Every buyer-seller relationship requires touch points. A basic marketing principle says you need at least seven of ‘em to turn a lead into a sale. And even past the point of sale, touch points are key to keep your customer happy and the quality of their experience healthy.
As your lead and customer lists grow, the inner entrepreneur in you knows it’s crucial to begin to outsource your interactions. There is simply not enough time in the day to personally email or call your customers, and if you did, they’d probably get annoyed or bored, both of which can be a death knell to all your hard work in obtaining or converting them.
But with a growing variety of AI and automation options out there, it's tough to know when to stay human and when to delegate relationship-building strategies to apps and algorithms.
The key figuring this out is by not thinking of it as an either/or scenario, but that automated and human interactions should be a one-two punch at every stage of your relationship.
This may require you to rethink what you think about when you hear the word “automation.” It goes way beyond just triggering emails and it is not (and must not be!) synonymous with a robotic experience. It also may not always be a customer-facing automation, either.
What do we mean? Let’s look at some common stages in a sales funnel and see how automated touch points can work.
Presale Automation Opportunities
Let’s start at the beginning: your leads. Where are they?
Thankfully, we’re no longer in an atmosphere like Glengarry Glen Ross where leads are physically typed on notecards (and hopefully you’re not selling unappealing real estate for fear of obtaining a second-place award of steak knives) and lead CRMs are industry standard.
But are your “Glengarry leads” just sitting there, or are they working for you?
For instance, if you’re looking for new leads that are in a particular industry, an automation tool within Map My Customers can source, categorize, and serve vital information about them with a search functionality that’s similar to a simple web search. The difference is that these emerging leads will now also benefit from Map My Customers’ route optimization tool, which makes travel time more efficient for salespeople who hit the road to close their sales. Once these are won, they can be seamlessly added to your internal account.
A look into Map My Customer’s route optimization tool.
Once you’ve found your leads, how often are you reaching out to them? One Microsoft study found that 89% of salespeople give up by the fourth touchpoint — even though the most common rule of thumb is that it takes at least seven to close a sale! But any salesperson can certainly relate.
You’ve probably already experienced the groan-inducing experience of retyping or restating the same pitch over and over again. But many touchpoints can be automated by using templates, video resources, or newsletters to do that work for you. These should be employed in tandem with your marketing team’s broadcast outreach; the difference is that these are coming from and made by you.
It’s worth regularly revisiting what you’ve already automated to make sure they feel warm and fresh. Consider using A/B testing tools (yes, that’s automation!) for any new messaging you try -- chances are, the learnings you get can also help with larger sales strategies for similar prospective customers.
Be sure to make good use of any personalization features that your automated communications tools offer.
Remember: The key difference between marketing and sales is that one-on-one touch.
And customers expect that human touch. According to a recent Salesforce study, customers are 2.1 times more likely to consider personalized offers as important (as opposed to unimportant).
Postsale Automation Opportunities
There are some parts of the post-sale process that are always good to hit within the first 30 days and can be easily automated. Think general post-sale thank you notes, surveys, and general inquiries whether they may need help using your product or service. These can be triggered at the point of sale, or based on their interaction with your product, website, or chatbot functionalities.
After automating these basic housekeeping types of touch points, now you can develop delightful experiences as an element of surprise. By organizing your customer base by demographics or expectations, you can craft videos or emails that can feel relevant and personalized to different segments of your audience without the time consuming task of one-on-one direct communication.
Automation can also help you prioritize your customer outreach. Here’s an example: what’s the difference between maintaining a healthy relationship with a $10 million client vs. a $100k client? Customers that spend more usually need more services, which require a lot more communication and maintenance. Automating internal triggers by using tools like Map My Customer’s Cadence Management can help you keep on top of the process of reaching out. Matching the right amount of follow-ups to the different kind of customers in your Rolodex can prevent miscommunications or conflicts before they start.
But what if you’re too late and a crisis is brewing? Note warning signs of behaviors that may signal that they’re looking elsewhere and automate reminders when these happen. Low click-through rates, product access, or metrics of success can all be signaled to you as signs of distress.
Once the data has been automated to ping you, the human part must come back into play. When approaching a client that’s in the danger zone, do your homework first. Prep for questions they’re most likely to ask and persuasively craft introductions to solutions. Have a defined timeline when they can expect their experience to improve and stick to one-on-one calls and emails throughout this probationary period.
Remember, it's much, much more expensive to obtain a client than retain a client, so keeping a good relationship going from the point of sale onward is crucial.
Once you’ve proven yourself and your services to your customer, now comes the delicate task of getting more bang for your buck. As you evolve your product or service to include new features, crafting an email blast for your clients may be a good way to get the word out while still retaining a personal touch. Using demographic segmentation as we mentioned above can help you craft different kinds of emails for different kinds of clients.
As with anything in sales, authenticity matters so whatever strategy you choose should be catered to what your clients would not only expect but enjoy. Anything you automate should look, feel, and sound like you. Otherwise, it’s just broadcast marketing -- and that’s not necessarily your gig.
Aligning Your Automation Needs With Your Marketing Team
By now, you probably have some ideas of the kinds of metrics or information you’d like to know about. And chances are, your marketing team has the tools to do just that. The best approach to automating sales touch points is by working together to align on what you need to know about your customers to equip you to succeed.
For instance, if your marketing team is using inbound marketing techniques as a part of your sales process, make sure any field forms are hitting the right notes and that you’re getting that data. Extra details about what they’re looking for or problems they’re experiencing can help you tailor your approach to identify a specific solution your product or service can provide. By optimizing automated online forms, you can cut down on the time it takes to get to know new customers, and help close deals faster.
As you can see, it’s all about that one-two punch. Use automation to inform your sales process and distribute your outreach with a personal touch. And then use human interaction to bring it home.