Picture this: You jump on a demo call with a potential customer. Five minutes into the call, you find out that the prospect is not a good fit for your product.
Frustrating? Sure. Commonplace? Absolutely.
When working in sales, situations like this often happen due to poor lead generation and nurturing practices.
Most of the time, the problem can be attributed to a misalignment between sales and marketing departments.
The lack of clear processes and guidelines leads to annoying consequences for both the employee and the business, such as:
- Lack of a proper handoff: Leads get left behind, buried in your CRM
- Flawed targeting: Requirements were not set properly, leads are not qualified
- Poor messaging: Expectations are off, leads have been promised too much
- Lack of planning: Not enough leads, or too many leads coming in at once
These issues affect every organization at one point or another. But they can be alleviated with lead automation solutions.
Implementing automation in the lead generation process will not only reduce mishaps, but also produce visible gains in the short term.
What is lead automation?
Lead automation is a way to manage your lead generation efforts so key processes run without human intervention. We can illustrate this with a funnel, a popular way to picture the customer journey:
Usually, prospective customers progress through these stages via the various campaigns a company has in place.
This is where the risk for disconnect typically occurs, due to misalignment between teams and the lack of clear processes. The following questions can help you identify the weaknesses of a lead generation process:
- Where are the leads coming from?
- Whose job is it to hand off marketing leads to sales?
- Where can salespeople find information about these leads?
- Are both teams relaying data and feedback to each other?
- What content and materials have these leads been exposed to?
By automating processes throughout the funnel, you’ll be able to streamline your operations and improve efficiency.
Before getting started, it’s important to learn the three main options to automate lead generation. These are:
- Using native integrations available in tools you already use
- Working with developers to code a custom API calls
- Using automation tools like Integromat to connect apps without code
Each approach has its perks. Needless to say, we believe that our product is the golden standard for all-things automation, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring other options.
Now, let’s go over actual examples of lead automation solutions you can implement today to facilitate how you generate, nurture, and handle leads.
How to streamline your sales funnel with lead automation
To provide some structure, we’ve broken down solutions based on lead generation channels.
This way, you will be able to see where automation can jump in and help. The channels are:
- Landing pages
- Content marketing
- Phone calls
- Advertising campaigns
- Email marketing
- Cold emails
- Social media
Let’s dive in!
Website: Receiving notifications as soon as a lead interacts with a chatbot
People frequently compare a company website to the storefront of a physical business. The comparison is simple, but also appropriate.
Driving traffic to your website is most likely at the center of your lead generation efforts, leveraging strategies such as:
- Content Marketing
- Landing pages
- Live chat support
Research shows that only about 4% of website visitors are ready to buy. With this in mind, it’s paramount to be especially attentive when handling visitors that show interest.
Timing is critical. As Intercom has observed, responding within 5 minutes generates 9x more meaningful conversations.
If you have a chatbot in your site, automation can make sure it doesn’t perform like a glorified email form.
By connecting your live chat platform with your internal communication tool, your team can be notified instantly when a lead is reaching out.
This will help you solve timing issues in minutes. From then on, it will be up to your team to turn that lead into a customer.
Landing pages: Automatically move lead data into your CRM
Landing pages are standalone pages created for mainly two purposes:
- Converting visitors into customers
- Collecting email sign-ups
Marketing teams use landing pages to target specific segments of users.
In turn, users tend to land on these pages after clicking an online ad, or after searching for a specific keyword on Google and clicking one of the search results.
Landing pages stand out as an effective lead generation method, and are particularly popular among B2B businesses.
If your marketing team is busy (hopefully!), landing pages will help you get leads 24/7.
While this is great news for your sales teams, it can also present you with a number of challenges. Again, it’s time to ask the important questions:
- What type of information are the landing pages collecting?
- Are your salespeople aware of the content of your landing pages?
- What happens after a lead registers? Who moves the data around?
- How are new leads being distributed among the sales team?
Each of these questions can be seen as a process in itself, namely:
- Data classification
- Lead awareness
- Data entry
- Lead distribution
By automating these processes, teams can avoid missing out on converting these landing page leads.
This can be implemented either by using a native integration (where available), or by connecting your apps with Integromat.
Content Marketing: Promoting company content while boosting your exposure
Creating content is most likely another essential part of your company’s lead generation efforts. Given that it costs less than half as traditional marketing and generates about 3x as many leads, content is a logical investment.
In addition, content can also help sales professionals gain exposure and grow their own network and personal brand. According to LinkedIn, 62% of B2B customers respond to salespeople who share content and insights that are relevant to them.
Where can you start as a sales professional? There are two ways you can go about this:
- Writing articles and blog posts yourself
- Sharing and commenting valuable content
While you should ideally implement a mix of the two, time is not always on your side. Both content creation and curation takes time and energy.
Automation can help here. Since your company is most likely publishing content, why not automatically share that?
Using Integromat, you can set up an automated scenario that will automatically share new blog posts from your company directly to your LinkedIn profile.
Hint: If your company doesn’t feature a WP blog, you can still repost content from multiple sources automatically using Integromat’s RSS module.
Phone calls: Providing your agents with data on the spot
Being on the phone is still a huge part of many sales professionals’ day.
Phone calls might seem pretty straightforward, but things get challenging when trying to hold a conversation while:
- Juggling with open tabs and notes about the prospect
- Looking up information on the CRM while talking
- Remembering what’s been discussed last time
They allow agents to give and receive phone calls using a clean interface, and providing information at a glance.
