Some business tasks, like closing a deal, will almost always require a human touch. But many other parts of the process, such as gathering and scoring leads, can be made more efficient through the help of technology. Sales automation tools help by putting tasks like calendar notices and lead nurturing emails into a logical sequence of automatic steps. Software triggers and carries out these steps without the need for human intervention. This saves human workers tremendous time and effort.

If, like most businesses, you recognize the value of using a sales automation tool, the next step is choosing which one is right for your needs. This can be challenging, as there are many products on the market claiming to be the best. Here are a few tips for determining which software is best suited for your business.

First, figure out what you want to automate.

Take a look at the sales processes you currently have in place. Let’s say your normal protocol is to meet prospects at events, exchange business cards, schedule phone calls, send proposals and then close the deal over the phone. In order to add value, the sales automation tool you choose must be able to accommodate that process.

If you’re not sure what tasks and processes can be automated, here are a few examples:

  • Qualifying leads based on a set of criteria to prioritize the order in which your sales team should contact them.
  • Nurturing leads through automated content marketing, to keep prospects engaged and build trust.
  • Scheduling follow-up calls at specified intervals.
  • Cross selling to existing customers who’ve bought related products.
  • Emailing renewal notices for services about to expire.
  • Sending reminders to sign proposals and contracts that you’ve sent.
  • Scheduling offers to be sent via email to boost seasonal sales.

And this is really just a small sampling of the many sales activities that can be automated.

Next, make a list of important features.

In addition to the main processes you’d like to automate, you’ll also want to consider what product features you’ll need. For instance, if your team is remote or always on the go, mobile functionality may be extremely beneficial. Likewise, integration with existing tools and platforms, such as your email marketing program, is important. Otherwise you could end up doing a lot of manual legwork, which would defeat the purpose of using sales automation in the first place. Figure out which features are must-haves for your business and then compare each platform against that list of criteria.

Finally, test the waters.

Once you’ve got your list of automated processes and must-have features, you should be able to narrow down your options to a few contenders. From there, compare those tools to see which one is the best fit for your business needs. Ideally, taking each product for a test drive by scheduling an interactive demo should give you a more comprehensive picture of what each one has to offer and help you make a more informed decision. (To make things even easier, we’ve already done much of the legwork for you. Check out our automation tool comparisons here.)

This may seem like a lot of work upfront, especially if you’re busy trying to keep your company afloat, but trust us – a little time invested now will pay off big time down the road. Follow the steps above, and you’ll be maximizing productivity and profitability through automation in no time.