direct function – selling.

Luckily, there is a wide choice of special tools that can help you automate lead lists building, send sales emails and follow-ups, schedule meetings and calls, and perform other tasks.

Why Is Sales Automation Important for Your Startup?

It Helps Save Effort and Time 

Marketing automation can help increase sales efficiency by 14.5% and decrease marketing expenditures by 12.2%. Besides, business owners, CEOs, and CMOs claim that the biggest advantage of sales automation for their company is saving time at 30%. 

With business administration getting tough these days, 68% of companies use marketing automation somehow. 

It Provides Insight Into the Effectiveness of the Sales Process

An increase in earnings (85%) and marketing productivity (69%) are the main reasons businesses want to implement automated lead nurturing. Moreover, 63% of companies are beating their rivals, thanks to sales automation.

It Helps Identify Sales-Ready Leads and Maintains Relationship with Leads

When used to nurture leads, marketing automation tools show an increase in qualified leads. The reason is simple – automated instruments give you detailed data about your prospects. This helps push every deal down the sales funnel and propose a personalized, data-driven offer so that your lead is more willing to make a buying decision.

It Helps Grow Revenue

As reported by 60% of users, implementing sales automation tools in their business has improved the number of leads that convert to deals. And this increase can be as high as 225%! Even just after one month of use, 3x more prospects can be converted to sales. 

Types of Sales Automation

Modern technologies and artificial intelligence can help you save way more time than you could imagine. If you automate routine tasks throughout each sales funnel stage, you will have enough freedom to focus on interesting and creative tasks. As a result, you will sell more.

You will be surprised at how much can be automated by software:

1. Automate Sales Prospecting

If you implement a dynamic CRM, you can use countless criteria to filter out the most suitable leads based on the required conditions. You can also get a personalized email, Slack notification, or in-app alert once a new lead matches your demands. Put differently; you will keep getting a prequalified list of contacts regularly without lifting a finger.

2. Streamline Processing and Enrich Your Lead Database

The more knowledge about the target audience and existing clients you have, the more powerful you are. Data about your lead’s job position, presence on social media, solutions their business provides, existing suppliers, etc., will help you successfully get in touch with them.

3. Stop Entering Data Into CRM Manually

Set up workflows in your marketing automation software to track records of your qualified leads automatically. For instance, you can determine all the contacts that have submitted the form or downloaded the price list as “qualified.�

4. Automate Your Email Campaigns

Do you still send each email manually to all your leads or copy and paste the same messages? Alternatively, try using email templates, personalize, and schedule letters for every client’s best conversion. You can try using tools like Snov.io for that purpose.

5. Manage Marketing Collateral

Sales reps spend tons of time searching for useful content or writing texts to send to their leads. Ensure your business has a �orporate shared Google Drive folder where you store valuable files. This way, it will be easier for you to access the most important marketing documents, saving time during every contact with prospects.

6. Schedule Calls, Meetings, Mailouts, etc.

Planning a meeting with a sales lead over email can take time and reminds us of a tennis game. You suggest one meeting time to your prospect; they propose another option, then you offer a third solution, etc. This is tiresome and can also destroy the impulse in your sales negotiations.

Instead, you can use one of many meeting-scheduling tools (like Calendar, for example). They give your contacts direct access to your calendar and enable them to plan the meeting in any free time span if you dd customized scheduling links 2020 to your email messages and signatures. Most such tools grant free trials, so it is easy to study and test them.

7. Use AI-Powered Analytics of Sales Conversations 

If you want to analyze your calls, check your campaigns’ efficiency, and improve your sales approaches, try using sales communication AI-software. It allows you to quickly check what topics you discussed in a call, what rivals you mentioned, and study the talk-to-listen portion. Tools like Gong and Chorus pull out key pieces of your talks and give you AI-powered insights.

8. Automate Lead Management 

If you spend hours managing your CRM instead of making calls and bringing contracts, try automating all the activities related to prospects and deals. The market offers plenty of instruments to record your conversations, schedule meetings, and plan emails for you. Check if your current CRM offers workflow automation and start implementing it.

9. Manage Deals and Papers

Today, most of the contracts and offers are mailed and signed over the internet. Tools like Hellosign or Adobe Sign offer solutions for e-signing, lots of impressive analytics features, and functions that can help boost your conversion rates. 

This is just a small part of the many marketing activities that can be automated. In the age of AI and robots, all types of routine organizational tasks can be automated, while a real live contact with the prospective or existing client should remain to be carried out in person.

How to Choose the Best Sales Automation Tool?

