May 8, 2024
May 16, 2024

Sales Support: How to Empower Sales to Crush Quotas

What is Sales Support?

Sales supports are the backbone of a company's sales processes and revenue generation. Rather than being directly involved in core selling activities like prospecting and closing deals, sales support handles the critical backend activities that make selling possible.

The key functions of a sales support team typically include:

  • Lead qualification and nurturing: Identifying and qualifying new leads, contacting them, and nurturing promising leads until they are sales-ready.
  • Proposal creation and management: Drafting proposals, quotes, and contracts for prospective deals.
  • Order processing: Handling all aspects of order intake like data entry, confirmation, and invoicing.
  • Customer onboarding: Making sure new customers are smoothly onboarded with training, documentation, and support.
  • Renewals and upsells: Managing contract renewals and identifying upsell and expansion opportunities.
  • Sales tools and systems management: Keeping track of sales technologies like customer relationship management (CRM) and sales engagement platforms.
  • Data management and analysis: Making sure sales data is organized, clean, and ready to yield insights.

An effective sales support function is crucial for scaling and optimizing the sales process. Here's why.

Why Sales Support is Critical for Business Success

With a dedicated sales support function, your sales team can deliver an exceptional customer experience throughout the buyer's journey.

You might be thinking that sales representatives have the most important job, and you're not wrong.

Their job is important. But they can't do everything.

Sales reps focus on core selling activities like prospecting, presenting, negotiating, and closing deals.

But there are many other touchpoints that shape the customer's perception of your company.

What Do Sales Support Professionals Do?

Sales support specialists handle non-selling activities like contract finalization, onboarding, implementation, training, support, and account management. When you've got a sales support specialist taking care of these touchpoints, your sales reps don't have to worry about doing it.

This means your customers benefit from balanced, relaxed sales and marketing teams.

But without a proper sales support structure, these touchpoints become fragmented across sales, customer success, and other teams that pick up the pieces where they can. This poor sales support exposes customers to different processes, personalities, and quality levels within the same company.

It's not a good look.

Sales support, on the other hand, aligns these functions under one umbrella. This consistency is vital for retaining customers and earning referrals in competitive markets.

Sales Support Enables Reps to Focus on Selling

One of the most important benefits of having a dedicated sales support team is that it frees up sales reps to focus their time and energy on core selling activities.

Before the rise of AI, sales reps spent an inordinate amount of time on administrative tasks. Things like data entry, documentation, email management, and calendar scheduling ate up tons of time. These repetitive chores kept reps tethered to their desks instead of out in the field meeting with prospects and customers.

With a properly staffed sales support function, reps are liberated from these mundane responsibilities. Instead, sales support professionals handle all the busywork of processing orders, updating CRM records, creating proposals, and managing contracts.

This means sales teams can focus on the tasks most relevant to their skills.

What Sales Teams Do When Someone Else is There To Support the Sales

When sales support falls on qualified pros, sales representatives can dedicate their workdays to high-value sales efforts:

  • Looking for potential customers and starting new conversations
  • Conducting demos and presentations
  • Negotiating pricing and contracts
  • Closing deals and growing accounts

These tasks directly contribute to revenue growth. And when sales reps have the administrative support to focus on these tasks, they become much more productive.

Sales Support Contributes to Scalability

With a strong sales support backbone, sales reps can take on more opportunities without getting overwhelmed. And as the lead generation flow increases, sales support can provide the resources for teams to qualify and nurture leads at higher volumes.

How It Works

On the backend, sales support ensures that processes don't break down as the volume of proposals, contracts, and orders rises. These teams have the bandwidth to efficiently manage greater paperwork and processing requirements.

They also handle client onboarding and training at scale. As a customer base grows, thorough onboarding of each new client becomes more challenging. Sales support has the people and processes in hand to simultaneously onboard large numbers of customers.

Sales Support Aligns Teams

A key benefit of having dedicated sales support is that it helps align the sales team with other business functions. Sales support serves as a bridge between the sales department and teams like marketing, customer success, finance, and operations.

With effective sales support in place, handoffs between teams can be seamless rather than disjointed. For example, when your company lands a new customer, the sales support team can ensure the customer data is properly transferred from sales to customer success. The support staff handles the administrative work of setting up the new account in the company systems, freeing up the account executive to continue selling.

Sales support also helps drive cross-functional collaboration. Instead of sales operating in a silo, support staff makes it easier for teams to communicate with each other.

