Think of automation software as the project manager for your sales team. While software helps your team focus on the most important to-dos ahead, it also keeps track of leads who aren’t yet ready to buy, ensuring progress at every stage of the sales journey.
Set a framework for your sales pipeline
The road from prospect to paying client includes a few stops. Mapping the route—and adding automation to the journey—helps your sales reps guide prospects from one destination to the next, ensuring no one gets lost along the way.
Automation software organizes the existing process that sales reps follow to close a deal. When the process is clearly defined, sales reps can move leads from one stage to another, ensuring consistency and providing visibility into where each lead needs to head next.
Read: Things Small Businesses Should Automate: Lead Generation
Define the sales process by four basic stages:
- New opportunity:
A lead has been identified. When a lead is tagged as a new opportunity, the software assigns a sales rep to contact him.
The lead moves into this stage when a sales rep calls him. If the sales rep reaches him, the lead advances to the next stage. If the call goes to voicemail, an automated email is sent as a follow-up.
The sales rep is talking with the lead to learn about his needs and how your product or services can benefit him.
The lead moves into this stage when the sales rep determines that he’s qualified, meaning that he has the budget and authority to make the purchasing decision. The rest of the sales process plays out from here, with different automated actions set up for wins and losses, as well as leads who aren’t yet ready to make a decision.
Focus on your hottest leads
Having more leads than time to contact them is a problem—a good one, of course, but one that needs a solution nonetheless. If you never seem to catch up with your to-do list, where do you even begin?
Automation software sets your priorities by ranking each lead based on his or her engagement with your marketing efforts. Thanks to this lead scoring, you can focus on the potential clients who are ready to buy over those who need more time. By identifying leads based on their level of interest, you can better anticipate their needs and target them with messages tailored to their current mindset.
Stay engaged with prospects who aren’t ready to buy—yet
Automating a “lead nurturing” process prevents prospects from slipping through the cracks, allowing you to keep in touch without having to remember to do so. When a lead is identified as someone who needs more time, automation software can send an email each month that gently pushes the lead toward a sale.
Each month, send resources that educate the lead about your business and address common questions they might have. Be sure to include options for increasing or decreasing the frequency of the communications. Ask them to click a link if they’d rather receive emails every other month. Set up another “contact us” link they can click when they want to talk to you or a sales rep. With automation, that click triggers a task for you to contact them.
While lead nurturing gives the lead more time, it also ensures that you or a sales rep focus on the leads who are most prepared to buy. On average, nurtured leads result in a 20% increase in sales opportunities, compared with leads that didn’t receive that attention, according to a study by the B2B marketing publication DemandGen Report.
Welcome a new client
A sale isn’t the end of your relationship with a client. In fact, it should be the beginning. Make a good first impression by sending a series of welcome emails to show new customers that you value their business and care about supporting them.
Staying in touch is effortless with automation software. Set up your software so that a purchase triggers an email series. In the first email, sent immediately after purchase, include a thank you and an introduction to your company—whether that takes the form of answers to frequently asked questions or an overview of what your services entail. Consider sending a thank you gift, like a discount on the client’s next purchase.
Check in again shortly after the client has started using your product or services to see how they’re doing. Include helpful content, like tips about using the product or a how-to video, or suggest complementary products that may be of interest. A few days later, solicit feedback by sending a survey or asking how your business could improve. If the client is dissatisfied, you’ll want to take action sooner than later.
Welcome emails have benefits beyond the warm and fuzzy kind. According to a study by Experian Marketing Services, welcome emails have an open rate of nearly 58%—compared with less than 15% for other promotional emails. Now more than ever, you have your client’s attention.