That’s the value that businesses stand to gain by 2026. But only when they harness workflow automation.
While sales continues to be a deeply personal, high-touch aspect of revenue generation, the surrounding processes can make or break whether you’re actually able to effectively close that sale.
So ask yourself if you’ve ever wasted time qualifying leads. Or if you’ve missed an important follow-up. Or perhaps you wait until the end of an entire week before you sit down to undertake the tedious task of adding leads to your CRM.
Even the mere job of communicating with a prospect or lead over what time to connect becomes time-consuming and, potentially, resource-draining.
Suddenly, the figure of $1600 million doesn’t sound so far-fetched. And you don’t need to experience these issues continuously to take advantage of workflow automation.
In this article, you’ll discover the ins and outs of workflow automation, how it works for the sales process, and how each stage can benefit from automation.
Automation: Challenges & ROI
The challenges of the sales process presents certain opportunities — there are plenty of aspects that are repetitive. From manually sourcing leads to formatting and sending data and results to business tools, the details of the sales process, while important, can slow down sales teams — according to Usergems, sales specialists spend at least 20% of their time sourcing leads.
But the inefficiencies of manual processes go beyond time. Because sales is such a multi-faceted, high-touch journey, it can cause errors and kill productivity. And the time spent on manual entry can inevitably divert a sales professional from what they do well and, instead, saddle them with the minutiae.
Let’s consider this example that really hits home the challenges of manual processes that automation entirely eliminates.
Before — Manual workflows
Say a salesperson generates 500 leads per month, but it takes them 40 hours a month. This individual is paid €40 an hour, which means a total of €1,600 paid simply to source leads — but manually.
For those 500, 1-3% convert into a first meeting. That means between five and 15 people. From this number, 20% of first meetings convert into clients — which means that only one to three individuals lead to real clients.
With an ACV of €10k, that means your potential earnings from this batch of conversions hovers between €10k and €30k.
After — Workflow automation
The numbers after implementing a level of automation to sales processes are significant.
In the same model, a salesperson can expect to generate 5,000 — rather than 500 — leads. The difference is that it takes 5 hours, rather than 40.
Because your sales processes, like follow-ups, communications, and sending key sales materials, are automated, you can expect the conversion rate to a first meeting to rise to 5%.
If 1 to 5% convert, that’s 50 to 25 leads who have agreed to a first meeting. Now, from here, let’s say the conversion rate stays the same — at a 20% rate, that means you’ve captured 10 to 50 individuals as paying clients for a tenth of the cost.
Remember, the total cost for manual processes was €1,600 — and diverting your salesperson not only means you’re out €1,600, but they’re also not able to attend to other revenue-generating activities.
So ask yourself how much you’re potentially losing 💸.
Now, the cost of implementing a workflow automation software to take sales activities from manual to automated is the cost of a subscription. At Captain Data, that means opting for the Growth Plan tier, which comes to €399. If you pay your salesperson for a total of 5 hours of work at the same €40/hour, that works out to €200.
Congratulations — you’ve spent a total of €600 on the same activities, with a higher rate of conversion, a greater number of clients converted, with less time wasted. And the ACV rises in kind — with an ACV of €10k, your revenue on 10 to 50 clients or users skyrockets to anywhere between €100k to €500k.
<div class="cms-tips"><div>💡</div><p>Pro-tip: Your conversion and reply rate depends on different parameters like whether the prospect fits your ICP, how you choose to contact the person, and even how to personalize your message enough? At Captain Data, we are able to have a 15% reply rate using a “LinkedIn post likers” intent. Curious to grab the details? Let’s chat!</p></div>
How Does Workflow Automation Work?
In the simplest terms, automation workflows take a pipeline or a process and automate the repetitive tasks or aspects of them.
There’s not a single department that can’t benefit from automation.
In marketing, for example, email automation can help marketers present the right information and messaging to the right prospects at the right time.
Task automation can help developers eliminate the repetitive aspects of their workflow, such as following certain protocols for testing scenarios.
And a CRM workflow can, of course, support sales teams or even customer support teams to access historical and demographic data that provides details and context for more personalized interactions.
All automation workflow solutions have a set of “triggers” that catalyze certain actions, according to a predefined set of parameters or conditions.
At CaptainData, for example, these triggers are called “inputs” (which are usually forms of data) and result in “outputs.”
Let’s say your goal is to collect and aggregate a list of enriched leads using LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Your input would be a search URL with chosen parameters (such as job title, seniority, number of people in the company, etc.). This generates an output — a list, which you can then send to your other work tools.
