It’s a Catch-22. You want to grow sales, which means you need to invest in marketing. But in order to invest in marketing, you need more revenue from sales. For a small business owner on a tight budget, this is a real challenge.
Nearly half of all small business owners handle marketing on their own. Not to mention all the other aspects of the business that need to be covered. Needless to say, this leaves most entrepreneurs stretched thin.
Sound familiar? The problem is, when you aren’t able to give your marketing strategy the attention it deserves, your pipeline suffers. Bottom line: you could be losing potential sales.
The way to multiply your efforts, of course, is to start investing in technology. And while low cost, even free, point solutions might help your business in the short term, they can actually end up costing your business a great deal; whether it’s cash, your time, or the frustration of dealing with multiple solutions that don’t work together.
An all-in-one solution is a much better investment for your business because sales and marketing automation, CRM, and e-commerce work better when they're packaged together. Here’s why:
System chaos is expensive
For most cost-conscious small businesses, the adoption of sales and marketing software is a gradual process. They add a mix of freeware or low-cost point solutions one at a time.
For example, they may start with an email marketing platform. Then they realize that to personalize emails properly, they’ll need a better way to track what they know about their interactions with their customers than their spreadsheets offer, so they adopt Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. They realize that this will give them the ability to create more targeted ads on social media, so they adopt tools to help them with social.
Pretty soon, they have a complicated tech stack that requires tons of effort to manage. Integrations get complicated and don’t always work well. They’re stuck with workarounds they have to perform manually. Not only is this time consuming, but important interactions get lost in the mix, potentially costing sales.
Not only is their revenue stream impacted by systems that don’t work well together, but it also costs the business more in wasted time and frustration.
Cover the bases you can’t cover on your own
Inevitably you won’t be able to handle every aspect of your business on your own. Sales and marketing automation software is a necessity. As your business grows and you take on more employees, you’ll need software that grows with you, yet remains efficient and powerful.
A good all-in-one sales and marketing software will provide (at least) on one platform:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Sales Automation
- Marketing Automation
These basic tools work together to handle all the essential tasks in your sales and marketing strategy, covering the bases you can’t handle on your own. With the data-collection component of CRM, you’ll be able to keep track of your contacts: your interactions with them, their preferences, and the demographic data you need to ensure that you provide them the best-personalized experience possible.
Marketing automation provides a powerful lead capture set up, and in combination with CRM, you’ll be able to develop campaigns that are personalized and highly targeted. Whether it’s by email, phone, social, or SMS, you’ll have the ability to nurture each contact through the funnel to sales.
Once you’re ready to turn a lead over to sales—whether it’s just you, or a whole team—you have one objective: convert that lead to a sale. Sometimes that entails a 15-minute conversation; other times, it takes a number of conversations and follow up with sales enablement content. Each conversation is unique, and you can’t afford to drop the ball with any one of them. With sales automation, you can ensure timely follow up via automated email sequences, task management, and automatic follow up after the sale.
Of course, you can adopt each of these aspects of sales and marketing platforms from a variety of providers, but when they are all part of one single platform, they’ll work together in concert, saving you headaches and making it especially easy to develop the right campaign sequences for your business.
Reporting issues can be the biggest frustration stemming from juggling multiple systems. You want to be able to understand how your sales and marketing efforts are lining up with your strategy, and that shouldn’t take you hours of data collection, translating, and a fifteen-tab spreadsheet to get the information you need.
An all-in-one solution is able to compile reports across your sales and marketing system to give you fast, reliable reports. This way, you can make agile, informed decisions without waiting to sift through all the data.
Of course, every business owner wants to understand the ROI of the investment in any software solution, but when the software is in support of sales and marketing, the answer to that question seems even more important. Software that can provide robust reporting capabilities can help quickly answer that question.
Sales and marketing platforms, like Infusionsoft by Keap, provide such reporting capabilities as:
- Marketing reports: conversion by lead source, asset performance for lead gen, contacts by funnel stage
- Sales reports: revenue by lead source, sales rep activity, and revenue generated, revenue projections
- Billing and contract orders: summaries of sales and billings, income by lead source, failed credit card transactions
These reports and more can help you quickly identify where you’re successful and where you can improve so that you can make adjustments to your strategy at the pace your business is moving.
How to budget for automation
For cost-conscious small businesses, it can be a daunting problem to find an affordable all-in-one software solution.
Most importantly, you need to know the costs involved before you make the investment. Generally, sales and marketing software will be software as a service (SAAS), which means you subscribe with a monthly fee. Understanding what you get for each subscription level will help you know what you can afford.
Understanding that a good all-in-one sales and marketing SAAS product will help your business grow—in some cases, rapidly—you’ll want to find a product that can grow with you. But beware of biting off more than you can chew. Start with the subscription level that you can afford, and then move up to the next level as your business grows.
In some cases, you’ll need to look at some initial start up costs for training on the software or implementation. For those, you’ll want to be clear on the total cost so you can save up the cash ahead of time. We’ve found that businesses who invest in training as part of their adoption strategy are more likely to successfully begin using the product and see early ROI.