As your business starts to take off, following up can become overwhelming and things start slipping through the cracks. This leads to lost opportunities and appearing less than professional.
Does any of this sound familiar?
- You have leads coming in, but opportunities are getting lost because it can be difficult to track many leads at once through your multi-step sales process.
- You close a sale, but then the handoff to the fulfillment team isn’t always a smooth process, causing your company to look unprofessional.
- Once your clients are done working with you, they don’t always hear from you again. You fear you could be missing out on repeat business.
These are common problems, and they highlight why growing businesses, especially consultants, need a type of business automation called sales pipeline automation to make sure that follow-up happens at the right time, every time.
Just to be clear, sales automation doesn’t have to be robotic. You can use automation to send out highly personalized communications and prompt your team to take individual action with prospects and clients that make them feel like you really care about them.
Let’s walk through how you can use a sales pipeline, combined with a CRM and email and text automation, to give your prospects and clients a better experience while saving your team hours of work every week.
What is an automated sales pipeline?
Sales pipeline automation helps you convert leads more consistently by automating a seamless journey from lead to prospect to paying client. You can also create processes that help with client onboarding, fulfillment, and generating repeat sales, but for now we’ll focus on:
- Increasing conversions from lead to prospect
- Increasing the number of new clients
How a pipeline works
Think of your pipeline as a visual representation of all your sales opportunities and where they are in your sales process at any given time. You’ll be able to eliminate manual tracking processes like checklists and spreadsheets because everything will be tracked—and easily reported on—in the digital system.
Individual deals can be moved through the sales pipeline, triggering automations that create tasks for your team or send emails and texts.
This not only eliminates deals falling through the cracks, but it also allows you to forecast and project sales for the next week, month, or quarter.
Here’s an example of how one Keap customer uses her sales pipeline:
"On my pipeline, if I move someone into a proposal stage it automatically will set up a task to follow up in four days. Then I also have some email automation set up for if someone says, "Hey, not right now," then in two months it will send out an email to them that just says, 'How's it going?' I've gotten a really good response from those emails."
– Maisha Hagan, Beauty and the Boss
In this blog post, we’ll focus on setting up the logistics of the pipeline. There aren’t any copy assets to create at this stage, but you may set up your sales pipeline processes to trigger other automations such as a lead follow-up campaign.
How to set up your automated sales pipeline
The pipeline automation will be highly customized to your business, depending on your unique sales process. You’ll need to:
- Identify your pipeline stages – Identify the steps a lead moves through in your sales process. The most common ones are New Lead, Qualifying, Quoted, Negotiating, Won, and Lost. Customize the stages to your business based on all the stages you need in order to get a complete, at-a-glance picture of where your deals are in your sales process at any given moment. Think about what action will trigger a lead to move into each stage.
- Create your pipeline – Now that you’ve mapped out your pipeline stages, create them in your sales and marketing automation software. Keap’s pipeline feature allows you to set up a kanban-style pipeline that’s visual and user-friendly.
- Set up your stage automations – Set up automations to be triggered when moving a deal into or out of your sales stages. You can have automations that add or remove tags, create and assign tasks for you or other members of your team, send emails or texts to your contacts, or send notifications of the deal’s progress to internal stakeholders.
- Set up reporting – Next, create reports that show the information you need to know about sales performance, where deals may be getting stuck, sales forecasting, etc.
How to run the sales pipeline automation
Once your pipeline is set up, it’s important to manage it on a daily basis. Even though the automations will do a lot of the work for you, it’s still important for a human to nudge deals along at certain points so that the automations are triggered to run. This can be as simple as moving a deal from one stage to the next after a conversation with a lead.
How much you have to do will depend on how you have things set up and how many automations you have. If you’re new to automating, you can start with a few automated processes and then build in new ones as you become more experienced with the system.
If you find yourself doing a task over and over, that should trigger you to ask yourself: How can I automate this? Map out the logistics, then add in another automation to solve it.
Now, instead of you and your team spending your days writing the same emails and text messages over and over, you can let the system handle that while you move your focus to the bigger picture of managing your pipeline.
For more details on how to set up and run your pipeline, see these step-by-step instructions.
More ways to use automated sales pipelines
With software like Keap, you can have multiple pipelines for various purposes such as:
- Different sales processes for certain salespeople or service types
- Client onboarding and fulfillment
- Customer service tickets
- Repeat client follow-up
Consider setting up a pipeline for any business process you need to manage so that nothing slips through the cracks.
This will ensure that you appear professional to everyone who interacts with your company.
The best technology for sales pipeline automation
Although there are standalone sales pipeline technologies available, most small businesses prefer to use all-in-one solutions like Keap that combine sales pipeline technology with:
- A CRM to manage all your contacts
- Email and text messaging to handle all your communications
- Appointment setting to automate booking
- Landing pages
- And more! (see a full list here)
You can set up your pipeline right now with a 14-day free trial of Keap. It’s user-friendly software designed specifically for growing small businesses and the entrepreneurial teams who run them.
Want more game-changing automations?
Automation is a huge game-changer for growing businesses, and sales pipeline automation is just the beginning. Download our free eBook with 10 Game Changing Automations, including:
- Networking nurture
- Lead magnet campaign
- Scheduling a free consult appointment
- Post-consult follow-up with a sales offer
- Long-term nurture campaign
- Sales offers
- New customer welcome
- Testimonial request from happy clients
- Past client check-in
Using a manual process to keep track of your leads can be a hassle to maintain. In fact, if you’re not automating your sales pipeline then there’s a good chance you are leaving quality leads on the table and missing sales opportunities. Using the sales pipeline tool along with the other components of Keap’s all-in-one sales and marketing automation system can be a game-changer for your business. Start your free trial today and see how easy it is to make the switch!