What Does ‘ Sales and Marketing Automation ’
mean and Why is it Worth The Investment?
The technical definition of sales and marketing automation is: a category of business technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows, so they can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster. This sounds like something new and fairly complex, that’s out of the reach for hundreds of thousands of small businesses all over the world.
The truth however is quite different. In reality, business automation is all around you, it’s fairly simple and straight-forward and chances are, your competitors already use automation. Here is how it works…
Automation is everywhere around us. Many of the tasks and activities that were manually 10-15 years ago are now automated. Think about the self booking service when you travel by train, the London tube or even car manufacturing. They’ve all transformed their processes from slow manual labour to efficient and well structured series of actions.
Yes, but these are all large corporations, with unlimited budgets and the manpower to deploy automation , you may say. This was the case a few years ago, but technology developments in recent years made automation applications easily available. We’ve seen a dramatic knowledge spillover from large corporations to medium and small business trickle down to all industries and most importantly to businesses of all sizes. Automation tools are now (and have been for a while) easily available and within the reach of SMEs and solo-preneurs.
From hairdressers and beauticians sending automated reminders for appointments, to local private tutoring companies following up automatically whenever someone downloads their booklets, automation is now part of pretty much every small business’ sales and marketing strategy. In fact, 63% of companies that are outgrowing their competitors use marketing automation and further 78% of high-performing small businesses say that marketing automation software is responsible for improving revenue contribution. (Source)
So if you haven’t managed to jump on the bandwagon yet, now is the time to get on it.
So what is it about automation that makes it so valuable?
In a few words, sales and marketing automation saves you time and makes you money. Sounds great, right? Here is how the magic happens.
Marketing automation is essentially a system that incorporates a number of different features that work together and simultaneously to get work done for you.
Right now, you might be using Skype for taking calls, Dropbox for file sharing, Google Docs and Evernote to share client information with your team, MailChimp for emails, numerous Excel spreadsheets with customer information or your sales targets etc. Chances are, you are using between 6 to 10 different tool and apps that you have to manage manually. They don’t work together, unless you manually import information from one to the other, they don’t talk to each other and even though they are meant to help you, sometimes they could be a bit of a pain. Now imagine that you have a system in place that has all those features in one place, they work together, they coordinate activities, and they do half the work for you automatically. This is what automation is.
So when someone decides to ask you for a quote, instead of you having to email them personally to let them know that a sales representative would be in touch with them soon, you can automate that follow up.
Similarly, if you have scheduled a sales talk with someone, instead of having to send them a reminder email the day before, you can arrange for one to be sent to them automatically.
When you want to pull a client’s record, you don’t have to go through 5 separate spreadsheets to see their contact information, purchase history, past communications etc, you can have all this stored in one place.
When someone clicks on a link from one of your newsletters, instead of you having to follow up with them manually, or in the worst case, not even acknowledging that fact, you can have an automated tasks created for a sales representative to give them a call and talk to them about the product they showed interest in.
Automation is very much like the laws of physics. For every customer action, there is (or at least there should be) a business reaction. For every customer enquiry, there has to be a follow up on your behalf, and this is where automation comes into the pictures. In 9 cases out of 10, this follow up can be automated.
What this would do for your business is save you time (you won’t have to follow up manually which each and every lead), make sure no potential customers slip away (each and every prospect will be followed up with accordingly), you will take out the human error factor (technology doesn’t make mistakes, people do), make more money (by having a clearly defined and automated sales and nurturing process you will become more efficient and you will have a better chance at converting more prospects into paying customers). In fact, 70% of small businesses that invest in marketing automation solutions, see 70% faster sales cycle times and 54% improvement of quota achievement (Source). Bottom line is, marketing tools like automation work!
How much does automation cost?
Yes, it might work but it’s too complicated and too expensive, I hear you say. Well, the truth is, some systems out there really are very complicated and the cost thousands of dollars. But then again they are not the only ones available to you. In fact, there are a number of automated business management software applications that have been designed specifically to meet the needs of small businesses. They have been created with small business’ needs in mind meaning that they are not overly complex, they are not too complicated, they won’t burn a hole in your marketing budgets and they don’t require a PHD in IT to wrap your head around.
One of those awesome applications is InTouch’s Simple Sales and Marketing Automation for example. It has been created by a small business for fellow small business owners. The modules are easy to use and straightforward. You don’t need hours and hours of training (although the option is there if you want to speed up your process).
Imagine having all those separate tools that we mentioned earlier work together simultaneously to make your business more efficient and fast forward your sales cycle. How much an hour of your time costs? £50? £60? £100?
Because for less than £60 a month you and other colleagues who work with you (such as part time admin or sales people) can get the power of automation fuel your marketing and sales processes.
How do you know if it’s time to invest in marketing automation?
Automation has now become the standard when it comes to online marketing and business management. With more and more small companies dedicating time and money to integrating automation into their sales processes, it seems that the technology is now the rule rather than the exception. Nevertheless, to make it even easier for you, have a look at the following checklist. If you tick the majority of the boxes, chances are it’s time you considered an automation solution for your business.
The marketing automation readiness checklist:
- I experience a steady volume of leads coming to my website that I would like to capture, engage with and track
- I send or plan to send eNewsletters, communications, and sales updates to my prospects and customers via email
- I would like to be able to track the open and clickthrough rates of my email campaigns and send other communications based upon what users click
- I find it difficult synchronizing information or sharing key tasks with my team
- I would like to be more organized and structured with my customers data
- I would like to put in place some simple tasks to use with every new customer that we bring on board
- I find it time consuming to follow up with all my leads
- I follow up on the first enquiry but don’t set reminders to follow up a 2nd and 3rd time
- My sales team is not as efficient as it could be
- I would benefit from automating some of the repetitive manual tasks I perform such as sending follow ups, setting up tasks and reminders, sending out communications etc.
- I would like to use clever applications that work together where the information flows rather than separate apps with fragmented data
- I would like to offer my customers and prospects a personalized and tailored approach to buying without spending too much time on each individual email
- I would like all my data to be stored in a centralized place where it’s easily accessible to my team and myself
- I have a steady volume of sales prospects but they don’t convert fast enough
If you tick 3 or more of these boxes, maybe it’s time you looked at online sales and marketing applications that could save you tons of time, save you money and even give you a competitive edge over the competition. Sign up for a 2 week trial of InTouch and see how our Simple Sales and Marketing Automation module can transform your business and your sales strategy.