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The Digital Utopia Podcast Episode #21

How To Harness The Power Of Automation Across Your Organization

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About the podcast

The Digital Utopia Podcast is for SMB Marketers and Business Leaders looking to align their Marketing, Sales, and Service departments so they’re part of one powerhouse growth team.

Each episode will dive into the strategies, philosophies, and tools that will change your approach to organizational growth, give you renewed focus and clarity, and allow you to build a brand that not only helps you stand out—but win.

The Digital Utopia Podcast is produced by Digitopia and hosted by Frank Cowell and Joseph Freeman.

Episode transcription

Frank
Automation often is stereotyped as marketing automation. But for our audience, most b2b Bs, you're not going to necessarily automate people to a six figure contract. Right? That that's not really how it works. The biggest opportunities are in sales and in service, you know, your operations.

Intro
You were listening to the digital utopia podcast, a resource dedicated to helping b2b leadership and executives gain clarity and focus in a chaotic marketplace.

Frank
Hey, gang, welcome to the digital utopia podcast, Episode 21. I'm your host, Frank Cowell. And I'm joined by my co host,

Joe
Joseph Freeman.

Frank
Okay, we're going to talk about automation this morning. We've already had a lively discussion about automation. So I'm super excited about this. Because when people think of automation, I often hear people start to mention things around marketing and marketing tactics as it relates to automation. And certainly, there's a lot of companies out there that have built automation software's that have kind of contributed to this stereotype, if you will. But automation is so much more in and do so much more for your business. So we're gonna dive into that today.

Joe
Absolutely. So we have talked in the past about how to automation might be something you don't even touch until a little bit later in your rev ops journey. You know, as you're starting to align your marketing, sales and service, you need software, you need tools that can help you with automation, but it's not. A lot of times people think it's the silver bullet. And sometimes it's not correct. in marketing. However, yeah, today, let's talk about how you should probably be putting automation into play right out the gate for at least your sales team, maybe your service team, too. So

Frank
yeah, I think it really depends on the size of your business, your selling model, your transactional model, I think those things are important to consider, you know, if you're a business that is high volume, it's transactional. You know, automation can absolutely be a benefit to you on the front end, right? What do I mean by front end, it's the, you know, lead gen, you know, funnel them through automation to transaction, like that whole thing, absolutely. Can can work wonders there and be an amazing tool. But if you're a business that's more relationship driven, sales cycle driven, there's a sales process and a consideration journey. You definitely can use some automation to like be the the economic engine, but there are so many other ways automation can be used there to really like control experience and create consistency and in their, in my opinion, more valuable in those ways to those kinds of organizations.

Joe
Yeah, we use a lot of different terms, not a lot. We use a few different terms in automation. And depending on what software you might be using to facilitate your automation, you might even come across a few more. But I think sometimes we interchange automation, workflows, even sequences. Let's give a quick definition of what these things are Frankie.

Frank
Yeah. So automation is any sort of tool that will help you take repetitive tasks and ensure they happen without human intervention consistency, based on some sort of trigger or some sort of schedule, some sort of pattern example. So let's say for example, every time a new client comes on board into your company, you want them to receive a welcome video via email, you want them to receive a survey you want a couple days later, you want them to receive a physical welcome gift in the mail. And then you want your team to be instructed to now start to welcome and onboard this client, like a whole series of things that need to happen every single time a client comes on board into your organization. You could use automation to ensure that happens every time and consistently.

Joe
When we put together workflows, we generally think of them as basically accomplishing one of three things. They're either a utility workflow, which doesn't necessarily send any emails at all right?

Frank
Oh, that's great. Yeah.

Joe
utility or workflow can just do something behind the scenes. Like for instance, I think you just mentioned some but setting a lifecycle stage automatically when somebody takes a certain action, right, that would be a utility, there's no email involved. There's no communication, it just goes and updates a record for you when something happens

Frank
to keep data standardized in sync data, like up to date about people's behaviors, people statuses,

Joe
yeah, and even as a form of almost like validation, because not every salesperson is going to remember to do everything every time in the right order, you should have an ESOP. It should have a playbook on how they are moving people through their systems, but stuffs gonna get missed and anything that could potentially get missed. You should just probably have a little utility workflow to help them with that, right? If it doesn't happen within a day pick it up for him.

Frank
So yeah, we call those exceptions right. So if you ever hear us talk about x options in one of these episodes, that would be an exception. Exceptions are really important to flag in your business, you can do that through automation. And you could do that through reports. And to review those exceptions regularly, you know, I worked for a company called Circuit City. If you guys remember who that is, okay, well, yeah, circuit, one Circuit City. So I worked for them way back in the day, and they were an amazing company and how they operationally ran. And that's where I learned this concept of exception reports. And exception reports were reports that were printed out every single morning, like clockwork without fail. And it was the opening manager's job to go through these exception reports and go through this ritual. Every day and every store across the country. Opening managers would go through this ritual. And those exception reports pointed out things that needed paying attention to these were the flags, right? These were the things like this got returned, is it still there? This price tag needs to change? Has it been done? And all the these were all the exceptions. And so what you're talking about is really critical for a business like do you have reporting that catches those things? Do you have automation that will flag people and say, Hey, you on boarded this thing, but you have yet to define this critical piece of information that the operations team is going to need? Mm hmm.

