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The Ultimate Guide to Sales Force Automation

Any business irrespective of its size requires a proper plan of action to reach the zenith of success. The essential question here is how to do it when you are a small business with limited resources and budget? If you have a small business and trying hard to match the efficiency and closing rate of an international enterprise, then you can also do it with efficient sales force automation. This new business terminology may sound familiar to many of you, but most of you relate it with giant companies who have huge budgets and a significantly large workforce. But, it is a mere myth that sales force automation cannot fit a small business.

Small business owners do not trust the credibility of sales force automation and are intimidated by the investment costs that come with it. They are of the belief that it is an unsocial and supercilious way to interact with your potential customers and leads, that is broadly adopted by big corporations who have no other way to manage and organize their large teams systematically.  

It is one of the biggest misconceptions that shields the actual benefits of sales force automation. The truth is that automation helps to eliminate the extra time that your team spends on doing the most obvious and simplest of the tasks manually. Instead, you can utilize that time in creating strategies on how you can improve your business output and reach out to more valuable clients who need special attention.

To get a clear picture of sales force automation and how a small business like you can leverage its benefits you need to understand what it is and how it can help your business to grow.

 

 

 

What is sales force automation and why should you invest in it?

Salesforce automation means implementing software tools to automate your interactions with leads that are in your sales pipeline.

It includes some everyday and obvious tasks like sending automated e-mails when an enquiry is submitted on your website, creating tasks for your team to schedule a call or email a prospect personally, automatically dividing the leads and allocating them to your team members equally or assigning lead score to each of the prospect to define how qualified it is.

Many entrepreneurs are not well aware of the actual difference between sales and marketing automation, and they often confuse it to be the same.  Yes, it is true that any of the automation systems can be implemented for both, but each of them has their specific features and focuses on different types of communications and goals.

  • Marketing automation: It focuses on creating qualified leads from the people on your list.
  • Sales automation: This automation is about making customers for your business out of the available qualified leads. Because of this reason, it is a bit more on a personal level.

Why should you plan to invest in Sales Force Automation?

Automation for making more interactions with your leads may sound a bit formal and impersonal, but it helps you in establishing a quality interaction between your brand and customers. An efficient sales force automation will not eliminate all the direct conversation with the leads instead it will handle the most obvious and repetitive tasks that take up most of your time. It will ensure that you can have quality interactions with the prospects by giving them personal attention and benefiting from it in the long run.

The real objective of automation is not to replace humans in an organization or make your sales team idle. It is there to create time and opportunities for more productive activities like focusing on your potential clients that are liable to become long-term and loyal customer in the long run.

final-advantage-salesforce-automationAutomation not only creates time and opportunities for more human interactions it also helps to polish your team’s consistency and ensure that none of the leads go unnoticed. Such mistakes are common even for the best sales team where they forget to follow a potential client and lose him sooner or later. Salesforce automation does all these jobs of following-up with the clients, sending them automated emails or reminding your team of a follow-up call. You can sit back comfortably and relax because every lead in your system gets personal attention and is treated with utmost care through the automation system. The automation of follow-up processes involves a few mechanical steps but will improve the consistency of your team. There might be some people on your team who are professionally sound, and they have their way of treating their leads depending on the situation which further improves the consistency of your business. They can help to define the correct process to approach a situation and also train people at the same time and optimize your practices for a high conversion rate.

The final benefit of salesforce automation is that it helps you to plan and prioritize your opportunities so that you never miss on a potential lead that is just ready to buy. Instead of racking your and your team’s brains through the never-ending lists of clients and leads to find the most eligible ready to buy lead, sales force automation will do it for you. It will keep track of all the leads and their readiness level and prioritize the follow-up tasks accordingly. The automation system is equipped with features like lead scoring and automating tasks that will ensure that your team never misses out the potential lead and reaches them at the right time.   

What are the topics that we will cover in Guide?

This article will help you to prepare all the tools and information that you will need to make your business ready for salesforce automation. It will also make sure that you can implement new tools and strategies correctly and monitor your performance over time.

We’ll start by highlighting various ways on how to make your business fit for adopting sales force automation, charting out your customer journey plan, mapping those journeys and selecting the appropriate platform to build them. Then, we will focus on sales force automation tips and tricks and how it can benefit your business and ways to implement it effortlessly. The next thing will be how to increase the total interactions through automation while also giving them a personal touch. Then we will proceed with ways on how you can measure and report the performance statistics that can help you to improve your automated systems for much better results.

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Preparing you for Sales Force Automation

This chapter will answer all your questions to help you prepare for this guide, build an effective strategy, and research the best tools for your success.

Chapter Two

Automated Funnels for Email Follow-ups

Emails may be one of the oldest practices of digital communications, but till this date remains to be extremely effective. In this chapter, you will learn how to automate your email workflows and follow-up with your sales leads.

