Can automation tools really improve your selling systems and boost your bottom line, while expanding your ability to offer a personal touch where it counts?
Alongside Vendasta’s own Dakota Zirk, host Jon Neher moderated an engaging discussion around this very question with two 2022 Local Impact Awards winners: Harold King, Business Development Officer at The King Group and Partner of the Year, and Will Palmer, Founder and CEO of Growth Lab and recipient of the Strategy Excellence Award.
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A common theme emerged around the nuances of automation. There's a significant benefit to creating repeatable processes—but there’s also a benefit to dynamic content.
So how do you know when to automate and when to keep things personalized?
What to automate
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 10.9 million jobs were left unfilled at the end of July 2021 (BLS), fueled in part by millions of Americans leaving their jobs.
The exodus left many businesses trying to accomplish more with less.
Workflow automations can provide the flexibility to craft, trigger, and automate processes with little need for human oversight. Not only can businesses accomplish more with less, but they can actually scale with greater ease and fewer expenses.
Given Vendasta’s powerful automation tools, is the answer to automate everything, then? Not according to Zirk.
Here’s what you should be automating to accomplish just that.
Time is a precious resource, and investing a ton of it in the wrong leads can be a frustrating experience—for both your sales team and your prospects.
“Automation is a part of vetting our potential clients as much as they’re vetting us,” says Will Palmer of Growth Lab. “If we aren’t confident we can drive results for them, we don’t want to waste everyone’s time.”
One automation solution is to have leads qualify themselves. Prompt a lead to fill out a qualifying questionnaire if they take an action that signals buying intent, for example. Automating the front-end part of the sales process in this way can ensure your sales development team only moves forward with the right leads, understands and clarifies pain points along the way, and comes to the table completely prepared.
Additionally, if leads are coming in through a website, an automated needs assessment and sales intelligence tool such as Snapshot Report can be a great vetting resource.
“If somebody is not willing to spend a small sum of money on the first step to getting really valuable information and an accurate assessment of their company, we might not be a good fit,” says Harold King of The King Group.
Campaigns and admin
Another key automation that factors into the beginning of the sales process? Email campaigns. Often, interacting with a piece of valuable, dynamic content is the catalyst..
From lead to client and beyond, campaign automations continue working hard throughout the sales funnel. Campaign automations can create frictionless, repeatable processes for onboarding new clients, building proposals, fulfilling sales orders, and more.
Automation gains are really end to end: “It’s not just about removing administration work at the start, but throughout the process,” Palmer says.
Continual education for clients
It’s no secret that things change quickly in business, in marketing, and in life. How is it possible to keep up? Both King and Palmer agree that setting their clients up for success depends greatly on fostering continual education within their business ecosystem.
“When we first started as a company,” King shares, “I saw something that said around 5,000 new marketing technologies had come out in the last six months alone.” Imagine what that figure is today?
It can feel overwhelming for even the most robust marketing teams to stay out in front of all the changes that occur across channels and platforms at any given time. But that’s exactly why there’s an opportunity to distinguish your service offering and establish credibility.
Sound like a tall order? The type of high-value, instructive, and dynamic content required for such a task can be facilitated through the use of automation tools.
“You can automate a lot of things on the backend that makes it easy to maintain a resource area,” Palmer says. “That way, we can establish our secret sauce, how we leverage technology and innovation, and how we do things differently than other marketers.”
Pieces of content for your learning ecosystem and resource center can include:
- Case studies
- Blog posts
- Product guides
Along with the fact that inexperienced, ill-equipped marketing imposters are exploiting businesses more than ever, having a trusted, authoritative, and educational voice is a powerful differentiator.
What not to automate
As a rule of thumb, you want to automate things that allow you to spend more time with your clients.
Each business will have different priorities when it comes to what they want to keep personalized and unique, but here are some examples of what not to automate:
Selling (and upselling)
Automation tools have helped your sales team qualify leads, vet prospects, and move them through the sales funnel with efficiency and ease. But when it comes to actually selling, this is where the automated journey should end.
You’re entering into a relationship with your client, after all, and you want to treat it as such. This is your chance to build rapport, ask the right questions, understand their business, and figure out how to best solve their problems.
In fact, having a human touch is essential when you consider some of the key factors to fueling growth for your business:
- Upselling (identifying additional needs)
- Referrals (converting clients into promoters)
- Nurturing long-term relationships (growing with your clients)
Remember: the probability of selling to a new prospect sits between 5 and 20 percent, while the likelihood of selling to an existing client is an astounding 60 to 70 percent (Forbes). Automation tools are a means to an end. They pave the way for more time spent nurturing these key relationships.
People are more independent and savvy than ever before. There’s a lot folks can do on their own—what they will actually need support, guidance, and leadership on will require something no automation can deliver.
It will require a personalized, human touch.
People do not trust marketers more than ever before. I think having dynamic people on your team, transparent educators who are patient with helping get people to a place of trust—that is the human element. If you can create this strong relationship, you will have a really high retention rate.
Perhaps you don’t think of a report as a piece of dynamic content, but it might be time to rethink the way you communicate results to your clients.
Automated proof-of-performance reporting is a helpful efficiency tool—but with the extra time you’re saving, you want to tell a meaningful story with the data. For Palmer, this means taking the extra mile to ensure he’s presenting results in a transparent, tailored, digestible, and personalized way.
“Automated reports are fine, but we piggyback on those by using technology like Loom to walk our clients through not just the vanity metrics, but the stuff where the rubber meets the road,” Palmer says.
Some key metrics Palmer takes care to dive into are:
- Call volume and lead volume
- Duration of calls when tracking leads
- % converting to paid clients
Communicating results in a personal way that builds on the automations already in place creates a more robust experience. It also builds trust since your clients will rest assured that you tie metrics to their unique goals.
The bottom line: automation tools, personalization, growth
Automation tools will win you back precious time on vetting prospects, completing admin work, creating repeatable processes, and systematizing continual learning.
“Automation increases our team’s effectiveness at performing our jobs at the highest possible level,” Palmer says.
Make sure you reinvest your resources by spending the right time, with the right people, and multiplying recurring revenue by providing the human touch where it counts.