How To Automate Your Sales and Marketing
Automating my sales and marketing processes including my online sales and fulfillment has been the single most empowering and freeing result of taking the risk and following of my entrepreneurial dream.
If I had not implemented inbound sales and marketing automation I probably would've had to return to Corporate America because it's hard to scale the profits of a business if you're relying upon a large staff to do what needs to be done, especially in California, where the cost of doing business is high.
Mastering sales and marketing automation has given me the ability to grow my sales without growing my staff.
It has enabled me to support thousands of customers and prospects in at least 28 different countries.
It has given my wife the ability to stay home with our seven children, most of whom we've homeschooled, because I was able to bring home enough income that she could focus her efforts inside the home, on our family, instead of on earning her own salary or running her own business.
You see, when you have systems and processes in place, you not only know what to expect, you know where to look and what to inspect and how to troubleshoot when goals aren't met or growth stagnates or you want to accelerate your growth.
Without systems you're shooting from the hip—which is the first of The 7 Deadly Sins of Selling, by the way—winging it, taking what comes your way, and stressing out because you are a reactive victim instead of a proactive driver, a deliberate producer, a doer, an achiever.
Since automating my sales and marketing in the Fall of 2008, my team and/or I have created:
- 231+ Campaigns/Workflows that do everything from,
- Capture new leads
- Nurture new leads
- Nurture clients
- Drive sales - both new sales and reconnecting with past clients
- Fulfill on orders
- Assign tasks to sales, operations, and service delivery personnel
- Request referrals and testimonials
- Drive upsells
- 772 Templates such as
- Email templates
- Newsletter templates
- Internal Note templates that trigger additional automation
- Fax broadcast templates
- Voice broadcast templates
- Letters and postcard for direct mail
- SMS templates for texting
- Fulfillment lists
- Task and Appointment templates
- 223 Web Forms for capturing leads
- 295 current products for sale either through my storefront and/or custom Order Forms
- 188 one-off follow-up sequences
- 21 Tag Categories
- 742 Tags, which let me know how many left-handed, green-eyed, jugglers who can also ride unicycles I have in my database (Hey. I have 7 kids. We need entertainers here more often than I care to admit!) But list segmentation is a key component to growing your sales and especially your income.
My inbound sales and marketing automation systems have freed me up to develop new coaching programs, new products, to work from home, to be around when my family needs me, to process and fulfill orders while I sleep, and give me the confidence to write not one but two books, produce two training CDs, and sales training programs for sales managers and salespeople while also launching two podcasts—The Sales Podcast and The CRM Sushi Podcast—to name just a few things I've done as of late.
Mastering sales and marketing automation software has also enabled me to grow without adding staff.
In fact, it wasn't until March 2012 that I brought on a part-time assistant to help with appointment scheduling and in August of 2013, I actually expanded my team to be an all-inclusive service, development, and support company.
The nicest part of that side of my business is that I barely touch it.
My team runs it.
I help make sales with their input as to whether or not we can meet the timeline, and budgetary goals of the client, and they take it from there.
By leveraging the proper software and technology for your business that is executing the correct processes you can build a business that runs efficiently and profitably for years and years.
HOW THIS TUTORIAL CAME TO BE
In 1997 I left the Air Force and entered the profession of sales full time.
Having seen the disasters and wasteful manner in which businesses small and large misuse CRMs—and the way sales departments fight with marketing departments—and the way businesses struggle to grow because they don't understand sales, marketing, or sales and marketing automation—I wanted to create a detailed review to break down each of the five steps of The A.B.C.D.E. Sales & Marketing System™ to help shed some light on how important getting these steps right is to the growth and sustainability of your business.
By the way, I wasn't born with this knowledge.
It has been pounded into my head since I started reading self-help books and listening to Zig Ziglar tapes around 1994 while still in the Air Force.
My income exploded while my stress and selling efforts were greatly reduced.
By late 2006 I was laying the foundation to start The Sales Whisperer®, and on September 1, 2006, I bought this domain name and eventually trademarked it.
By early 2007 I was on my own full time running The Sales Whisperer®...but only for a short time.
Without automation, I was simply pounding the phones and networking like I was trained to do, but it was hard, grueling, grinding work.
Everything was manual from processing credit cards to sending follow-up emails to taking RSVPs for training sessions, everything.
So after about 18 months of duking it out, I was recruited back into Corporate America.
I knew the financial markets were about to collapse (Summer of 2008) because I had been a student of the markets since 1992 and my first job out of the Air Force was as a stockbroker.
So I land this sweet gig making more money than I've ever made as a Corporate Schlepper of technology and two things happened: I discovered Infusionsoft's sales and marketing automation software and I got laid off after six months because the economy totally tanked!
Rather than be worried, I was excited about the potential to finally run my business in a way I was confident it would grow.
