It’s not hyperbole to say that the need to automate sales has never been greater. If you rely on the internet for any aspect of business sales, no one needs to tell you that competition has increased dramatically since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. When office workers scattered, many salespeople began leveraging existing online resources to extend their reach and compensate for a lack of in-person presentations.
Before long, business owners began investing more and more of their time and effort in their online presence. This included search engine optimization and other techniques such as affiliate marketing. The end result is that many sales teams found themselves playing catch-up. More to the point, salespeople began to realize the damage that was being done by wasting time on rote processes.
Going forward, your team is less likely to need a nice new wardrobe than a quality headset and green screen. Additionally, business owners must do whatever they can to minimize the amount of time wasted. If a machine can do it faster and better, let it. Invest in technology that allows your people to focus on what really matters, namely relationships and repeat business.
Listed below are five things that have become more urgent to address in the wake of a pandemic and the increased competition coming from the online sector.
Template, template, template!
If your salespeople keep telling you they feel like they continually have to reinvent the wheel as they work, take action ASAP. Set your people up for success by providing them with templates they can use as they initiate contact with a prospect.
Many managers make the mistake of viewing the art of templating as a “one and done” sort of thing. It’s not.
Templates — whatever the format — should be thought of like a loaf of bread that is bound to go stale. Set up regular review sessions with your frontline users and ask them what’s working and what isn’t. Encourage them to share repetitive ways they modify existing templates. In fact, you might even want to set up a special email account or Slack channel to facilitate instantaneous feedback as to how templates might be improved.
Free your salespeople from mindless list-building.
We enjoy several great benefits of increased connectivity. One is that the market for producing lists of qualified leads has become far more competitive. These days, many business owners might well be surprised by how specialized and targeted listing services have become in the quest to automate sales.
In the New Year, set aside some time to conduct your own research into lead acquisition and pricing. Be careful, though, as we all know that this niche is populated by a lot of hype. If you find a new vendor that looks promising, dip your toe in the shallow end. If the results match — or better yet, exceed — your expectations, you can start wading in gradually.
The main idea here is that paying your salespeople to compile lists is roughly analogous to paying them to change the oil on your company vehicles. In the vast majority of cases, you actually save both time and money by paying for someone else to perform that task.
Upgrade personal tech equipment regularly.
In the wake of Covid-19, many salespeople began working out of their homes out of necessity. In their rush to set up a home office, many may have acquired lower-end pieces of technology. These touchpoints may, as a result, be causing more harm than good.
As just one example, the audio quality of voice calls or the overall signal quality on video conferences may well have taken a beating in the past year. We all know what it’s like to do our best to pay polite attention to someone who obviously has a lousy internet connection. Many of us grow exasperated when someone calls us and their audio cuts in and out.
Prospective customers have less motivation to stay on the line already. Now throw in technical issues caused by low-end equipment. Your salespeople struggle even harder to make connections and form relationships. To help automate sales, managers must equip their people to succeed by issuing stable, reliable technology. As a manager, it’s your job to insist that all of your salespeople are not allowing outdated or low-end tech to hinder their outreach.
Leverage social media to automate your outreach.
If your digital marketing people aren’t having daily conversations with your sales teams, your best bet is to assume that something is seriously wrong. One of the biggest mistakes any business can make is to silo sales and marketing.
Your salespeople know what actually works in the real world. Your digital marketing folks know how to get messages seen by the right people on the right platforms. To automate sales, it only makes sense to have your marketing folks set up mechanisms that refer social media leads automatically to salespeople.
For example, you might set up a social media campaign that makes use of a specialized code. This code signals a qualified lead. Rather than have those leads sent to the marketing team, send them directly to sales. In short, play to everyone’s strengths. When your marketing people are making judgment calls that rightly belong to sales, you are introducing a weak link to your sales chain.
Make it brain-dead simple to schedule meetings.
In the old days, people scheduled meetings by placing phone calls. Today some still employ a maddening exchange of emails, phone calls, text messages, and voice mails.
What? Do you mean to say that you’re still using those outdated forms of calendaring to set up your weekly schedule? Even worse, your salespeople are doing the same? Sorry to say, but you and your people are wasting a lot of precious time, probably more than you realize.
Today, there are a number of calendaring solutions that automate the process of setting aside time to meet in person or via videoconference. Some of the best solutions offer a one-step email process. This allows the recipient to choose from a pre-selected list of options. Time management becomes a non-issue on both sides of the equation.