Joe
Yeah. So that would be good examples of utility workflows. We also have workflows that would send internal communications. So that would be emails or SMS texts to somebody on the sales team to somebody on the services team. An example of that might be some, maybe, maybe a contact record gets turned into an actual customer, right, you close a deal, you go and you say, this contact of this company is now customer that can then trigger some communication, right to the service team to the executive team, it can shoot off an email, it can shoot off a text, something like that, that'd be an internal, yeah, type of automated workflow. And then, very similar to that we have the external ones. And those are the ones that really handle the email marketing. So if you wanted to put somebody on a drip sequence, where they download maybe a, you know, white paper, and then you want to make sure every single week they're getting some sort of an update, or they're getting a an automated newsletter, or they're getting a, you know, a new piece of valuable content sent to them or an offer, that would be something that would be more of an external communication, correct? Yeah. So we break them up in those stories. And that's not I don't think that's like an industry standard.

Frank
No, it is, you can combine some of those things if the process warranted it. But I think that's a great way to give people a lens on

Joe
but the reason we do that is because some automation can be scary, right? You start getting 567 14 109 different workflows going, and you don't know what's getting sent to whom, when, and you start worrying about doubling up. So there's a whole, you know, architecture that has to happen here as you start to evolve your automation. But one easy way to understand what's doing what is to just name your different workflows, utility, internal, external, and that, you know, helps us kind of sort through it quickly.

Frank
Yeah, naming conventions are really important when you start to work with tools like, like this. And like he mentioned, there is no industry standard, but coming up with your own is really important. You know, and we often will, will name them with, you know, whether, like you said internal external, and then there's like a dir, and then you might even have like an area of the business, right? So like internal pipe, sales, pipe, and then the name of what this thing does, or internal slash marketing pipe, what it does. So those things are super helpful, and it's being very anal about that stuff is a good thing. Because to your point, once you have 109 of these things, you're going to kind of wonder, like, Okay, what is all this stuff? Because one of the things that most of the software's don't do well, is give you the big picture view of what everything's doing in concert, some attempt to do this, but I don't know if there's any great way to solve it. It does require you being very specific about your, your nomenclature, your naming conventions, and keeping a journal or a map, go outside the software. So people understand this machine that's being built. Right. So

Joe
one thing that we do during automation planning, is we will actually make a timeline right where you can see what gets sent out if there's any communication involved in the workflows themselves, what gets sent out with how much of a delay So for example, if we send out an email on one workflow, and then we want to wait seven days before we send the next one, but you have another workflow right at the same time, that sends an email on day two, waits two days and sends another one on day four. Well, now you've got an email going out on what day one, you've got one on day two, you've got one on day four, and you've got one on day seven, but they're being facilitated by two different work rights. And so what we do, you know, an easy way to do this would be like on a spreadsheet, like a Google Sheet, right? You can have a row that represents a workflow, and you can have every column representing a day, day one, day two, day three, day four. And you can just fill in the cells of what days, emails are sending on each workflow. And once you have 10, or 12, or 100, stacked up in the rows on a, on a spreadsheet, it's really easy to see what days get bludgeoned, if somebody happens to be in all of the workflows, or if they happen to be in 10 of the work ends.

Frank
And what's really important about this context for our listeners to keep in mind when you start to map this day, zero through day, you know, whatever this is the reference point is the point of origination in the database, right? So the point that they come into the database, day zero for them day one for them. where it gets tricky, is if you then have workflows based on behavioral triggers, or other events or other new information, that isn't the timeframe reference isn't the point at which they came into the database. It's, this event can happen at any time. So that I love that idea. But But our listeners should keep in mind, there are other workflows you might build that aren't based on point of origination. And so this is the point I'm making is this get can get complex. Yep, it definitely can get complex,

Joe
it's a great point. And in order to kind of combat that we just model it out on different tabs of a worksheet. Okay, if somebody were to joined this, you know, likely on this day, what would that look like? And this is why we talk about not getting too deep into marketing automation too quickly. Because you get really excited, it's kind of fun, you start to see what's available, and you start building out and over architecting and not realizing that somebody is going to end up with a Frankenstein experience. So you're right, you know it, mapping it out from point of origination is a good idea. And then don't go crazy with this, right? Don't get too much automated too quickly.

Frank
No, because here's the thing. It's really easy, especially if you're working with someone who's good at developing like funnels and workflows and whatnot, it's really easy to whiteboard that out and, and describe and show like your entire business as a process. Right, you could do that in a session in 30 minutes, you can step back and see your entire business as a connected process that where automation could really be powering a lot of it. super exciting. If you do that, what you have to do is you have to then circle one part of it one small part of it and say this is all we're building. Because if you attempt to try to go build this big monster machine, you will absolutely fail. Because what ends up happening and programmers understand this, by the way, what ends up happening is the almost like whatever you would call like the butterfly effect, like when you do one thing like oh, well, this other thing has to be in play. Well, if I do that, well actually, this other thing has to be in play first. Oh, well, when I do that, I actually need the content first. So before you know it, you start you end up with like, Oh, we need like 37 pieces of content to do our surveys or tools or assets or whatever it's called for. And then you just get overwhelmed, because now you can't really move forward unless you have the 37 assets. So it's really important that you know, once you map it out, just start with one small piece of it. And oftentimes, they're probably opportunities to get ROI and impact by finding some middle area in the process middle to late area in the process, such as client onboarding, such as maybe client delight, maybe, you know, proposal, facilitation, there's probably something in that part of the process, we're actually to get more bang for your buck, than try to like, especially if you're a b2b, right, and you're your one to one selling, you're considered sales cycle, you know, like the the idea of like, oh, you're gonna like, auto generate a lead. And then you're going to auto nurture them without talking to them at all into an opportunity that you're then going to close, no contract like, that takes a long time and a lot of awareness. There's a lot of other things that happen outside of automation, to facilitate that kind of reality. So you're going to find better opportunities for like, sales experience and client experience, in my opinion.

