However, some small businesses fail to take advantage of the wide functionality that sales automation tools offer. After supporting thousands of clients in using our sales automation platform and using it to streamline our own sales department, we asked our sales team to hone in on the top five sales automation mistakes that they’ve seen entrepreneurs make:
1. NOT AUTOMATING YOUR FOLLOW-UP
Expecting your leads to buy on their first visit to your website or the first time they become aware of your brand is unrealistic and puts an inordinate amount of pressure on your sales reps. In fact, according to SnapApp, “Only 3% of your market is actually buying — 56% are not ready and 40% are poised to begin.” Consistent, personalized and relevant follow-up over time is the key to keeping leads in your pipeline until they’re ready to buy. Simply capturing leads is only the beginning.
According to our resident sales guru, Sr. Sales Advisor Dan DeAngelis, the number one mistake that small businesses make when trying to streamline sales is expecting their sales reps to be able to manually follow up with all their leads. Think of it this way: Sales teams are nine times out of 10 overwhelmed with work, and the first thing they push to the back burner is follow-up. Even if they do get around to it, 44% of salespeople give up after one attempt. That’s why having a set sequence of automated follow-up messages makes such a drastic difference.
How do you get started automating your sales follow-up? Tasks and task outcomes. Within Ontraport’s sales automation platform, task prompts are automated reminders for someone on your team to perform a non-automated action, such as a follow-up phone call to a lead. Task outcomes further streamline the process by allowing sales reps to choose a designated outcome after a task has been completed. These could vary from adding a lead to a follow-up email funnel, adding an identifying tag to a lead’s contact record or leaving a voicemail, which could then create an additional task for a follow-up phone call in the future.
Automating your follow-up processes allows your sales reps to merge their manual and automated tasks into one streamlined system so that they have consistent results.
2. USING DISJOINTED SYSTEMS
When you have many different sales tools that your sales reps are supposed to use and keep track of, it’s easy for them to go rogue and try to do it their own way. This leads to “process-avoiding” or “process-phobic” sales reps who aren’t tracking their results, following up with leads, or meeting their numbers.
A common problem with using a litany of single-point solutions is that they don’t “talk” to each other, meaning that your CRM database doesn’t connect with your lead management system, which are both completely separate from your marketing and lead generation tools. This causes a huge amount of manual work to compensate for the gaps in your software and often results in dropped balls and a lack of both follow-up and follow through. It also keeps you from understanding the full picture of your customer relationships and targeting them with relevant follow-up messaging, which is crucial for closing sales.
An all-in-one sales automation platform protects against this and ensures that your team is following a cohesive sales process. Check out The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Small Business Software to help you figure out which automation software is right for your business.
3. NOT REPORTING ON INDIVIDUAL SALES REPS’ PERFORMANCE
Not all salespeople have the same expertise, experience or skill level, so it’s important that not all of your sales reps are held to the exact same performance expectations. That’s why overseeing and effectively reporting on your individual sales reps’ performance, as well as the overall performance of your sales team, is crucial.
One way to ensure consistent sales results is to track your sales reps performance within your automation software. Within Ontraport’s Metrics Dashboard, individual sales reps can see the overall performance metrics for themselves and their team. The Metrics Dashboard can be customized to see the amount of leads that have been generated, how many sales each rep has made, how many leads a rep has claimed, what a rep’s close rate is and more — all within a time frame that you specify.
And to make sure that your team is receiving a manageable amount of leads, utilize Ontraport’s Lead Routing feature to systematically assign contacts to the different sales reps who use your Ontraport account. No matter where you’re generating your contacts — marketing funnels, web forms or ads —you can easily distribute your leads to your sales team for follow-up. Lead routing allows you to control whether you want your leads to be distributed in a round robin style (evenly distributed) or in a weighted distribution where a higher percentage of leads is given to some and a lower to others.
4. NOT PROPERLY SCORING YOUR LEADS
For most sales teams, there’s nothing worse or more annoying than wasting time on cold leads who just aren’t ready to buy. Or perhaps your sales team only has time to have 10 phone conversations, and you want them to focus only on leads who have spent three months in your nurturing funnel. Either way, instead of manually dredging through a list of prospects to find out who the “hottest” leads are at that very moment, automatic lead scoring can do that for you.
Lead scoring helps you to immediately identify who the most engaged prospects in your database are and, conversely, who are the coldest and in need of re-engagement. Scores can be assessed based on explicit information (info that your leads provide you, such as demographics, title and industry), behavioral information (engagement, website visits, email clicks, etc.) and the length of time that they have been in your database.
To effectively use a lead scoring tool, you first need to draw out what a “hot” lead looks like for your business. If you own a catering business, a great lead might be someone who has both visited your website within the last week and attended a tasting event. If you’re a consultant, perhaps your ideal lead is someone who has identified himself or herself as a manager and lives in a large city. By nailing down exactly what your ideal lead looks like, you will know what traits and behaviors should accrue higher scores. For more in-depth information on how to set up a lead scoring system, check out this article.
5. NOT SPLIT TESTING YOUR AUTOMATED FOLLOW-UP EMAILS
Even if you‘ve successfully set up a fully automated sales funnel, we warn against just “setting and forgetting” it. Instead, you should be split testing different elements on your webpages and emails, including copy, design and images.
One of the easiest — and most effective — parts of your sales funnel to test are your automated follow-up emails. These are the emails that get sent out to your leads upon opt-in and continuously throughout your nurturing and follow-up campaigns. Split testing your emails against each other allows you to see exactly what’s working and what’s not, and then optimize them for better results.
We’ve found that some of the most effective elements to test within your follow-up emails are:
- Subject lines
- Header images
- Calls to action
- Body copy
While all of these options are great elements to test, make sure you are using fair testing principles. If you want to test two subject lines and two header images, you are going to end up simultaneously testing four different versions of your email to account for the different combinations of the variables.
By avoiding these common mistakes and fully incorporating sales automation software into your small business, you can completely streamline your sales team to boost efficiency and drive revenue.
Have any more great tips on how to get the most out of your sales automation tools? Share them with us in the comments below.