Today on the podcast I am going to talk about my own struggles with automating my sales workflow and what I’ve done recently to improve that and make it better.
As the guy who automates things for people you probably think I have the coolest Ontraport setup ever. That I’ve got it all figured out and mapped out and I don’t repeat anything ever in my life because it’s all automated. You would be dead wrong, absolutely wrong, because it’s kind of that case of the cobbler’s shoes. Too busy working on everybody else’s things to work on your own things. While that’s true, that’s not the entire story, there’s more to it than that.
That’s what I want to talk today, is I want to talk about what I’m doing to automate more of my own workflows recently and why I have waited so long to do that. It’s been kind of a conscious decision, kind of. Some of it is just finding the time to do it for myself and to do that, but I think really the bigger issue has been not being ready to automated things. This is things I talk about with clients a lot of times, is that I see people get into automation and they get excited about it and they just want to automate everything right from the get go, but the problem is you don’t really know what you’re automating yet.
To try to build a system based on a bunch of guesses, well, you’re only going to go back later and have to redo all that. It’s probably going to be harder the second time because now you’ve got to undo things and try to figure out how to make it do what you want to do. I see people get excited about automation and jump in too quickly. That’s one thing I wanted to avoid in building my own systems in my business, was to automate all these things only to find out that they didn’t really work and that’s not the way the business really worked.
So I’ve waited years. For years I’ve been doing things with Excel spreadsheets and Evernote and Gmail, and manually recreating the wheel each time. I’ve systematized it somewhat but I’ve never really got really serious about it because I didn’t know what I was automating. Now, it’s only recently that I feel confident in the information I need and the information I need to give customers and the things I need to know from prospects, that I’ve really felt comfortable now starting to automate things and saying, “This is it. This is how the system works, and now what do I have to do to make my life easier, to make that repetitive?”
I’ve really started digging in now and doing that. Not to say that I haven’t had systems in the past, I have. I just haven’t been as serious about them and I haven’t really said, kind of set it in stone, “This is it going forward.” Obviously I’m probably going to make tweaks and changes moving forward but I don’t want to have to rebuild everything, and that’s why I’ve waited. All that said, I wanted to share with you today what I’ve started to build and what I’m starting to do in my own company, because I think it relates to a lot of you listening.
That is, I’m a service based business, I’m very customized in what I do so trying to automate that, it’s not like I’m selling a widget over and over and over again and I can just throw up a form on the website. If that’s what we’re doing then that’s kind of easy to automate and it’s probably not going to change. But if you’re creating something custom for someone each time, how do you automate that kind of thing?
Here’s what I’ve done. Let’s cut to it, let’s get to the fun part. What have I done to automate all of this and what am I working in? Well, let me talk about the process about how a prospect would come in to my business. They can come in a lot of different ways. I have lead magnets like everyone that people can download and get on my list, and then I can email them. I have a Facebook group. By the way if you’re not a part of the Facebook group you can come on over and join us there, it’s called Beyond The Opt-in, search for that on Facebook you’ll find us talk about email and marketing automation geekery over there, so come on over.
They can come in through that, so there’s many different ways people can find me, but one they’re ready to work with me usually the way it goes is they’re going to fill out the contact form on my website that they want to talk to me. Now that is setup now so it has a short questionnaire that they fill out. The basics, name, email, information about the email system they’re using, what they’re trying to achieve, what problems they’re hav- Why do they want to talk to me? Short questionnaire.
Once they fill that out they’re going to go to one of two different places depending on what they put in that questionnaire. The first is if they’re an internet… It’s based on whether they’re in the US or outside of the US, because it’s based on, do I want to call them or do I want to do this over GoToMeeting, because I don’t want to call somebody halfway around the world and pay for that and I don’t have that kind of a phone plan. I’m cheap and I’d rather just do GoToMeeting in those cases, but GoToMeeting is kind of a pain in the butt for a lot of my clients, they’re not used to that, using GoToMeeting. They don’t have it setup on their computer, so I don’t want to force people to do that if don’t have to, so I want to be able to just call them if they’re in the US.