Joe
Yeah. So that is an explanation of automation, kind of at a high level. Those are some of the warnings. I think next, we should dive into what are the basic automated workflows you should put in place if you're starting to dip your toe in the water here, and I'd love to work backwards, top down, we top down optimized here, right? I love to work backwards from the service sales and kind of delivery team. What are some basic workflows we can put in place for them right away that won't be over to architected that won't be stepping on people's toes, but that will help facilitate a better client experience and maybe even some of those exception reports or not. let's let's let's talk backwards through this.

Frank
Okay, so I think one of the absolute first ones is one I already mentioned, client onboarding. Like that entire experience is important. to automate to get consistent, because when you onboard a client, there are a lot of things that happen, it kind of touches all three of those categories you mentioned, right? There's like some utility stuff, like updating their lifecycle, making sure that you know, the data standardize, maybe it copies over from your marketing system to your E RP are to your, you know, your service system. Like there's all sorts of data standardization and data facilitation that needs to happen, then you have like internal work that has to get done, okay, the, the team needs to be alerted, and someone needs to identify who the account strategist or the account manager is going to be. And if they ordered something that requires fulfillment, fulfillment needs to be notified. And then you know, the client has to have specific kind of communication about either order their contract their relationship, and he right, and then you might have like a welcome gift you want them to receive, like, all of those things need to happen every time if you want to be world class. There's a book that we've I think we've talked about on this show before. Never lose a customer again by Joey Coleman, I believe we've mentioned it, but one of the things that's emphasized in in the book is, you know, reading those sistent experience is critical to not only client satisfaction, but scale. And so this is I think, the biggest opportunity many businesses have, and I think it's an easy win. And it's impactful, right? Yeah. When everyone's like, oh, wow, now we just know the clients going to get the welcome gift every time without fail. And we just know, they're going to get the welcome video. And we know that you know, the data is gonna move from this system to this system without fail. Like that starts to create real impact that the team can see in the field.

Joe
Yeah, and I think if you're just getting started with automation, three workflows that you might want to consider for the service team would be that one, right? That would be a utility workflow that automates the onboarding of a client really, right. It might also automate it might put in there, okay, once from the day the client is created or turned to a customer, six months later, you know, put a reminder on the sales person's team to follow up and make sure that they are having a good experience writing could have those types of touch points built in, I want to talk a little bit about what are the things you could build in there. But two other workflows you might want to consider at this level would be one, a client satisfaction survey, perfect. So again, are the day that that client gets created, they go on a timer, right? And that timer is whatever you want it to be a month, three months, six months, but it automatically sends out an email, that is a survey, right? It's a survey saying, asking several questions or asking the one big question, the big, you know, net promoter score, question, whatever it is. But the point is that that is an external sort of communication workflow, that's pretty easy to put together, and it's not very complicated at all it says is, hey, once they are created, wait six months and send an email, that would be one to consider.

Frank
And there are a couple of flavors of that, if I can interject, you don't. So there's one where like, the moment they sign up, that part of the onboarding, the survey could just simply be like, you know, how did you hear about us? What was the number one reason you chose us? Who else were you considering right? To get some intel there? And then, to your point, like, put them on a timer for like, Hey, how are you? You know, How are things with our firm, if you're more of a transactional business, you don't, you maybe don't build it on that kind of time. Or maybe it's triggered based on, you know, when the sales orders go through maybe their date, and they have sales orders that come through, you know, every few months, and they do one off buying, you could have those triggered, you know, every time those things get closed out. But it's important that those things are put on a schedule, whether it's, you know, the one time and periodical, or if it's transactional, because otherwise, if you just rely on your team to do it, and you tell your head of Ops, like, you need to be like asking our customers, you know, and sending them the survey, like, that's not going to happen consistently. It just won't, we have too much. We have too much stuff to deal with in our lives. Like, there's just too much information, there's too much overload. No one's gonna remember to do that consistently. Anyway.

Joe
Yeah. So you've got utility workflow, you've got, you know, what I just suggested would be that customer satisfaction, which is external communication. So that is something you'd want to, you know, keep track of making sure you know, that those emails are actually going out to somebody outside of the organization. And then I think the third one would be it, this one could be mashed up with that utility workflow that you said, but I like to separate them. And that would be a kind of Welcome to the family sort of series. And that is external communication, which is why I like to separate them. I like to separate out what's happening internally, in terms of setting tasks for salespeople and reminders and all of those different things. You need to facilitate a good client experience from an internal standpoint. And then separate out the external communication. So the first email they get, Hey, welcome to the family. Here are the resources that we can provide to you here is the person that's going to be your main point of contact, and then maybe, you know, a week later or two weeks later, whatever a follow up to that saying, Okay, now that you've been with us for two weeks, here's a little reminder of how you do X, Y, or Z. And so that can be a really helpful one as well. I think those three are a good starting place, if you're looking for pretty easy to create workflows for the service team.

