B2B sales processes have grown in complexity in recent years to the point where they’ve begun to collapse under their own weight.
Purchase committees today include far too many stakeholders, each with their own set of priorities and requirements, which can lead to lengthy and complex negotiations, requiring B2B sales teams to address growing numbers of concerns – which can sometimes even conflict with each other.
The traditional approach of face-to-face meetings and extensive paperwork was broken by Covid-19, prompting the need for more streamlined and remote-friendly processes.
Today’s B2B buyers are also accustomed to self-driven, personalized, digital shopping experiences in their private lives, and they want a similar process for business sales.
Legacy sales processes tend to be rigid and inflexible, making it difficult to adapt to changing customer needs or market dynamics.
Additionally, using a CRM as ground zero, today’s sales teams have far more data than ever before, which gives them a better understanding of their target market, but also raises expectations for a more personalized and frictionless sales experience.
Fortunately, enterprises are increasingly recognizing the value of automating as much of the sales process as possible.
This trend has driven the global sales automation software market to almost triple its revenues over the last two years, from $3.4 billion in 2021 to $9.25 billion in 2023, with a projected CAGR of 8.7% between 2023 and 2030.
Gartner predicts that by 2028, 60% of the work involved in B2B sales will be carried out using generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies like conversational user interfaces.
With the help of AI and automation, sales teams can minimize tedious busy work, derive valuable insights from their mass of data, and generally make sales processes more efficient and less frustrating for both sides.
Here are five pivotal B2B sales processes that today’s enterprises are automating to remove friction from the sales cycle.
Prospecting is a data-heavy task, which makes it perfect for automation. Automated tools can help identify and qualify potential leads by gathering and analyzing vast amounts of data and criteria, far more than human sales reps could grasp, and finding the most promising prospects.
What’s more, automating prospecting processes helps eliminate human error and ensure consistency. When you begin with appropriate prospects who are a good fit for your solution, you can remove friction from the entire sales cycle, and often shorten it significantly.
Cold outreach is a prime candidate for automation, because it can be time-consuming and repetitive. Automated email and text messaging platforms make it possible to send personalized messaging to the right prospect at the right time at scale, thanks to improved lead segmentation and intent trigger integrations.
They also remove the risk of forgetting to follow up or missing the ideal window of opportunity.
Gartner forecasts that automation will go further, including not just scheduling and sending messages, but generating them from scratch.
Within two years, the consultancy predicts that almost one-third of outbound messages will be produced by generative AI. Automated outreach sequences can also be optimized for engagement and response rates, tracking metrics to refine and improve strategies over time.
Demos play a very important role in moving the lead towards purchase, but only when they are personalized for the potential customer and run smoothly. This is where automation can play a key role, by leveraging customer data and insights to tailor the demo to the specific needs and interests of each prospect.
This level of personalization increases the likelihood of a successful demo that resonates with the prospect’s unique challenges and goals.
Automated demos also increase consistency in messaging and allow sales teams to engage with a larger number of prospects while still delivering a high-quality, tailored experience, ultimately increasing the chances of converting leads into customers.
Price quote generation
Quoting software is another key way to remove friction from B2B sales. Price quotes often involve complex calculations, and can change frequently as customers adjust their requirements and supply markets fluctuate.
Automation saves time on generating new quotes while also reducing the risk of errors, thereby increasing customer trust and increasing your competitive edge.
Additionally, automated quoting software stops sales reps and leads from having to go back and forth making adjustments to prices.
Instead of a long email thread or messaging spread out across multiple channels, the quote history is stored in a centralized interface and updated without effort, making it easy for all parties to see relevant changes in discounts or deal terms.
Automated eSignature platforms allow both parties to sign documents digitally, which is both faster and more secure than manual processes.
Eliminating manual paperwork, mailing, and physical signatures helps shorten the sales cycle, removes the risks of fraud, and enhances convenience for both parties involved.
With an eSignature platform, contracts and agreements can be sent, reviewed, and signed electronically, reducing the time it takes to close deals.
Additionally, automated eSignature solutions often include tracking and reminders, ensuring that sales teams can closely monitor the signing progress and follow up as needed, leading to faster deal closure and a more streamlined sales process.
Automation is the power pack for B2B sales
As the range of automated solutions increases, enterprises can pick and choose between any number of ways to apply automation to B2B sales processes.
In the face of often-bewildering options, it’s best to prioritize key steps that offer the opportunity to remove the most friction from the sales process. This helps you streamline sales interactions, shorten sales cycles, and ultimately to drive more recurring revenue.