Selecting the best tool or several tools that suit your needs might take some time, as many options on the market claim to be the best. We hope these pieces of advice will help you choose the best instruments for your business.

Decide What Processes You Would Like to Automate

Check all marketing processes you have at the moment. Does lead qualification take much of your daily routine? How much time do you spend on lead nurturing, prospect engagement, and content marketing daily? Do you schedule follow-up calls or send reminders manually? How long does it take to organize bulk seasonal offerings? 

There can be dozens of similar questions. Analyze your answers and think about what processes should not take so much time or where you can avoid manual work from you or your team.

Make a List of Essential Functions

After you’ve chosen the main processes, try to create a list of specific features you’ll require, such as email marketing automation or mobile availability. If you do not select features and must-have’s your business needs, you might end up with a complex product you cannot use. Choose the required functions and, after that, compare several platforms according to the list of criteria.

Finally, Test the Product in Practice

Once you have specified the must-have functions, prioritize them and shorten the list to several most important items. After that, compare the software once again to see which tool you can start using right now. It would be great to test-drive each platform by getting a free trial or an interactive demo to get a more comprehensive vision and make a more prepared decision. 

This might look like a lot of work, particularly if you are working hard to help your company survive. Still, experience proves – a couple of hours invested now will pay off a dozen times in the future. 

Top Sales Automation Tools

Snov.i0

Snov.io is an integrated cold outreach automation platform used by sales departments, marketers, startups, and simply anyone who needs high-quality outbound research and outreach tools.

This all-in-one toolkit allows you to speed up creating and managing lists of prospects and bring your brilliant ideas directly to their inbox. It works for every stage of your marketing process:

  • Non-stop lead gen and verification. You can automate your lead generation, pump up your funnel with targeted leads, and accelerate conversions with this solution. It boasts 98% email deliverability thanks to the high quality of new and existing leads guaranteed by the 7-tier verification.
  • Nurture, engage, convert. Boost engagement with effective nurturing based on automated outreach. Personalized triggered email drip campaigns can help you easily convert leads and smoothly move them down the sales funnel. Schedule campaigns for existing clients, automate follow-ups and track email responses from your Gmail.
  • Study market rivals. Snov.io research tools allow you to monitor what sets you apart from your competition and discover new ways to convert. You can check full company profiles and tech stack behind your rivals and leads. 
  • Grow and scale your business. Keep your efficiency always in control – sync across platforms with over 2,000+ powerful integrations. 

Pricing: Snov.io offers unlimited freemium with credits that are renewed every month. Paid plans that start at $33 per month billed annually.

Moosend

This marketing automation platform comes with some features that promise to help users generate more clicks and sales. Surprisingly easy-to-use and with a short learning curve, Moosend allows you to create and send email campaigns designed to respond to the prospect’s needs.

From user onboarding to abandoned cart sequences, this platform allows you to design workflows that make sense for your audience and lead prospects further down the sales funnel. 

Users can select any event to trigger the automation, such as visitors browsing a specific page or viewing a product, and set it in motion in a simple manner. What is more, you can test one of the ready-made automation workflow recipes.

Pricing: Moosend offers a free forever program for up to 1,000 subscribers that includes most features. Paid plans start at $8 per month billed annually.

Juro

There is nothing worse than a sales team getting a prospect to commit before month-end, only for the deal to get stuck in the contracting phase. Word documents fly back and forth, versions go missing, data is lost, and visibility is non-existent. 

Sales teams at high-growth startups are turning to new, in-browser tools to end this manual process. Juro is a contract collaboration platform that enables your team to self-serve, agree, and manage routine contracts at scale from one unified workspace.

Salespeople use a natural language Q&A flow to spin up a contract in seconds, from a template over which legal has oversight. They can even generate contracts directly from Salesforce, with two-way data sync making sure versions are the same in both platforms. 

Parties negotiate in-browser in the sidebar and can then eSign securely on any device to help salespeople close deals on the move. Post-signature analytics help stakeholders spot bottlenecks and friction to keep deals moving fast and make contract management data-driven.

Juro is used predominantly by high-growth tech startups with lots of contract volume, like Deliveroo, Wolt, and Babylon Health. 

Pricing starts at free, with bespoke plans depending on the integrations required.

Paperform

Capturing leads is the first and most foundational step in the inbound-driven sales process. Paperform is a versatile form and page builder that might help you do just that: collect leads and kick off the conversation seamlessly and elegantly.

Paperform stands out among the alternatives thanks to its modern interface and customization features. It is easy to make forms and landing pages look unique and fit your company’s broader brand.