Frank
Yeah. And on that note of like, you know, a couple of weeks in asking how things are going, if you're a business where clients have different levels of usage with your product, and you're able to track that in their record, those are, those are great things to tap into. If you notice, after a certain amount of time that they haven't actually used a certain part of your software use a certain part of your offering, that's when you can use that to trigger like, okay, two weeks in if this status still is like, you know, unopened, for example, that could be the trigger to then say, hey, notice, you haven't done this yet. You really should take advantage of this. And here's why. Right? Or no, she haven't, like finished this part of analysis, or this part of the, you're not using this part of the software, those types of things are, are good to get, you know, what they call in the software industry like user adoption.

Joe
Yeah. And that's actually a great point where you can put in what you referenced earlier, an exception report, right? So if an email has to be sent out to somebody reminding them to use the software, you might also want to put a task or an alert on a salesperson or service person's plate, on an exception report saying, hey, this person hasn't done anything with the software, you likely are gonna lose them, maybe reach out and talk to them. Yeah.

Frank
So I'm a huge fan of exception reports. because inevitably, there are going to be things that rely on human intervention, right, because a lot of these things we're automating, but they might just be like, a task to a person. And so I'm a huge fan of exception reports, because what they can do is there in two flavors, you know, one is just open things that weren't done, and they're supposed to be done. So you're going to see a list of things that are past due, if you will. And then the other kind are just things that come up within the data of your all of your systems that stick out like a sore thumb and need paying attention to, right like, here are the list of clients that are 31 plus on their AR, right? Like what is that list, here are the list of clients that are on hold, here are the list of new sales orders that have yet to have a strategist assigned to them, right like to where like, the task alone doesn't necessarily tell you everything, or maybe there is no task, maybe it's just a certain status that has come up. And then so filtering for those and putting those front and center. And again, going back to my circuit, city reference, making it a ritual in your business, to review your exceptions every single morning, like that should be the first thing you do every single morning is look at some sort of dashboard where you'd like Hey, what are our KPIs? What are metrics? Here are the exceptions, is part of that, like dashboard review? Yeah, it's critical. If you want to create any sort of World Class operation that scales, if you don't have these rituals, these rhythms, you won't scale things will fall through the cracks, and it'll break.

Joe
Yeah. But again, start basic and build on that over time, just do something simple for your service team. And then, you know, as you get good at it, and as you understand how this works, and what what impact it actually has, you can continue to add on over time. And he would move back to now the sales team, how can we use automation, or sequences or workflows, or whatever we call them to enable the sales team?

Frank
Yeah. So there's a few automation tools when it comes to sales that aren't just, you know, triggers and emails and tasks. And some of the things we talked about some of the tools center around things that are like snippets, and things that are like individual one to one sequences. So now, when you get into sales, sales can leverage automation in a couple of ways. One, there could just be process built to kind of like govern that experience and govern that process, which is a lot of what we've been talking about. But there also are automation tools that salespeople can trigger manually. Right, which is a very interesting way to use automation. So for example, where in the marketing world, a lot of the automation just kind of happens in mass in the sales world, you can trigger automation one for one. So let's say you get a prospect in your database, and you're like, wow, okay, based on this particular person in this industry, and this, like, what I what I'm able to glean from this record, I'm going to put them on this particular sales experience. And I'm going to manually trigger them and so that might be emails that might be a task to follow them on LinkedIn, that might be a test a phone call them right. So but those are manually triggered, and they're not based on any sort of automated criteria.

Joe
I'm glad you brought this up because this is something that we've been diving into a lot for our clients lately. And the reason is, because inbound, when we talk about inbound, that's people coming to your website and consuming some content and raising their hand or giving their information so they can download something or filling out your contact when that's all inbound, right? Right. That's all marketing. And that's all awesome. And it works. But it's the long play, right? It takes Yeah, it takes 12 months to fill up a pipe with inbound. But once you do, then you've got this steady, steady stream. And once you figure out what works with your clientele, or your prospects, you've got a really good base. But sales people need help with outbound right, they need help hunting a lot of the times and you can put a playbook in front of them. Or you can go hire a rock star who's already got a Rolodex, but that is one person and you can't replicate that. So if you want to build and scale a sales team, you need to have a process that's replicated, and that's governed. And yeah, what you were talking about is really, it's really awesome, right? Because what you can do is you can create a playbook. And what we've been doing a lot for clients recently is like a 28 day playbook in terms of an outbound attempt for people and you can make these much longer. But this is a good starting place, right? 28 days, within those 28 days, there has to be 13 touch points. And those touch points are not all Hey, want to hear what I have to sell. Right? Like the first, this is really touching on an ABM sort of approach, which is account based marketing, right? The salesperson goes and finds an account that they'd love to go after they put them in. And what we use automation for is assigning them the tasks that they have to do on schedule for these people. And what I liked about what you said is it's not a time based right assignment, you don't put them in say after you know, one day go like them on LinkedIn. And after two days, send them a gift. And after five, you don't do that, you do build in those those timeframes. But what you do is, say, five days from the day they complete the last task, right? So if task one is assigned to them, and that first task is just go like them on LinkedIn, as soon as they hit complete on that task, that's the trigger, the workflow runs at that point, you create them a brand new task seven days from now, or whatever, two days from now. And that next task is, hey, give them a phone call, or whatever it is, right. And so they are in charge of the timing, not the timing between it, but they are in charge of when it gets completed. And so this is really important, because then you don't have salespeople who end up taking a vacation or getting a little bit distracted or even lazy and getting a huge pileup of tasks, right, it continues to stay manageable with their own workflow. And oh, by the way, if they aren't completing their tasks on time, those are great exceptions as well. Yeah, go on to an exception report where a sales manager can say, Hey, I noticed that you were assigned 15 go like somebody's LinkedIn posts yesterday, and you only did 12 of them. What happened? Right, right, right. Yeah, exactly. So I love that part of automation, or that approach to automation, where you automate the creation of the task. It's very prescribed, it follows a playbook. But the salesperson is in charge of moving it forward.

