Inexpensive apps to put your sales on autopilot

automate sales funnel

The goal of this series is to help the small business owner or solopreneur who is strapped for time keep prospects coming into the sales funnel.

We discussed how to add to your sales team in a way that sets you up for success. If you have a “well oiled” sales team, the process will run on autopilot in the sense that it won’t require much of your attention or energy to keep prospects coming into the fold.

But let’s look at other ways to add autopilot features to your sales system. We’re trying to solve a problem for small business owners who find themselves cycling back and forth between time spent selling and time spend providing services to clients. If that describes you, there are two ways you can use technology:

  • You can use it to force you to deal with sales when you might otherwise let your sales efforts slide, or
  • You can use it to feed into the team you have assembled and keep them busy.

While this might apply to some small businesses that sell products, I think most of this will be applicable to service providers. And in that scenario, when a sale is finally “closed” it virtually always requires human interaction. Contrast that to selling a product; sometimes that can be acnieved entirely online and without a human having to make contact with the prospect.

There are a variety of software products on the market today that are designed to get leads into your funnel and, in many cases, nurture them to some extent. It may be best to envision the process like this.

  1. You devise means to generate some interest in what you do or who you are. These are either prospects finding you via organic search results, seeing a paid advertisement of yours or responding to social media posts.
  2. The prospects that find you are whisked off to a landing page where they are encouraged to give you their email addresses or call you on the phone.
  3. You nurture and followup with these prospects through targeted emails or other forms of contact.

Steps two and three can be automated to a large extent; step one somewhat less so. You need to invest in building a website that is powerfully search engine optimized, so you rank well, or you need to invest in advertising of some kind (keyword or display), or you need to get a social media marketing program going that attracts attention…or you need to do all three!

If part of putting your sales program on autopilot is to start building a team, some of these tasks can go to that team on an ongoing basis, such as creating the social media marketing pieces.

Further, if you just need some reminders and motivation to keep your personal sales efforts active, the automated operations in steps two and three might do the trick. (However, I think you’ll still want to start building a team to take over the follow-up so you can focus on what you do best.)

Landing pages

There are a variety of services that help you build, test, and optimize landing pages. Some of them have additional marketing bells and whistles that will prove useful to your small business. Here are some of the most reasonably priced options for you:

Customer Relationship Management

Once you have prospects in your funnel or existing customers, you need to be able to handle them in an “autopilot” mode. CRM apps and cloud services will fill that bill.

Automated Marketing

This may be the most interesting group of apps and services. They vary widely in what they do, but if you master their strengths they can do a good job pulling prospects into your sales funnel.

Email marketing

There are a wide range of reasonably priced email marketing services. The key is to learn how to use their autoresponders to build automated workflows. Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Emma and AWeber are good places to start looking.

Because this article is targeted to the solopreneur or very small business that needs to pay more attention to sales in order to grow, I’ve narrowed down these services a lot. You might find one that suits you very well but didn’t make my list.

Putting together a system that combines some of these apps with a trained and motivated sales team will create a flow of work that prompts you to go and push your small business to the next level, and the next, and the next…

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