When researching workflow automation tools, you probably have a specific process or perhaps a whole department in mind full of processes that you want to streamline. But how do you know if your team is ready for automation?
After all, there is always some adjustment period when setting up automation. Is the time, energy and financial investment in a new tool worth it?
This decision can be especially important in certain departments, likes sales and finance.
If your sales team isn’t operating at full capacity, your business won’t grow.
Sometimes it’s obvious that it’s time to automate certain processes. Other times, you may be teetering on the edge of a decision.
Maybe your sales team is struggling in a few areas, but the job is still getting done, right? So how much productivity will a tool actually save? When do you know if it’s time to take the plunge?
Well, if you have any of the following signs, particularly in your sales department, it’s probably time to invest in workflow automation.
Sign #1: Your Sales Team Frequently Forgets Steps
If certain steps in your workflow are constantly being forgotten about, repeated or otherwise ignored (intentionally or otherwise), then your workflow is in trouble.
This could be a sign that you need to revisit your workflow to see if there are bottlenecks slowing down the process. It may require mapping out a new workflow or complete a workflow audit.
But it also may be a big indicator that automation could help your team out.
There are a variety of tasks that machines can do as a part of your workflow that can replace employee time and effort.
For example, the team at SecureOne Capital Corporation found that there were significant gaps in their sales process where there were poor communication and reporting, resulting in lost sales.
By implementing automation (by combining Gravity Flow with Zapier), they were able to create proposals, notify the right team members, and automatically create tasks that the team could follow with ease.
This enabled them to track tasks, stay compliant and meet sales goals without skipping vital steps in the workflow.
If you find that your team struggles with uploading documentation, remembering to approve certain steps of the sales process, or otherwise fall behind on certain tasks, automation may be a good solution.
Sign #2: Managers Sends Emails About Task Status
In a good workflow, there is a system of notification when tasks are completed, changed, or if they fall behind schedule.
This type of communication is helpful for team leaders and department heads who want to know the status of any given process or task.
It’s also handy for other employees or sales team members who are working on the same task or process.
If there are issues causing delays, they should be able to indicate where there is a holdup – is it a problem with the customer not responding? Or is it something the sales team is doing?
If you don’t have a good system for task notification, it can be strenuous on the sales manager to follow up on specific tasks.
You might find that your team’s email inbox is flooded with emails like, “Where are we at with this project?” or “Just following up on this.”
If your team struggles with communication, consider adding an automation tool that allows you to set up notifications.
Sign #3: Your Processes Aren’t Streamlined
If you find yourself saying, “Well, this is how we’ve always done it” when processes or tasks get backed up or bottlenecked, this is a sign that automation can probably help.
The point of a workflow is to streamline processes and improve effectiveness. If your team is still struggling with certain tasks, or meeting sales goals, year after year, that’s a problem.
It could be time to adjust your workflow, determine which tasks, roles, or responsibilities need adjusting, and incorporate automation in areas where there are significant bottlenecks.
Your sales team should be improving every year. If not, it could be an indication that your workflow needs adjusting or that you need a little extra help.
An important thing to watch for is if your sales team’s workload is increasing, but overall sales aren’t improving.
This means that your team is overworked and your workflow isn’t actually streamlined the way it should be. Workflow automation tools should be able to help with that.
Sign #4: You’re Still Using Paper FormsThe future of sales is digital. Click To Tweet
This means that if you’re still relying on paper forms for passing information – or you’re even emailing spreadsheets back and forth – you’re not utilizing technology to its fullest potential.
Workflow automation is designed to make your job easier. It’s designed to make the jobs of everyone on your sales team easier. It’s designed to make it easier for customers to buy from you.
If your current processes include multiple steps that could be replaced by a digital solution, it might be time to upgrade to a digital workflow automation tool.
It’s not that Excel spreadsheets, emails or even paper forms are bad, exactly; it’s just that there are plenty of ways for those things to get lost, forgotten about, or slow down your processes.
This is especially true if part of your sales process involves duplication, proliferation or any other type of collaborative efforts between departments.
It really is easier to digitalize your forms and spreadsheets in one system so that you have access to the files you need, when you need them, in a format that’s easily sharable.
Sign #5: You Struggle With Interdepartmental Processes
No department is an island to itself, and that includes the sales department.
Your team will no doubt be interacting with many other departments, like finance, HR, marketing, IT, and so on.
Inevitably, part of your workflow will also cross into the territory of another department. This is where some workflow bottlenecks can occur if you’re not careful.
Departments that don’t use the same systems or processes that you do – or don’t have the same deadlines or timelines that you do, or that otherwise do things differently than your team – can cause significant delays.
If you can’t share files, communications, or tasks interdepartmentally, you’re just not going to see the same results as if you were working as cohesive unit.
Workflow automation can help streamline processes across departments, as well as help you label roles and assign tasks to certain people, even if they’re not a direct part of your team.
This means that if a bottleneck does occur, you’re not emailing back and forth to see who might be responsible. You will know exactly which step of the process is stuck and who should be taking care of it.
This can eliminate many headaches for department heads and sales team members who rely on other people in the company to do their best work.
If you notice that bottlenecks are occurring across multiple departments, it’s a big sign that you’re ready to make the investment in an automated solution.
It’s important to note that an automated workflow solution isn’t magic. It might not solve every single problem you have within your organization.
But what it will do is eliminate bottlenecks that are caused by things like poor notifications, outdated systems, and general confusion around who is supposed to do what and when.
When you’ve streamlined your workflow, you should be able to see what is working in your organization and what could use improvement. You should also see a significant improvement in productivity across departments.
So if you’re concerned about your sales processes, or you can identify with several of the signs we’ve listed here, consider adding workflow automation to your tool belt to help alleviate some of the burdens.
That way, your team can focus on what it does best: making sales.