Frank
Yeah, what's great is inside those steps, right, those those one for one generated automations. The inside those steps, you can have the instructions. So if one of the instructions on go like and comment on a post, you can even like include links to things for reference material, if one of the steps is an email, at least, you know, some of the software I've used, what's cool is the email can be pre loaded. And that salesperson has the ability to make the minor edits and tweaks they want to make to that to personalize it to the contact. Right, right, that's really cool. So they don't have to like, manually type the email. And it's, you know, that part in the step. You know, when you when that is triggered and set up. Often, if there are three, four or 510 emails, they just go through all at once. And they make the adjustments to those 10 emails, you know, based on that person and their industry and their job, like whatever you want to reference, you can like kind of edit the fill in the blanks. So that way, those emails get personalized, and then it's in motion, right? And then you know, good softwares will then ensure that future emails don't go out if the prospect replies, right, like it'll kind of put a stop, right? So that way, it doesn't like create this weird, like, I already replied to you, why are you asking me that again,

Joe
but again, another reason why it's good to put the salesperson in charge of moving that forward. If you just put it on an automated timeline, that email actually could get sent 14 days later, because it doesn't know that anything happened, right. So, obviously, you mentioned that there are software's that are smart enough, but not all software correct. So you got to be cognizant of this. You know, and I think word of warning there. There are software's that will personalize everything and they'll go look up information for you on LinkedIn and they'll pull though inject it in the do everything and that is super cool. And it's really fun when you get that software because the sky feels like the you know, sky's the limit but it creates a way Your experience for the client sometimes because it'll inject kind of the wrong stuff. So I would say before you get too far into personalization, start manually, yeah, sure that your task is assigned. And when the email has to go out, don't send it automated, make sure that you as a salesperson, or your sales team is using a template. But tweaking that template and making it personalized and really putting their human touch on it. Because once you start loading it up with personalization tokens, I mean, you can get some real bad train wrecks in there.

Frank
Yeah, you can get some weird stuff you especially because people that come into your database, especially if they inbounded, they're the data hygiene is not always there on the data, they enter, you know, they might enter, they might enter their name, all lowercase, well, you would never email somebody not capitalize the first letter of their first name, you just wouldn't do that. Right? Right. And so if you use that token, and you don't have a process to clean those things up, you know, it's, it's gonna look bad, it's gonna look fake, right?

Joe
Should we be doing this with a sales team of one? Or is this for sales team of seven?

Frank
No, I think one of the great things about automation for small companies, I often caution, like add, don't go into the marketing automation just yet. Like you don't need that. However, small companies can benefit from Sales Automation, right out the gate, right, because of the things that we're talking about, especially if you have a sales team of one, you have to make sure that person is really efficient, right efficiencies about ROI in any given system efficiency is like input compared to output, like, what's that difference? What's the Delta? Am I getting? You know, the output that's, that makes this worthwhile. Same thing when you're talking about people. And if you have one person, like, what's the output, that person, you know, going to spend time and what is happening as a result of that. And so tools like this can make their time, much more efficient, they can leverage that in so if you have the sequences, if you have these one for one automations in there and these tools, then you're going to enable them to do more. Hence, the reason they call it sales enablement, software, right, because you're going to enable them to, to get more done than just the person who's working without those tools. So yes, automation for sales, it doesn't matter for your sales team of one or you know, 1000, these tools are really important, really valuable. And then you also get, you know, the things that are just byproducts that these systems just have as like standard table stakes kind of features, you know, contact history. When were they sent these emails, when were these tasks done? You know, what content did they view? Like, all that stuff is in there? Yeah. So you get that history on the on the record as well. And the prospect?

Joe
Yeah, so it's a sales team of one team of zero even who don't have a dedicated salesperson, if anybody's in charge of, you know, touching a sales conversation at all this. This is one of the first things you should automate before marketing, maybe even before service, even though I know we started talking about that first, like, this is really helpful for a lot of people, a lot of teams,

Frank
I think that's, you know, we're going to talk about some, some more automation stuff here. But I think that's the big takeaway for this show, is that, you know, automation often is stereotyped as marketing automation, because there's a lot of cool, you know, mass stuff you can do, and you can, you know, automate funnel people into transactions. And that's true. But for our audience, most b2b Bs, you're not going to necessarily automate people to like a six figure contract. Like that. That's not really how it works. The biggest opportunities are in sales and in service, you know, your operations. So that's what's exciting. To me, that's the big takeaway of this show, is that, you know, break the association in your mind if you have it, that you know, automation equals marketing.

Joe
Now, speaking of marketing, let's talk about automation for marketing. So, we have already warned about this, this can go crazy, real quick. I think there are three types of automated sequences or workflows that you could and should start testing the waters with, right out the gate. And what we set people up with are a welcome series, we'll do a topical nurturing series. And then we'll also do some follow ups if case somebody actually download something is very hyper, you know, interested in in a very specific sort of offer that we have, we'll put automation in place to continue to touch them every few days to get them to take the next step that we want them to take. Right. So why don't we unpack those a little bit? Let's talk about a welcome series.

