When you think of automating your sales process what probably comes to mind is sales funnels. But just what is a sales funnel and why do you need to automate it?
Let’s start with the definition of a sales funnel.
Quite simply a sales funnel is the “process” of leading unqualified prospects to become buyers, weeding out the tire kickers along the way.
You want the sales process to be smooth & standardized and your sales funnel is what makes this a reality. Nearly every aspect of your sales funnel can be automated so that all you need to do is set it up and drive traffic to it. That’s the beauty. Put in the necessary work now upfront to be able to put sales on autopilot for the foreseeable future.
So, let’s break down the different components that make up your funnel and process that you can automate.
The Squeeze Page/Opt-in
The first part of your funnel and thus process is the squeeze page. You will also hear a squeeze page referred to as an opt-in page because people opt-in for your offer. Squeeze pages are often used as the entry point to your sales funnel(s). If you don’t have a full-fledged website, I highly recommend at least setting up a squeeze page to capture emails and leads until you get a full website.
*Note – Never forgo getting a website built in hopes of just having a squeeze page only or using just Facebook. Why? Because you want to own your web real-estate for one and for two you want to offer more information as your business grows; like blogging, articles, services and products pages, testimonials, etc. All of which cannot be captured without being overwhelming on one page or a squeeze page.*
The way these pages work is to initially qualify prospects by offering an opt-in form. The opt-in form is on the page that urges your prospects to sign up for your freebie or other incentive. This entire process can be easily automated so that prospects can enter your sales funnel at any time, 24/7.
Even while on vacation!
You can increase efficiency by adding pop-ups for your offer to your regular website and also an exit pop-up for those who leave your website or leave the squeeze page without signing up.
Once a prospect signs up, they’re redirected to a download page where they can get your freebie or incentive. This could be any type of item, such as an information product, a video or a coupon, but the entire process of downloading it can be automated. You don’t need to manually deliver the product to them.
You can use several tools for landing pages. A few to consider would be:
This is not an exhaustive list but a good start in finding a tool for squeeze pages.
Once the prospect has signed up for your offering and is on your email list, you can start marketing to them through their email. This is done through an automated software tool called an autoresponder. An autoresponder is essential for email marketing.
Through your autoresponder you can schedule automated messages that give your subscribers content and various back-end offers that help you qualify them even further. We will dive into email marketing and autoresponders in a future blog post.
The Sales Process
Now we are getting down to the nitty gritty. It’s essential for every coaching and consulting business to automate its sales process. You do not have the time to process each purchase manually. It’s impossible for your business to scale when sales pick up if you are processing sales manually. Doing so can lead to complaints and chargebacks.
Not good business!
One area of automating your sales process is the shopping cart. Automated shopping carts allow customers to shop and buy your products without any involvement from you.
Shopping carts are added to websites through software programs or online services, like Shopify. Many webhosting companies, like Squarespace, offer shopping carts as part of their packages.
Before you jump the gun and get a shopping cart, you need to figure out if that is what your business needs at this time or not. The questions to ask:
- Is this a one-off product that I’m offering?
- Do I plan on offering many digital or physical products?
- Do I just need something to offer clients a way to pay for my coaching or consulting services?
By answering these questions you will be able to choose the right tool of either a full on shopping cart or a service that just offers a way to make payment buttons that can be placed on your website or used standalone.
What Not to Automate In Your Sales Process: Customer Service
One area of your business that should never be automated is customer service. You can lead prospects through your sales funnel and allow them to buy from you completely on autopilot. But when there’s a question, problem or concern, you need to have a real person there to answer them. When you are just starting out you may be able to handle customer service directly, but as your business begins to grow you will need to use the help of software and/or other services to provide customer service for your business. Software tools, such as Zendesk, can be manned by REAL people. There are several companies out there that you can delegate your customer service operations to.
The point is to make sure that you just don’t set up some canned response and not have a real live person that your clients and customers can get in touch with.
No matter how big your business grows NEVER lose the personal touch.
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Have you ever felt envious of those coaches who take vacations and don’t worry about their business? Everything continues to run smoothly with no input from them at all. Or the consultants who spend all their time doing the parts of their business they enjoy, and almost no time on the rest?