<div class="cms-tips"><div>💡</div><p>If you want to learn about how to use Boolean Operators and make the most out of LinkedIn Sales Navigator Search, you can access our complete guide about Xray Search)</p></div>
You’ve skipped the manual grunt work of sifting and sorting through hundreds of potential prospects, and even sources, that may match your desired inputs — all through workflow automation. These are valuable tasks, but you can save on valuable time by automating the search, collection, and compilation.
Of course, this also means that automating a workflow requires you to have a firm grasp on each of the steps you’ll need as inputs, what your desired outputs will be, and where you plan to source this data from.
Automate Repetitive Sales Tasks with Workflow Automation
For pre-digital sales teams, the “name of the game” was all about prospecting and lead generation. In the digital era, not much has changed — except that it’s data that underpins sales activities.
If you can find a way to automate actions around data, then you’ve essentially created what we like to call an “automated sales machine.”
In sales, that looks like:
- Automating follow-ups after a sales call
- Sending invites for meetings to a prospect after they take a particular action (such as booking a demo)
- Extracting profile visits on LinkedIn to trigger an automated message to a prospect
Since it all does rely on data, ineffective automation workflow will go beyond in-app experiences or features. Data automation entails an entire system of triggers and actions, connections made between various data automation software tools so that teams can work seamlessly and without disruptions.
So, for example, data automation workflows mean your sales team begins work on sourcing and scoring a list of qualified prospects. Since the collection and aggregation of this data is automated, they simply have to decide the actions that come next — will this data be populated in a CRM? Will it be used to present a personalized message with the contact information harnessed by a data enrichment tool?
Regardless, when the manual aspects of data are automated, sales teams can docs their expertise and attention on having better, more informed conversations with prospects, converting them into customers, and driving growth in user base and revenue.
Building a Highly Efficient Sales Pipeline
Creating a highly efficient sales process is a multi-step journey that requires you to consider every aspect of the pipeline — from how you’ll source your leads, to how you’ll present your offer, and which stage aligns with which offer.
Using workflow automation, however, you can automate every aspect of the sales process and pipeline in a way that’s both immediately impactful and meaningful for long-term customer relationships.
Let’s take a look at four automation templates.
Workflows by Use Cases for Sales
This automation workflow example is all about nurturing a lead in a process that turns them into customers. If a lead clicks a button, submits a web form, or opts into a “tripwire” offer, a trigger that might occur is your CRM capturing their data.
From here, it’s up to your sales team to define what pathways this lead could take to turning from a cold lead into a hot one.
One pathway might include a follow-up email sequence that simply introduces them to your brand’s story. Another might define a pathway that encourages a direct outreach or a demo trial discount. It’s up to you to define what the parameters are when a lead changes from one stage to another.
Done right, lead generation workflows can shorten the sales cycle, increase the response rate when your sales team does reach out, and allow you to gain insights into potential bottlenecks on the buyer’s journey.
You can use lead generation workflows built in Captain Data to build a robust leads database and extract new contacts from any external source.
Data enrichment workflows are all about defining a pathway that allows you to enhance, modify, or improve pre-existing raw data. That means your company’s data merges with an external data source (or sources) using a tool that helps you create more complete data. These tools will collect online data and “scrape” this information, arrange and format the data, and combine it with data from various sources.
Enrichment workflows are a great example of task automation because most data enrichment tasks are rule-based. Captain Data’s no-code enrichment workflow allows you to extract data from a variety of sources and then use export options to sync or update data across multiple connected platforms.
Email automation is a popular example of engagement workflow automation — but it’s not just limited to outreach on a single channel. Engagement workflows should consider and define connecting with prospects across more than one channel. Whether that’s automating push notifications or defining a pathway that sends prospects’ or buyers’ information to tools like Outreach.io or Lemlist.
Custom Workflows using API/integrations
At the top of a funnel, or the beginning of a prospect’s journey, the workflows are quite standard. But the deeper and closer they get to a sale, the more “custom” your workflow may need to be.
Workflow automation should give you the flexibility to integrate your pre-existing software tools or apps to define your own pathway. That means the tool you use needs to come with the ability to support third-party integrations or APIs. Of course, if you’re familiar with Webhooks, Make, or even Zapier, you can completely transform the way you sell and how effective you are at it.
Agicap harnessed custom workflows to shave their lead gen time down to zero, garnering 40,000 leads per month, and, instead, scaled their sales team 20x using Captain Data.
Meanwhile, Scalability used workflow automation (a combination of low-code and no-code) to get their outbound messaging strategy to 100% automation, booking 100s of qualified lead calls, and saving its sales team 20 hours a month otherwise spent creating highly personalized cold emails.
So the only question is: what can’t you power up in your sales process using workflow automation?