Today, firms in all industries are under a lot of pressure to reduce costs while sustaining or even growing their top line. The firms that have successfully met these goals are increasingly focusing on automation, which has helped them to increase efficiency in business processes (see here). Especially, Sales and Marketing has significant potential for automation in the coming years (see here and here). Automation in Sales and Marketing has a direct measurable business impact both on the top line and bottom line, and as a result, investments in automation are often highly profitable. Still, many firms fail to develop their degree of automation and many don’t even get started because the direction is not clear.
To make the road in the field of automation easier, we collected a list of the 60 most typical tasks in Sales and Marketing that can be automated already today. We hope that the list can help you to identify opportunities for automation and prioritize investments. With this, you can boost operational efficiency and also improve top line performance. We categorized the tasks under seven Sales and Marketing functions:
- Planning and management
- Data management
- Analytics and Insights
- Content production
- Marketing operations
- Sales development
- Customer service
Planning and management
There is often a false belief that automation can’t support in areas such as yearly budgeting, competitive landscape analysis or project progress reporting. In reality, as you can see from the list below, there are many examples of such tasks in which automation can support the work processes. Automation in Planning and management will transform daily tasks in your organization, which has efficiency benefits in all parts of the business. Also, visible changes in work tasks can help in building an organizational culture that is data-driven, which is essential for long-term success.
Table 1: Tasks in planning and management that can be automated
Today 80% of data scientists time is wasted in data preparation and management for analyses and other purposes (see here), while there are many tools and techniques available to reduce manual work. Therefore, introduction of these technologies can greatly improve the efficiency of your data management processes and help your team to focus on value-adding activities. For example, manual creation of target groups and data monitoring and distribution are areas that can be easily automated. The list below provides further examples of how Data management can be automated.
Table 2: Tasks in data management that can be automated
Analytics and insights
Today, analytics teams are often well equipped with analytics tools, but processes for producing analysis and insights are inefficient. Most analysts waste a lot of time on tasks, such as manual data collection, data cleansing and reporting, that produce little value for the time and money invested. Luckily, as our list below describes, much of these workflows can be automated. Another problem is that the lack of automation and structured workflows is easily replaced with gut-feeling based speculation, which hinders the utilization of analytics in the whole organization. Still, examples of many successful firms show that automated data-driven analytics can bring efficiency gains and new revenue opportunities throughout the organization. This requires careful planning and execution, and the list below can help you to plan your automation activities.
Table 3: Tasks in analytics and insights that can be automated
Content production is the area within Sales and Marketing that most likely eats the largest piece of your budget (see here). Therefore, it also has the biggest potential for cost saving. Our list below provides examples of tasks, where new technologies, such as AI, can be of great help. One example is that images are often manually created and re-sized for different advertising channels, but today this task can easily be automated. Another example is that 1:1 content personalization requires a huge number of content versions, which imply a higher level of automation as manual production can’t keep up with the demand.
In order to plan for automation, as the first step you should audit your current content production and management processes to identify key productivity blockers and opportunities to increase automation. Second, automation of content production will require strong leadership towards your external content agencies, because to be honest, their business model is vulnerable to increased automation. But for you, automation can bring great benefits in content production. Content agencies should create the master assets for your brand and customer experience concepts while the rendering of those assets will be highly adjusted with technology.
Table 4: Tasks in content production that can be automated
The concept of “marketing automation” has been popular already for over 10 years. By now we should understand that it’s not merely about automating email sendouts or A/B tests, but it is rather about taking a holistic approach to automation within all areas of marketing.
Yet, most marketing departments put the majority of their efforts into producing case-by-case marketing campaigns, which imply that there are little synergies between the campaigns. Also, an excessive focus on marketing campaigns supersedes the focus on managing the overall customer experience, which should be a far more important goal in marketing. Mass campaigns often fail to fulfill the customers’ expectations, as well as the cost saving targets.
Instead, focus should be on marketing automation that is the tool to orchestrate the touchpoints with your prospects and customers across channels, because with this approach you can
ensure that the customer experiences are relevant and truly engaging.
Table 5: Tasks in marketing operations that can be automated
Today, also the sales teams are embracing digitalization and automation with a higher sense of urgency and commitment than ever before. For example, cold calling, early-stage lead qualification and manual research on prospects are all tasks where automation can play a big role in boosting the sales process. Overall, automation increases internal effectiveness and enables the sales reps to focus on more important tasks – those that actually bring value for the company. Below we list many tasks in Sales development that automation can help with.
Table 6: Tasks in sales development that can be automated
Service functions have a long history in utilizing automation, but still the processes are not nearly as fine-tuned as they could be. Further, automation in customer service can have a positive impact both on your bottom- and top-line performance. For example, up-and cross-sell opportunities are often wasted, as service reps don’t have adequate information on the customer preferences in the service situation. Instead of guessing what the best suited product or service for the customer could be, an AI-powered service system can provide customer specific recommendations, which helps the service reps to give better-informed advice. Also, much of the service personnel time could be saved by automating tasks, such as collecting customer feedback and reviews, or by increasing self-service with chatbots and intelligent authentication. To guide you forward, our list below provides a coverage of tasks that are easy to fix with the latest automation technologies.
Table 7: Tasks in customer service that can be automated
Success factor in automation is to focus on the people as much as on the technology
We see that future success in Sales and Marketing is dependent on how well an organization can automate the tasks mentioned above. This is so, because the benefits of automation are well documented, and the latest technologies enable a new wave of automation in all industries. Increasing automation is not anymore a source of competitive advantage but rather a license to operate in the future.
What then makes an organization good at automating Sales and Marketing tasks? Is your organization actively leading a process to increase automation levels?
First, we believe that automation doesn’t just happen by accident, on the side of the everyday operations. Instead, it needs systematic development with clear business goals and KPIs. Second, a success factor in automation is to focus on the people as much as the technology. This implies that technology should be seen as a contributor to the success of your company, and that your success will depend on how well your team can work together with automation. Therefore, it all comes down to managing the Sales and Marketing processes in new ways, which requires constant learning and development (Gartner, 2021).
Join our next Avaus Expert Talks on the 24th of March to discuss and hear more on:
- How to systematically increase automation levels in all areas of sales and marketing?
- What increase in automation level by 100x will require from your organizational design and operating model?
- What competencies you need in the future when more of your Marketing and Sales tasks are done by data and automation?