Chapter Three

Automated Task Management

This chapter will give you insights and techniques on how automating your team’s tasks can catalyze your business growth. Save time, manage in-person follow-ups, and stay focused on important things.

Chapter Four

Lead scoring and contact tracking

Lead behavior gives away important details like which leads will convert the fastest. Lead scoring helps you identify your hot leads and focus your sales activities on them. In this chapter, you will learn how to make lead scoring work for your business sales.

Chapter Five

Lead Routing

This chapter will teach you how to route your leads and automatically assign contacts to your sales reps for immediate follow-ups.

Chapter Six

Personalize Your Automation Strategy

There will be many instances when you will need to engage in a one-on-one interaction with your customers. This chapter will show you how you can humanize your automation messages and catalyze business growth.

Chapter Seven

Analytics and Reports

In this chapter, we will go over detailed analytics and performance measurement of your campaigns and methodologies. We will cover the challenges you will face and how to overcome them quickly and smartly.

Chapter Eight

Sales Force Automation Terminology References

This reference guide will help you get familiar with all the terminologies in sales force automation.

Chapter Nine

Your Next Steps

Put together everything you have learned, create a roadmap to follow, and start making progress in the right direction with this final takeaway chapter. This chapter is for you to get started towards your goal.

Chapter One

If you are reading this article, then we are sure that you must know how important it is to follow your leads and customers. But if you are taking a plunge into sales force automation, then it is essential to understand that how worthwhile it is and how investing your time and effort in this will reap better results in the future.

Salesforce automation requires a right amount of energy and time to make it an integral part of your business, but the results are worth all the efforts. By automating your salesforce processes, you can achieve the following benefits:

stats

Reduce the Marketing Costs

A more feasible and inexpensive way is to turn an existing lead into a customer rather than generating a brand new lead from scratch. With the implementation of sales force automation in your business, it will be much easy to make your leads into customers saving you a good amount of money that would have otherwise spent on lead generation.

Improve your conversion rates

It is not easy to make your leads turn into customers without following them religiously as they quickly forget the brand and move on to other. Salesforce automation helps you to automate the entire follow-up process and make sure that you do not miss on any of your customers.

Create loyal customers

If your prospects/leads keep getting personal attention from your team then, in the long run, the chances that they will turn into your customers increase. One-on-one interactions help to build trust and make your customer believe that they will be taken care of in the near future. They also find it more convenient to buy a service or product from a brand with which they had an interaction than looking up for other options which are entirely unknown to them.

Improve the revenue

When you are readily doing the follow-up with your leads and turning them into your loyal customers, you are also improving the overall revenue of your company. It also increases the retention rate and helps you to sell more products making your income to soar.

Save time

Salesforce automation saves a lot of time because it prioritizes your leads depending on their readiness factor. You will no more have to follow the clients who are not even ready to buy. With all the extra time you can focus on those leads who have the potential to turn into customers and also on the loyal customers who need personal attention.

The above reasons are quite compelling to automate your follow-up and take the plunge. But, it is essential that you first answer these critical questions about your business and then move forward. The first one is where your company is, the second one is what you want for the company, and lastly what should be the ultimate plan for your sales force automation. To be able to achieve this task, you will need to define the complete lifecycle of the customer’s journey and accordingly create the ideal experience for the customer as well as the leads. This chapter will focus on questions that you should ask yourself to find the best customer journey to create your sales force automation plan.

Mapping and Customer Journey Planning

customer-journey-mapping

A customer journey mirrors the ideal experience for each customer as well as the lead, and each journey is different from the other. 

The concept “one-size-fits-all” doesn’t apply to customer journey meaning to say you cannot approach an existing customer with a plan that is designed for the prospects.

Each of your prospects and customers has their unique preferences, the expectation from the brand, interests, and needs. The main focal point in the entire setup is that a well-defined customer journey will define the next steps in every possible scenario. It is essential that the plan is foolproof and thorough with no loopholes for customers to fall into it.

Let us try to understand it with a few examples:

A lead opts in for a free discount by sharing his email address, but he doesn’t shop anything and leaves your website. What will you do next? Will you send an email reminding him to make use of the coupon? What if he ignores the email? Your customer journey should include all the possible choices and outcomes that he may opt for during his interaction with your brand.  

With a countless number of possibilities relating to a customer journey, it becomes essential that you create a proper visual representation of all of the possible paths that you expect your customers can take.

When there is an innumerable number of possible paths that a customer or a lead can take it becomes essential that you create a pictorial representation of these paths.  These paths often interconnect or overlap depending on the customer/lead behavior. The visual creation of these possibilities is known as mapping.