This unified approach helps your entire revenue engine to run like a dream.

Limitations of Manual Sales Support

In the past, sales support processes were manual. They relied on tedious data entry, email management, and document creation. While these manual methods might work for smaller teams, they quickly become problematic as companies scale. Manual sales support is often:

  • Time-consuming and inefficient: Entering data manually and managing high volumes of emails is enormously time-consuming. This means teams waste countless hours on repetitive administrative tasks instead of more strategic work.
  • Error-prone: Manual processes inevitably lead to errors and mistakes. Typos, incorrect data entry, and misfiled information is common. These errors then propagate through the sales process, reducing the quality of your data.
  • Not scalable: As deal volume and sales team size increases, manual processes become unscalable. The amount of administrative work starts to overwhelm those in a sales support role. Hiring more people to fill sales support roles is one solution, but it costs more money—and it's not sustainable.
  • Unable to handle complexity: Modern sales processes are highly complex, with multiple systems and touchpoints. Manual methods can't handle this complexity efficiently. Too many things end up falling through the cracks.

The solution to these limitations is to automate sales support processes with workflows and AI for sales.

Automating Sales Support with AI

AI and machine learning have made it easy to automate many repetitive sales support tasks. These include:

  • Lead qualification: AI can automatically score and route leads based on attributes like title, company size, and intent signals. This removes the need for manual lead scoring.
  • Data entry: Solutions like optical character recognition (OCR) can extract data from documents and automatically populate CRM records, eliminating manual data entry.
  • Follow-ups: Systems can automatically create reminders and send follow-up emails when no response is received. This ensures reps never drop the ball.
  • Meeting scheduling: CRM automation tools can suggest optimal times to schedule meetings and automatically send calendar invites.

AI workflows are especially effective at streamlining repetitive sales support tasks at scale. You can configure them to quickly run rule-based processes, taking over mundane responsibilities from your team.

For example, workflows can handle lead nurturing by sending drip campaigns, or manage the proposal process by assembling documents and obtaining legal approvals. This type of outbound sales automation is life-changing for your team and opens a whole new world of potential sales opportunities.

AI Workflows for Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is a critical sales support function that involves developing and qualifying marketing leads until they are ready to become paying customers. This process traditionally requires manual tasks like lead scoring and personalized outreach. It's one in a long list of other go-to-market (GTM) tasks.

But GTM AI tools can now automate many of these repetitive tasks.

How AI Workflows Help This Part of the Sales Process

With AI workflows, leads can be automatically scored based on characteristics like how recently you last engaged with them, how frequently they've touched based with your team, and how much potential monetary value they bring. Your sales team can configure scoring criteria into the workflow to consistently categorize leads.

As new leads come in, the workflow will automatically score them and segment them for follow up.

Workflows also enable personalized, triggered email campaigns to nurture customer relationships based on their score. High-scoring leads can receive targeted outreach to accelerate their sales readiness. Lower-scoring leads can be nurtured with educational content to develop the relationship. Workflows ensure follow-up is timely, relevant, and consistent.

What Else Can Workflows Do?

Another key capability is automated lead qualification. You can design workflows to gather key data on potential customers through surveys or quizzes. This data can be used to qualify if leads are ready for handoff to sales, allowing support staff to focus on higher value activities.

In essence, AI workflows create a scalable, automated lead nurturing process that delivers high-quality leads to your sales reps. This drives sales productivity while delivering personalized, high-quality experiences for your customers.

Streamlining Proposal Management with AI

One of the most time-consuming and tedious tasks for sales support teams is managing proposals. From gathering requirements and drafting custom proposals to version tracking and approvals, there's a ton of manual effort involved.

Companies often sign up for all sorts of software services to help them manage these tasks along with everything else they must do. This leads to GTM bloat, which is as exhausting as it sounds.

AI tools like Copy.ai workflows ease GTM bloat by fully automating the proposal generation process.

The AI can pull data from your CRM as well as external sources to populate the proposal with relevant details.

Simply feed the AI information about the prospect's needs and desired outcomes, and Copy.ai will generate a customized proposal document complete with pricing, terms, and deliverables.

Once generated, proposals can be automatically version controlled for tracking changes. The sales rep simply needs to provide feedback, and the AI will update the proposal while maintaining a full audit trail.

Approval workflows can also be set up to route the proposal to the appropriate stakeholders once it's finalized.