Based on the questionnaire if they’re in the US they’re going to a scheduling that says, “I’m going to call you,” and ask for your phone number. If they’re outside the US they’re going to go to a scheduling form that says, “We’re going to do a GoToMeeting,” and we’ll send them a link. Those are both through Acuity, which is my online scheduling platform, but it’s two different Acuity forms depending on where they’re located in the world.
Once they fill in … I should back up and say, when they fill out this short questionnaire they are automatically entered as a lead in my CRM of choice, which would be Ontraport. If you’ve listened to this show for more than five minutes you probably know that I’m a big Ontraport person. They’re automatically entered as a lead in my CRM. Then when they make the appointment, they pick a time to talk to me, that’s also pushed into my CRM.
Now inside Ontraport I have their name, email, company name. I have the answers to some brief questions. I’ve gotten entered in as a lead and what we’re going to talk about when we talk on the phone so I can categorize those leads, and I’ve got the date and time we’re going to talk. It’s all inside my CRM now, so now I can send them email follow-ups to remind them about the call we’re going to have. At this point that’s all I’m going to do, is I’m going to send them email follow-ups to remind them about the call.
Now they’re in the system as a prospect when we actually have the call now I can dig a little deeper into what they’re trying to achieve. Can I help them? Yes or no. Do I think they’re a good fit for what I do? From that point, after the phone call there’s a lot more information I can fill in inside my CRM to now decide what happens to them next. Probably the primary things are, are we moving forward? Are we a good fit? Do they want to work with me? Do I want to work with them? Are we a good fit? If we aren’t at that point they just come out and I change it to a lost lead, and based on that they go different places inside of Ontraport to get general follow-up emails so maybe someday they will be a lead, they have a project that fits me or that they want to work with me on.
The other things I can fill in there is I can assign a price value to this now. I can generalize, this is about an X amount job and so I can keep track of that. I can run reports now on what kind of opportunities I saw. How much money opportunities did I see come in in a certain month? How many leads came in versus how much dollars came in in opportunities? I can track those things.
I also am going to ask them where they heard about me. Maybe I already know that but probably not, I’m going to ask them where they heard about me and I can feel that in, so now I can run reports and see where people are finding me out, what’s been my best lead sources? Obviously I’m tracking those things digitally so I can see they’ve filled in this form and they came from this page before they filled in that form, but that might not necessarily tell the whole story. A lot of times as a referral, if somebody refers me, it might look like they came just from my website but somebody gave them my name, then they went to my website. Really, that lead source was a referral and I keep track of who is referring me so I can thank them. Obviously I want to thank people that are sending me referrals so I can have that all in my system as well and follow-up on that.
But probably the most obvious path now is we’re going to continue the conversation and I want to give them a proposal, or I want to talk and have some more conversations. I can change their status in my system now from lead to proposal to contract to past clients. I can have all these different categorizations and then the cool part is that there’s all these different automation setup behind that, so as I say, “Okay, we’re going to do a proposal,” there’s information I might need from them to finish the proposal. An email would go out automatically with a form linked to it that they can fill out to give me the information I would need to make a formal proposal.
If there’s a contract that goes out, there’s information that you’re going to need to complete that contract. All these things are automated now, so inside the emails I can just send those off as they flow through my system. Then when they become a customer, once they sign the agreement then I can kick of automations based on them signing the agreement, now the emails are going to go out and say, “Hey, here’s what’s going to happen next. Here’s all the information I need from you before I can get started.” All these different things I’ve automated into the system now.
It’s becoming much easier. I have to tell you it’s really starting to … This is why I do what I do, and now I help my clients, but like I said I haven’t helped myself before so it’s making my life so much easier that now I have all these emails pre-written. I had them kind of pre-written before in Gmail, but now it’s much smoother because now it’s merging in all their information because it’s inside Ontraport. It’s merging in their name, it’s merging in their company information if I need that.