A customer journey map will be perfect if it displays all the possible communication paths that the customer can take whether they are direct, indirect or interconnected.  It will include all the communications that they send or receive via email/texts, the tasks performed by your company/team to follow them and the respective choices the customer make in response to your interactions. All these details help you to understand your customer and leads in a better light.

To give a clearer perspective of customer mapping let us go through few examples:

Example 1: Lead qualification funnels

This map represents the basic process like when a contact fills up a form for enquiring about a specific product. When a contact fills out a form, it indicates that he may be a qualified lead for that particular product, so the next thing that you do is initiating a phone call to know what and who they are. If you get a positive response from the customer and you find them a qualified lead you send them follow-up emails telling them more about your product. If the response suggests that the contact is not a good lead, then emails are sent them with additional information about the product to nurture them and convince them to buy the product in the future.

Lead-qualification-funnel

It is a basic map and does not display all the possibilities. For instance, what if they are not a qualified lead nor they will ever be? What if they immediately give the nod to buy your product? What if they do not answer your call? What if they do not even buy your product? These are just a few fundamental questions that give you an idea of several possibilities that might come into the picture when a contact fills up the form. Once you have charted down all these scenarios the next step will involve other actions that the contact can perform and your subsequent response.

Example 2: Lead nurturing funnel

This map represents a simple lead nurturing funnel that allocates a score to each lead based on how they responded to additional information sent to them through blogs and then decide the next steps. The figure shows that this map has only one entry point that is when the contact doesn’t buy the product at the end point of the offer funnel. As the chart indicates that these leads are not interested in buying your product they will need a longer nurturing process. You will have to provide the extra information and more value about the product to build a stronger relationship over time.

lead-nurturing-funnel

Let us now see how the lead scoring works:

When a contact clicks on a blog link sent to them via email, 10 points get added to his score. After posting a total of 5 or more emails(submitted at least one to two weeks apart), automation will filter each contact and send them in the suitable next funnel.  

contact-funnel

  • The leads who did not show any interest in the emails and links sent to them and have scored less than 10, are put in another funnel for re-engagement and are monitored continuously for any positive signs. If there is no progress, then they are eventually removed from the mailing list.
  • Leads that show some interest in some of the articles may be one or two are placed in a nurture funnel to enhance their engagement and lead score level before sending them another offer.
  • The leads that showed interest in three or more articles and have a lead score of 30 or more than that are termed as positive leads and get added to new offer sequence.

Now the question is, when is this funnel helpful? The answer is that if your blogs and emails are focused on unique issues and topics that cater to specific leads who are a good fit for your product, then this funnel will be useful. It is quite an essential and efficient funnel as it helps you to prevent your prospects from falling through the cracks. They will always be under one of the three categories and receive follow-up emails depending on their engagement and level of interest.

Putting It On The Map

When you have prepared all the information needed for your map, the below-listed steps will help you to get started.

The map should resemble a flowchart that displays the contacts flow as per your database entries. The symbols and icons that you use should be consistent so that you can easily understand and refer them whenever needed. You can take help of mapping tools like Lucidchart or draw them manually on paper or a whiteboard.

putting-it-on-the-map

  •  To begin, first, find how the contacts enter your database. The next thing that you need to draw is what will happen next based on the entry points.  
  • Circle out the possible triggers that will make a lead go under the marketing qualified lead category. Connect them to the corresponding follow-up that is intended to happen next.
  • Circle out the possible triggers that will make a lead go under sales qualified lead category. Connect them to the corresponding follow-up that is intended to happen next.
  • List your entry-level products on the map. The next step is to connect the follow-up process after each sale to another offer funnel corresponding to your core products.
  • List your core products on the map. The next step is to connect the follow-up process after each sale to any upsell, retention or onboarding funnel for expansion products.
  • Add all of your expansion products to the map. Connect the follow-up process after each purchase to any follow-up or referral funnels in place.
  • List your expansion products on the map. The next step is to connect the follow-up process after each sale to another follow-up or referral funnel.
  • The next thing is to map your customer service process that will include all the actions that the customer may take to initiate a support request. Connect each of it to the corresponding follow-up process.
  • Analyze your map from start to end and highlight area that may include person-person interactions with any of your staff members. Identify all the possible actions that could happen after each interaction and work it into your map.
  • The final scan to find out the area where your prospects and leads may get stuck, probably when the lead takes no action when you reach them.

Once you create the map following the above-mentioned steps your map will be quite big, and there will be several areas where you would want to improve the customer experience. But, before getting ahead, you should draw the customer experience map as it is currently working. We recommend that you draw two separate maps one that shows the way your processes work now and the other one is the ideal type you expect. As soon as you modify/change any process go and update it in your master map and repeat the process until it matches your ideal type.

