Sales Pipeline Automation 101
For most small businesses, the sales process is something like this:
You get leads, usually in small numbers. Some of them become customers, some of them don’t. They disappear at various points and you’re never really sure when, or why.
Sometimes – more often than you’d admit – you plain forget about a lead. Or you lose track of them before they get close to buying. Or worse, lose track of them WHEN they get close to buying.
You never know for sure how many sales you’ll make this month, what your revenue will be, and what your sales team are really up to. The only sales report you have is how much money you made last month.
And this happens in small businesses like yours because you lack a consistent approach to sales. According to Marketingsherpa, 68% of small businesses have not defined what their marketing and sales funnel entails – so you’re not the only one.
When your processes are this loosely defined – if anything, you have post-it notes and an excel sheet, right? – mistakes are almost certain. This lack of process is limiting your potential for scale and success.
Enter the solution: software driven sales processes. With the right software, a small business like yours can keep all the information they need in a single place. You can automate communication, reminders and tasks, and ensure that every lead goes through a thought-out effective process for developing a lead into a sale.
With the right process and automation, follow-up emails are sent at the right moment automatically. Your team receive reminders about phone calls, meetings and any other tasks that are necessary, and the entire team has knowledge of what’s going on. You can see how much potential revenue is in your pipeline, and when you can expect that to come to fruition.
Put another way, the right sales processes will help you get organised, grow your sales, and scale your business.
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5 Things Sales Automation Will Do For You
When a process driven sales pipeline is implemented, leads don’t get lost. Sales initiatives and forecasts and objectively realised and the whole company knows what’s happening.
You might be experiencing:
… I’m having a hard time keeping track of leads.
7 touch points is a very common statistic. It means it’ll take 7 touch points for a successful sale.
Yet, most salespeople stop trying after only a couple of goes. Playing phone tag is frustrating. Notes get lost, calendars get overlooked, and leads fall through the cracks.
But when your sales process is driven by automation, the only way your sales will “forget” is it they intentionally ignore something. Follow up reminders are guaranteed, making human error a thing of the past. Using automation software you can automate a attempts to make contact with a lead. Leaving a voicemail can trigger a “sorry, I just missed you” email. Another email is sent after a few days; the software reminds the rep to make another call after a few more, and so on, and so on.
When communication is automated, follow up can continue for days, weeks, and even months—and the sales person doesn’t his excel spreadsheet to make the next move. The software keeps track of their prospects.
Automation software also tracks and ranks leads, making sure the sales person knows who the highest priority is. With lead scoring the software assigns points to each prospect based on things like opening emails and clicking links, and this information is available to the sales reps, and they’ll know who to call, and who can wait.
…leads aren’t becoming customers.
Have you ever wondered why it’s called “funnel”? It’s because the sales process begins with a large pool of prospects, which increasingly narrows as they work down to the “bottom” of the process.
If you are closing 100% of your leads, it might not be as good as sign as you think: it really means you aren’t having enough conversations! Not closing sales is a fact of life.Now, if you’re generating leads and barely closing sales, your process might be to blame.
When you implement an automated sales pipeline, the software identifies where you’re losing the most sales, so you know where to make changes to the way you work.
If for example you’re losing most of your leads early in the process, it might be because you’re failing to educate them well enough. Email – automated – is the perfect way to educate your prospects before you follow up the lead.
If leads get stuck between proposals and saying yes, you could try making an offer that entices them to buy.
The point is that by using a sales process backed up by automation, you’ll know what’s happening and know what to change, rather than being at a loss for what to do.
…where do my prospects and customers come from?
Knowing where your leads are coming from is vital to the success of your business. When you’re small and dealing with leads one at a time, this is easy to keep track of. But as you grow you’ll start losing track of where they’re coming from, and where you should ramp up – and draw back – your lead generation investment.
The right software setup will identify the ways leads enter your sales pipeline, and, more importantly, track whether or not they become customers. With that information you will know for sure which of your sales and marketing efforts are working, and which are just money down the drain.
Let’s say you do a successful facebook ad campaign that generates 1,000 – or even 10,000 – new leads. Sounds great, right? But what if analytics from your sales pipeline shows that only 3 became customers? Not so great any more.
Now let’s say you hosted a free seminar for the chamber of commerce. That seminar generated 20 leads, 15 of which became customers. Facebook ads were clearly more successful for generating leads, but the seminar was far more successful – 5 times – at generating the right kind of lead.
…I don’t know what my sales team are doing.
Most business owners and managers don’t have any idea what their team are up to unless they ask, or count the revenue that came in last month. You need meetings for meetings to know what’s happening, which is a colossal time suck. Not to mention the multiple copies of the same excel sheet that have to be synced…
But, and you might have noticed a pattern here, automation software centralises and tracks all team activity. Team Leaders can log into the system and check the status of each prospect, study the history of each prospect’s interactions with your marketing, and see the number of leads coming down the funnel.
With that visibility, team leaders can identify their best and worst members, coach their teams to be more effective, and more efficiently train new employees on the sales process – not to mention be able to easily and quickly report to their bosses.
…I have no idea how much money we’re going to make this month.
Begging for notes, emails or “guesses” from your sales team aren’t the best way to get forecasts for your business.
With a well implemented software based pipeline, you know exactly what each prospect is interested in, their potential value, and how far along the process they are: and that means you’ll know how likely they are to buy this month, and how much it’ll be worth.
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