Automation Helps B2B Sales Get More Personal

Free up time to get closer to your customers

DocuSign personal selling woman smiling

Effective selling requires a personal touch today more than ever. Sales operations that automate manual processes through digital transformation can free up time for more one-on-one B2B selling opportunities.

Almost 900 B2B sales leaders were recently surveyed to take the pulse of sales organizations at the turn of the new decade. Results in this 2020 Business-to-Business Sales Trends Report show respondents resoundingly identify the same top priority for their sales teams: increasing personal time between sales reps and prospects.  

The report reveals the top four B2B sales challenges:

  1. Make more time for one-on-one selling conversations
  2. Adapt personalized B2C selling methods for B2B sales
  3. Improve the digital customer experience
  4. Identify opportunities for automation in the sales process

The importance of personal touch in the selling process is reinforced as respondents identify the most urgent sales topics at their organizations as closer relationships with the customer. 

McKinsey B2B Decision Maker Pulse Survey research backs up this trend towards meaningful digital interactions with buyers. They report: suppliers that provide outstanding digital experiences to their buyers are more than 2x as likely to be chosen as a primary supplier than those that provide poor experiences. Sellers who provide an outstanding customer experience are also about 70% more likely to win the business than those providing only fair experiences.

Sales teams are investing in automation

One of the best ways to increase personal selling opportunities and improve the prospect experience is by automating steps in the sales process. This automation does not replace human employees, it makes them more effective by reducing manual work (and errors) so they can focus on the parts of the selling process that require human touch and agile decision making.

Many respondents polled in the trends report have started to utilize automation in their sales process, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. The most common areas of automation today are data entry, customer/prospect outreach and contract generation. It’s clear that most organizations are focusing automation efforts on the early stages of the sales process.

A closer look at contract generation reveals an opportunity for automation to help sales teams streamline the process further. While 39% of companies have evolved to be mostly automated, only 10% of respondents have fully automated contract generation. Full automation could enable teams to efficiently pull data and custom clauses from different systems into a template with a single click.

DocuSign B2B Sales Trends Report 2020


60% of sales teams are using electronic signature

Once contacts are sent for signature, however, there’s a drop-off in automation. Surprisingly, only a small percentage (9%) of respondents have fully automated signature collection; 39% are still signing all agreements on paper. Implementing e-signature is an easy opportunity for sales teams to automate this manual, error-prone and time-consuming part of the sales process. 

When it comes to utilizing automation after the sale, most organizations are just getting started. Activities such as triggering notifications to other departments are largely manual. A simple post-sale automated notification could update a billing system or activate a purchase order, yet a large majority of organizations still do not have those automated processes in place. Most report they’re handling those activities either entirely (30%) or mostly (35%) by hand. 

Teams are looking at automating contract generation

When it comes to automating parts of the sales workflow, companies with 50 or more sales employees are far more likely to automate parts of the selling process than smaller sales teams.


50+ sales employees

1-20 sales employees

Fully automated contract generation



Fully automated post-sale action



Looking at job functions, there are also clear patterns. Outside sales reps and sales managers are twice as likely as sales operations professionals to describe contract generation and post-sale actions as fully automated. Sales managers are also 2.5x more likely than outside sales reps to think signatures are fully automated. This may indicate a disconnect between what managers think is happening compared to the more manual reality.

Enabling personal sales interactions by leveraging automation

The overwhelming desire to provide sellers with personal selling time is one of the strongest takeaways from this survey. Even as companies indicate their willingness to involve technology in their sales process both now and in the future, it’s clear that sales leaders still see a lot of value in the human element of a sale. As the sales process becomes more technical, it should also become more personal.

As the sales process becomes more technical, it should also become more personal.

Automation of manual workflows is the modern way to increase personal selling opportunities. Automation isn't going away, it will only expand as successful organizations find new ways to create workflows that are faster, cheaper and less error-prone. As automation becomes more ubiquitous in B2B sales, the teams that incorporate it quickly will create more personal time for their sellers and win more business.

But it’s not enough to simply implement more automation; organizations need to have a plan to use the efficiency gains to improve the customer experience and sell more effectively. Find out what today's best sales teams are doing to create more opportunity for personal selling time. 

Get the full report B2B Sales in 2020: Strategies for Success