Truck drivers are afraid of autonomous cars. Lawyers are afraid of algorithms, shop attendants of online stores, and self-service checkouts. The danger for couriers are drones. Marc Andreessen, known entrepreneur and investor, says: “Software is eating the world”. In many cases that’s a good diagnosis of reality.
It is more complicated in the area of technology solutions for sales. Automatization found here another equal powerful trend – specialization.
Automization vs Specialisation
Before choosing work automatization tools it’s good to refine the processes and make sure you specialize in what you do.
Times, when sales were responsible for every touchpoint with the client through all his life cycle, have long past. Nowadays, tasks are directed to other more specialized in that area teams.
An invoice is handled by administration. After sales service is run by a customer service department. Lead generation and building customer interest is handed to marketing. Even cold mailing was taken by specialized departments.
With every restriction of work, productivity is increasing and there is lower demand for classic salespeople, whom responsibilities are downsized to the tasks in which they perform the best, namely, negotiations and communication with the customer.
Specialization and growth of productivity
In 1772r. Adam Smith in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations took the example of implementing the division of work and specialization of workers in pins factory. 10 people doing only specified tasks based on the mechanism similar to assembly line was able to create 48 thousand pins every day. Smith assumed that without work division daily production will decrease to 240. Looking at results described in Aaron’s Ross book “From impossible to inevitable” or Justin’s Rolff-Marscha “The machine: a radical approach to the design of sales function” it can be seen that increasing productivity of sales several times is possible – my experience confirms that.
The most susceptible to specialization is a transaction that requires deep and interdisciplinary knowledge and mutually exclusive skills.In places where support engineer, an experienced lawyer, and trained negotiator is required – one person won’t be enough.
When a salesperson gains more time to take part in more meetings with clients, the cost of tools to schedule them (Calendly, Appoint.ly or YouCanBook.me), returns much faster than when they have only a few meetings.
In case of tools that automatize a cold mail campaign cost depends on the number of users namely, the fewer employees send cold mails, the more savings you can count on.
In a similar model of monthly payments per users the CRM tools are applied – you can save money again.
Sales automatization in a specialized team
What if You want to implement automatization in a company where processes are refined and a team specialized? Paradoxically its range will increase to more areas and cost of implementation will return faster. Well, implemented automatization means bigger recurrence of activities within the specific position. If something is recurrenced more often it is worth to optimize.
Of course, bigger expenses on the implementation of automatization of sales solutions means greater prospective savings.
If you decide that repeatable orders will be handled by internal sales department rather than external you will be able to reduce the number of salespeople traveling to clients.
If you were hiring 8 sales specialist on the team and 50% of their meetings were devoted to servicing repeatable orders then you should be able to service the same volume of transactions reducing at the same time expenses on gasoline and cars by half – only by this one decision.
As you can see, if you precede implementation of automatization by creating specialization within the company then profits will be higher and the probability of gaining them will be greater. Not to mention that you won’t be forced to fight with restrictions of human perception.
Automatization of customer service in a specialized team
Generally, all processes related to customer service within the company are carried out by employees using more than 10 IT tools. Mastering them by one person, to the extent that will make the processes automatized, is a wishful thinking. Only when one person uses no more than 3 tools it is possible to use all of its’ potential. Furthermore, this scenario allows new employees to adapt faster which reduces costs of longer training and time required for results verification during the trial period.
How to reduce the risk of quality deterioration after automation?
It is worth to pay attention to the application of automatized solutions only where there is an economic reason for it in a long perspective.
All dangers can be limited in a short period of time and then eliminated in longer. The only need is to learn how to test solutions using lean startup methodology, popularized by Eric Riesa in the book with the same title.
In what kind of companies is it worth to implement automatization?
Work automatization solutions are worth to implement where the cost of sales constitutes the greatest share in the transaction worth and just the opposite, where the worth of transaction is the smallest. This type of environment is a dreamed place to implement sales through the internet or by using SaaS model.
In a most likely scenario, a big percentage of the weakest and least willing to change salespeople will disappear from the market with a benefit for customer service and profession reputation (If you are reading this you probably don’t belong to that group). Part of companies which won’t adapt will have to withdraw. Part of sales cost will move from expenses incurred on sales representatives, cars, and gasoline to IT solutions and salaries. In heavily regulated industries (Pharmacy) probably not much will change.
While reading this article it is good for you to remember not to fight against trends – it always brings bad results. If you try to be an active member of this change instead of its target then everything should end well.