Researching Sales Force Automation Tools

When you are considering sales force automation for your business, it is a good idea to do thorough research of the field and their providers. It will help you to choose a tool that is best suited to your business needs and requirements.
The process of understanding and finding the appropriate automation tool is quite overwhelming. So, in this article, we will list out various questions that will help you to zero down your automation tool without much fuss.
The first thing that you need to take into consideration when you start your hunt for a new tool is to take into account all the tools that you are already using.

researching-tools

By completing the chart below, you will find out what you have, what you don’t need, and what you need. Put your tools under the following broad categories:

  • Email
  • Landing pages
  • E-commerce
  • Marketing automation/CRM

technology-audit

When you fill in the details in the above table, you will be quite surprised to find that there are several tools that you are paying for but they do not serve any purpose. 

Next, you should answer the following questions:

  1. How many tools serve just one purpose for your business?
  2. How many features can you operate from multiple tools?
  3. What are other features that you need, but you don’t have?
  4. Is it possible for you to replace multiple single-point solutions with one platform for sales force automation?

Designing Your Shortlist

After you have analyzed which features are useful and which you might be missing, you should prepare a list of vendors that you need.

When you are searching the vendors make sure that you place only those products on your list that:

  • Provides your business with the core functionality that your business needs but you do not have currently.
  • Replaces several tools with each tool doing one job and additional advantage will be if it cost cheaper than all tools together.
  • Doesn’t have the same features or feature set that you already have.

Having an explicit representation of what you want and what question you need answers for, you can prepare the list of the suitable vendors.  You can search their website and call them to get more information about their product and services. It will help you to make your final decision. When you have created your shortlist, now you will need to investigate each point one by one closely. Here is the list of questions that you should ask as you compare.

How will the implementation process look like after signing up? Will there be any extra onboarding cost associated with it?

  • Will I get any live support channels and if yes then what are the support hours?
  • Will they provide any additional training materials or not?
  • What if the product doesn’t suit our requirements and we want to give up the subscription? Is there any money-back guarantee or trial period?
  • Does the platform is equipped with all the features that my business needs?
  • Does this platform have many features that I will most probably not use?

Chapter Two

Automated e-mail follow-up funnels.

Email follow-up is one of the most successful techniques which if done right can help to skyrocket your sales and also retain your old customers. It is the simplest yet useful tool for large businesses as well as entrepreneurs. You will be surprised to know that if done in the right way it can help to strengthen and build a long-lasting relationship with your customers. The statistics of direct marketing association predict that email marketing has the ability to produce an ROI of 4300%.

Why use Emails?

Email is a popular follow-up channel, and there are plenty of reasons why professionals highly recommend it. The first point is that email is inexpensive that is the prime reason that makes ROI quite high. The type of email service plan you have subscribed to and depending on the email service provider you have, you spend less than 1% on each email. Several email providers offer unlimited calls in a month with additional features and tools.

The next thing is that people still rely on emails for their online communication. No matter how much social networking and messaging channels they use email will never take a backseat. They are still the leader of digital communication and will always be. It is not surprising to know that ¼ of the companies have 30% sales through email marketing.

Email is still the most sought way to acquire customers than any other social media channel. If you want to reach out to your customers, you will need to rely more on email channels than any social networking platforms.

The last thing that makes email a top choice is that it is highly scalable. Your team can send an unlimited number of emails virtually to your customers that are not possible through phone calls. You also have the capability to send personalized emails to your customer at the right time and content that holds value for them. You do not send the customer the same email again and again rather specific emails that are created depending on the action performed by them. Such type of personalization is not possible with any other medium thus making email a clear winner.

So, if you want to make massive sales at effective costs, then email is the way to go.

When to send follow-up emails?

Now, you know the importance of emails and how helpful they are in earning new clients. The next thing is to find out how to start with email marketing.  As you do not want to irritate your clients by bombarding them with a series of emails nor you want to go underboard that you remain unnoticed. The key to a perfect and efficient email marketing strategy is consistency.

A simple rule of when to start an email follow-up routine is when a customer is the first one who contacts you. He can connect with you in the form of filling a contact us form or opt-in to join your mailing lists or have called you.

The kind of email you send your customer doesn’t need to be different, but it will solely depend on the type of relationship they have with your brand. There are three common categories in which your leads will fall. 

Unqualified lead

unqualified-leads

The first step towards the beginning of a lead conversion is the point when you gain information about contact through social media marketing or advertising. They are unqualified until they initiate any action with your product or brand that indicates that they are interested in the respective product. In this case, you will have use lead nurturing technique to make them take an interest in your product and put them under marketing qualified lead.

Marketing qualified lead

A lead showing interest in your product will fall under this category. For example, if they give you a call, or request a free trial or subscribe to your mailing list, then all these actions indicate their interest in your product. In these cases, you will have to send them personalized follow-up emails or connect with them through a phone call or any other medium. New contacts can also land up in this category if they request a demo in the first instance or buy an entry-level product.