There are more than a hundred form templates available, so you will never have to start from scratch no matter what kind of form you are looking to build.

The built-in email automation feature makes Paperform even more useful. Your startup sales department is likely to have limited bandwidth, especially when responding to leads across different time zones.

You might leverage Paperform to send out automated yet highly-personalized emails to leads that submit your forms. Later, once the conversation is already ongoing, your sales reps can catch up quickly and take it further.

Pricing: Paid plans start at $15 per month.

Outfunnel

Outfunnel is an email marketing tool with deep CRM integration. Whether you are using Pipedrive, Mailchimp, or Copper, it has you covered. You’ll be able to create drip or one-off campaigns with defined segments for your sales team using lead-scoring while automating and reducing tasks that were previously done manually. 

With dynamic sender information and smart workflows, Outfunnel will help you stay on top of your leads while continuously allowing you to build up relationships with your current and future customers.

Pricing: Outfunnel offers a free two-week trial. Paid plans start at $19 per month.

HelpCrunch

As an all-in-one customer communication tool, HelpCrunch allows businesses to automate numerous aspects of the sales process. Once you sign up for the tool and install its live chat widget, you can put inbound lead generation on autopilot.

First, HelpCrunch helps businesses engage their visitors proactively with the help of automated chat messages. You can offer help in your website’s strategic places, such as product, pricing, or checkout pages, and initiate conversations on your terms.

People will see a quick and convenient way to contact you and will not hesitate. Simultaneously, you can use live chat to collect leads’ contact information and pre-qualify them on the go with pre-chat and offline forms. Visitors will specify their names and email addresses and choose a department that will better cater to their needs.

While the shared inbox will contain all incoming requests in chronological order, sales reps can create their custom inboxes to filter conversations by their tags, assignees, departments, etc. This way, they will be able to assist warm leads on a first-priority basis.

To keep the conversation going, your team can follow up on their leads with the help of automated email sequences and accelerate deal closure.

Pricing: The ‘Live chat’ subscription by HelpCrunch is available for $12 per month per team member billed annually. If you want to enjoy the ‘Live chat + Emails’ plan, its pricing starts from $23 per month per team member.

Zapier

Zapier is a tool that brings together all your favorite apps, such as Gmail, Slack, Mailchimp, and more. You can automate repetitive tasks, and you do not need to know coding, or rely on developers to build the integration.

Create thousands of different workflows (Zaps), e.g., schedule events in your Google Calendar directly from new Trello cards, save your Gmail attachments to Dropbox, or post tweets across multiple Twitter accounts. 

Zaps consist of a trigger and one or more subsequent actions. A trigger is an event that initiates your workflow. Zaps automate your processes in the background, allowing you to concentrate on more important tasks. 

Zapier counts every task you run through your Zap. To decide which Zapier plan suits you best, you should keep in mind the number of tasks your Zaps run. 

Pricing: The service offers a free trial so that you can study some popular Zap templates. Paid plans start at $19,99 per month billed annually.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is an SMM platform that supports social network integrations for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. The tool helps you boost your organic and paid ads’ effectiveness with the Hootsuite automated ad solution. 

Hootsuite allows you to advertise on social media easily. Manually or automatically, you can target key audience segments or market niches by age, location, and user interests. The tool can help you reach more of your social media audience, monitor feedback about your brand and rivals, and use social analytics to make data-driven business decisions.

Besides, its mobile apps allow you to manage your presence on social networks from any location. You can also connect your existing instruments with over 250+ apps and integrations in a single toolbox. 

Pricing: A 30-days free trial is available. Paid plans start at $19 per month.

Wrapping it up

Nowadays, more and more businesses realize the power of sales and marketing automation tools and implement them in their workflows. Accordingly, new instruments in this market niche are emerging a dime a dozen. 

Analyze your needs and select the best toolkit that will help you seamlessly automate your whole sales funnel: lead generation, nurturing, engagement, follow-ups, conversion, and growing a loyal audience.

Image Credit: Ola Dapo; Pexels

The post Top‌ ‌8‌ ‌Sales‌ ‌Automation‌ ‌Tools‌ ‌for‌ ‌Startups‌ ‌in‌ ‌2020‌ ‌ appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Customer Relationships: The Benefits of Using CRM Software for Startups

CRM

Are you in the process of bootstrapping a startup? Or, are you perhaps down the business growth and development road heading towards a mature SME? Are you using CRM software to manage your customers? What is Customer Relationship Management software? Here is: customer relationships — the benefits of using CRM software for startups.