Frank
Yeah, by the way, I often add two more to that as my standard. I know you have three I have a standard five button. And we'll talk about those ones as well. So welcome series, right? Really important than when people inbound into your database. Now we're talking about marketing world, right? So they inbound into your database, it's really important that you welcome them to the family, quote unquote, you indoctrinate them to your brand. Your opportunity to like, present them with you kind of like your core philosophy, your core belief, your core differentiators. So that way, they start to understand how you're different than everyone else. If you have some sort of welcome video that talks about, you know, like maybe your reciting your brand Manifesto, that might be a great place to do that, as long as the lens is like, Hey, here's why you should care about your opportunity to maybe give them something valuable and special that they didn't expect. And so really delighting and walking them to the family, but there's a technical thing you're doing in the welcome series that the recipient doesn't realize, and that's getting their email client trained. This is one of the most important things you do in your welcome series is your training the clients, email client, your prospects, email client. And what do I mean by that? Well, when these emails come through, and your recipient opens, and if they also end up clicking on things, it's telling Gmail and whoever outlook outlook, it's telling that ESP, this is a valid sender, I open emails from this person, and I click on emails from this person. And so you want to make sure that your content in there, the subject lines, you know, are ones that will get the email opened, and then something in there encourages them to click. This is really important. So you have kind of like two goals here. One, welcome them and give them unexpected value. Okay, over the course of two to three emails, unexpected value, delight them, show them why you're different and why you're different brand, and then get them to get them to click on something.

Joe
Yeah, not only does that keep it out of the spam, you know, folder, but it can also depend on the client you're using, it can also mark it as a priority email, and it can segment it, you know, depending on right, what you're using Outlook or Gmail or whatever, it can move it into kind of a priority inbox if you're getting them to interact with these emails, enough right out the gate.

Frank
Well, in my opinion, then the next logical one that you mentioned, wasn't the second was the third one, which is your immediate follow ups to whatever they did. Yes, right. So immediate follow up, I also called that slash conversion series. So there's your immediate follow up slash conversion series. So what this is, is they came into your database, somehow, they get a welcome series, based on how they came in,

Joe
can we stop the welcome series, I want to be really clear, this is not welcome to our company, because you're a customer, correct. This is welcome to our database, because you gave us your email address for some reason, right? You either subscribe to our blog, or you downloaded something, or you, you know, whatever, you gave us your email address. And I want to make that clear right here, because you're talking about another workflow. That is a transactional workflow from when they give us their email address. So not only are they going to experience what you're about to talk about, but that will also trigger the welcome series that we just talked about,

Frank
right for the first time, like in theory, like it would trigger every time, but they only get it one time, the welcome series, you don't need to send them to the Welcome to

Joe
the very first time we actually know they're correct, right?

Frank
Yeah. But every time there's some sort of like download or transaction, you would have some sort of immediate follow up based on their behavior. Again, I call that immediate follow up slash conversion series. And here's why. Because let's say they download something and they're request to download or request access to a template, or whatever it is, the immediate follow up is going to give them that access. It's going to, here's the link, here's the white paper, here's the whatever, that's the immediate follow up. But then the rest of the emails in that same exact sequence, aim to convert them in move them to the next what we call relationship level, right? So if they had downloaded a template, and maybe the next thing you're trying to get them to do is to attend a webinar or watch a video of your deep dive content, then the follow up emails in there would be to try to get them to do that. Or maybe you might first say, Well, I'm going to make a pass, I'm going to make an attempt at seeing if they just want to talk to us as a potential service provider. So you might send a few emails after the meeting follow up and saying, Hey, you know, we've got these consultations available, we can help you actually solve this problem during the call. If you're interested, let me know we'd love to set up some time with you. And if they don't take advantage of that, then the next few might be to again, get them to the deep dive content just to see if we can get them to gauge engage more, those seven or so emails make up that immediate follow up slash version series. But before that happens, one of the ones that you didn't mention that I like to encourage people to build in is what I call a segmentation workflow. And the reason being is because when people come in if you don't know what they're interested in, let's say they just signed up for your blog. And it wasn't you don't know the topic, you might have a couple of emails that tried to just understand what are you interested in? That's a great opportunity, like send them a survey. That's great opportunity to like, send them a few emails and whichever one they click on that kind of lets you know what they're interested in. Because sometimes you will get people in your database that wasn't based on like a very significant transaction, such as like, subscribe to the blog.

Joe
Yeah, that is a good workflow, I would say if you're just starting out with workflows, the reason that I wouldn't recommend that is because it requires that you have all the content to actually deliver them when they choose a different flavor. And most companies don't actually have that yet. So if you got it great, I would say put that in, segment them, send them the right content, if you don't table that for a little bit later,

Frank
correct. 1,000% agree with you, it does require that you have, for example, three nurturing tracks. Yeah, so that way, you can segment them to a nurturing track. But you bring up a great point. Even though having a separate nurturing track for each persona topic combination is ideal. And that's what you should work towards, you're going to architect I promise you not just three, you're gonna end up architecting like 912 15 that you should, quote unquote, have, and then you're gonna get paralyzed, because you're going to then go and try to build all 15. Because we can't really bring people in unless we have these nurturing tracks in place, because then we so totally agree with you that you only do a segmentation for people that come in, and you don't know how to, you know what topic they're interested in, if you have multiple tracks for them to choose, so to speak. But if you only have one, you're starting out, you have to just make that auto assumption, right? Your segmentation workflow isn't actually an email, it's just automatically assigned them to this topic.

