Let me ask you a question. Are you managing your time effectively?
As business owners we’re bad about falling in the trap of counting every hour at the computer as “work time”. But if we were honest with ourselves we would see a different picture. Ask yourself – How much of that time is spent browsing through Facebook, checking the latest Instagram posts or going down the rabbit hole of “research”. 🙋🏾♀️I’ll raise my hand here, because I am a “fact finder” and I’m constantly looking for everything I can find on a given subject.
So you can see that we’re all guilty of it, but to be more profitable and productive we have to manage our time effectively. While the ideas below will take some work, the end result will be to spend less time at your desk and more time away from your computer doing the things you love to do and focusing on your talent.
Make A Plan And Break It Down
Start by figuring out what you want to get accomplished. What’s your next big project and what ongoing tasks need to be taken care of on a daily or weekly basis. Don’t skip this step. They say “Those that don’t plan, plan to fail.” Don’t let that be you.
If you’re working on a new coaching program, that could involve outlining what you want to teach, writing the training course, editing and formatting, creating worksheets and slides and figuring out how you’ll sell and deliver the program.
You may have daily or weekly tasks that you need to account for. These can be blogging, social media posting or interacting in groups online. Figure out what you need to get done over the next few weeks and write it down. Knowing what you should be working on to be more profitable is half the battle.
Write Out Daily and Weekly To-Do Lists
Next it’s time to write out your to-do lists. Start with everything you’ve written down in the last step and break it down into daily or weekly tasks. Use whatever method works best for you. I make a schedule in Google Docs and share with my accountability partner. I get what needs to be on this schedule from my Nozbe tasks and my Google Calendar. But again, use whatever method works for you. Don’t get hung up here.
Use a weekly list if you prefer working on larger tasks or projects all day long, or try daily lists and break larger projects up into manageable chunks that you can accomplish quickly. I also use Time Blocking or “Chunking” to further help me get things done. You do this by grouping like tasks or projects together. Either in blocks of time or on specific days. So you may do all of your blog posts and writing on one day, and your video recording on another.
Set A Time And Get Working!
The tasks on your to-do list will take as long as you allow them to take. To stay productive use a timer and get them done. Pick an item on your list, estimate how long it should ideally take you to get it done and then set that timer. I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique. I use it to get things done in 25 minutes blocks. I even have expanded it to 90 minute blocks I call Power 90.
Don’t forget to schedule in breaks after each block of time so you don’t burn out. Do anywhere from 5 to 10 minute breaks after each session and then a hour break after your 3rd session. Do something different like go for a walk or
Continue to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. Do more of what’s profitable and less of what you don’t need to be doing. That is the key to getting back to loving what you do and doing it well.
Do you want to learn more things that will help your business? If so check out Sam’s Tech Academy ALL ACCESS Monthly Membership. This membership is for the entrepreneur who needs to get up to speed with technology in order to run their business.
It’s not enough to get your client to buy. You need to keep them buying by building a long-term relationship with them. The key to doing this effectively is to offer follow-up customer service. Through follow-up customer service you continue offering valuable content, keeping lines of communication open, communicating your appreciation to the customer, and offering more deals.
A great deal of time, work and effort goes into effective customer follow-up, and this is why automation can help. Automation takes over routine tasks and does them for you so that you can focus on more important things. So what are some of the automated tasks we can do? I’m glad you asked. Listen in to this week’s #TechChat to find out.
CoSchedule is my new best friend for marketing automation planning. Yes you read that right. I am so glad that I took a second look at this awesome program that just keeps getting better.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain…
What Is CoSchedule:
CoSchedule is an all in one marketing calendar for your business. You can use it to schedule blog posts, social media posts and to keep up with your team and what they are working on content wise for your business. It truly is an all in one marketing planning system.
I remember when I first tried it out some years back and it was overwhelming at first. Especially if you are not familiar with marketing plans and what all that entails. But just in the last year I decided to take another look. And boy am I glad I did. It seems every month they are making it better and better.
But I will let them explain in this introduction video what CoSchedule is and then keep reading as I let you know my favorite features and how I use it in my business.
