A business runs most efficiently when workers can devote their skills to the areas in which they excel. For example, the skills of most salespeople lie in their ability to build relationships with others, actively listen and communicate, and to strategically prospect and represent products and services. The skills of sales operations lie in strategic planning, using data to forecast and manage, and specifically targeting buyer personas. Notice that administrative tasks aren’t on either of those lists. Sales reps and operations workers can certainly take on those time-consuming, necessary tasks as part of the job, but there is technology that exists, so they don’t have to.
Sales order automation has emerged as a helpful tool for businesses that want to streamline manual tasks that are an essential part of the sales process. Tasks such as entering data, validating part numbers, and manually routing orders to the next step are no longer dependent on human interaction but rather use artificial intelligence (AI) for a more touchless process. With artificial intelligence, decision-making can be “taught” or “learned” to eliminate simple decision-based tasks.
Why Is It Important to Automate Your Sales Order Process?
With sales order process automation, your business will reduce the risk of bottlenecked sales operations as a result of human intervention when intervention is not required. You’ll enable prospects to make purchases with little or no human interaction when possible. You’ll also be able to use technology like robotic process automation (RPA) to help retrieve customer orders and data from the customer portals and bring that transaction into ERP without a user touching the order. Overall, you’ll be able to streamline your sales cycle to process more orders in less time and with less user interaction, which leads to faster company growth. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company published research that shows that B2B sales leaders using digital sales have up to five times the growth of their competitors that have not adopted digital sales enablement.
Here are the six major benefits of automating your sales order process to benefit inbound sales:
1. Eliminate Tedious Tasks from Sales Order Processing
Automating your sales order process both frees up your sales staff and helps sales operations handle incoming customer orders with ease. For sales reps, the tedious tasks that were once manual are now automatically processed – enabling those employees to best address customer needs. And sales operations can use the technology to streamline their data extraction and data validation processes from incoming sales orders no matter the source.
For example, when a customer sends a purchase order (PO) and you receive an email notification, RPA can extract data from the email (PO Number) and use that information to navigate, find, and download the PO and related documents from the customer’s portal. AI machine learning then extracts header and line item data in an effort to eliminate as much data entry as possible and applies validation rules and calculations to ensure only clean and validated data enters your order processing system. The resulting few exceptions that are left because of low extraction confidence or failed validations (against ERP or calculations) are reviewed by users. These solutions enable sales operations to focus on exceptions only versus 100% of every order being processed.
2. Capture Data While Eliminating Risk
You’ll be able to automatically extract sales order data from all order types, including electronic fax, email attachments, paper, EDI, or XML. No matter the source, your data won’t be lost, and you’ll be able to eliminate data entry errors. These solutions can eliminate at least 70% or more of your data entry/data validations.
3. Reduce Overall Costs
Because sales order automation eliminates a significant amount of human involvement in the sales cycle, you reduce the cost of certain processes, such as fulfilling an order. According to an APQC survey of 167 sales order professionals, the group discovered that automation saves businesses between $5 and $15 per sales order. It reduces sales order cycle times by more than 46%.
4. Reduce Complexities and Resolve Discrepancies
Sales order automation provides automatic checks/validations against data in your ERP and built-in workflow so you can quickly see where processes went wrong and fix the issue. The technology helps you manage complex business rules so you can simplify order entry and fulfillment and easily identify, notify, and escalate exceptions as needed.
5. Improve Visibility
Without the obstacles that come with manual order processing, you’ll gain better, clearer visibility. Because order data is appearing sooner based on the improvements in data extraction and validation, you have visibility sooner in the process as well. Dashboards ensure a visual checkpoint of orders received and make sure the orders pass through every step of the process. Just making it to the end queue may not be good enough. Knowing if orders got to the end queue through a path that is not expected can help cut off possible issues in the future with orders getting lost or getting to a spot they shouldn’t be going. Dashboard analytics ensures the order makes it from cradle to grave with visibility on any exceptions in between and any illogical deviations, while also providing the ability to drill down to the order and any actions taken on that order since captured.
6. Provide Superior Customer Experiences
Perhaps the most significant benefit of all is that you can provide an improved customer experience. Sales order automation enables your staff to get better at their core skill sets. Without being bogged down by menial tasks, sales and customer service representatives can actively listen, build relationships, and perform the strategic aspects of what is going to help with company growth compared to being stagnant and only thinking short term. Additionally, customer satisfaction will be at an all-time high as they will have up-to-date statuses on their POs via email notifications sooner and more frequently as their orders pass through the process.
If you believe sales order automation could help your business grow and improve how you work, contact All Star Software to explore the options available. We’re here to guide your business toward growth.