Joe
So we got a welcome series. Right, right. Welcome to the family. That happens one time, we've got a follow up series, which is helping them take the next step immediately after they took the previous step correct loading something or whatever it is, we potentially have a segmentation series to help them get on the right down the rack down the road. What are the other two?

Frank
Okay, so then we've got nurturing. Okay, right. So nurturing is like, they've gone through this immediate follow up slash convergence series, and they've done nothing, which by the way, is the normal behavior. So don't be alarmed. If once you bring people into your database, and they convert on this lead magnet, and you're like, yeah, okay, we're gonna, like, have this amazing automation is going to turn them into sales opportunities. Most of your leads, won't do that most of your leads in your database will just sit and do nothing. And I like to tell people, you have to think of them like, just some like, you know, out of shape, lazy person on the couch, in their underwear, eating Cheetos with the remote in hand, and they're comfortable, they're not going anywhere, they're not getting off that couch. Right. And so that's where your nurturing kicks in. Because the default behavior is to actually do nothing. So when you're nurturing kicks in, that's where you're going to be in front of them and provide them value, right? That's why sometimes you'll you'll hear this referred to as like a drip series. That's because that's your dripping, right? Every little bit you'd like, here's something, here's something, here's something. And your job with the nurturing is just to be in front of them. I like weekly in a b2b scenario, in some b2c scenarios, they're like multiple times per week, some b2b is go, you know, once every couple of weeks, I like weekly, and you're in front of them weekly with value.

Joe
Yeah, and that is the key, because every one of you listening to this have been put into one of these sequences by some company at some point. Yep. And almost every one of you has either marked as spam, or, you know, unsubscribed or deleted week after week after week. And the reason you're doing that is because many people build these drip sequences. And every time it's like, look at our product, and how cool it is want to talk to a salesperson every week, nobody wants that. Not only does nobody want that, but nobody even wants it thinly veiled. This series should be specifically built to provide value, like you said, it should just be here's a really cool, helpful tool article, thought of the day, whatever it is, take it and enjoy it.

Frank
Yeah. And then so if you're doing this, right, and this gets a little technical, oftentimes, what I tell people is value value value, then ask, Hey, would you like you know, make an attempt at your conversion, like you want to get on the phone, you know, it looks like you're enjoying this, it looks like you're engaging. But it technically, if we get real technical how it's done, your nurturing is just your nurturing. And then what happens is, as they engage on content, you might use an automation feature like lead scoring. And once lead scoring reaches a certain point, then you might have another follow up. workflow.

Joe
By the way, lead scoring is one of the biggest questions we get all the time, how should I Where should I start, we should do hold.

Frank
So let's do it. Let's do an episode just on lead scoring. Because to your point, that's the whole thing.

Joe
Nobody knows how to get started with that. And we've got some,

Frank
and I'll tell you what, most organizations complicate the hell out of it, especially big organizations, big organizations, they complicate the hell out of this stuff. So but once you have that lead scoring based on their behavior in your nurturing series, what you can do is you can then trigger just another follow up workflow that's just based on that behavior follow up series, which lives in that same family as the media follow up, right? Because it's remember the follow up series. It's based on some sort of behavior, right? So the behavior was I downloaded something so then you have a follow up series. After nurturing once they engage on it several times and they attend a webinar. The behavior then triggers another Other follow up like, Hey, I noticed you attended that webinar, and you know, or you watched that video, we'd love to know what you think, are you? Are you working on a project like that right now, is that something I, you know, you'd like to get on the phone and talk about, like, whatever you're like foot in the door is right, like, that's where you're going to follow up there. But you're nurturing, going back to that, stay on topic, stay value, get value, value value, and be there to help them actually solve their problem.

Joe
Okay, and then you've got another one.

Frank
So this last one, and you and I think disagree on this one we've talked about in the past, but that final one is what I call extraction. And the reason I think extraction is important, because you're gonna get to some point in your database where you're like, Okay, I've got these 1000s of contacts. And depending on your software, you might be paying for certain number of contacts in your database. And so you have these 1000s of contacts that you might need to flush out, right. So what I am a huge fan of is before like one last ditch attempt, like send a series of emails to this, these contacts that you're eventually going to flush out anyway, and see if you can extract some sort of value, send them a survey, ask them for a testimonial on your content, ask them for a review, ask if you know like they can do a survey with you, you know, jump on the phone and ask some questions. You can even send them to affiliate offers, right. So you might be a company where you're like, well, they didn't want anything we had, maybe we have affiliate partners we could send them to and you can send them links to that, you might tee up a dozen emails to try to do these things. And they may not do anything, but at least you make one last ditch attempt on those contacts because and the reason I like to that is because you have to remember, like every contact in your database you paid for in some way you paid real money to get that person in your database. I like to see if we can attract some sort of value from that. That only works in one once you have like enough contacts amassed into like you're growing your contacts on a regular basis. But three, it takes time, right? So like you might not actually have that trigger to run for a year. Yeah, do after you. If you're just starting out. Like you're really not going to have an extraction kind of experience kick in until like, you know, maybe a year

Joe
yeah. And I would say don't disagree with it. But here's what i do think about it one, because it doesn't actually trigger for a year most companies most people getting in bed with automation for the first time. It's like an afterthought. You can do that a year from now. Just so you don't overcomplicate your life, that's one reason. The other reason is because in my experience, and I you know, party one here, but then no one, no one, no one, in my experience, because they have spent so much time not reading your other emails, and D prioritizing your other emails, it almost never ever worked to get them to take an action at this point. But that doesn't mean it's not worth a try. I've just never seen it actually work. Maybe I'm not the smartest kid on the block, though.

