Do you have dreams of being another Jeff Bezos, the brilliant and visionary founder of Amazon?
Perhaps you see yourself driving big sales and marketing initiatives. You can’t wait to dig in!
But before you can start or finish that initiative, the phone rings or an email arrives. Your dreams of business growth go up in smoke. And you get lost in the press of invoicing, scheduling, answering customer questions or handling a thousand back office activities.
That’s the situation too many small business owners and entrepreneurs face.
And that’s what automation can solve for you. It’s why automation is the cost effective way to grow and meet business goals.
The Problem with DIY
There’s a fallacy that you can do everything yourself. And that if you just put in more hours and time, you will be wildly successful.
The truth is, there’s isn’t enough time in the day for that attitude! You will set yourself up to fail. Or, more likely, you will keep your business running but never achieve the big hairy audacious goals you set.
Yet, do-it-yourself is a major approach by small businesses. In a recent BizSugar survey, almost 40 percent of small business owners responding said they are more likely to tackle a new initiative themselves instead of getting help.
Automation is How You Achieve Goals
So for the nearly 40% of business owners who plan to tackle initiatives themselves, how can they get results? And save their sanity and personal lives in the process?
That’s where the benefits of automation come in. One answer is to automate as many activities as possible. The low hanging fruit is to automate repetitive or administrative work.
“I’m a big advocate of automating small redundant tasks to allow you to spend more time on the higher level, income generating tasks that require a more personal touch!” says Rhonda Wall, a marketing automation expert at Hey Help Me Rhonda.
Wall cites the example of accounting software to automate invoices. “You can set and forget invoices and even set up reminders to go out, until an invoice is paid. Allowing you to have more time to spend with potential new customers, instead of chasing money from current customers,” Wall adds.
Benefits of Automation For Sales and Marketing Initiatives
But back office functions aren’t the only things that yield the benefits of automation. In fact, you may get better results from automating large chunks of the sales and marketing stream in your business. By automating marketing and sales functions, you also help solve the biggest challenge for most small businesses: getting sales!
In the same survey, 51% said bringing in enough new customers ranked as their greatest sales challenge. Converting visitors to buyers wasn’t far behind at 40%.
So how do you automate? How do you deal with these challenges and get on the path to achieve your major initiatives?
The key is to think of your business as a system, with moving parts that work without a human being (you!) stepping in each time.
“Think of your business as a money machine. Once you see it that way, it becomes much easier to automate the repetitive processes and save yourself for the value added parts of the business,” says Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers.
Wall adds, “There’s nothing like seeing your process laid out to help you identify opportunities to save time and create a ‘sales system’.” She points to a relatively new tool called the Zoho Marketing Hub. (Editor’s note: Zoho is underwriting some of the costs of this site.)
“With the Marketing Hub, you map out your marketing and sales process, making it easy to identify areas to automate, and which ones to stay personally involved in. Then the tool plugs in automation at various stages. It lets you automatically follow up with new leads without doing it manually. It also answers commonly asked questions based on standard information.”
Wall points to the example of how you can set up a workflow to automatically reach out to your leads, through email or text, upon their initial inquiry. You can also set up a series of contacts to nurture them into a purchase of your product, or to set up a consultation.
“As an example of something you can automate that I guarantee will lift your success rate, I like Zoho CRM. It gives you the ability to scan business cards directly into it with your smartphone. Use an email autoresponder to go out to contacts right away, letting them know it was nice to meet them and giving them your contact information, social media links, website URL. Or you can invite them to schedule a consult with you. It’s also an opportunity to provide a little more information about your product or service,” Wall says.
Benefits of Automation for Customer Service
Beyond getting new prospects into the pipeline, another area where you can reap the benefits of automation is in customer service. For example, 45% of the businesses surveyed cited knowing whether their customers are satisfied or not as a top concern.
So what can you automate when it comes to customer service? One aspect of customer service that is easy to automate is answering common questions.
“Instead of having a full time customer service person, you can automate this process using a simple chat function on your website. Customers can ask questions and you can answer in real time. This will not only improve the customer’s experience, it will also speed up the sales and customer service process,” says Taylor.
We hope we’ve given you some ideas for automation in your business..