How It Works:
3 of my favorite features are ReQueue, Social Sync and the WordPress Integration. Let’s take a look at each one to see what it is.
ReQueue is the best feature of all to me. It automatically lets you re-use your best social messages without the manual work.You know how I feel about doing things manually 😂. Now a few other applications have this feature, but CoSchedule really makes an art of it.
One app in particular I was using for this would reuse my posts that I told it, but it would do it immediately so that I had the same content coming out several times a week. CRAZY! With CoSchedule it intelligently finds the best time to repost your best posts AND it let’s you choose the frequency of how often to repost that content in a given time frame. So no more inputting the same content that did well over and over.
Social Sync is the newest feature to be rolled out. With Social Sync you now get a true complete picture of your social media posting strategy. CoSchedule can pull in your posts from various social networks that weren’t published with CoSchedule. This is a game changer for me because I use another tool to schedule my blog post for up to a year in different forms. Well now I can see those posts right inside of CoSchedule so it won’t schedule content on top of that. Check out the video below of me setting up this feature.
With the WordPress Integration, I can work on my blog posts within CoSchedule. I can also pull blog posts that I have done and schedule them within CoSchedule or when I am in WordPress create my whole social media campaign for that blog post right then and there. Easy peasy.
What I love about CoSchedule & How I Use It:
Ease of Scheduling – I am able to not only schedule content from my browser but I can also use my phone, tablet or Chrome browser extension to capture articles and content to post. Just the other day I scheduled a few images I had created on my phone to all of my social media.
Best Time Feature – This is really my favorite feature. I can’t tell you how hard it is manually trying to figure out the best times to post and then choosing those times only to forget that you scheduled something else in the timeslot in another app. I love that I can press best time on the post and it will pick the best times for each social network. What is so great about that is your content doesn’t all hit your social media sites at the same time.
Reports – I really love the reports feature in CoSchedule. Because if you never look at the data and analytics you won’t know what’s working and what is not. By looking at the different reports for each platform I have connected in CoSchedule I know the times of day to send out things, what people liked, what people didn’t like and so much more. This is valuable information for any business owner to have in order to really grow your business online.
Email Integration – with this feature I am able to connect my ActiveCampaign account and plan out my messages right from CoSchedule!
In closing, here are some key reasons why I think you need to make CoSchedule a part of your automation tool box.
Eliminate the guesswork In scheduling your social media. With so much competition, it’s tough to get through the noise. Best Time Scheduling spaces out your messages for maximum coverage, getting your the most social engagement every time.
Schedule dozens of social media messages in bulk. Create a predefined social sharing plan to reuse again and again, so you can focus on creating exceptional content, not manually filling in your social queue.
Instantly share content from anywhere on the web. Curate and share content with followers without ever leaving the browser. No more copy/paste commands or switching from one tab to the next! And with the CoSchedule App you are truly free to schedule content on the fly.
Stop guessing at what will (or will not) resonate with your followers. Utilize your social network reports to identify top messages AND create content you know your audience will love.
Organize All Your Blog + Social + Email Promotion in ONE Place. Eliminate the endless email threads, piles of sticky notes, and the dozen and half moving pieces. Focus on the real work of writing top-notch content AND growing your audience.
So that’s it. If you are ready to UP-LEVEL your marketing calendar for your business use my affiliate link for a free trial and see what it can do for you. You won’t be disappointed.
Do you find yourself overthinking technology? Are you asking yourself these questions : 1) Cost Too Much, 2) Too Hard To Learn, 3) Have To Do It All Yourself. A lot of people don’t move on getting automated in their business because they are overthinking the technology.
In this live I break down each of these barriers. Watch the video below.
Cost Too Much – Don’t have a clue of what you need so you assume that it will cost a lot. Quit assuming and go see what you need and how much it will cost. This goes back to keeping your eye on your finances.
Too Hard to Learn – Don’t know what it’s for and what your needs are. Plus it looks like Greek to you because your not techy. You need to assess, document and audit your processes.
Have To Do It All Yourself – You think you have to set it all up yourself with no help. You really don’t have to. That’s what I help you do. I setup systems and automation for you. And I can also train your VA.
If you are ready to get help with your systems, then check out my 3-System Setup. Click the image to learn more.