There have been some ups and downs, bumps and bruises but since 2008, my business growth chart has been up and to the right because I have embraced and mastered sales and marketing automation.
THE ONE THING YOU MUST DO BEFORE YOU JUMP INTO SALES AND MARKETING AUTOMATION SOFTWARE
Yes, you must pour yourself a cold one (a little Pabst Blue Ribbon hits the spot) and then bust out a piece of paper to document your sales and marketing processes before you login to any piece of software and start clicking around.
Trust me on this.
I am not paying lip service to this practice.
This is not some sage advice or another example of "do as I say, not as I do."
Below you can see one of The Sales Whisperer® gurus working with a couple of clients that came in for our Boot Camp and Study Hall.
We roll out this butcher block paper and segment it into each of the seven steps with a Sharpie and begin throwing Sticky Notes around to document each detailed step of each phase of the particular process we are working on at the time.
The clients you see below are seasoned, experienced entrepreneurs running a successful business.
If they can benefit from this process, so can you and me and everyone in between.
HOW SALES AND MARKETING AUTOMATION SOFTWARE WORKS
You need to realize the key word here is AUTOMATION.
You are looking for software that will automatically do what you and/or others at your company have been doing manually.
To make that happen, you must first document what happens and/or what you want to happen—PROCESS BEFORE LOGIN—so you can then buy the right software then set it up to do what you want and need to happen.
While this is not on the difficulty level of Fluid Dynamics or Differential Equations in college (I took them both and they sucked!!) this is by far the #1 thing I see entrepreneurs struggle with, and I've been doing this since 2007 when I helped Dell deploy Salesforce.com to over 3,000 sales personnel...and that was just a CRM!
The advice I give my clients is to
look at what you do 2-3 times a day or 4-5 times per week and figure out how to automate it."
I also recommend you sign up and/or check your inbox for emails and even letters, text messages and voice broadcasts from people you follow to see how they are following up with you and then emulate their processes if you think it's apropos (that's a fancy French word for "fitting" or "appropriate...told ya I was
inteligent inntellegent smart).
Finally, check your Sent email.
There is GOLD sitting in there.
You have answered questions from prospects and clients over the past few weeks that are MONEY!
They are passionate, educational, to-the-point and if one person has that question, so do 1,000.
Grab those emails and letters and make them part of your documented, automated process.
THE 5 PROVEN STEPS TO MAKE EVERY SALE WITH YOUR SALES AND MARKETING AUTOMATION PLATFORM
I'm a simple man so I've streamlined the 7 steps of Infusionsoft's (Keap's) Lifecycle Marketing to "The A.B.C.D.E.™ Sales & Marketing System" to boil it down to its essence and to make them easier to remember.
Here we go...
You need eyeballs in the form of visitors to your website, walk-ins to your store, visitors to your trade show booth, phone calls to your business, etc.
So you have to attract them with Press Releases, blog posts, podcasts, direct mail, Pay Per Click (PPC), billboards, social media posts, radio or TV or satellite radio ads, ads in magazines or newspapers, wrapping your vehicles, sticking flyers under windshield wipers, whatever it takes and whatever works in your area, in your industry, in your niche.
You'll never know what works until you try it and just because it worked last year doesn't mean it will work this year.
But "visitors" and "eyeballs" don't make you money.
Once you attract them to visit or inquire about you, now you need to attract them into your world with "an offer they can't refuse" in return for their contact information.
It's like courtship.
Just because a girl lets you buy her a drink or even agrees to dance with you, doesn't mean she'll give you her number.
So your initial attraction is like putting on your best clothes, doing your hair, putting on nice cologne so you get noticed and are even allowed to approach the woman of your dreams. Then you need to have good breath, a charming personality, be an engaging conversationalist with a nice sense of humor that is confident but not braggadocious, and shows the proper amount of interest without coming across as creepy, needy, pushy, or desperate.
Piece of cake, right?
This is the EXACT thing you are doing with the Attract phase of your Sales and Marketing Automation plan.
Here's the dating side of the courtship. You met at a club or a church picnic or a company event and she agrees to meet you the next day for coffee or lunch.
In the business world, this is where the visitor has placed some trust in you and becomes a contact and you begin to connect with them at a deeper level. You do this by sending emails, maybe reports or even a printed newsletter or CD or DVD. Maybe you send SMS messages with offers for discounts if they come in for lunch or log in to your website for a free trial.
You could also have a podcast that they can subscribe to for free and they can get to know you better that way.
The point is, the Bond is built via multi-media, multi-step, sequential, logical, relevant communication with your prospect, just like dating.
If your date agrees to meet for coffee, you don't meet at a 7-11, even though they have amazingly good coffee, despite the venue.
But since you have her cell phone number, maybe you check in to confirm the coffee. Maybe you send her a joke before you arrive or call her to give her some more info on this quaint coffee shop you want to meet at because you know the owner who is a veteran and donates 10% to Wounded Warrior so now she has come context and knows why you picked that location instead of a more-conveniently located Starbuck's.