Sales qualified lead

sales-qualified-leads

A lead falls in this category if they connected with your team directly via a phone call or an email. After having a conversation, your team should be able to decide that whether the particular lead will finally buy the product or not, will it fit their requirements and when they will be ready to buy. Once, you analyze all these factors you need to give regular follow-ups till the lead becomes a customer or is no more interested.
These three categories will act as stepping stones towards your follow-up funnel creating process. Each time a contact initiates a communication, you should place them under the respective category and send them a follow-up email accordingly.

Let us understand this with a few examples:

  • Example 1: A client requested a free trial of your product. It will be like missing an opportunity if you do not ask them to get on a call for extra information. This client has requested a trial which shows their high level of brand interest and engagement.
  • Example 2:  A lead just wanted a free ebook, but you immediately ask them to get on a call with you. It is not required because this lead has not the same level of brand interest as in the previous example.

The rule of thumb about follow-up emails is to send emails depending on the kind of relationship that customer shows with your brand.

A fundamental difference between B2B and B2C companies is that there is a hairline difference between marketing qualified lead and sales qualified lead. If you are targeting the consumers directly, then you can quickly sell your main product without follow-up from your sales team member specifically if your product is quite cheap.

After call follow-up

Once you have a conversation with a customer on the phone, it is essential that you send a follow-up email to thank them for their valuable time and a summary of the discussion that you had with them. You can continue your follow-up with them till you do not get a definite “not interested” indication from their side. You can work with your team to decide on the next steps and the times when you need to make the next call.

Example of follow-up emails:

When you have created your follow up strategy the next thing that you need to do is to decide what you will be putting in the emails. If you already have good experience in doing this, then it is not a difficult thing for you, but in other cases, it might be a bit challenging. Here are a few examples that will help you to frame your email content. The content that you use should look personalized, and the reader should feel that you are speaking directly to them.

Welcome emails after opt-in

It is the first kind of email that a contact receives when they opt-in for your services like newsletters, blogs or emails. The purpose of the opt-in email is to greet your lead and tell them about whom you are, what you do and make them aware of receiving future emails.

aritic-welcome-email

Post sales(follow up call)

Once you have a conversation with a customer on the phone, it is essential that you send a follow-up email to thank them for their valuable time and a summary of the discussion that you had with them. You can continue your follow-up with them till you do not get a clear “not interested” indication from them. You can work with your team and fill in the details of the chat in a form, decide the next steps and the times when you need to make the next call.

Hi (first name),
We had a discussion with you last week regarding a (biz challenge), are you still facing problems with it?
If yes, then I am sure that I can help you with the right solution. Kindly pick a time when we can have a conversation regarding the same.
Here is the link for our blog where you can get a lot of information regarding your business challenge, and I am sure it will help you.
I look forward to connecting with you soon.

-Regards[first name]

To be able to make this successful email one need to take care of the fact that you record all the details related to the call in an internal form. This email structure will have several merge fields that will have to be formatted, and we recommend that you use drop-down fields to make sure that the variable fit the sentence structure in your email. You can have dropdown lists with inputs like generating new leads, hiring enough qualified people, customer loyalty and so on.

All the possible inputs are formatted to fit your email content seamlessly. You can add as many possible scenarios you need according to your business requirements. This method will save a lot of time and let you create personalized emails in a jiffy.

Sales follow up for long-term

It is a known fact that all of your qualified leads will not buy your product right away. They will take some time before making a buying decision. So, it is essential that you remain in their memory so that when they make a buying decision, your brand is not missed out. You can send them information about what you have to offer.

Email snippet example:

Hi (customer name)
It was good talking to you and to know about the business challenges you are facing and your future goals.

As I mentioned some of the strategies that you could implement for overcoming these challenges, I would like to remind you that whenever you are ready for it, I am just a call away. You can connect with me, and we will sign you up for the service, and I am sure it is going to benefit your business goals.
In the meantime, you can check our blog for extra information about the same.
Have a good day!
-Regards

Chapter Three

Task management automation

Automated follow-up emails are an integral part of sales force automation, but task automation is also vital for your organization. You can automate your team’s tasks and save a lot of time that you can utilize for other complex and essential jobs.

What is task automation?

task-automation

Task automation means to automate tasks for your team that is triggered from time to time as programmed. The system sends the task via an email to the respective team member, who is intended to perform the job. The email has information about the task that what the representative needs to do. Each task has an associated contact linked to it in the database which means that the outcome of this task will affect the particular contact’s next steps. The task emails sometimes may also have information about the merge fields on the specific contact in reference. Each task is marked complete by the assignee when he completes it as per the instructions mentioned, and the system gets notified about it. After this process, the next steps are automated depending on the outcome of the task.  