When making a decision regarding the automation tools you’ll be using for your coaching and consulting business, much thought must go into it. There are dozens of factors to consider based on what the tool is, what you need it to do, and what features it has to offer.
Let’s take a look at a few of the things you’ll want to research before you make a choice.
Functionality and Features
What the software actually accomplishes for your coaching and consulting business is the most important thing to consider. Being cost-conscious means that you don’t want to pay for features that you don’t need. You may not need all the bells and whistles that most platforms offer. At the very least, make sure the automation tool does what you need it to do for your business at the stage you are in. Don’t get side-tracked with functionalities you don’t need and end up spending more than you’ve budgeted for.
Ease of Use
Consider who will be using the automation tool and whether or not they are tech savvy. If you will be the main user keep that in mind. Will you have time to learn the functions? If not will you hire a virtual assistant or VA. Will they be able to be trained quickly? The user interface of the automation tool you choose will need to match the users’ abilities, so a tech-challenging tool will be more difficult to utilize for the non tech savvy without proper training. While a learning curve is to be expected with any new automation tool or program, a too-difficult-to-absorb choice will cause problems in the end.
This is a big one. We all have seen where companies are here today and gone tomorrow. (Katch, Blab come to mind) So that’s why you need to consider has the company you’re looking at been around for years, or are they brand new? Choosing automation tools built and supported by a company with years of experience will ensure you receive the attention you need when it comes to support and training. Now there are exceptions to every rule, but in general look for longevity.
At the very least, your new automation tool of choice should come with integrated training materials such as video tutorials and/or a PDF guide. Depending on the size of your company and the complexity of the tool, you may be offered on-site training for a price. This can be a wonderful investment insuring that all users completely understand how to utilize the automation tool.
Support is something you hope you won’t need, but probably will. Because we all know technology is a fickle mistress. So with that being said, find out where the parent company is located and what time zone they’re in. Does that match the typical timeframe that you or your team member will be utilizing the tool and may need assistance? How do you contact the company for support – online chat, email, or telephone? And is support included in the price that you paid, or is it an upcharge? Personally I love automation tools that offer online support. That way I can get help quickly and without wasting time waiting on the phone. But always make sure there is a phone number or address just in case.
Making automation tools choices can seem like a daunting task, but with these guidelines, you’re sure to make a choice that is right for your coaching and consulting business, and your budget.
Need help with choosing the right tool for your business? Let me help!
Start with the Quick Start Tech Session. The PowerUp Your Biz Tech Evaluation is included when you purchase this package. Click the image below to get started!
I see a lot of businesses struggle when it comes to automation and technology. This leads me to ask the question “Why are you still struggling with your systems?” Watch the video below to see what I am talking about and how you can finally stop struggling.
Don’t know where to start. In organizing I use to tell my clients to start small and where it irritates you the most. And when it comes to systems and automation it’s kind of the same. Start where it’s easiest and where you have the most need.
No money. You can’t afford not to. You may have to sacrifice. You may have to sell something. You may have to figure out how many clients you need to serve in order to invest in system setup and help.
I’m doing ok for now. I always say stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. You don’t want to get to the point where you have a influx of clients and work but you don’t have the systems setup to support. You may experience your PayPal poppin in reverse. And no one wants that.
So now you have no excuse to get your systems setup and your automation working. I’m here to help. Right now you can get either a 1 Systems setup or 3 system setup with me. If you are ready to get this off your plate click the link below to grab either your 1 system or 3 system setup.
Whether creating new business processes or fine-tuning existing ones, you need to make sure your documentation is effective. You’ll take each task involved in your business and break it down into steps that are easy for anyone to understand.
So how do you know if you have efficient business processes? Watch the video below as I break down each one.
Your business process description should be detailed, but also as short and concise as possible. All wording should be essential and directed at the goal of getting the task done.
A single business process should have no more than ten steps. If you outline all the steps and find that there are more than ten, split the task into two related tasks. Each step is essential, but if you have a task with more than ten, it can get too complicated to execute properly.
Talk the Talk
The wording of business process documentation is critical. The way you write it can have a powerful impact on how your team members and support staff understand and perceive it. Also, if it’s worded in an awkward or difficult way, it will be hard to edit and improve.