Frank
Yeah, this is where I think that you could different tactics can be tried, right. So typically what happens is, like, especially in a b2b situation, we're sending these b2b, very b2b emails, in your extraction series, you might like just get real, like direct response and like, you know, call to action, get people to try to like, you know, go check out an affiliate offer, like, I think you can change your, your messaging and your tactics a bit, to try to just get something happening there. So I'm a fan of it. Again, it it's helpful with size, with frequency. And again, a year end. And so by no means do I think like all five of these should be built out right away. Yeah, right. These are things that you grow and mature, you know, over time.

Joe
Okay. So before we wrap things up, I think, you know, we've talked a lot about how to do this and some ideas to get you started. Where what software are you using? Where do you find out what's the best? And, you know, we don't have to do a deep dive on this. But I think just given a few sound bites on where to go to get started with this would be good.

Frank
Yeah, I wouldn't want to, you know, name specific names, because I have a favorite, you know, our firm like, is partnered with a particular company, and I don't want this show to be about like, oh, we're secretly like, you know, we're shilling for this other product, right? But what I would suggest is what you do is you you look at your organization and ask yourselves, where is our opportunity? Is it in service is in sales, is it in marketing, where really is the opportunity based on our volume needs, based on our sales model and what we do, and then once you find that out, and once you discover that then you might want to like look into like if it's sales, like sales enablement, software, sales, automation software, and just start there and then there's a number of the big players that will come up and just start looking into you know what those things those platforms have to offer. You might have like, Service Automation, software service enablement, software, marketing automation, just look in the area where you feel like you have the biggest opportunity. Like we what we said earlier, I think for most companies, the biggest opportunities are in sales and service and less about marketing. To me the marketing opportunity is when the company commits to eye volumes of activity in content, thought leadership, awareness positioning, when you commit I volumes of that, then the marketing automation is kick ass. But if you don't commit to high volumes of content and authority and positioning and in personal brands with your executive teams, if you don't do that, there's not a lot for the marketing, automation automation to facilitate. Yeah. So that's why I caution everyone in the marketing automation piece. Like you commit to those things, and you do those things, then yes, the marketing automations can be great.

Joe
Okay. And lastly, once you have your software, should you do this yourself? Should you get a freelancer should you get an agency, you know, what would be the work so these

Frank
depending on what level you're going to go to like, if you have if you have talent on your team that knows how to work with these kinds of tools, and they're savvy with these kinds of tools, then definitely leverage the talent in your team. So it's funny, as I mentioned a second ago, that right, marketing automation is probably one of the last considerations for many b2b companies. The talent often actually comes from the marketing world to like work with these tools. And so you might have someone on your marketing team that's underutilized or has a passion for this kind of stuff. They might be the one to like, help champion this. But either way, you need a champion, if you do not have a champion who understands this kind of stuff, was passionate about this kind of stuff. It's not going to go over that well. So if you have someone internally, that matches that, go with that, if you don't, you should get some outside help someone who's going to be the champion to make sure that this is audited, architected right and implemented, right?

Joe
Yeah, this is not something to just tinker around with on your own, because you kind of like, point and click software. No.

Frank
And here's the thing, every single one of these software's will make you feel like, this is it, this is your missing link. But I'm very bullish lately that we've, we've lived in a world of like all of these SAS unicorn kind of companies that have come about that, where they just promised to, like, make these wild improvements to your business into your life because of the software. What I'm bullish on lately is like that's only one part of the puzzle. The other part is the human consultant, the human strategist, the human architect, you have to have both, you're not going to just like, buy the software's. And then you know, put in your few tags and widgets, and it's installed and like, Oh my god, amazing things are happening. I liken it to like a, like a Winnebago. Right. You know, the Winnebago is amazing, like big RVs. And these things are like, amazing, it's like a house on wheels there. Plus, you're gorgeous, right. But if you don't know how to drive a Winnebago, because those are big ass vehicles, and you don't know where you're going, and you don't have money saved up for the fuel on the trip, and you don't have like, where you're going to stop and where you're going to like, you know, you know, empty your whatever and fill up with, like, if you don't hit like, then it just sits in the driveway, right? And just sits in the lot and doesn't do anything. That's what these software's are. Right? Like, or like a jet use any example where you have like this amazing, expensive machinery, if you don't have the pilot, it just sits there

Joe
for the champion even correct, right? You might have someone who's technically able to do it, but no one's champion. It's just gonna sit there.

Frank
It's just gonna sit there. And we see this time and time again, organizations make investments in these softwares. And if you don't have that champion, right, it's going to just sit there and do nothing. It's going to collect us. Okay, we are now out of time. This was a super fun conversation. I'm glad we talked about automation, specifically today. One of the things that came up in today's conversation was lead scoring. We're gonna make next episode all about lead scoring. We're going to dive into that. when is the right time to implement lead scoring? What are the different ways to implement lead scoring? And what are some of the pitfalls that organizations make when it comes to lead scoring, because we want to prevent you from those because those are the things that are going to give you a bad experience with lead scoring, when it doesn't have to be so tune in next time. Until then, have an awesome day. And we'll see you soon.

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