Automation is a powerful part of your sales and marketing arsenal, so this may seem like a strange question to ask– Is it really possible to over-automate your customer and prospect communications?
In short, yes.
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Over-automation is, basically, treating every prospect and customer the same. You remove any customization or personalization from the sales or customer service process. To avoid this problem, you must keep communications personal. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are one way you can personalize the sales experience on every call and email to individual leads, prospects, and customers. Specifically, sales automation software can help your sales team benefit from automation without slipping into impersonal over-automation.
SCALE COMMUNICATION WHILE AVOIDING OVER-AUTOMATION
Understand the role of personalization.
According to CEB, 53% of buying decisions are driven by the sales experience. While automation certainly does increase efficiency and productivity, it only works in communications if it’s done correctly. Simply merging a contact’s first name into an email or greeting them by name on the phone isn’t personalization; it’s laziness. Personalization takes communications to the next level and demonstrates that you have:
- Done your homework on the prospect’s business.
- Taken time to understand possible pain points and the climate your prospect’s business operates in.
- Invested time and energy into serving the potential customer.
Giving your sales communications this level of personalization doesn’t mean you have to do a lot of manual research or crafting of one-to-one custom emails and call scripts. Use solutions that automate aspects of communication preparation so that every touchpoint is personalized. Here are a few examples:
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help your team easily stay on top of news and job changes with their target accounts and contacts. Sales Navigator also delivers lead recommendations and provides advance search filters to make research more efficient. Team members can use the information they uncover to create proactive personalized communications.
- Marketing automation software can help you understand a lead’s on-site actions. Work with your marketing technologist to route details to your sales reps such as pages the lead viewed, items downloaded, and more so salespeople can understand a lead’s likely interests. Work with marketing to develop sets of email and call script templates based with various on-site behavior scenarios so that sales reps have easy-to-personalize templates to drive personalized communications.
- Social media listening tools allow sales reps to set up listening streams based on specific companies (leads), your brand name, keywords, competitor names, etc. Your inside sales team can use intel they gather from social media to start meaningful conversations with prospects via social media, email, and phone calls.
Personalization isn’t just a fad. Your customers expect it in both B2C and B2B buying scenarios. As LinkedIn recently found, the majority of millennial and Gen-X decision makers expect personalization in their communications during the sales process.
If we don’t treat communication as the meaningful, personalized interaction it should be, we’re bound to get it wrong. Without personalization in your communications, automation will produce limited results.
Go beyond segmentation and personalize the sales experience to recognizes individuals.
Segmentation and personalization aren’t necessarily the same. You can use segmentation as a strategy to help you customize sales, but don’t assume that segmented communications are sufficiently personal.For instance, you wouldn’t presume that understanding prospects’ demographic characteristics means that you’ve understood an individual. Just grouping leads into categories doesn’t mean you’ve successfully identified their needs.
Empower your sales team with sales automation tools
Forrester Research, Inc. found that 45% of companies struggle to personalize offers or pricing for customers. The right sales automation platform will empower your inside sales agents by providing lead-specific information and streamlining sales processes. Automating sales workflows make sales reps more successful without making your communications sound impersonal.
Examples of this include:
- Access lead history details–During calls, agents have access to prospect or lead information to help them customize the call. Past correspondence such as emails, notes from prior phone conversations, chat transcripts, and other information can be available on-screen to guide the agent through a dialogue with the prospect.
- Automate call activity–next-best lead routing, auto dialing, and voice drop make your sales agents more productive and efficient.
- Queue-based lead management workflows ensure the next-best lead gets called every time. Inside sales reps don’t need to worry about finding the right lead to call next. This also prevents cherry picking to ensure every lead gets worked.
- Auto-dialing speeds up call activity. When an agent finishes one call, he or she can quickly connect with the next best lead through progressive dialing.
- Voice drop allows agents to craft a custom voicemail recording so they leave the perfect voicemail every time. While VanillaSoft drops the message into the contact’s voicemail, your agent can move on to the next call without missing a beat.
TIPS FOR REFINING YOUR PERSONALIZATION STRATEGY
Now that we’ve discussed over-automation, let’s talk about ways you can prevent a lack of personalization throughout the sales funnel. No matter where your lead is on the road to conversion, you need a proactive means of protecting the sales experience for your customers.
- Build a buyer persona for your target prospects, but don’t use it in place of personalization. Buyer personas are great tools to help sales and marketing teams understand who your target customers are. Personas are valuable, but don’t trade personalized communications for persona-based content. Persona-based content has its place in the sales and marketing experience. However, sales reps should focus on making a personal connection with qualified leads.
- Use what you know. Once you have information in your CRM, use it. Train your entire team to think creatively about conversations with leads–what little details, past experiences and bits of data do you know about a contact’s business? How does a lead’s earlier conversations with your sales team influence the conversation you’re rep is having now (or about to have soon) with that person?
- Keep improving the process. Congrats, you’ve identified what works and your sales team is improving in multiple key benchmarks! Keep at it; you’re never done. You need to keep responding to changes in the sales environment and to new challenges. Continuous improvement is a philosophy that will serve your sales team well.
The sales process boils down to two significant factors: building relationships and establishing trust. The inclusion of personalization throughout the sales process creates an environment where you can engage with prospects on a personal level so that you can build a relationship. Once a relationship is sufficiently established, trust will follow. Over time, the buyer starts to view you as a trusted advisor rather than as a self-serving sales rep.
As you look at your sales calls and communications, maybe you’ll begin finding signs that you’ve left out the personalization. Don’t despair! This is your opportunity to retool your communications process. Having the right CRM for your sales team can help. VanillaSoft’s sales automation software solution helps you manage your leads, automate your contact center’s workflow and still deliver a great sales experience for your customers.