Use everyday language that’s easy for anyone to understand. The tone should be informal and conversational. Write for clarity. Avoid using industry jargon or technical terms, and check to make sure the wording isn’t vague.
Show the Big Picture
The focus of your business process documentation should be the task at-hand. All the wording and every step should be directly related to getting the job done. However, wherever it would help, try to tie the task in to the big picture. Show where it fits into your overall business or what the intended result will be.
By showing the big picture, you put the task into context. This helps your team members understand how to most efficiently accomplish the work. When they have to make a decision, they’ll make the right decision if they understand where it fits in and what it’s supposed to accomplish.
Little or No Supervision
Create each business process so that it can be accomplished with little or no help from others. Your team members shouldn’t have to go through a chain of command to get their designated task done. Each task should be designed for one person to do themselves.
Make It Teachable
Each task should be understandable, but also teachable. You’ll need to teach it to new team members. The best-case scenario is that you can teach one person and have them train others on the task. Especially as your business grows. Think of your processes as a “how to” or guide to accomplishing the task.
This is my favorite one. I love love love using videos and visuals to help make things clear.
Wherever it makes the process easier, add images, videos, and other multimedia for reference. You can create a video to show the task step-by-step (screencasts) or use visuals to make it easier to understand.
The key is clarity. Write your business processes so that they’re lean with no extra, unnecessary information, but provide enough information to effectively communicate how it’s done.
If you need help with documenting your processes check out my PoweredUp Biz Tech Evaluation. You can purchase it here.
Click Here to Grab my new report “21 Ways to Automate Your Marketing”
Businesses should analyze their processes from time to time in order to simplify. They look at their regular operations for fat they can trim. By doing this, the result is greater efficiency for all the actions they take and it helps them get closer to achieving their business goals.
This is an essential process for businesses no matter your size. Even if you’re just a one-person business, you should find areas to tighten up.
In this #TechChat I list 7 reasons why. They are as follows:
Improved Efficiency – when you get rid of excess work you increase your efficiency.
Less Mundane Work – by cutting out things that can be automated or delegated you get back to doing the things that only YOU can do.
Boost Your Bottom Line – the more efficient you run the more money goes into your bank account.
Stress Reduction – there is a structure in place.
Improved Customer Service – faster response and happier clients.
Scaling Up – we all must grow and having your processes mapped out will make scaling a breeze.
One Task at a Time – You don’t have to do everything all at once. Go process by process and get them down.
Listen in to the video below to learn more as I go in depth.
If you know that your coaching or consulting business needs processes and systems in place and you just don’t know where to start, I invite you to grab my PowerUp Your Biz Tech Evaluation. This workbook will help you get all of your processes documented and tools documented. Plus you get a 1 hour consult with me to help you find the gaps and come up with a strategic plan to implement a new system. Click the graphic below to get your copy today!
You can eliminate chaos by using the right tool in the right situation. At conferences and workshops you have a heck of a lot more people than you would normally have. That’s why it is so important that you put the right payment automation tools in place at your live events. Check out the video below and scroll down for further information on how I can help your business get the right systems in place.
Security – Taking sensitive info by paper can put you and your customer at risk for data breach. Only if you are entering the form in right away should you use this method. Paper can be misplaced and walked away with.
Human Error – If you can’t read my handwriting or you mix up some numbers on the form. Guess what? I just walked away with your product without paying. Especially if you can’t read my phone number to call and get the right info. That’s why having an electronic way to capture information cuts down on the human error factor and makes getting people through a line very fast and efficient.
Avoid Chaos – this is the biggest one for me. You have tons of people at a conference and usually not long enough breaks to go purchase and get back in your seat. So why not make it easier with an electronic automated system so people can get their product and back to their seat without having long lines or confusion on who just purchased what and who has been helped.
Follow-Up – This is the most important. When I buy something I want a immediate receipt. I also want some type of acknowledgement of what is to come. Like a welcome or thanks. Especially if it is a big ticket item. Just saying.
