James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

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Inside Sales Leaders: 4 Critical Areas That Need Automation

James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

Inside sales leaders, listen up.

Your sales reps are being robbed.

They’re being robbed of valuable hours in their workday by tasks they don’t need to be doing. The most important thing your reps can do in a day is talk with potential customers, yet most inside sales systems are not set up for that.

Most reps come to work, open their CRM, look at their lead list, prioritize who they’re going to call first, dial the number, make the call, manage messaging, go back to their lead list, and do it all over again.

With this approach, reps are losing significant time in each step, therefore hindering them from actually talking with leads.

How do you prevent this?

You automate as much of your sales process as possible.

We interviewed David Hood, CEO of VanillaSoft, about the four critical areas in your sales process that need automation. Here’s what he shared.

1. Call Automation

You might be asking yourself…

Is there an actual problem with our current sales call process?  Do we really need automation?

The answer is absolutely.

Automation is about providing a faster way of doing things that you were already on your to do list. Through automation, you’re providing tools to make the process easier and quicker.

Research from a study at the University of Ottawa shows that sales reps only make an average number of 8-10 calls per hour. That is a major problem when it comes to inside sales.

It takes an average of eight contact attempts to close a deal, and most sales reps only attempt twice. On top of that, only half of the leads that come across a sales rep’s desk are being followed up with. It takes an average of eight contact attempts to close a deal, and most reps only attempt twice.


Reps are always focused on the next lead, but if they don’t proactively nurture, follow up, and stay engaged with their existing leads, they are leaving big revenue on the table.

With call automation, you’re taking away the parts of the sales process that reps don’t need to spend time on.

Here are the four main areas to automate:

  1. Automated dialing: Your reps do not need to manually punch in phone numbers key by key. Automate this with click-to-call or progressive dialing.
  2. Voicemail drop: Companies spend a ton of time leaving voicemails. Look for technologies that allow you to leave an automated voicemail and move on to the next call.
  3. Logical branch scripting: Break out of the outdated paper system and use technologies that bring data to a rep’s screen. This makes things easier to maneuver.
  4. Data collection: The harder it is to collect data, the more time it takes. Data is valuable and a necessary element of growth. If you have to do it, just automate it.

2. Email Automation

With email automation, you don’t want your reps sounding like robots. That’s why David broke down email automation into four levels:

  1. Individual emails: Make it easy for your reps to have access to editable templates they can send out with one click.
  2. Trigger emails: Look for a system where, if you left a message, for example, it would trigger the system to automatically send out an email you’ve designed for that process. With processes like this, the reps don’t need to be involved at all, which frees up tremendous amounts of time.
  3. Lead-nurturing emails: Based on call data and other info, set up an automated system to drip out emails to keep those contacts connected with your company.
  4. Email Blasts: Keep a system that allows you to send out email blasts to a set group of contacts based on specific criteria. The system should also feed data back into the sales queue, so reps can take action.

Email automation frees up a tremendous amount of time for your reps.

Through this, more time is spent in quality conversations and less in doing things that could be handled through technology.

3. Cadence Automation

Next up, and most importantly, is cadence automation.

It’s difficult for sales reps to know which leads to prioritize and how to increase their productivity enough to follow up with everyone.

As the sales leader, you need to automate parts of the cadence flow, so reps can focus on what they do best—reaching out and engaging in quality conversations.

While leads from different sources require different cadences, there are proven strategies that dramatically improve your ability to close a sale.

Use tools that help strategically stack the follow-up for your sales reps.

Finding The Right Tools

When searching for the right tools, you need to ensure that they increase productivity while maintaining quality. Automation tools should increase productivity while maintaining quality.


Most CRMs are built around account-based selling, and that model does not always jive with inside sales teams. It’s vital that you find sales tools and CRM solutions that are designed for your type of sales process.

Also, understand that if you create a customized workflow, you cannot expect your reps to work within the confines of a tool or CRM that no longer works with the process.

VanillaSoft was built from the ground up for what’s required of inside sales teams. They understand that you cannot automate a salesperson, but you can automate the things around them that help get them into more conversations.

At the end of the day, your reps are your most important assets, so automate as much as you can for them.

List-Based vs. Queue-Based

The University of Ottawa did a study called Technology to Performance Chain: How Lead Management Systems Drive Inside Sales Performance.

The study’s purpose was to determine whether the type of technology and architecture used in a sales system could make a difference in the KPIs of inside sales teams.

They contrasted two types of systems:

  1. List-Based System: Involves reps opening their CRM, looking at a lead list, prioritizing and choosing who to reach out to, reaching out to them, and then circling back to the list to do it over again.
  2. Queue-Based System: Involves reps going into a system, the system working through a workflow that’s been defined by management, the system prioritizing and presenting the next best lead to the rep, the rep reaching out, the rep notifying the system when they’re done, and then the system presenting the next best lead.

In the Queue-Based system, the system stacks and re-stacks the lead list based on data and management logic.

The results from the study were staggering:

List-Based Approach        vs.    Queue-Based Approach

Average Calls Per Hour:                        8 calls                                        24 calls

Contact Attempts/New Lead:             1 attempts                                   8 attempts

Average Response Time:                     60 hours                                    30 minutes

Median Response Time:                       3 hours                                     60 minutes

They found that even though the list-based approach is what most sales teams are operating within, the Q-based approach leads to a dramatic increase in results.The queue-based system tripled the number of sales calls made per hour.


In the Q-based approach, sales reps are being told exactly who to reach out to next. This frees them to only focus on the part that they’re good at (talking with prospects), and no longer be overwhelmed with managing the process.

4. Referral Automation

Asking for referrals is a time-consuming task. You want to make sure that you’re utilizing your expansive networks to the utmost potential.

Using tools like Outro allows you to build a list of criteria such as titles, company size, and location to describe your ideal referral.

You then can reach out to your contact list and ask them to enter their information into Outro. The tool then analyzes their network based on your set criteria and presents a list of contacts that would be perfect for them to refer you to.

Once they agree to send referrals out, send them an editable core message for them to use. This way, your company messaging is clear and they can still add their flavor to the referral message.


Automation at its core is simplification.

It takes a complex, unorganized, or clunky part of your process and smoothes it out. It also keeps your sales team in their strike zone by saving energy on the things that can be automated.

Observe the bottlenecks in your process and find ways to automate them. If you can automate as much of the process as possible, your reps and balance sheets will be happy.

You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to the B2B Growth Show on iTunes. If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode by clicking here.