The task automation system should always have due dates and should also notify the assignee if any task is pending or incomplete. When the job is complete, and you have already listed all the possible outcomes, then the assignee can select the respective outcome from the list, and it gets added to the particular contact in the database. When you have the task outcomes, you can quickly decide the next steps.

Let us see an example:

You want to assign a task to your team member of giving a call to a customer who has requested a free trial. So, when a customer asks for a free trial, a task should be triggered and be delivered in the respective sales representative inbox. The message should have information like the customer just bought the product, get in touch with them ASAP.

The email can also have some extra information from the merge fields that you record when the lead requests a free trial or initiates any communication. It will make it easier for your representative to have a successful and valuable interaction with the client. You can also add fields for possible outcomes like “qualified lead” ”unqualified lead” or “could not reach” or any other so when the rep decides to close the task he can choose the possible outcome and submit to the system. You task email can also have a text box to add additional notes if any related to the corresponding call.

Why should you use task automation?

We have told you how task automation works but now the question is how it is helpful for your organization? You must be wondering why to make individual calls when they take so much of time or why to waste time on such a thing when there are other important things to do?

using-automation-for-task-management

Yes, in some specific cases it is true but not always. Let us discuss some reasons why task automation is essential:

  • Some follow-ups need personal attention:  We know that one on one interaction takes a lot of time and it is always not feasible to do it. But in some cases, individual attention is beneficial. Sometimes the customer needs to be assured that your product will fit their exact requirement or they have questions that require an in-person answer. In all these cases one-to-one call can benefit you. When you identify the leads that need special attention and connect with them on personal level chances are that you can increase your sales.
  • No client falls through the cracks: Automated tasks ensure that none of your leads are gone unnoticed. When follow-up is done manually by your team members, then there are chances that they will miss out on some of the other leads at some point in time. There are situations when you are close to getting a lead converted but because of inconsistent follow up you lost them in the end. Such things tend to happen, and it is a loss of both your time and resources. Automation resolves this issue as it reminds your team of any follow-up calls or emails related tasks from time to time.
  • Easier to find the best lead and prioritize: Another scenario is when your team is not sure of which lead to follow and which to not. With an unlimited number of leads listed in your sales pipeline, you cannot reach all of them in a day,  and the odds that all will convert is also uncertain. Task automation makes it more comfortable as it automatically prioritizes which leads to follow first. It saves time and energy as now your team members can focus on the right leads at the right time.

task-management-automation-flow

How to get started with task automation?

Task automation may sound a bit intimidating, but with the right information, you can set it correctly.

Step one: Identify the task trigger

The first thing that you need to do is to find the scenarios when you plan to trigger a task. Some of the task triggers can be when a contact fills a form, when he clicks a link in your email when he makes a purchase or visits the order page. Having the same task trigger for different actions is possible and so ensure that you have listed all the possible scenarios when the same task needs to trigger.

Step Two: Define the task

Define the task: The assignee should know that when he can mark the task as complete keeping in mind, nothing is left out. For example, what will happen if the job was to make a call, but the phone number was unavailable? Will the task be marked complete? The point here is that you should be able to provide all the information that the assignee will need to complete the task. In this case, an alternative number if any should be mentioned in the task message.

Step Three: List all the possible outcomes

It is essential that you enlist all the possible outcomes that might happen when a task is performed and place them in manageable categories. It will become easy to define the next steps. The outcomes should be both desirable and undesirable like you should define what will happen if the contact’s number is no more available or he is ready to buy, or he is no more interested. In short, it means that you should have a plan for each possible scenario.

Step Four: Determine what will happen after every outcome

Once you have the list of the all the possible outcomes the next thing that you will need to do is to decide what will happen after it. For example, if the outcome was an “unqualified lead” then maybe you should put them in the lead nurturing funnel so that they can be prepared to make a buying decision in the future. Do not leave any of the outcomes unchecked because this is how leads fall through the cracks.
Once you are ready with all the information related to tasks then created tasks will not be an issue.

The task is triggered when a contact fills up a contact form. There are three possible outcomes for the task one is “had called: qualified lead”, “had a call: unqualified lead” and the final is “could not reach: try again”. The action after each outcome is determined beforehand where if the lead is qualified then he is added to the offer funnel, if the lead is unqualified he is added to long-term nurture funnel to make him aware of the product, and if the connection was not available then the lead is put for a call next week.

Chapter Four

Lead scoring

The most daunting task in marketing is connecting with an endless number of leads with no assurance of whether they will convert or not. How would it feel if somehow you knew that which of the leads is worth calling and which one is not? Won’t you start calling them straightaway and save on your precious time? This is the concept behind lead scoring that helps you to filter the right leads so that you focus on the potential customers.

What is lead scoring?

what-is-lead-scoring

A contact gets assigned a lead score depending on the action performed by them that is determined by their type/level of engagement with your brand. It ranks them accordingly which helps you to prioritize them and pinpoint where they stand in your sales funnel.