That also helps create a topic of conversation when you do arrive to overcome that awkward initial greeting time. It also makes you come across as not only caring but also "connected" since you know the owner of this establishment, all of which helps you move to the next stage of the Sales and Marketing Automation process, which is actually making the sale or Converting.
Here is where you actually make the sale but notice that this is only the midway point of the process because you're not done, yet.
In the dating analogy, this is where you get a goodnight kiss and you realize you have something special.
In business, this is where the prospect likes you enough, trusts you enough to actually hand over their hard-earned money to use what you offer to scratch their itch, to fulfill their need.
Make sure it's easy for them to buy. I know this sounds funny but I'm amazed at how difficult it is to check out from a physical store either because they don't have enough registers or they don't accept the type of credit card I want to use or they don't accept credit cards at all, etc.
It's the same with online stores. Maybe you only accept PayPal, which is fine but doesn't instill an overwhelming sense of confidence insofar as your level of sophistication. I'm also surprised at how many businesses don't accept American Express. I know it has higher fees, but if that's why my client wants to use it, I'm taking it.
Or you may have 18 windows someone must click through to finally purchase. GoDaddy is notorious for this but it is a bit of a Catch 22.
I'm all for upsells and if you have a lot to offer, make sure people are offered what you offer. (How many times can I say "offer?") But GoDaddy also has a "bypass" button to take you straight to your cart. Ditto for Amazon, which has a "One-Click" checkout.
You may want to experiment with just taking their order online immediately, THEN taking them to a Thank You page that has upsell offers where they can give you more money once the initial order is handled.
Refunds—and breakups—happen all the time.
And along with the refunds—and breakups—come very public excoriations on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp. These reviews do not help your business or love life. So make sure you don't take the money and run!
That's why it's important to have procedures in place to make good on the promises and guarantees you made during the courtship.
Maybe you have a complex product or service so you can deliver a series of emails with step-by-step instructions that help your clients get up and running fast.
Maybe you send a survey a week or two after their purchase to see how things are going.
Maybe you send a gift like a food basket or a book or an iTunes gift card or just a hand-written note that thanks them for their order.
The point here is to let the client know that you do not take their order for granted. It's not enough to provide a fair product or service for a fair price. You need to provide 2x or 3x or 10x the value for the money your clients provide to really stand out and make that great impression that leads to the final step of the Sales and Marketing Automation process, which is...
This is where the explosion in your business happens.
When you have endeared yourself to your clients they can't help talking about you and word-of-mouth marketing has always been the name of the game, and that's especially true now with the power of smartphones and social media.
But people don't realize that word-of-mouth marketing can be cultivated and shaped and created with a well-crafted Sales and Marketing Automation process in place.
For example, let's say as part of your Deliver process you send a survey asking the new client how things are going and they respond favorably. That's a great time to either take them to a Thank You page where you ask for a referral and/or a testimonial or assign a Task to one of your staff to call them or both.
The same is true if they respond negatively. Redirect them to a page where they can elaborate on their experience so you can capture that information but also alert someone on your staff to immediately call them to diffuse the situation and to turn them into a happy client.
More times than not, you end up with happier clients after they have a bad experience you correct with professionalism and timeliness over someone that just had an ordinary experience.
Once you have these steps in place, you're ready to implement them in your Sales and Marketing Automation software. Here's how I recommend you do it.
VIDEO 1: ATTRACTING BOTH VISITORS AND PROSPECTS
In this video I show you how I go about attracting traffic including how I create free reports, conduct SEO / Keyword research using Google's Keyword Planner tool, social media including how I optimize my LinkedIn profile, how I've created a private LinkedIn group with over 5,000 members, how I created a custom link for Twitter that takes viewers to a custom Twitter page on my site, and more.
- Recorded the intro video with an iPhone 5S using the included headphone/microphone
- I use the iStabilizer Mount Smartphone Tripod Mount to mount my iPhone to a tripod. ($16.21)
- The mount is connected to the Joby JB01235-CAM GorillaPod Original Tripod (Black/Charcoal) ($18.37)
- I import the video into my iMac and use Screenflow to capture my screen demonstration and audio. ($99)
- The video is shared via YouTube. (Free)
- I created this page with a Themeforest WordPress theme.
- When I first started I used HostGator to host all of my websites and they still host most of them to this day. (As low as $3.96/mo.)
- For this main site now I use HubSpot. It's more money, but having built this business as my primary source of income since 2006, I need the speed, security, and support HubSpot offers.
VIDEO 2: BONDING WITH YOUR PROSPECTS
VIDEO 3: CONVERTING THE SALE
VIDEO 4: DELIVERING A "WOW" EXPERIENCE
VIDEO 5: ENDEARING YOURSELF TO THE CUSTOMER
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.