The Sales Funnel and Sales Automation

Sales Automation often gets discussed at a high level with a lot of focus on the benefits but more rarely with as much detail as you might like.

Since Sales Automation utilizes your Sales Funnel, let’s first make sure we are all on the same page regarding what a Sales Funnel is.

The Sales Funnel

The Sales Process is often depicted as a funnel, where for a given potential customer, the journey starts at the wide top and ends down at the narrow bottom. The top scoops up every sales lead it can, but a lot of bad leads are mixed in with the good.

A lead can be bad due to an invalid email address that will bounce. Or the email address is good, but the person was just a ‘tire-kicker’, with zero chance of actually buying from you.

Some people are just starting to do R&D on a product or service, and in the end will realize that what you offer just isn’t what they are looking for.

Among these are hidden the real sales leads, people who very well might buy from you. As leads drop down the funnel, ones which are bad for various reasons drop out, leaving the won jobs at the bottom.

Sales Automation

Now we are ready to discuss Sales Automation.

Suppose you start with a list of 10,000 email addresses. Sales Automation can help you separate out the good from the bad.

Suppose that you define a sales pipeline with these status levels:

You start by sending an email to all 10,000 people. It is easy to realize that a computer can detect when the email bounces back from a given address, categorize it as ‘closed – invalid’, and remove that address from the working list.

If you are using a program that includes tracking code in the email, your program can detect if the recipient opens the email, and can detect if they click on a link in it. This same program will have you add tracking code to your website as well. So now you can detect if the email recipient visits your website, not just from clicking in your email, but for future visits where they just remember your website address and type it into their browser. When your program sees that the recipient is active, that they open your email and visit your website, it can advance them to the next stage in your sales ‘pipeline’.

Using these methods, you can winnow down your list of sales leads. From the original 10,000, perhaps 1,000 had email addresses that bounced, leaving you with 9,000.

Out of those 9,000 ‘Validated’ emails, perhaps 1,000 are active, and your program changes their status to ‘Qualified (active)’.

At this point, either you have sales people who will be involved, or you continue the process in an automated fashion.

For an automated approach, you continue to send your Qualified leads a series of emails, and these emails stop when the lead eventually buys, or when a maximum time limit has passed. Later in the email series, you may let more time pass between emails.

For the manual approach, your sales people contact the lead by phone, set them on an email campaign. If enough time passes, eventually the lead is left on a long-term email campaign and are taken off your sale peoples working list.

Sales Automation can provide some help with moving leads between stages by defining goals and then moving the lead when your sales person marks a goal as complete. This means they don’t have to first mark the goal as complete and then change the stage for that lead, which does save them a bit of time.

However, the place where Sales Automation shines the brightest is at the top of the sales funnel, eliminating bounced email addresses, and advancing leads that show a sign of interest.

Conclusion

What you need to consider is whether the above process reflects your situation. Do you deal with a huge number of sales leads, while knowing that only a sliver of them are serious leads?

If you do deal with a smaller number of sales leads where you are fairly confident that they know what you do and will spend money in the near future, you might find that SMMware is a good fit for your company as it supports more of your daily business functions.

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