For example, you add 10 points to their score if they click a link in the email sent to them, add 10 more points if they asked for a free trial, another 10 if their contact information has CEO as job profile. You can automate your tasks depending on the credit score or set a threshold value after which a particular task will trigger.  In this case, you can program a task trigger of making a call if a specific client reaches a threshold of 30 points.

The task automation system should always have due dates and should also notify the assignee if any task is pending or incomplete. When a job finishes and you have already listed all the possible outcomes, then the assignee can select the respective outcome form the list, and it is added to the particular contact in the database, depending on the outcome you can quickly decide the next steps to take place.

Let us see an example:

You want to assign a task to your team member of giving a call to a customer who has requested a free trial. So, when a customer asks a free trial, a task should trigger and be delivered in the respective sales representative inbox. The message should have information like the customer just bought the product, get in touch with them ASAP.

Why should you use lead scoring?

If you are not clear whether lead scoring will help your business or not it still has several other benefits to offer.

Here are the reasons why task automation can be really good for your business.

  • No more guessing if a lead needs attention or not: An automated system is all round the clock monitoring your leads and clients actions across a variety of channels and giving them scores. So, you will always be making a calculated guess on which client needs immediate attention and which is no more of your interest. It will never be that you got a client just because you were lucky enough.
  • Save a lot of time by finding the hot leads faster: With automation, you will instantly notice the hot leads without racking your brains on deciding which the potential leads are and which are not. You will not spend hours on the extensive list of contacts that may sometime ruin your relationship with a customer if you are too sticky or pushy with the wrong client. With the help of the lead score, you will always know on which client to focus.
  • You will instantly know which leads need nurturing efforts:  Lead score helps you to find the hottest leads, but it can also help you to nurture clients steadily who might have a low lead score. You can easily filter the least engaged clients and put them in the right lead nurturing funnel and slowly prep them up and increase their lead score over time.  
  • Make the follow-up immediately depending on the lead score:  Lead scoring gives your team the idea of how ready a lead is and how much he is interested in your product. It also helps you to define and automate the follow-up journey depending on the lead’s score. You can automatically place a lead in the respective funnel on the basis of their lead score. It will eliminate the extra work that you put in by placing leads through a series of funnels.

How to do lead scoring?

To start the lead scoring, you need to determine the actions that indicate that leads will buy in the future. Now the question is how to identify these actions? You can do this by analyzing the details of your customers in the database and find what is common in them. For example, you can check if they have the same job title or they visited you via a referrer. Apart from these points, you should also monitor the lead behaviors like if they downloaded any lead magnet or visited your sales page or checked your blogs. These actions also indicate that lead has the potential and you should follow them.

Once you accumulate all the information about your customers, you know what you are looking at in your leads and then find similar people. With lead scoring, you can assign a score to your leads based on the information they provide via forms and their trigger behaviors.

When the lead score crosses a certain threshold and qualifies as a great lead, you can set up a task to trigger after that. A task message will have the details of the customer retrieved from the database, instruction of what to do next and other related information that will deliver in the form of an email to your sales representative.

For example, you have decided that if a lead visits your sales page, he will be assigned 5 points, if he downloads a lead magnet he get an additional 10 points, if he requests a free trial then another 10 points get added to his score. When the score reaches 20, then it will be the time to start the follow-up process. You can set the rule for the task trigger that when a lead has 20 points then assign a representative to make a call.

How to make your lead scoring system?

setting-up-lead-score

Step 1: Determine the factors that will qualify as a hot lead

When you start working on your lead scoring system, you need to sit down with your sales representative team and discuss the factors that make a hot lead. You can analyze your customer lists and previous sales to answer some of the fundamental questions.

  • What is the common age group of your leads?
  • What are the job profiles of most of the leads?
  • The source from where you get maximum leads?
  • How many requested for a free trial before making the final buy?
  • What is the average time taken by a lead from entering the database to being a customer?

Step 2: Do scoring for extra information also

The additional or explicit information that leads provides while filling the form like their age, gender, place, designation in the company, the size of their firm and any other should also list in lead scoring. This information helps you to determine other factors that can affect your sales hence you can make specific strategies keeping in mind these aspects as well.

Let us now see how to do it:

For each of the factors, you can decide a credit value depending on how valuable it is for a hot lead. For example, if you are selling woolen winter jackets and the maximum buyers you get are from Australia you can give a higher credit score to leads who have their home country selected as Australia. Or, if you are selling laptops and most of the buyers are in their mid 20’s, then you can assign a higher credit value to leads who are in the age range 20-30. If your subscribers are mostly business owners with total 100 employees, then you can assign a credit score of 30 for owners having  100-150 employees.