These tools offer integrations to pull information directly from CRMs and customer support platforms.
As usual, Integromat can help as well, and help sales agents shine over the phone without any hassle.
Advertising campaigns: Nurturing leads until they’re ready to buy
From display and pay-per-click (PPC) to video, advertising is a main lead generation channel for companies.
However, only a small percentage of leads are ready to buy after clicking on an ad.
This exactly is what puts marketers and salespeople on a tough territory. For example, imagine signing up for an ebook and getting a call from a salesperson shortly afterwards. That’d be a bit too much, right?
If you agree, good instincts! Generating a sales lead takes 6 to 8 touches according to the available research.
To bridge the gap, nothing beats lead nurturing. Well, something does: automated lead nurturing.
Using a simple Integromat template will allow you to:
- Automatically gather leads that have interacted with an online ad
- Add them to your CRM
- Enroll them into an email nurturing sequence
This will increase your odds to close the deal, and also provide a smoother experience to your subscribers.
Email Marketing: Keeping CRM records updated with automation
As a direct follow-up to the previous channel, email marketing is a go-to method for nurturing and converting leads.
Email marketing offers the highest return on investment for small businesses. In addition, it’s flexible enough to serve different purposes, including:
- Building brand awareness
- Nurturing prospects and active customers
- Delivering custom messages to specific user segments
- Running A/B tests to improve messaging
- Communicating on company achievements and offers
However, it’s not always easy to succeed at email marketing. As a company grows, so does its subscriber list, and managing a large volume of emails can be a bit of a challenge.
People change jobs, email addresses go cold, or (heaven forbid), subscribers can tag your emails as spam.
Well, unless you automate it.
Using Integromat, you can automatically run these processes at a regular interval. A good example would be to run a monthly check on your entire list.
You can also connect your email platform with your CRM, so everything stays in sync at all times!
Cold emails: Putting your lead generation operations on autopilot
Cold email has a bad reputation, we know.
Perhaps deservedly so, as some companies don’t know the difference between cold email and spam.
As long as your cold emails are business-relevant, personalized, and offer the chance to opt-out, you will be relatively safe from being tagged as a spammer.
If you’ve ever run cold email campaigns, you know that things can get quite messy.
Between the incoming data, email cadences and A/B testing, it can be hard to keep track of everything.
All that data should be going directly to your CRM. In other words, your sales team will have all the necessary data to reach out as soon as the lead becomes hot.
Events: Leveraging webinars to advertise your product
Webinars can divide opinions, but they are super effective for generating leads.
More than half of marketers qualify them as the top-of-the-funnel format generating the most high-quality leads.
Of course, there’s a lot of data to sustain this, as webinars have grown significantly because of the reasons we all know about.
On the other hand, webinars involve a lot of work. Beyond the challenges associated with creating valuable content, you have to consider practical steps that take time:
- Distributing the webinar ahead of the event
- Keeping track of everyone interested
- Adding them as attendees
- Sending reminders and follow-ups
By implementing campaigns to promote webinars and automatically register signees as attendees, you’re getting rid of some of these few extra steps.
Social media: Enriching CRM data with LinkedIn data
We’ve covered the topic of social selling in our recent sales automation article.
While social selling is a great addition to sales arsenals, social media can also be leveraged to automate internal processes in every team.
We know how little time salespeople spend selling due to the administrative tasks they take care of during the day. One of them is to research companies online, which is usually followed by copying and pasting information into the company CRM.
A mind-numbing activity, copying and pasting is also a great fit for automation.
Using Integromat, you can easily connect your CRM to LinkedIn, and automatically gather information on new companies or leads.
Bonus - Online Assessments: Automatically qualify and segment your leads based on their answers
Online assessments are questionnaires that website visitors can take when they want to evaluate their needs or pain points.
Once they've filled out the assessment, it's up to you to show the results, give feedback, and take the chance to ask for their contact details. You can choose to either ask for contact details before or after you share the results of the assessment.
You'll need to do the following actions to succeed in lead automation:
- Set up assessment questions that allow you to qualify your leads
- Find an assessment tool that allows you to automate the qualification and segmentation of your leads
- Integrate the assessment with your CRM
An online assessment will allow you to:
- Collect general and specific information about your target audience
- Segment and qualify leads
- Prove your expertise by giving professional feedback
- Redirect respondents to your product pages
Automated lead generation do’s and don’ts
By now, you should have a better understanding of the options to automate your sales processes. But don’t run off to implement everything straight away just yet!
You should be mindful of your automation efforts. Keep these best practice tips in mind to make the most out of them:
- Take a step back and map out internal sales processes before automating
- Automate the menial, low-stakes processes first
- Increase the number of automated processes as you get comfortable with automation
- Aim to build a cross-functional team by involving everyone in your automation efforts (i.e. let anyone know how to automate)
- Try to automate relationships - you can’t
- Marry a tool. Test them all, get a feel of the product with trials or free accounts
- Automate and leave, you have to review processes every once in a while
Sales is a demanding area. It requires a proactive personality and a clear mind. It can get exhausting.
Lead automation is about facilitating the task by improving the most draining processes.
By reducing menial tasks that don’t really need your input, you’re able to work smarter, and focus on developing deeper customer relationships.
To conclude, don’t be afraid to take the automation road. It will improve your work while increasing performance - better results in less time is always the goal.
This article has been updated with new information on June 19, 2021.