At the outset of the article, it’s essential to note that the world as we know it will never be the same again. Hence, if customer relationships were meaningful before 2020, they are now critical.

“There is only one boss. The customer – and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.â€� – Sam Walton

By way of answering the “why� asked above, let’s take a brief look at the current global economic, health, and social circumstances.

The world as we know it: Setting the scene

News of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, broke towards the end of 2019 when China alerted the World Health Organization to the fact that it was dealing with a rapidly spreading viral infection on the unknown origin.

China first reported it as a “cluster of cases of pneumonia.â€� But, soon determined that it was caused by a new coronavirus. And, because of the fact that the world is a global village — the virus has spread around the world and continues to spread like wildfire.

The World Health Organization has stated, in conjunction with experienced medical personal and researchers, based on China’s experience that one of the only ways to prevent the virus’s person-to-person transmission is social isolation or social distancing.

Therefore, more than 50% of the world’s population is under some form of a lockdown or stay at home order.

We likely cannot imagine the far reaches of what COVID is doing to the global economy.

The world has moved into a recession that is predicted to be worse than the 1929 Great Recession. The World Economic Forum expects over 4 million people in the USA to file for unemployment benefits by the time this is over.

All non-essential businesses have been closed in most countries across the globe, and people have either been sent home or furloughed. And, all companies that have been able to pivot the processes and operations online have done so. Even with the reopening — slow in some places — and not slow enough in others — we are in trouble.

It is remarkable at this time in history that so many employees in companies — who have been sent home — are fortunate enough to be able to work remotely and at least keep business operations running.

Kimberly Amadeo noted in her article titled, “How does the 2020 stock market crash compare with others,� that the US 2020 stock market crash began on 9 March 2020, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost the most point in living history.

And, then it dropped again on 12 March 2020 and 16 March 2020, leaving it at an all-time low of 20.3% less than its 12 February 2020 high. Here we are in July — up and down.

Stock Market

The reason for these drops in the stock market is that there was, and continues to be, global panic about the rampant spread of the coronavirus and its devastating effects on the world’s population.

To date, there have been 11.5 million active infections — with more than 535,759 deaths. The infection and mortality rate is more deadly than the annual seasonal influenza that kills circa 0.01% of the global population annually.

The Stress

The emotional stress on the global population is being documented. The journal article published in the Brain, Behavior, and Immunity journal, titled “The emotional impact of COVID-19: From medical staff to common people,� notes the following:

“Infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19, as well as other public health events, can cause emotional distress and anxiety.�

The author, Nicola Montemurro, goes on to state that these feelings of distress and anxiety can occur in people who are not high-risk.

She also highlights the fact that “previous research has revealed a profound and wide spectrum of psychological impact that outbreaks can inflict on people.�

And, new “psychiatric symptoms in people without mental illness can occur or aggravate the condition of those with pre-existing mental illness.�

Thus, while the details of how to take care of yourself in these stressful and anxious times are not relevant to this discussion, it is essential to implement self-care measures to ensure that you survive these challenging global conditions.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Looking towards the future

The question that begs is, what does the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR or Industry 4.0) have to do with COVID-19 and surviving the economic, physical, and mental impact of the world we currently live?

This question is valid and deserves a considered answer.

Klaus Schwab, the founder, and chief executive officer of the World Economic Forum coined the phrase “The Fourth Industrial Revolution� in 2016. And, he had the following to say:

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.�

Some of these technologies impacted by 4IR include Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), WIFI and networking, robotics, and autonomous vehicles.

Four years later, these technologies have indeed happened. However, the reason for the impact of this revolution is not technology-driven, but think — all this tech has offered a solution to people in lockdown.

We can communicate with family members and friends, seek medical help via apps like Zoom and Skype, and work remotely because of the high tech that allows us to link to work colleagues and clients across the globe.

Managing customer relationships

The good news is that within every crisis there is an opportunity. Albert Einstein acknowledged this with the following statement:

“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.�

While acknowledging the stresses of the current global pandemic, it’s equally important to find opportunities in the midst of the crisis.

Let’s take this statement to heart and consider a simple case study that describes how to use CRM software (appvizer dot com, client relationship), to bootstrap and grow your startup into a robust business.

You want a business that has the ability to weather current financial storms and come out on the other side as a healthy, thriving company.

What is CRM software?

In order to utilize the full functionality of a CRM application, let us consider a succinct definition:

Wikipedia.com defines Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as an “approach to managing a company’s interaction with current and potential customers.â€�

A CRM is an end-to-end customer management methodology that combines the analysis of the company’s customer sales history to forecast trends and improve customer relationships.