Step 3: Assign value for behavioral inputs:

You will need to give a score to each of the action performed by your lead such as visiting your website, clicking on the link sent to them or filling a contact form. The respective lead enters your database via these actions, and you will need to assign a credit score depending on how necessary that particular activity is to you.  You can always track the database for this information and how likely it is to affect your sales.

Step 4: Lead score degradation:

The lead score will not always be consistent, and it is essential that you monitor it regularly. There will be scenarios like a customer requested a free trial but they didn’t show any positive signs in the next few months. It merely means that either they are not interested in your product or they no more need it or you have slipped from their memory so you will have to decrease their score so that you can focus on new leads. You can achieve this by setting a degradation percentage of say 3% or any preferred value daily.

You can decide the degradation value by the average time that a lead takes from entering into the database to finally converting into a customer. Take a higher degradation value if the average time taken by the customer is less and a lower degradation value if the average time is high. It will help you to keep a focus on the new leads that are more likely to buy.

How to automate the next steps once you have done the lead scoring?

Once you have the details of how many points a lead can accumulate now, you need to decide the threshold score of when a lead will require special attention.

You can discuss with your sales team and find a threshold value that makes a lead eligible for personal attention and automation. For example, when a lead reaches a certain threshold, you can automate a task to make a personal call and have a conversation about your product or send them an email with a call to action. It will ensure that you target the most qualified leads only.

You also need to determine additional follow-up process for the clients who have got their leads scores degraded. You need to keep them engaged with your brand and follow a nurturing process.  You can do this by deciding a lower threshold value for initiating a task trigger.

score-threshold

Chapter Five

Lead Routing

By now, you must have had enough knowledge about leads, lead score, task automation and several other factors but what about the internal working dynamics of your business? Do all your sales representatives are knowledgeable enough of all the products offered by you? Will they be able to handle any call that gets assigned to them? Your answer will be probably “no” because it is just not possible to equip everybody with everything. You will have to make categories and accordingly assign the right lead to the right representative so that the interaction is always worthwhile. It will help you save time and a lot of resources that might get wasted if a wrong representative is assigned a false lead.

Salesforce automation will help you to route the leads to respective representatives and distribute them equally among them.

What is lead routing?

Lead routing helps you to assign the leads to the right team member automatically. Whenever a new lead gets added to the lead router, it instantly allocates to the respective team or representative depending on the settings you have decided.

lead-routing

Type of Lead routers:

There are two types of lead routers one is the round robin, and the other is the weighted random.

  1. A round robin lead router divides the leads equally among all the team members such that all the representatives have the same number of leads. 
  2. A weighted random lead router works on the percentage basis. You can add users to this router and make the settings in percentage like User A will have 50% of all the leads in the pipeline while User B and User C will have 25% each of the total number of leads.

In cases where you want to implement more specific criteria for lead routing such as you want to assign the leads from Australia to a specific user, you can use their stored details and accordingly assign them to the particular user. To accomplish this, you will create several lead routers for each of your team members. Then, using the automated if-then conditions, you can put the leads under the right user with the help of their contact details stored in the database.

You can split the leads among your team members on the basis of the following categories:

  • Location
  • Job title of the lead
  • The product they are interested in
  • The respective industry of the lead
  • Lead score( the one with a higher score can be given to people with less experience while the lower lead score to professionals)
  • Total number of employees

Why use lead routing?

You might be wondering how lead routing can be beneficial to your business here are some reasons why it is so:

It ensures that interaction is valuable

When the lead connects with the right person then he will not get frustrated because he will get the information right away. It will ensure that the lead will always have a satisfactory and valuable experience with your team.

Assign leads according to the skill set of the representative

When a new user joins your company then he might not be that familiar with your product and processes. In such cases, you can use weighted routing where you can assign them a lesser number of leads that are easy to manage while the professional ones can have a higher number of leads to deal with

Save the time of assigning leads to the representatives

When you are manually assigning the leads then there will always be some unevenness in distributing the leads. It can lead to inner conflict among the team members, but lead routing eliminates this trouble and ensure that everyone gets the equal number of leads.

Decrease the first response time of your team members

Lead routing allows you to distribute the leads evenly thus making sure that there are no leads that are held in the queue waiting for a representative to connect with them. All the leads will get a quick response without delay.

Chapter Six

Personalizing your Automation Strategy

After reading all the previous chapters, you must be well-versed by now with all the tactics related to automation and sales force management. You can use automation for each and everything, but still, you should not get carried away. Sending emails, task automation, dividing the leads everything is okay with automation but still, there are specific rules that you should abide by when bringing automation into your business.

If you automate every detail and it starts lacking the personal touch, then your interaction with the leads will not be effective. You should never forget the importance of human interaction and no matter what automation cannot take its place. A sales plan strategy is useful only when it has the perfect balance of automation and human interaction.