You may have thought to yourself that they must have a ton of money or a huge team for them to be able to do that in their business. Or maybe you just think they’re faking the funk and really working 24/7.
In reality, none of those scenarios are 100% true. The truth is that successful coaches and consultants do work hard, especially in the early stages of building their business. And most do not have the unlimited budget for a huge team.
Their secret sauce is a combination of outsourcing and automation.
They follow these three rules:
- Automate as many things as possible
- If it can’t be automated, outsource it
- If it can’t be outsourced, decide if it’s really worth doing at all
So, let’s look at the first rule – automation. Which parts of your business can run on autopilot or made easier with technology? Think about the following areas:
- Your Sales Funnel
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
- Content Creation
- Your Website
- Payments & Invoicing
- Even filing your digital assets, like images, files and documents.
So let’s talk about why you need to automate your business.
Think of all the tasks you have to do each day. Many are repetitive and tedious, wasting your time and energy. When you automate, those tasks take care of themselves and you can focus on what you do best; which is coaching and consulting.
The Benefits of Being Automated
There are several benefits to being automated. I will list 3 of the biggest ones below.
Increased Productivity – By getting rid of tasks that drain your time and energy, you can focus on money making activities in your business. There are two types of tasks – routine and “thinking”. Both tasks require more concentration and critical analysis on your part. But when you can put some of the routine tasks on autopilot, you can spend more time on the tasks that only you can do. This not only increases your productivity, but streamlines your business.
Eliminates Human Error. You’ve probably burned the midnight oil before because you had to get that blog post out or that email sequence up. Only to be embarrassed when you see the mistakes made in the light of day AFTER you have hit publish. When tasks are automated these mistakes all but disappear.
Business Scale – If you sell info products along with your coaching/consulting and you are manually running the orders, a sudden increase in business from a social media post or something going viral can overwhelm you. An automated sales system allows you to keep up. And when you keep up you keep customers happy. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have seen big name coaches who have a hit product take off only to not be able to handle the onslaught of new people and orders and end up getting chargebacks and bad reviews because of it. The way social media is setup you don’t want your business on the receiving end of that nightmare scenario.
Tasks You Can Automate
So you may be asking yourself “what tasks can be automated?” There are tech tools out there to help you automate nearly every aspect of your business. Common tasks that can be automated include:
- Content Creation. You can’t create all your content automatically, but there are tools and resources available out there to make getting content out to the masses easier.
- Your Sales Funnel. Your sales funnel can be setup and monitored through automation so that you can focus on serving your clients.
- Email Marketing. If you want your sales to sky rocket, then you have to automate the process of managing your email lists and send out broadcast messages.
- Social Media. If you want to establish yourself as an expert, then you are going to have to have a presence on social media. There are tools available to help you easily manage multiple social media accounts and platforms.
- Your Website. There are ways that you can even automate keeping your website updated.
- Payments. Wouldn’t you like to get paid even if you are on vacation or asleep? Automation is the key. It allows you to take payments and manage your financial tasks so you don’t have to waste time doing it manually.
- Digital Assets. Your computer files, images, videos and documents can all be automated. There are tools out there that even help with this part of your business.
What Can’t Be Automated
Automation is great, but there are two areas that you can’t automate. The first is the initial setup of your systems.
I know, I know. But there is work that is required to get your systems in place. You just can’t wake up and everything appear ready to go. That’s not real life.
You must realize that the time you spend setting up your systems correctly is time well spent. In most cases you will just have to set it up once for it to produce for you for years to come.
The next area is relationship building. With social media and other online marketing channels, it’s as important as ever to be real with your customers. Automated responses and replies in moderation is ok but not every single communication from you. Remember you are trying to build a relationship. You are basically courting your prospects. How would you feel if a robot came to take you out, or if all the response you ever got from your spouse or best friend was a text message only with no real interaction? You would be put off for sure. Not someone you would want to do business with.
So, don’t do it in your business. There are some responses and such that can and should be automated, but the core of your communication with clients and potential customers should be live and heart felt.
Of course, automated systems aren’t perfect. But remember you will need to take the time to learn how to use each automation tool. However, the time you save using automation will pay back in spades the time you are spending now to get your systems in place and learning how to use the tech tools to make automation a reality.
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