Automation, specifically sales and marketing automation is no longer an expensive piece of tech that only businesses can dream of incorporating into their day-to-day operations. Automation is getting cheaper by the day and more tangible for any business, regardless of its size.
So, what is automation?
"Marketing and sales automation is the use of software and technology to automate repetitive, manual marketing and sales activities. Marketing and sales automation is often used for activities like task creation, responders, email, advertising, and social media posts." (Active Campaign)
How does one know where to begin with automation? It can be overwhelming at first but once you take the leap you'll be wishing you had done it years ago. Here are a few things to consider when looking at incorporating automation into your business.
There are different levels of automation, remember that.The difference between good and bad marketing & sales automation will always fall on the person who has created the automated tasks. A good salesperson or marketer will know how to read any given situation while knowing how to respond and react in an appropriate manner. When you rely too much on automation you're leaving yourself vulnerable to missed opportunities and a bad customer experience.
This is why you must consider the different levels of automation. Creating simple automation tasks like email replies, creating tasks, and calendar events based on different variables is a great starting point for simple automation that will provide quick value. When in doubt while looking for types of automation you can start with, lean on marketing and sales automation experts and conduct research on various blogs and videos.
Don't try and replace people with automationWhen a company tries to automate sales and marketing too much by removing the human element, they are risking their companies success. Finding that happy medium between automation and real-life experience is what every organization should strive towards in 2021 and beyond. Don't replace people, replace people's repetitive tasks so they can focus on the bigger picture. This will allow for proper sales enablement.
But what happens when automation fails you?
Automation is a great thing when done right. Replacing menial tasks that open yourself and your team up to focus on the big picture is what the goal should be. It shouldn't be looking to replace people altogether. When you rely on automation to that degree you are risking becoming a faceless company.
keep an eye on things
A common mistake we see is that once people set up automation they don't revisit the tasks, relying completely on automation. Regardless of whether or not the automation is working for you, revisiting to see how things are performing and ensuring tasks are performing as they should, is a definite 'must'.
Imagine these two scenarios:
You have a form on your website that is filled out. Your sales team is notified of the lead along with the information the lead has provided. An email goes out automatically from your salesperson assigned to that lead with a thank you and a link to some general information about the request or a link to book a specific time. Great! The automation has worked flawlessly and now your salesperson is armed with the right information to follow up with the lead, all without having to pick up a phone or manually send an email. This is a great example of automation that saves time without the chance of potential hazards. (PS: we use a similar automated workflow like this regularly at ICS)
Now, let's consider scenario two.
Imagine you have compiled an email list for prospects you want to cold email. You send your initial email with a set of sequences to continue after that first email drip. The end goal of the campaign is to get the prospect to book a time with you. Things are running smoothly and you couldn't be happier with the results! Then you get a call from a prospect midway through the sequence saying they'd love to book. They book a time with you over the phone, you have your meeting and things go as expected. Unfortunately, you forgot about the automation and those sequences continue to be sent to that prospect asking them to book. You just went from impressing a lead to annoying them. This is a great example of automation that has backfired.
Ask yourself, Is Automation For You?
The larger your company grows the more difficult it can be to delegate. Small business owners especially, will often want to retain control; letting go of some of that control and relying more on team members can be a daunting task. Now consider delegating some of that control to automation, that concern can grow even more.
This is why you need to ask yourself, is automation for you? I personally am of the belief that every business can benefit from some form of automation and if you aren't willing to adapt, your competitors are too.