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Have you ever lost track of a promising lead? Maybe you forgot to follow up, or you misplaced their information after a trade show?

Let’s face it, it happens. Even the most organized sales professionals aren’t immune to human error — especially when their capacity is stretched thin.

The vast amount of data you must manage makes marketing automation critical to staying on top of leads. Automation can help you in four capacities:

  • Organization of sales efforts
  • Optimization of sales efficiency
  • Alignment of sales teams
  • Transformation of a company’s sales department

For the sake of this post, we’ll discuss how automation helps you organize how you approach sales. Understanding how to use automation to organize your sales efforts leads to a slew of benefits, including increased lead information, user engagement and sales.

Let’s explore how to best use automation to shape a better sales process.

Next Level CRM

A customer relationship management system (CRM) is your cheat sheet for knowing who needs to receive which communications. Up to 91% of organizations use a CRM platform, so it’s clear that organizations agree on the software’s many benefits.

Unfortunately, many sales professionals tend to go rogue and ignore the system their organization has put in place, opting instead to use their own. Self-maintained excel sheets, Google docs, email and more make up a significant portion of a sales rep’s activity happening outside of a CRM. This discrepancy leads to many lost opportunities, as potential sales and clients fall through the cracks due to not receiving the level of engagement they need to convert.

It’s no secret that CRM software affords you the opportunity to organize better and keep track of your data. With a quality sales platform, you can ditch your business card collection and merge your contact data into one central location. Once you’ve consolidated your contacts list, your objectives become much clearer and you’ll finally be able to organize your contacts efficiently.

The Benefits of Automation

The most substantial opportunity you gain by taking full advantage of your organization’s CRM is automation. Many CRMs either have automation functionality built-in or easily integrate with automation platforms. Using sales and marketing automation gives you the power to get things done without the time and organization you’d otherwise need to accomplish tasks.

Here’s an example: do you have a lead that says to call back in six months? Rather than marking your calendar to follow-up with them exactly six months from now, you can set up an automated email today that will go out in six months, asking if they’d be interested in catching up.

Or, do you have a former customer who hasn’t purchased in over a year? Automation allows you to set up a process that sends out an email to any contact that meets that criteria, allowing you to reengage them at crucial points.   

The important takeaway is that automation is extremely flexible and there are a lot of different situations where you can use it. Enrolling all your contacts in some form of automation process makes organizing them more accessible. You can finally put the days of inputting contact information into excel sheet behind you. 

Lead Data Galore

As touched on above, automation is critical for consolidating essential data, especially lead information. Besides helping you organize all your lead notes (what happened on the last call, next steps), many automation platforms come with lead enrichment. 

Any sales professional would agree that the more you know about your prospect, the better. Knowing a lead’s company size, industry social media presence, current vendors and so forth makes it easier to connect and earn their trust. Lead enrichment tools gather information from hundreds or thousands of data sources and provide you with a recent, comprehensive profile of your prospect. The information gathering tool is so crucial that nine out of ten companies use two or more lead enrichment tools to learn more about prospects.

Some of the major lead enrichment platforms include Clearbit, Mattermark, Datanyze and AeroLeads.

Which platform you should choose depends on your business; for example, Mattermark is ideal if you sell to startups, while Datanyze is useful for technology companies. AeroLeads, on the other hand, will help find lead emails, phone numbers and more contact information from LinkedIn, Crunchbase, AngelList, GitHub, Google and more. You’ll need to research which platform best fits your needs and targets.

Better management of your lead data, combined with the data pulled from lead enrichment tools, will put you in a much better position to approach sales efforts.

Gauge Lead Interest

Once you’ve implemented your marketing and sales automation, it’s important to keep track of how your setup is functioning. Are leads opening your automated emails? Are they coming back to the website? If you have a sales and marketing automation platform, this information is readily available to you.

Automation platforms like HubSpot allow you to follow a lead from the second they land on your website once captured in your system. You’ll be able to see what marketing or sales channel brought them to the site and which pages they visit. Having this information shows you what the lead wants. If the prospect spent all their time on one page before filling out a contact form, you could use that insight to have a more informed call.

Besides being better prepared when you reach out to a prospect, automation platforms provide you with insight if your sales actions are effective. If a lead you spoke with is now ignoring your emails or opting to read them but not clicking/responding, you can get an idea of where you currently stand and categorize them a certain way. Knowing the interest level of each of your prospects will help you organize which are worth spending the most time on, leading to better use of your time.

For organizing your company’s leads and putting sales teams in the best position to succeed, it pays to invest in marketing and sales automation. In fact, the power of automation goes well beyond organization. Once you’ve established an organizational process that works, you can take the next step with automation and use it to optimize efficiency and align your teams through features like lead scoring, deal creation, deal management, proposals and reporting.

We’ll save the look at the deeper automation functionality for another time. Until then, consider your current sales processes and structure. How might automation help you get more organized?

This post originally appeared on IMA’s website.

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