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How Automation Helps Sales Teams Solve 3 Common Pain Points

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Today’s connected and educated customer expects salespeople to be available at any time to provide immediate, direct, and tailored responses. Spending too much time on activities other than selling is no longer an option if sales teams are to meet this demand. To avoid falling behind, they must be armed with tools and processes that maximize efficiency and productivity, allowing them to focus on the important things: the customer and driving revenue.

However, it’s no secret that salespeople spend a lot of their time doing activities outside of selling; in fact according to CSO Insights, just 36 percent of their time is focused on the primary sales function. A large number of hours are instead spent on manual and administrative tasks, many of which stem from the processes required to generate documents. In order for sales teams to become high functioning and more successful, these less impactful activities need to be automated.

The reality is a good part of this manual work comes from the document generation process, as salespeople have to produce and send numerous documents throughout the sales cycle. It’s inevitable that if documents are created manually, there are likely going to be problems. Here are a few common problems that result from the manual document generation process:

Poor visibility into document status: Documents that aren’t stored in a central repository and can’t be tracked can lead to compromised visibility. Oftentimes, sales teams need to answer questions quickly and find answers easily. This can be challenging, time-consuming, and unreliable when a central repository doesn’t exist, as it requires searching through multiple resources such as sent emails and local drives.

Inconsistent document formatting and branding: When salespeople generate and distribute documents themselves, it’s virtually impossible to ensure that the documents will have a consistent look and feel in line with a company’s branding. Unfortunately, when documents sent to prospects and customers are inconsistent in look and branding, it erodes a company’s brand integrity and can detract from a company’s image and reputation.

Copying and pasting: While it may seem obvious, copying and pasting to create document content wastes valuable employee time and introduces errors. Errors can cause delays and rework in the sales process, which is frustrating for both sales and prospective customers.

To help solve these problems, sales teams are in need of a process that can automatically produce a document—whether it’s a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, an HTML email, or more. In turn, document generation helps to streamline the entire sales process and eliminate the pain points by:

Gaining more visibility into documents: Many document generation solutions simultaneously save a copy of the document directly in the organization’s CRM. This allows every team member more visibility into the document such as the date and time the document was created and sent, as well as referencing the document contents, for more visibility across departments and organizations. Customer interactions often call for quick access to document contents, which becomes possible when all documents are stored within the CRM and can be easily located and referenced.

Creating brand consistency: Sales teams and company leadership no longer need to worry about sending out irregular documents with inconsistent branding, thanks to document generation technologies. Instead, templates of common document types can be predefined and easily managed, ensuring the correct and current version is created and distributed to customers.

Eliminating manual copying and pasting of information into a new document: In this instance, a template or templates are created beforehand and used when a document is developed. This eliminates the need to copy and paste information from other sources, preventing errors that can occur when done manually. Copying and pasting is also laborious and slow, so eliminating it creates time savings and adds to productivity.

In fact, companies that effectively streamline sales processes increase their company revenue at more than two times the rate of all others, year over year, according to the Aberdeen Group. These companies also shorten the length of their sales cycle, while others experience longer sales cycles.

For instance, Dimelo, a B2B software and services company, was faced with a complex quote production process. The sales team needed to generate quotes with varying terms and conditions for software versus services, and to do so in multiple languages, depending on where the client was located. In addition, pricing was complex, and it was difficult to keep price books up to date. Individual sales reps were generating quotes as Word documents, which was a labor-intensive and error-prone process leading to branding discrepancies and incorrect pricing. With the help of document generation technology, Dimelo was able to add and modify templates and buttons throughout the process to meet evolving needs. The templates included price books and templates for quote generation in multiple languages. As a result, the Dimelo sales team can now generate quotes quickly and automatically in the target language with the correct set of terms and conditions. The team also has experienced an accelerated quote production process, while ensuring accuracy and a more consistent brand experience across quotes.

Document generation technology plays a central role in the sales cycle and has to be taken into account when planning how to empower sales teams and create sales process optimization and efficiency. Through the support of document generation solutions, automating manual processes will give time back to the sales team, cut down on errors, and allow them to focus on the most important aspect of selling: directly engaging with customers and prospects.

Will Spendlove is a veteran marketer specializing in product marketing and sales enablement. Will's experience spans over 18 years in the technology space working as head of product marketing at SteelBrick, InsideView, and for the Salesforce Remedyforce product. He has also run sales enablement teams at Symantec, OpenText, and Embarcadero. Spendlove is currently the vice president of product marketing at Conga.

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