Effective sales strategies are reliant on a few key elements, of which successful prospecting and lead generation are arguably the most important and arduous. Thankfully, automation makes what would otherwise be tedious manual tasks much less time consuming, allowing sales teams to ramp up productivity without making compromises. The challenge, then, is knowing which platforms to target and which tools to use, especially in the competitive and cutthroat B2B world. With all that in mind, let’s examine what makes automation important for building business relationships, and what software is well suited to this. Choosing the path forward For B2B purposes, there are many platforms to consider and multiple approaches to take when looking to pinpoint prospects, make first contact and establish lucrative, long-lasting relationships. Email has long been a popular marketing tool, and of course, there are ample automation platforms built around managing marketing campaigns using it, although these tend to be most impactful in a B2C context. Social media presents new and exciting opportunities for sales teams, and for modern B2B campaigns, it is LinkedIn that reigns supreme. This is because its mission statement is to allow users to grow networks of contacts, forging mutually beneficial relationships that further the business aims of each. Applying automation software to LinkedIn for prospecting, lead generation and general sales purposes is impactful. So which tools are worth considering? Octopus CRM In terms of intuitiveness and affordability, Octopus is among the top LinkedIn automation options on the market at the moment. Getting to grips with what it has to offer, which includes the ability to personalize messages to connections to improve the hit rate they achieve, will not take long if you are familiar with any other CRM solutions. Of course, it is not perfect, as performance leaves something to be desired and there are still certain campaign management features that remain unautomated, which makes seeking an Octopus CRM alternative worthwhile for some sales teams. Crystal Knows If your problem with sales is more related to knowing which prospects to target in the first place, then this tool from Crystal might be useful. It aims to assess the personalities of LinkedIn users and give you automated insights into their compatibility with your intended demographics. The AI-generated judgments it doles out have been criticized in the past, but as the algorithms at the core of the platform get better with time, this is a surefire way to improve the accuracy of your prospecting. Dux-Soup With ample LinkedIn-focused automation abilities, Dux-Soup is all about taking the pain out of reviewing the profiles of prospects and making first contact. The interface may not be the prettiest, but what it lacks in polish it more than makes up for in sheer automated grunt. If you are tired of trying out messages to hundreds of new contacts by hand, this is the way to go. The broader benefits of automation explored One thing that you need to appreciate about automation software, whether for lead generation on LinkedIn or in any other sales context, is that it should not be the only weapon in your arsenal. This is not a magic bullet that renders flesh-and-blood sales team members redundant. Rather it is a means to enable sales specialists to focus their attention on the other aspects of the job; those that only a human can master successfully. Manual lead generation, including prospect research, is one such part of a sales role that does not need to be done away with if you adopt automation tools. More importantly, lead nurturing requires the personal touch that sales team members have the training, experience and empathy to handle, while the more mind-numbing processes are stewarded behind the scenes by software. For example, once you have used the aforementioned tools to reach out to compatible contacts via LinkedIn, the follow-up messages can be crafted carefully by the sales team. This way you get the best of both worlds, blending the efficiency and scalability of automation with the higher hit rate of human-led lead nurturing, in spite of what some might believe. The caveats to keep in mind By this point, it should be apparent that embracing automation is an appealing prospect for most businesses, especially where sales are concerned. However, there are a couple of other considerations to contemplate so that you can harness these tools without stumbling into potential pitfalls. First, you need to temper your automated interactions so that they do not appear spammy. This is not just necessary in terms of keeping contacts on-side, but also because you could get penalized by LinkedIn itself if you message-bomb large numbers of people at the same time. Second, you must strive to stop short of sending straight-up sales pitches to prospects. Generating and nurturing leads on LinkedIn has to be handled as organically as possible, and so the purpose of the platform must always be a paramount concern. Automate message-sending, by all means. Just make sure the content is about building connections and providing reciprocal relationships, not about shoving sales pitches down the throat of anyone who’ll listen. Last, if you are in need of inspiration, consider how you yourself may have been prospected and nurtured on LinkedIn in the past. Have you formed connections with other people because of an unsolicited message? How did this make you feel, and what can you learn from your interactions which can inform your own automation-enhanced efforts going forward? The value proposition Automation software does come at a cost, and this might put off some businesses since it will seem like yet another expense associated with lead generation and sales which might take time to deliver a return. One way to justify the often modest cost of automation solutions is to consider how they will provide savings elsewhere. If sales team members are not caught up with manual tasks thanks to the tools you use, then they will be more productive and bring more money into the business as a result, which is what gives automation real value. Final thoughts So there you have it; automation software is undeniably the holy grail of B2B sales in the social media age, but it should not be used on its own. The best teams will enhance their talents and abilities with automated tools, getting better results while still using tried and tested tactics.