Time is the most valuable resource we have. As a business owner, it's important to focus on doing things that help build your business like helping customers, acquiring new ones, and doing the day-to-day tasks that move things forward.
Want to Listen? There's an audio version below =)
But there are certain things you should automate in your business. There are basic tasks that don't add value to your clients and take time off of the clock for you and your team. I want to show you 4 things you can automate in your business that will save you time and money and will provide a smooth customer experience.
Streamlining and automation aren't about making your business less personal. They're to help you offload repetitive tasks so you can focus on the things that need your personal attention and to allow you to do the things only you can do.
Whenever I evaluate an automation tool and whether or not I should use it in my business I look at a few key things:
- Ease of Use
- Customer Experience
- Mobile Friendliness
My priority is that customer experience doesn't suffer and the amount of time saved is significant enough to save. For example, if automating a task only shaves a few seconds off of my day, it's probably not worth the hassle.
One of the biggest wastes of time is the back-and-forth of scheduling events, appointments, meetings, calls, etc. Instead of a back-and-forth string of emails just to find a time when you and your client are available at the same time, automate your scheduling with tools like Calendly.
Go to Calendly.com and sign up for a free account with your Google or Office 365 account. Set up a new event type for an hour (or however long your appointments usually last), and choose the days you're available. Once you've set that up, anyone you give your customized scheduling link to will only be allowed to see times where you're available.
Boom, no back-and-forth, no wasted time. Calendly is easy to use, the customer experience (for you and your client) is simple and pleasant, and their site is mobile friendly. It took me less than a minute to create a new event type with Calendly. Check this out:
With tools like Calendly, you can save 20-40 minutes per appointment every week.
Larger companies can pay for a sales team. Smaller companies, or ones where you're the only employee, have a more difficult time.
If your prospects don't know you have something to sell, they can't buy. If your potential buyers don't know about your new product or service, they can't buy them. Companies grow by having a constant stream of fresh leads filling their pipeline. And companies that thrive have developed a system that can deliver a high-quality experience to their prospects and clients regardless the person operating that system.
While you can't automate all of your lead generation, there are simple ways to make an enticing offer that won't cost you much time or effort. By using tools like SumoMe and the List Builder tool (shown below) or Landing Pages from OptimizePress (like this one) you can automate part of the lead generation process.
First, create a valuable resource your target market would find useful. Then, create a pop-up, sidebar opt-in or a landing page to capture their email, and you'll start capturing leads. They may not all become future clients, but you'll soon have a growing list of people interested in what you're doing and how you can help them.
Automating lead generation with pop-ups and opt-in boxes will shave hours off of your week and could pay huge dividends for your business.
With a lead generating automation system, I save up to 45 minutes of talking and sharing for every person who signs up for one of my resources.
What if you knew which of your leads were most likely to buy and you could give their deals a higher probability of closing?
What if you could send your most avid readers, listeners, and audience members special offers before you sent them to everybody else?
With a lead scoring automation system, you can.
MailChimp will grade your contacts on a scale from 1 to 5 stars. 1 star means a contact has complained or unsubscribed, 5 means your contact is highly engaged and opening the emails you send. You can send emails to everyone three stars and up while excluding the less engaged two stars and below.
ActiveCampaign has a more manual and sophisticated approach, but you have more control. If you have their Plus Plan, you can assign point values to certain tasks. For example, each time a contact opens an email or clicks a link they earn an additional point. If you assign point values to contacts with open deals, you know which contacts are most likely to buy from you in the future.
With MailChimp, lead scoring is automatic.
In ActiveCampaign, first make sure you have the Plus or Enterprise Plan. Then navigate to your Contacts tab and choose Contact & Lead Scoring from the drop-down menu in the top left corner. Finally, add a new score and choose the options you'd like to assign point values too. The video below shows how to do it in less than 60 seconds:
With a lead scoring automation system, I save 15-20 minutes every time I look at who I should contact this week.
Statistically, most sales aren't made on the first contact. At a time when information, reviews, and customer satisfaction ratings are everywhere, your clients are more knowledgeable than ever before. If they haven't already done their research when you talk to them, they'll likely want to do it afterward.
As a savvy business owner, you can prepare for the informed consumer. When you make first contact be prepared for an informed buyer, but also be ready to schedule follow-ups that provide real, tangible value to your prospective buyers.
For example, if you're an attorney and you know the 5 areas where most of your clients have an issue, write-up the issues and their solutions and send it to your prospects. You'll establish yourself as an authority, you'll help your client avoid future headaches, and you position yourself as a resource.
Another example. If you're a chiropractor and you know 7 stretches everyone can do from their desk that will help prevent back pain… heck, I'd read that right now! Write up a post detailing those stretches, or, better yet, record a short video demonstrating how to do them properly, and send it to your prospective patients.
Whether it's the car salesman sharing car-buying tips or the personal trainer sharing fitness tips, this type of follow-up may seem counter-intuitive. But it's not. This is the way to do business in the information economy where everyone has instant access to information.
If your prospects aren't getting help from you, they're getting help from someone else. Or, from YouTube. (Tweet that)
Automate follow-ups two ways:
- With Autoresponders
- With CRM templates and reminders
If you're using one of the email marketing services reviewed here you can send follow-up emails to your subscribers after a certain time has passed. After you send them a free resource, you can follow up asking how they liked it. After they join your community, you can follow up and ask what else they need help with.
If you're using a CRM tool, assign yourself tasks to follow up with a prospect 72 hours after your first contact. Create a template and save it with the reminder so you can respond the same way every time. With Capsule CRM, you can create tracks which your prospects follow that help you provide a consistent experience to everyone who you create a new opportunity for.
With either system, once you've tweaked and tested your messaging, you can send the highest-converting emails to all of your future clients.
Done properly, automating your follow ups will save you several hours every single week. No more worrying about what to say or when to say it. A follow-up system can provide consistent results and give everyone what they need when they need it.
By creating a follow-up automation system, I save 7-8 minute per email if not significantly more through autoresponder templates.
Why You Should Think About Automation
Automation and systems aren't about taking the personality out of your business. It's also not about sending prospects and clients through a cookie-cutter process that they hate. Automation is about letting software, computers, and templates do what they do best – exactly what they're told to do.
Automating basic tasks in your business will allow you to do spend more time face-to-face with your clients. Systems give you the opportunity work on your business instead of in your business and allow you to spend more time with your family. More on that here.
Now to you: What do you automate in your business? What did I miss? What are your thoughts about automation and creating systems?