If I’m sending them to a form to fill out information, if I already have that information I’m merging it into that form so they’re not having to go back and enter it again. Maybe they only need to fill out a couple pieces out of the five pieces of information that are on that form. I’ve already got their name, I’ve already got their email, I’ve already got their company name, I don’t want them to have to type all that in again, so now I’m sending them the forms that are pre-filled so it’s easier for them as well as a customer. I’m not making them do additional work.
All of this is becoming smoother, more automated, and it’s really helping me keep track of my leads. It’s helping me follow up with people. These are all the things that people tell me they want when they call me. Why I haven’t done it for myself sooner? We talked about that a little bit, but I probably could have, I probably should have, but I just haven’t stepped back and taken the time because I haven’t found the system I really liked. But now that it’s all coming together for me system-wise, process-wise, how I know that I want customers to come through, it’s been a much smoother transition now to build out this system, because I’m more confident in what I want.
Whereas if I had done this from day one, I wouldn’t have been as confident, and honestly some of the tools weren’t there. Two, three years ago there weren’t these tools that I could have used to build out these systems. Things like Acuity, they were out there but being able to link them to my CRM, not as easy as it is today. Being able to link some of these forms, not as easy as it is today. All these things are making it easier for me to build out this system and really serve customers better and make my life easier.
The great thing now is I have a screenshot, a report where I can pull up every active lead that I have right now, where I’m talking to people, and I can see at a glance what stage in the process they’re in, what dollar amount is attached to that opportunity, so which one should I focus on. Plus, if I’ve talked to them, I haven’t heard from them, they’re going to get automated follow-up now. I don’t have to remember to do that, it’s going to automatically follow-up and say, “Hey, are you still looking for some help? If you are let me know, if not let me know so I can stop bothering you.”
It’s been a better experience and I just wanted to give you that little glimpse today into what’s going on in my world and what I’ve been working on. I’ve been working on this in the last couple weeks, slowly, as I’ve been working with clients. I’m building it out and there’s more that I want to do, but that’s the one nice thing about this whole automated world, is you don’t have to do it all from the beginning. You can build out piece by piece by piece, whatever makes sense that day and is going to save you some time.
Start to think about that in your own business. What are these things? How could you automate a sales process? You probably have a process, whether you consciously realize it or not, you probably have some sort of process. Is it perfected to the point that you want to take that and automate it? Do you need to? Do you have enough leads now that it’s becoming hard for you to keep up? Do you have other hats you’re wearing inside the business that really detract you from following up on the least? Which is probably the most important thing you should be doing, is following up on leads, right?
Sales runs the business. If there’s no sales there’s no cash, there is no business. Then it just becomes a hobby, not a good place to be. Do you have other hats that you are wearing that are dragging you away from focusing on sales? Should you automate that sales process? Should you automate those other things that are dragging you away so you can focus on the sales? These are all things you can think about and how you want to advance your business, make your life easier.
That’s all I wanted to talk about today, just give you a short glimpse inside. One new thing I want to… a couple take-aways from today, a couple things you can do. I mentioned the Facebook group, if you want to come over and join us over there, again it’s called Beyond The Opt-in, search that on Facebook you’ll find us.
The other thing I’ve got, wanted to throw out there, is I’ve got a product called, Autoresponder System, I have had some interest in this week. Some people have asked me about it so I thought I would throw that out there for you too as well. If you wanted to see a video and a map of how my five step autoresponder for new leads, for a welcome series, for initial call to action series, if you want find that it’s called the triple loop. You can find that at http://beyondtheoptin.com/tripleloop. Let’s just say it’s /triple, we’ll make our life simple. Let’s make you type less, so http://beyondtheoptin.com/triple. You will find the video and my map of how my autoresponder system works, so you can create one for yourself and convert more leads.
Until next week, Neil Kristianson, I will talk to you later.