How to Humanize Sales Process Automation (while Doubling Your Transactions)
Despite the hype about robots replacing workers, many automation experts say machines will actually help us become more productive.
Automation frees us of our most tedious tasks so we can drive more value at work.
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And it makes sense if you think about it.
After all, every time you set your auto-reply or make a direct deposit to the phone company, you’re using automation to make life easier. Now you can spend that time having an actual face-to-face with someone, or working on something that really moves the needle for your business.
Why shouldn’t that also apply to your life as a sales rep?
Why should you care about sales process automation?
When we think of automation we tend to think of one of two things: giant machine-based assembly lines or terrifying scenes from Westworld. But for most of us, the reality is much less sexy or ominous.
According to research by Princeton social psychologist Roy Baumeister, repetitive, routine-heavy tasks cause a phenomenon called “decision fatigue.” Basically, the more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes. Your brain gets overwhelmed, so you start looking for shortcuts.
Roy is a pioneer in the psychological study of self-control, a.k.a. “self-regulation”. In his presentation at the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition, he recommends playing offense with your personal reserves of self-control to protect your willpower for the most impactful items on your daily power list.
Because when your brain is spread thin from decision fatigue, it’s easy to miss important cues in your prospect calls and communication. And even easier to start treating people like numbers. But more of us have more work than we can handle. Almost 65% of a reps’ time is spent on non-revenue-generating activities. This fact means it’s becoming harder and harder not to let your commissions slip through the cracks.
Here are some of the ways smart sales automation tools can help you spend your energy on the things that matter most and make your leads love you way more in the process.
Stay close to past clients
Despite the fact that it’s much more cost-effective to keep your current clients than endlessly chasing new ones, many reps still suffer from a severe case of shiny lead syndrome.
But with the cost of acquiring a new customer estimated at being anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one, some salespeople are finally starting to understand how important it is to maintain a healthy client relationship.
Here’s how The Graham Seeby Group turned a list of just 279 contacts (some of which hadn’t heard from them in years) into $90 million in real estate transactions in just 4 years.
- On the 15th of every month, the team sent a postcard to everyone in the database.
- Then, on the 7th of every month, they sent a short 90-second video email.
- On the 21st of every month, an email.
- Once a quarter, all contacts on the list would get a phone call.
Once they had their timeline nailed down, all they had to do was set up the reminders, emails, and mailers to go out automatically, straight from their CRM. When a past client replied, the agent would simply engage in a convo leading to a low-pressure ask for a referral.
Make your marketing relevant
There’s a reason personalized emails generate up to 6X more revenue than non-personalized emails. But the recent trend of over-automation has tempted too many reps into using technology as a crutch, rather than a way to deliver genuine value to prospects.
Barry Jenkins is a Virginia Beach real estate broker who nearly doubled his transactions to 240 deals in 2017, while working just 25 hours per week.
Not only that, each lead in his database got a better experience due to Barry’s amazing automation skills. “Everybody just wants to put their leads on autopilot. The problem with that is that robots and machines are never going to be as relevant as humans are,” explains Barry.
So he decided to go against the herd.
Rather than blasting leads with generic content, Barry and his team focus on creating a relevant message and automating that message to be delivered in a way that feels personalized — never spammy. “We always come from a place of contribution, that’s why our drip content is so popular. It’s not like those long campaigns where you can tell it’s pre-written content.”
With automation in the mix, Barry and his team can even send direct mail pieces to contacts who haven’t given them an email address.
“When someone checks their home value on my website, they have the option to register with their phone number and email. But many people don’t want to do that. They just want to give me their address. In these cases, the lead goes from the website to Follow Up Boss and then we’re able to send that lead to Zapier which then sends the lead’s address to Thankster, where we’ve got a template for a handwritten card set up. All we have is their address and we know they want to check the value of their home.”
They don’t even have the lead’s name. Yet, they’re able to reach out with a heartfelt offer. The mailer says something along the lines of, “Automated home values are helpful, but if you really want to know what your home is worth, reach out to us and we’ll do an assessment. No strings attached.”
Get more social proof
In the sales world, we’re pretty accustomed to big talk around “pushing it” and “killing it” and “crushing it”. But wouldn’t it be great if you could get the deals flowing without the try-hard tactics?
Ron Howard is the owner of Baltimore’s leading real estate team. He closed over 470 homes in 2017, without following the conventional “sales” advice. From the beginning, Ron understood that the concepts of social proof would be crucial in helping him create a bond with prospects.
By maintaining a steady focus on service, 60% of Ron’s business comes from his local community events. But he also gets a slew of phone calls coming in every day from Zillow, where Ron Howard & Associates have over 700 reviews.
“People competing in our market have around 200 reviews so to have 700 it’s just like…boom,” says Ron. In the early days, Ron was faced with the same decision many reps are faced with:
Where should you focus your reviews?
In today’s world of online everything, it’s tempting to spread your efforts too thin. But after only moderate success with LinkedIn, Facebook and Google reviews, Ron realized Zillow was really the place where his customers were actually using that social proof.
So he set up an easy automated system to make collecting reviews one of the most passive yet profitable tasks within his business.
And their process for collecting customer reviews is surprisingly simple.
- One of Ron’s assistants sends a reminder out once a month.
- On the backend of Zillow, there’s a simple ‘Request Review’ button. You enter the client’s info and send the request.
- The client gets sent a link to submit their review.
The whole process is beautifully automated.
Of course, Ron always gives the customer a heads up. At settlement, he tells them, “My assistant’s going to send you a request for a review. You think you can give us a good one?”
9 out of 10 times, they’re happy to do it. Before he even gets back to the office, Ron calls his assistant and asks her to send out the reviews right away while it’s still fresh in the customer’s mind. And with automation, it can all happen in a series of single clicks.
Outrun the competition
According to Hubspot’s 2018 State of Inbound Report, 61% of B2B companies send all leads directly to sales, even though only 27% of those leads qualify as “serious buyers.”
And Marc Wayshak’s recent research found that at least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell. At least, not right now.
The brutal truth about the new game of sales is that it’s no longer about who gets there first. It’s about who can stay in the game the longest.
But again, there’s only so many hours in the day. And we’ve all got our quotas to crush. It’s humanly impossible to follow up with an entire database of people on a regular basis. At least, it is without the help of automation. Especially if you want the experience to feel relevant and human.
The right automation tool can help you put long-term follow up on autopilot. And show you which leads to focus your energy on every day in the office. Instead of reaching for the flashiest tool. (One jam-packed with features.) Look for one that will help you reduce decision fatigue and protect your focus.
A good rule of thumb is to use a sales automation tool that alerts you to a few key behavioral factors:
- When did my lead last engage?
- When did I (or a member of my team) last engage?
- What type of content does my lead engage with?
Leverage simple things. Like leads who were on your website in the last 5 days and haven’t had a call, email or text. Doing this helps you narrow your focus to the highest priority leads. All without getting distracted by the many trivial factors that often get baked into complex lead scores.
And for those that are less ready to engage, resist the urge to put them off or keep them stuck on an endless loop of 12-month drip campaigns. A little extra effort to tailor your follow up based on who they are and what they’re looking for can pay you back tenfold.The thing that separates the top earners from the rest is long-term consistency. Click To Tweet
Remember, the thing that separates the top earners from the rest is long-term consistency. Automation makes sure you’re able to give the best you got each and every time you touch a lead.