I know many entrepreneurs wish they have a clone option so that they can create as many as good sales professionals as required to expand their business. Unfortunately, we are not there yet biologically. Let's see if there is a way to achieve this through technology. At this time all entrepreneurs know that technology can help them reach people and stay connected, but not many know how it works. One of the ways to achieve duplicating and expanding your sales activity is through "Automation." When you see the term "automation," it's important to remember that only a process can be automated. Therefore, your business must have a sales process in place before it can become automated.
"As technology advances, it reverses the characteristics of every situation again and again. The age of automation is going to be the age of 'do it yourself'." –Marshall McLuhan
I'd like to take a moment to list out the steps of the sales process based on the traditional sales method:
- Step 1: Recruit a new sales person. Train them to represent your service or product. Ensure they can answer the first level of questions a prospect will ask in order to gain confidence in both the sales person and your company.
- Step 2: The sales person strikes out, contacting their friends, attending chamber meetings and local networking meetings to establish contacts.
- Step 3: Create a 30-second presentation designed to educate your audience about what you do. Your sales person will pitch the presentation, and if they do a good job, they will generate interest. Once your sales person has established contacts and categorized them (such as potential clients, potential referrals or just contacts), it’s time to create a real relationship with those contacts by staying in regular contact, meeting with them and reaching out to them—all without becoming an annoyance.
- Step 4: By sticking with this process for a few months, consorted efforts will slowly begin to convert contacts into leads and leads into clients.
“50% of qualified leads are not ready to purchase immediately.” –Gleanster
- Step 5: Build strong referral resources.
Based on my experience, it will take at least 6 months of following these 5 steps before you will start to see results. And the ultimate key is having a sales person who constantly does what they are supposed to do.
The Sales Automation Process
"The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency." –Bill Gates
Can we automate the sales process? Yes. The technology exists, and if we're smart, we'll take advantage of it.
"By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human." –Gartner Research
I don't think you have a choice not to automate or semi-automate your lead generation or a part of your lead nurturing process. But just how DO you automate the process?
- Step 1: Prepare your digital infrastructure with your product or service details, including your website, social media, blogs, e-mail signature, post cards, mail, etc. Think of preparing your digital infrastructure as training a new sales person, the goal is to imbed quality information with consistency.
- Step 2: Identify which types of media will help you reach your ideal clients, and then—much like your sales person—visit these “places” regularly. Identifying the best media types will take an investment of time and resources, but it’s worth it! You might find your ideal media types include casual social media, professional networking websites, blogs, Google, Yahoo, Bing or a thousand other categories I could list. You get the idea.
- Step 3: Brainstorm creative ways to get noticed via electronic ads or activities. If you do it right, people will click and visit your website or landing page. Once they land, you have a few precious seconds to convince them that you are the best and that your service or product is indispensable. At the very least, you want to encourage them to leave their contact details, otherwise automation will die here (you may have a second chance; I will discuss this it in a separate blog). You will need a reliable CRM system to capture contact details.
- Step 4: Engage! Give your audience a unique reason to try your service, along with an undeniable reason of why they should click the button to either reach or pay you.
"Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost." –Forrester Research
- Step 5: At this point, your audience knows a good deal about your service. It's time for your system to ask for a referral and reward them for giving it.
Although the steps we've discussed are not overly detailed, you can see that a clear system must be in place prior to automation. Automation is definitely possible for sales, ideal client identification, and relationship establishment. We could spend hours discussing the finite details as each step has hundreds of additional attributes to learn and consider
"The adoption of marketing automation technology is expected to increase by 50% by 2015." –Sirius Decisions
I strongly believe that as an entrepreneur, you have the knowhow to apply these steps and work out the details based on your unique needs. You can even reach out and contact me if you want a little extra help or have a specific question.
Remember, there are plenty of resources available in the market. If you're considering hiring a company, team or individual to handle automation for your business, be cautious; they need to have proven, strong experience.
I look forward to sharing more details with you about automation in upcoming blogs. Stay tuned!