But you can’t do this if you don’t have a system in place to capture emails or to automate when orders come in. This leaves the customer feeling some type of way because they might go home and have buyers remorse and ask for a refund especially if it takes you days to reach out.
“So what should you put in place?” – I’m glad you asked. You should have some way to take payments and physical and email address. You should have your email system set up where it automatically triggers an email sequence once an order has been received. You should have a a system that automatically kicks a receipt to said email also.
If you need help putting these systems in place I invite you to a strategy call at organizingguru.com/15 and let’s discuss what type of system your business needs at this point and how I can help make that happen.
It’s important as a business owner that you effectively map out your processes. When you take the time to do this it helps you to more effectively hire help and provide them everything they need to get going on the right foot. Listen in to the video below of how to get this done in your business.
As business owners it is easy for us to fall into the trap of what Chris Ducker calls the Superhero Syndrome. This is where, as Chris describes it, that we feel there is no “kryptonite to our hard working, saving the business world ways.”
But of course there is something that can stop the business owner and that thing is usually burnout.
In that same vein, I believe that as a coach and consultant when you are being the Superhero in your business there are key areas that breakdown. When these areas break down it affects your income and your business reputation.
The truth is we can’t do EVERYTHING. A successful business owner DELEGATES. They get help. They ask for help. They realize that it makes good business sense to focus on what they are great at and blessed to do, and leave the rest for others who are great and blessed in that area.
Control and perfectionism will keep your business stagnated. The worst case scenario is that it could even close your business.
Watch the video below to find out more about what I think about Superhero Syndrome and what you can do to get out of it.
In this #TechChat I start off my series on the 4 biggest automation mistakes. Listen in below as I discuss the 1st mistake that happens in automation. If you find that you are guilty of any of these I offer solutions to turn it around. Enjoy!
#TechChat – Email Marketing vs Marketing Automation: What’s The Difference?
You may be wondering about all the chatter you hear about email marketing and marketing automation. And like most you may be confused about what they actually are or if they are the same thing.
Let’s first define what I mean by email marketing and marketing automation. Because a lot of people use them interchangeably and this just shouldn’t be. They are 2 different things. Albeit that they overlap they still serve different purposes.
Let’s Define Email Marketing
According to Techopedia, Email marketing is the targeting of consumers through electronic mail (email). And according to Wikipedia – Email marketing is the act of sending a commercial message, typically to a group of people, using email.
Some key things to note:
This is either your sales messages, your newsletter, or correspondence.
You use email marketing to build the know like and trust factor with your audience.
Allows you to use forms and autoresponders to collect data.
A popular email marketing tool is MailChimp. Even though they say on their website that they are a marketing automation tool (we will get into that definition shortly) they mainly are email marketing with a touch of marketing automation.
Let’s Define Marketing Automation
Marketing Automation – Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. Via Wikipedia.
How this relates to coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs is that this helps you to do the same thing even if you don’t have a dedicated marketing department. This is huge. This means you get on the same playing field as the big guys.
I love how simply HubSpot puts it – “Marketing automation refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions.”
So now that we have defined Marketing Automation, let’s talk about tools that fall into that category.
Tools that fall into this category are ConvertKit (which straddles in the middle) and ActiveCampaign. Which is what I use now.
Tools that I use now: ActiveCampaign
I’m a firm believer in starting with a tool that you can afford and that offers growth on the front end. You don’t want to have a tool and start to get exponential growth and have to import all of your data into something new. You also will incur more cost trying to hire someone to do it or worst yet you have to do it.
One of my keys to productivity and focus is using the Pomodoro Technique. But more than that I customize the original technique into a Power 90 instead of the usual 25 minute span of time. This helps me to use my Circadian Rhythm to maximize my productivity.
There are ton’s of new software popping up offering the glorious one stop shop for your entire business. You’ve seen them. They promise to handle your invoicing, billing, content, website, and on and on. Being a solopreneur this may be very tempting to get right away.
Before you shell out that monthly fee and start putting your information and trust in these systems I want you to think about a few things.
1. What is your business or companies long term goal?
You won’t always be a solopreneur so you want to make sure that you don’t get stuck with something that won’t grow with your business or that will keep you limited.
