Automation Tools are Changing Small Business Forever
By now, almost everyone is tired of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of people are out of work and millions more risk exposure at work. Thousands of businesses have had to close or suspend business. It’s just not a great scene for anybody. Many companies, who can’t just wait around for a vaccine to inoculate enough people for things to go back to normal, have started looking to automation to solve their business’ immediate and long-term problems.
Make no mistake about it, companies had automated tools on their radar. Even many small businesses who did things in a traditional manner are open to using automated tools to take some of the pressure off their business; for good reason. The technologies that fuel this software-based automation, artificial intelligence, for one, has been deployed in many tools recently with an aim to help businesses get more done with less. From marketing to sales to supply chain and distribution to human resources, automation is changing the face of the small business, let’s take a look at several processes that every small business should consider automating.
Sales & Marketing
Today’s automation tools for sales teams are dynamic. They can really organize and streamline a business’ sales process. Ask any salesman, the simpler it is to identify what step of the sales process a person is in, the easier it is to close sales. With automation software, there can be certain automated tasks that are completed when a potential customer’s profile is set to a certain label. For example, if you get a lead and it is set as a new opportunity in the software, it will automatically assign a sales rep to reach out to that lead.
Better yet, businesses can customize their settings to correspond with any marketing and sales materials that are tied to the lead’s query. If you sell socks, and a new lead wants to buy a box of argyle socks, your software can trigger a meeting as well as any marketing collateral that you have about the argyle socks your business sells.
More than that, busy sales teams can use the automation tools to prioritize the best and most lucrative leads with a lead scoring feature. The more eager and engaged a potential customer is the more likely that you will make a sale, and another, and another. That is the name of the game. Automation is quickly revolutionizing small business sales processes.
The same goes for marketing. A lot of small businesses don’t have a lot of time available for social media marketing, and they often don’t have a lot of extra capital to outsource it; but, because of the advancement of automation, now businesses can fulfill their marketing goals.
One of the best automation tools for the modern small business is actually a marketing tool. The best marketing strategy is always to get your branded product or service in front of as many people as possible. Today, there is a strategy called omni-channel marketing that’s aim is to provide a seamless experience for customers regardless of what medium they shop on. Many people prefer to shop online, but there are some that like the brick and mortar store experience. The goal with omni-channel marketing is to provide customers a consistent experience when doing business with your company.
While difficult to implement, using automation can help businesses build a more successful omni-channel marketing platform than ever before. The whole strategy focuses around the customer’s experience and since most customers will engage in multiple touch points throughout the sales process, automation makes it possible to provide these customers with a seamless experience wherever they are shopping from. It also helps to unify your marketing message, a crucial aspect when attempting to maximize engagement.
The final part of using automation for your sales process is that it doesn’t just work to get people to buy things or get them to keep coming back; it works to engage people who are still unsure. By streamlining your process you will do a much better job of allowing you to nurture your leads. This will result in better sales figures as many people like to shop around before settling on the most efficient and effective product or service. If your company doesn’t give the customer headaches with your process, you can bet you will close more sales than your competitors.
Customer and Employee Onboarding
Onboarding can be a stressful time for a business. Sure, you are happy to add to your team or make a sale, but then reality sets in and you need to get everyone on the same page fast in order to find success.
Automation has been proven to help generate repeat business. In fact, since it is up to six times easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to sell to a new prospect, you can see how being proactive for your current customers can increase your sales volumes. When onboarding a new customer you can use automation to send out messages that contain information on other products and services that you offer, offer discounts, and provide a sense that they are being looked after without any effort from any of your staff.
As far as onboarding new hires, automated tools allow for a training schedule to be set up and monitored with very little oversight from payrolled employees. It can also provide an easy-to-follow checklist for managers to go by when deciding whether or not a new hire is a good fit for your business. Best yet, automation can help cut down the costs of finding and onboarding new talent.
The place where the most automation is used by small businesses is in customer service. That’s mainly because there is so much to do, yet very little revenue that comes in as a result of your support team. That’s not to say it’s not a crucial part of your business, but ultimately the more capital that can be saved on support, the better. Automation gives small businesses that opportunity.
First of all, giving your customers an avenue to ask questions and seek assistance is mandatory if you want to be thought of as a solid business. Today, automated tools make this much easier. With chatbots powered by AI, companies don’t need to have customer service representatives available for online support. Many companies also choose to automate much of their telephone support. These changes allow businesses to spend the capital earmarked for human resources on positions that will actually create revenue, which is super helpful.
Another automated process a lot of businesses are using is for collecting testimony. It’s no secret that one of the best ways to get people to buy your product or service is to have other people vow for the efficacy of it. The way this works is: once a sale is made an email is automatically pushed out that has a form. If the user fills out the form, the tool will automatically assign a team member to reach out for testimony.
Automation is the future of business and with businesses rolling out new automated tools at an impressive rate, look for more innovations to hit the market soon. If you would like more information about how you can leverage automation into more revenue, cost reductions and an overall better business, call the IT professionals at First Column IT today at 703-880-6683.