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Sales Force Automation: Friend or Fool?

I was recently asked: 

"How could sales force automation (SFA) affect salesperson productivity, marketing management and competitive advantages?"

It sounded like a homework question I get from time to time, but it did pique my interest so I responded:

If you automate non-compelling "corporatese" in an intellectual, purely logical manner you will soon (hopefully) realize no CRM, no marketing campaign, no consulting guru will be able to turn your sales around.

The concept of sales force automation is to not only generate qualified leads, but to nurture, excite, and track those leads in order to educate and connect with that person to the point that you remove most if not all of the buying barriers that exist in any sales scenario, so all the sales person has to do is put a voice or a face to the name, reassure the contact that everything they've read and seen and heard is indeed true, help the contact choose the best option for their situation, and process their order.

Sales Force Automation Implementation Issues

Most SFA implementations I endured as a sales person became little more than expensive spreadsheet-producing torture devices whose manipulation and hourly generation were used by confused and inept sales managers to justify their further isolation from their staff.

These same managers then used the 87 different reports as enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) to cajole inflated pipeline guesses out of their scared, under-quota sales people during weekly sales beatings meetings where the motto was

The beatings will continue until morale improves!"

Take The CRM Quiz

The answers the sales staff gave—and the managers accepted—reminded me of Darrin Stephens explaining to his boss on "Bewitched" why he had a monkey wearing a tutu riding a donkey in his living room.

The Foolish Spending Days Are Over

During the boom-boom years of the late 90's up to the 2008 crash, most companies didn't have to sell because people spent money more freely than drunken politicians on a Madoff junket investigating the viability of franchising Nevada brothels.

Instead of looking inward to see who and what needs to be reassigned or released, companies turned to CRMs thinking they were sales force automation platforms in a feeble attempt to cure what ails them. Seeing that reminds me of the old adage...

It doesn't matter what the truth is if you can get them to ask the wrong questions."

Thinking that a CRM will automate your sales is incorrect.
Thinking that just adding a new buzzword piece of technology to your business will automate your sales is incorrect.
Thinking you can just pay someone to "plug that thingy in" and have money spit out the bottom is incorrect.

Now the good news:

Perfect practice makes perfect,"

as Vince Lombardi used to say.

How To Control Every Sale

Look at this picture and recognize that what you you've been taught all along about "sales pipelines" is best viewed as a "sales ecosystem" because every part of your sale is interrelated.

The A.B.C.D.E. Sales & Marketing System™

The better you are at Attracting visitors and generating leads and Bonding with them and creating a pleasant Closing/Cash/Customer/Client experience and then Delivering a "WOW experience" will create Endearing fans that sing your praises and help you Attract more prospects and clients.

How To Grow Sales Without Growing Staff

This necessitates the creation of some form of sales and marketing automation if you are to grow without adding staff.

That necessitates testing and measuring your constantly-updating your marketing campaigns with proven "next steps" that are triggered by key events, i.e. a prospect downloads a free report or white paper, signs up for a webinar, requests a quote, your sales staff will become exponentially more productive and profitable because they will be spending more time with educated, hot leads ready to buy rather than chasing "investigators" and "SeeMores" who cannot make a decision.

But Wes, I don't know these sales and marketing processes. That's not my job! I'm not good with this sales and marketing automation software!"

First of all, deal with it.
Second of all, selling is everyone's job and marketing is just selling in print.
Finally, creating your ideal sales and marketing automation process is as simple as creating an outline in Word. Here's an example to promote a webinar for a big launch of a new program or product you are releasing...

  1. Create traffic
    1. Social media posts
      1. Daily beginning three weeks before event.
      2. 2-3 times per day three days before event.
      3. 2-3 times per day for three days after event.
      4. Daily for three weeks after launch.
    2. Email invitations
      1. Blast to targeted list three weeks before event.
      2. Non-Registrants
        1. Repeat blast one week later.
        2. Modify offer and send again one week later
  2. Create follow up sequences with specific goals in mind:
      1. Get message delivered
      2. Get message opened
      3. Get message read
      4. Get reader to click on link / pick up phone / come in to place of business
      5. Get reader to register
      6. Get reader to attend
      7. Get reader to buy
      8. Get buyer to use
      9. Get buyer to provide referrals and testimonials

    My Biggest Regret About HubSpot Is...
  3. Goals
    1. Once someone registers
      1. Immediately
        1. Confirm registration.
        2. Provide bonus content / access / welcome gift
        3. Kickoff educational/nurturing sequence to keep them tuned in and excited.
      2. One week prior send reminder email with share links for social media and email.
      3. One day prior send reminder email with share links for social media and email.
      4. Morning of send reminder email with share links for social media and email.
    2. Non-Attendees
      1. 1-8 hours later send email "Here's what you missed" with a clear call to action.
      2. Send similar message one day later to those that did not open/click.
    3. Attendees that did not take you up on your special offer: Send a series of offers 1, 2, 3 and 5 days later.
    4. Attendees that did take you up on your offer
      1. Immediately:
        1. Confirm their purchase
        2. Take them to a thank you page with an upsell
        3. Give them some sort of bonus they were not expecting
      2. First 7-21 days
        1. Confirm they have access to the product / program and know how to use it.
        2. Confirm they are thrilled with their purchase (email / phone call / text / and/or letter survey).
        3. Provide another little bonus they were not expecting.
      3. Within 30-60 days, depending on the nature of your offering, ask for testimonials and referrals.

If you can create outlines like this for every part of your business you will then know what to look for in a sales force automation platform. You'll know what questions to ask like,

  • "Will this system track open rates and click throughs?"
  • "Will this system track lead sources?"
  • "Will this system tag contacts based on their activity or inactivity?"
  • "Will I be able to send targeted information based on their activity or inactivity?"
  • "Does this system integrate with my webinar platform?"
  • "Can I do bulk updates on contacts including exporting and importing?"
  • "Can I take orders through this system or does it integrate with my current shopping cart?"
  • "Does this system integrate with my social media?"
  • "How powerful is the reporting and analytics in this system?"
  • "Can I track referrals and testimonials and social media shares with this system?"

See how powerful it is to "start with the end in mind," and how easy it is to just sit down for a moment and jot down what you want to happen?

No expensive mind-mapping software or anything else is needed. Do this with any document software, including Google Docs, which is free to use or a grease board and take a picture of it (like my client, Chad Kusner from Ohio did years ago when I helped him get started with his sales and marketing automation once we clarified his workflow below.)

Process before login is part of The A.B.C.D.E. Sales & Marketing System™

Chad Kusner on The Sales Podcast 23

When you spend less time educating both window-shoppers and serious buyers one-on-one, and more time connecting with decision-makers that have PROVEN they are ready, willing and able to buy, sales cycles are shortened.

And in sales it's all about compressing time frames because...

Time Kills Deals!"

If you can do more, faster and better with fewer people you will bury your competition and dominate your field and you'll do so despite working less hours than your competition, charging higher prices, selling at higher margin, and doing so with less stress and more fun.

Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.