2. Think about your team members or future team members.
Do you really want to be sharing one login or worse paying for additional users on these platforms that will cost more in the long run? I wouldn’t.
3. What happens if they go out of business or hike up pricing?
At anytime these companies can close up shop, raise their price or change the direction of their business and offerings all together. And with that you are at THIER mercy. Why waste time or be in a position of panic if that happens.
I suggest instead to pick 3 to 5 tools to automate and run your business. I myself use 3 to 5 platforms. And I also use Zapier to make them all talk.
So before you jump on the all in one bandwagon make sure you really think about the long term game instead of instant short term gratification.
And if you need help really figuring out what YOUR business needs then make sure you schedule your FREE strategy call by clicking the button below.
#TechChat – Is Not Having Structure Holding Your Business Growth Back?
In this #TechChat, I discuss a meeting I had with a colleague about how not having structure in his business has cost him money. He could be further along if he had the right systems and structure in place. So I pose the question to you. Do you have structure in place in your business? Are you missing any systems? What has that cost you in time and money? Let me know in the comments below.
One of my favorite tech tools that I use is the Google Authenticator app. The Google Authenticator app is a great app for generating 2 Step verification codes. This second layer of security will protect your various accounts from being highjacked. IOS and Android versions available.
http://bit.ly/DigitallyYou – #TechChat’s are weekly trainings in the Digitally You with Samantha Facebook Community designed to help entrepreneurs & small business owners learn new ways to be productive in business, how to use the latest apps and organization tips.
In this #TechChat I discuss automation and my end of year procedures. I also touch on what you should be doing too in your business. I answer questions about doing Holiday advertisements and campaigns and how to automate that process. The importance of doing tech evaluations.
I also give general automation tips as I am asked questions by the viewing audience. So pull up a chair, get your favorite drink and take good notes.
#TechChat’s are weekly trainings in the Digitally You with Samantha Facebook Community designed to help entrepreneurs & small business owners learn new ways to be productive in business, how to use the latest apps and organization tips. In this #TechChat I share what I have been procrastinating on and what I did about it. I also want to know what you are procrastinating on? Let me know in the comments below.
In this #TechChat I share with you my 3 words for 2018. I got the idea for doing 3 words instead of 1 from Chris Brogan. You can check out the article that started it all here.
My 3 words for 2018 are:
Consistency. Seen. Lion.
I want to be consistent in everything from content creation to showing up in my business everyday period.
I want to be seen. I want everyone to know who I am and what I do. Even though I am a introvert that is no reason to keep hiding behind my computer and being the world’s best kept secret. So this year I will be very intentional about getting out there in a big way.
And finally I choose lion because that is how I want to show up this year. Tossing fear aside and boldly living my truth. I will not shy away from collaborations and reaching out to those who are where I want to be. I will not hide my light under a bushel.
Now that you see what my words are I would love to hear what your 3 words are. Drop them in the comments below!
Everyone who runs a business deals with a deluge of email messages each day. Coaches and Consultants also use email to keep in contact with their clients, sending them content and offers. Whether dealing with emails coming in or your marketing messages going out, it will be a great time saver to automate your email processes.
Streamline Your Workflow with Email Automation
There are several ways automation can help you deal with your daily incoming emails. If you have a task list integrated with your email system such as Google Tasks and a Gmail account, you can turn incoming emails into tasks. Any email that requires some form of action from you can be turned into a task through the Gmail system. Another method is to create a label called ‘New Tasks’ or ‘Task List’ and move these messages to that label.
I use Nozbe as my task manager and it integrates with Gmail. So whenever I have a email that needs to be turned into a task I just forward it to my Nozbe account and the task is automatically created.
Another option is using a Chrome Extension called Sortd. Sortd turns your Gmail into a drag and drop board where you can track to dos and so on.
Microsoft Outlook has a tool that allows you to automate daily email tasks easily. In Microsoft Outlook 2010, this is called Quick Steps. It just takes a few clicks to turn an email you need to take action on into a task. You can also create customized email macros (a macro is a task that needs to be done on a regular basis).
These are specific tools for specific email systems, but you can do something similar no matter what type of email you have. Create a folder for tasks to be done and simply move those emails to the folder.