Smoothing Onboarding with Workflows

Onboarding new customers is a crucial process that sets the tone for the entire customer relationship. However, manual onboarding can be time-consuming and inconsistent across different sales reps.

Enter AI workflows.

How AI Helps Automate the Onboarding Process

Workflows allow you to automate your entire onboarding playbook into a step-by-step process. As soon as a new customer signs their contract, the automated workflow kicks off to guide them through the onboarding journey.

The workflow can send drip emails to introduce key contacts, schedule training sessions, and deliver assets like access credentials and documentation. Each step is automatically triggered based on the customer's progression through the workflow.

For training, workflows enable you to create guided tutorials with text, images and videos. Customers can do these at their own pace, while your team tracks their progress.

Knowledge checks confirm understanding, and workflows branch based on responses to deliver personalized training.

Automating repetitive onboarding tasks frees up your team's time and ensures a consistent customer experience. Workflows eliminate human error and gaps that could occur with manual handoffs between sales and onboarding.

The result? Happy customers who stick with you for good.

Order Processing Automation

Processing orders is one of the most tedious parts of sales support. It involves everything from order entry to inventory allocation, shipment notifications, and customer billing. As sales volumes grow, manual order processing can quickly become a bottleneck.

AI-powered workflows are ideal for automating repetitive order processing tasks. When an order is received, a workflow can automatically:

  • Create a sales order in the CRM with key details like products, quantities, and pricing
  • Reserve inventory by integrating with warehouse systems
  • Initiate shipment and generate tracking information
  • Send order confirmations and shipping notifications to the customer
  • Generate invoices and initiate payments
  • Update account status and CRM records

As the volume of your sales scale up, you can create additional workflows can to handle country or region-specific compliance requirements, returns and cancellations, and any exceptions that require human review.

Since your team doesn't have to manage these details manually, they have more energy to handle customer complaints with grace.

Essential Skills for Sales Support in 2024

As sales operations become more complex, sales support professionals need a diverse set of skills to drive success. Let's look at some of the key skills needed on a high-performing sales support team.

Process Management and Optimization

Team members should be skilled in designing, documenting, and optimizing processes. They should be able to analyze current workflows, identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies, and streamline operations for maximum productivity.

Data Analysis and Reporting

Sales support has a data-driven role, from compiling reports to monitoring KPIs. Team members should have analytical skills to derive insights from CRM and other systems.

Tech-Savviness to Leverage AI Tools

As sales stacks incorporate more AI-powered automation, sales support needs to be able to implement  and use new technologies. Whether it's workflows for lead scoring or predictive models for forecasting, they should be comfortable leveraging AI/ML to remove drudgery.

Using AI to Augment Sales Support

The key to building a high-performing sales support team in 2024 is using AI tools like Copy.ai to complement hands-on, manual efforts. Now more than ever before, AI tools are an essential part of your GTM tech stack.

The key is identifying where automation makes the most sense.

You can judge this based on the unique needs and pain points of your sales support team. When used properly, AI augments human capabilities, increases efficiency, and empowers staff to provide greater value by letting them focus on the activities humans do best.

This ultimately translates to higher sales productivity, improved handling of customer inquiries, and faster business growth.

Best Practices for Sales Support

To build a high-performing sales support team, follow these best practices:

  • Tight integration between sales and support: Sales support works best when tightly aligned with the sales team. Frequent communication, clear handoffs, and shared goals and incentives between sales and support drive better results.
  • Documented processes and playbooks: Having well-documented processes and playbooks ensures consistency and efficiency. They empower sales support staff to execute key tasks and workflows confidently.
  • Continuous training and enablement: With new tools and an evolving role, sales support teams need continuous training on processes, systems, and soft skills. This enables them to maximize their impact on sales outcomes.
  • Performance tracking and optimization: Like sales, support teams need to rigorously track performance metrics. This allows them to identify areas for improvement and optimization. Data-driven insights can help refine processes and workflows.
  • RevOps alignment: Sales support should be tightly aligned with broader revenue operations (RevOps) to enable transparency, agility, and continuous improvement. With shared KPIs, support can better impact top-level revenue goals.

Copy.ai is the leading GTM AI platform to bring all your sales support software together in one place.

Our platform helps you create a tight collaboration between your support and sales teams. With the right strategies and tools in place, sales support stops being a cost center and starts driving dramatic gains in sales productivity, velocity, and customer experience.

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