Its fundamental aim is to help the company retain customers and drive sales growth. For, as the quotation by Sam Walton highlighted above states, the customer is boss. And, without customers, the business cannot exist.

CRM Management: A case study

Now that we have an understanding of the primary function of customer management and the core role it plays in running a successful business, let’s consider our case study:

Let’s assume for a moment — you own an online content marketing business known as Firecrab Words. Although you are an experienced content writer and have worked as a freelancer for several years now, you’ve decided that now is the right time to register a company.

You are now going to position your brand to take advantage of the increase in the potential for digital marketing opportunities when the global economy reboots itself.

Let’s also suppose you have completed all the business development documentation. You’ve included the necessary financial and business process models. You have cobbled together a website. You know your website is not great — but it is functional. It will do for now.

The only thing left to do, apart from marketing, is to find a system to manage your clients. You have existing clients that you need to move onto the CRM application.

And, you need to analyze historical data to forecast trends and patterns to determine how to improve your customer management model.

Choosing a CRM

There are a number of different CRM software applications available for you to choose from with different features and benefits. Therefore, the first step is to decide what features you need to successfully manage your customers and potential customers to leverage long-term, consistent sales growth.

Also, because it’s highly likely that you will have to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee, it’s doubly important to ensure that you choose the right fit for your startup.

Once you have decided which features you need, the next step is to consult an online CRM review site like Appvizer that states the benefits of each software application, and it provides a comparison between the apps whose benefits are listed.

As an aside, I used Appvizer to choose a CRM application for my eCommerce business that sells handmade items like bed quilts, clothing made from West African fabric, as well as leather bags and wallets.

However — it’s worth looking at a review site to determine which CRM application is the best for your own business requirements. Be sure to ask around a little — don’t go with the first one. Get some recommendations from someone who has used the service.

CRM: The benefits described as statistics

One of the best ways to describe the benefits of an application is to look at the numbers. Thus, let’s consider the following statistics (financesonline dot com – crm stats analysis of trends).

  •  The CRM market currently has a value of $120 billion (USD).
  • Its annual growth is forecast at 12% per year reaching 82% billion in 2025.
  •  A CRM system that is implemented correctly can yield a Return on Investment (ROI) of circa 45% on every dollar invested.
  • 48% of sales teams rely heavily on their CRM software to manage their clients and improve business operations.
  •  The CRM business model or customer relationship management is considered the most important aspect of a company next to lead generation and engagement.

These are just a few of the numerous CRM-related statistics available for consumption. However, they describe the value of implementing a CRM system to manage your clients and grow your business.

Customer relationship management as it applies to the case study

By way of explaining the essential CRM functionality, let’s consider each function within the case study stated above.

Contact management

One of the stated aims in the case study described above is to formalize your content marketing business processes, including the onboarding of existing clients. Therefore, contact management is a vital part of a successful CRM system.

What is contact management?

Concisely stated, contact management is essentially the addition or recording of customer contact details into the CRM system. Secondly, this aspect of the CRM tracks the interactions between the customer and the business, including emails sent, phone calls made, and purchases made by the customer.

Apart from keeping track of client-business interactions, this module has the capacity to generate statistical data that allows the business to improve customer relations; thereby, increasing sales figures.

Therefore, when considered in relation to the Firecrab Words case study, you need to enter all of your current client data into the CRM system. If you have historical sales figures and a record of all customer interactions, it is probably a good idea to add them to the new system as well.

Otherwise, you can start tracking customer interactions from the time you have onboarded all your existing clients.

Sales team management

Contact management and sales team management are two sides of the same coin. Both need to be tracked and managed. Without a sales team — you will not have any customers and without customers, you won’t need to hire a sales team.

At this juncture, it is important to note that because Firecrab Words is a startup, you, as the business owner are also the sales team.

What are the sales team and customer opportunity management?

As stated above, the interactions between the sales team and the customers are measured. It also measures the opportunities that the sales team has to convert visitors to your business’s online presence into returning customers.

The process is also known as lead scoring, and it identifies the clients that are most likely to convert.

Final thoughts

The importance of maintaining positive customer relationships cannot be underestimated For, without customers, the business will not make money, and therefore, cannot exist.

Consequently, it is essential to ensure that you not only maintain good relationships with your clients, but you constantly work at improving them.

In this manner, your business will grow from a small startup to a robust, stable business, capable of weathering all storms.

Image Credit:  emre keshavarz; Pexals

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