Today’s technology is here to assist all of us in a big way when it comes to sales and marketing, but relying on it too heavily can be a huge mistake! Here’s why…
Autoresponders…it’s a relatively new term for a relatively new concept. In the old days, a lead would come in and you’d get busy working the phones. After all, it was your only alternative other than the dreaded, expensive and painfully slow “snail mail.” These days, autoresponder services, for a very low cost or sometimes even for free, can make you think that those days are over. Your lead comes in and the response is all handled electronically via email. Someone who is interested in your product or service just provides their information to you, your autoresponder message bounces over to them with all the information they need to make a decision about what it is your selling and, just like that, a sale is made.
Sounds good, huh? And it’d be great, if only everything were truly that simple. The fact is that an autoresponder is a great tool to help you market your business and even to make a final sale, but it’s just that ― a tool. Much like a hammer without a carpenter, it’s not going to do your job for you. And it’s never going to take the place of what has always been the most important commodity in any business transaction ― that human touch!
What Autoresponders Can and Can’t Do
An autoresponder is a timely way to make a good first impression on a potential customer who is interested in your product/service and who has given you contact information so that you can reach them ― otherwise known as a lead.
No doubt, as a first and almost immediate interaction, an autoresponder message can be very effective. That’s assuming it reaches its intended target, of course. Analytics like receipt rate, bounce rate, open rate, delete rate, delete-without-opening rate, opt-out rate and CTR (click through rate) are a very important means of tracking your autoresponder program’s effectiveness.
Your initial autoresponder message to any lead should contain the following:
- Thank you for their interest in your company/product/service
- Acknowledgement of their request for additional information
- Phone number and email address to contact you
- Brief description about your company/product/service
- Assurance that you will be contacting them soon to introduce yourself and answer any questions they may have
This last point is the most important.
For as helpful as an autoresponder might be to you and your marketing efforts, it rarely can or will close a sale. In the vast majority of cases, only a person can do that. While it’s true that automation is a wonderful thing, the vast majority of customers still want to know who they are doing business with firsthand. And in truth, you should too. They value having their questions answered by a human being who they can exchange ideas with and get to know over time, especially if the product/service being sold is an expensive one.
That’s a key word here, isn’t it? Time. We all don’t have enough of it, that’s for sure. And although it would be nice if there were some magic bullet to shorten the sales cycle such that a human being wasn’t needed to nurse it along, that just isn’t the case. Making a sale takes patience, dedication, fortitude and a plan ― always has, always will.
While an autoresponder program is a great addition to any plan, it can never be the whole plan in and of itself. If it is, you’re in for some serious disappointment.
The Ideal Approach
Here’s the good news…
Your overall approach to any lead can be just automated enough to free up some of your time, while being just personal enough that it sets you apart from your competition and increases your overall profitability without being too overwhelming. You just need to follow these five basic steps:
Employ an outstanding autoresponder program that will serve as your initial response to any lead just to cover the basics and assure them you’ll be in touch soon.
Pick up the phone, even if it’s just to leave a voice mail message. Remember, this is not a cold call; it’s a follow-up call to someone who expressed an interest in your product, service or opportunity! If you leave a message, keep it basic and brief. And never talk from a script! It just sounds stilted and inauthentic. Make sure to touch on the following points:
- Who you are
- The company you represent
- What product/service/opportunity you provide
- Where you got their information (a lead from www.BusinessOpportunity.com, for instance)
- On what date you received their request and at what time (This is a critical piece of information to jog their memory and remind them that they WANTED to hear from you!)
- Then leave your name one more time and repeat your telephone number slowly so they can return your call.
- State that in the meantime, while you’re waiting to hear back, you’ll be emailing them some additional, detailed information. This will be information that was not included in the initial autoresponder message, such as your website or any other sources for further information, or, as is often the case in a BusinessOpportunity.com situation, a link to your online application, should you have one.
Important Note: Do NOT reference your website in a voice mail message. Just ask them to call you back and don’t give too much away. Remember, your goal is to get someone to return your call so that you can actually speak with them.
After you get off the phone, email the information to your contact as promised. It may be an invitation for them to visit your website for additional information with an encouraging word for them to call you with any questions. Or it may be an invitation to attend a webinar to obtain further information about your product/service/opportunity, or a combination of the two. The key is to be creative and to think of ways that you can draw out the need for you and this person to interact over time, either by phone or electronically. New testimonials, new services, new webinars or informational meetings, new product launches, new city locations or offerings…all of these present opportunities to connect with your potential customer. Bottom line, keep the spigot on and slowly drip information out to them for as long as you can.
Follow up on all the calls you make one week later to see if there are any additional questions they might have and how you can help them.
Recycle this approach over and over again until you rule out each lead as a potential buyer or until you make the sale.
Many experts will tell you that there really is no such thing as a bad lead. Hard to accept, I know. Yet it’s true if you stop to consider that any lead that is managed properly represents an opportunity for a business owner or a salesperson to learn something. In fact, qualifying your “no’s” can be a critical means of upping your game. Knowing why someone did NOT buy from you is every bit as helpful as knowing why they did; it can really help you to do things a little differently the next time.
While it’s true that some kinds of products and services lend themselves better to automated, online sales approaches than others, the person-to-person approach is still an asset in any business. Recognize that fact, take steps to infuse your sales and marketing efforts with the “human touch” wherever and whenever possible, and, before you know it, you’ll be setting yourself apart in a most profitable way.