Automated Email Marketing
If you’re marketing to an email list, automation is essential. In fact, it can’t be done without automation. There’s a certain type of software program that’s used for email marketing called an autoresponder.
Autoresponders automate all of your email marketing tasks including:
Signing up new subscribers
Sending a welcome message to new subscribers telling them what they can expect from your email list
Managing and organizing your list of subscribers
Sending broadcast messages to your list for you
Allowing you to schedule follow-up messages so they don’t need to be sent manually
Providing you with detailed analytics so that you can monitor your progress
When you use an autoresponder, you only need to write your messages and load them up into the program. The program takes care of the rest for you. I use Activecampaign for my autoresponder and email marketing software. You can grab your free trial here. I also highly recommend Convertkit.
Keeping It Real
Another point I stressed was staying real as much as possible. Automating your daily emails and email marketing frees you up to take care of other things, but when you need to communicate with your clients, you should always send them personal messages. Don’t create canned responses. It’s important to be real with your audience.
#TechChat’s are weekly trainings in the Digitally You with Samantha Facebook Community. It’s designed to help entrepreneurs & small business owners learn new ways to be productive in business. #TechChats are also designed to help you learn how to use the latest apps and get organized. In this #TechChat I talk about the power of Daily commitments. So what are you committed to?
Let me know in the comments what you have been putting off and not giving your all to, but now know you must commit to.
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 theiremail. 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.
CLICK HERE to get automated without tech overwhelm.
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
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.
CLICK HERE to get automated without tech overwhelm.
Are you managing your time effectively? As coaches & consultants we’re bad about falling into the trap of counting every hour at the computer as “work time”. Let’s be honest for a minute. How much of that time is spent browsing your Facebook timeline, checking the latest Instagram post or going down the rabbit hole of “research”. That last one I have been guilty of. As a “Fact Finder” I can lose hours to research on all types of subjects.
The truth is we are all guilty, but to be more profitable and productive we have to manage our time effectively. While the ideas below will take effort on your part to implement, the end result will be to spend less time chained to your computer and more time doing what you do best in your business and doing the things you love.
Make A Plan And Break It Down
Start by figuring out what you need to get accomplished. What’s that next big project and what ongoing tasks need to be taken care of in order to get the project done successfully? What are the daily and weekly tasks? Write all of this out. Use mindmapping software, pen and paper or Evernote to get the plan and information out of your head.
If you’re working on a new coaching program, that might involve outlining what you want to teach, writing the training modules, editing and formatting, creating worksheets and slides and figuring out how you’ll sell and deliver the program.
In addition you may have daily or weekly tasks like blogging, filing, bookkeeping, emailing your subscribers, interacting on social media sites and being present in Facebook & LinkedIn groups, etc.
Figure out what you need to get done over the coming weeks and write it down. Knowing what you should be working on to be more profitable is half the battle.
Write Out Daily and Weekly To-Do Lists
Next it’s time to write out your to-do list. Start with everything you’ve written down in the last step and break it down into daily or weekly tasks. Use whatever method works best for you. My to do list app of choice is Nozbe. I use Nozbe to track what I need to do and how long it will take.
Use a weekly list if you prefer working on larger tasks or projects all day long, or try daily lists and break larger projects up into manageable chunks that you can accomplish in just a few hours or less. I personally prefer a weekly list with tasks listed each day. I call this my weekly schedule. Every week I make one out and shoot it over to my accountability partner. I put the tasks that I decide to work on from Nozbe and client work and meetings. I also put down my personal obligations. It’s a great way to see everything in one place.
Whatever you choose to use make sure that you use it daily!
Set A Time And Get To Work
The tasks on your to-do list will take as long as you allow them to take. Parkinson’s Law is true – “work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion.” To stay productive use a timer and the Pomodoro Technique to get your to-do’s done. Pick an item on your list, estimate how long it should ideally take you to get it done and then set that timer.
I use the Pomodoro Technique modified as a Power 90. Which means I focus on a task or project for 90 minutes at a time. Then take a break in between doing something not work related.
Continue to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. When you incorporate these tools and habits into your business you will become more profitable in your business and have more fun doing what you love.