When To Automate Your Sales Process, and When Not To
To automate or not to automate—that is the question! When it comes to our sales processes, this can be a challenging question to answer. On one hand, automation frees us creative entrepreneurs of some mundane tasks. But on the other hand, automation can make it really hard for us to connect with prospects on a personal level—which is important because most clients are buying into us just as much as they are buying into our services or products. So, is there room for automation in sales?
Well, first, let’s debunk a common myth:
Every step doesn’t have to be automated.
Your entire system doesn’t need to be automated to be a solid and well-oiled system—you just have to have a defined set of sequential tasks. In our business, we use a mix of automated follow-up emails and manual emails. The manual emails address specific items that we discussed in our consultation or the client mentioned in their contact form—this shows them that we are listening to their concerns and have ideas. The automated emails send standard information about our process and tips about getting started on the wedding planning journey. Automated emails also help us when we have a hectic week by guaranteeing that the client still gets some sort of communication from us even if we can’t slow down enough to draft an email.
Now let’s look at a few examples of tasks that are good—or bad—candidates for automation:
Examples of things to automate:
Sending a brochure and welcome email series — If the next step in your process after someone inquires is to send a list of your services and prices, why not automate so that the client has the info instantly! Clients are much more likely to book when they hear back from you within the hour, and this is extremely difficult to do manually. In addition, having a few automated emails go out with more info on your service and experience in the days after you send this brochure is a great touch as well. This is a good way to make a great impression, especially when a client is comparing you to other vendors. Include a few tips along with reminders to reach back out to sign a contract, pay, book a consultation, or do whatever step is next in your sales process.
Sending a detailed design questionnaire—If you offer a design service and need lots of information to create a proposal or prepare for an initial consultation, consider sending a design questionnaire automatically to anyone who inquires. This way, you can get them to fill it out while you still have their attention. (P.S.—Honeybook offers this feature!)
Examples of things to do manually:
Sending a final proposal—Many times you’ve spoken to the client or at least received a contact form with some information prior to sending a proposal or brochure. Why not pull some of the information that you learned about them and incorporate it in your response? For instance, is your client concerned about choosing the “right” color palette for their wedding or home design project? If so, let them know that you understand their concern and incorporate color selection in some of your packages. You could maybe even highlight a review from a client who raved about your design service. This shows the client that you use the information they give you to create the right experience for them, which builds trust.
Sending a follow-up text—Did your inquiry come with a phone number? Has your client become unresponsive by email? You’d be surprised how many millennials respond to text messaging. Think about it—many doctor’s offices, airlines, and shipping services like Amazon send text updates in addition to email alerts. We can too! After you’ve sent a proposal, consider sending a follow-up text with a brief intro and a specific call to action. If you don’t get a response, there’s no need to push it. But if you do get a response, try to get the client to book an appointment, then coach them back into reading and replying to your emails. However, remember that not every client is a millennial, and that sometimes the parents of a bride/groom may be the ones planning things. In these cases, they may respond better to a phone call instead of an email or text. The key here is to be flexible about how you communicate with clients.
All in all, I actually would recommend a healthy mix of automation and manual touches in your sales process. This will help you save time but also will allow a little room for you to be responsive to your client’s needs.
Are there other areas of your sales process that you currently automate or are considering automating? Let me know in the comments!
Feyisola is an educator for the Rising Tide Society & Honeybook. This post has also been featured on Honeybook as an educational resource for thousands of creative small business owners.