Leadspeak episode 1: Automated sales systems - The future of sales

Episode 01: Automated Sales Systems – The Future of Sales

Automated sales systems have a pivotal place in today's ultra competitive business environment. And from the discussions we've had, not many people or industries aware of the potential these digital systems. So, we're excited to launch the first ever episode of Leadspeak.

In this episode you'll learn what an automated sales system is, and how fundamental it could be to help you achieve your business growth goals. We'll also take a look at some of the reasons why businesses haven't made the leap, and ultimately, for the sake of their own longevity, why they should. 

We've included a transcript below in case you can't listen at this moment in time.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • What is an automated sales system and some of the fundamental benefits  to a business of implementing.
  • Why additional sales people is more risky as a sales strategy compared to a digital sales channel.
  • What are some of the reasons business owners give as to why they aren't using automated sales systems.
  • What to expect on coming shows including real world case studies, debates, interviews, and tool kits.

Thanks For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us this week. Be sure to join us in episode 2 where we will be looking at one of the key frameworks we use to design effective sales systems.

Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below.


Episode 1 — The Future of Sales

Welcome to The Leadspeak podcast with me. Alex Thackray.

Hi and welcome to the first ever episode of Leadspeak, the podcast where we’ll be talking about automated sales systems that you can build into your own business. Who am I? I’m Alex Thackray founder of Leadfreak, where we build automated sales systems for many different businesses. We want to pass on some of the expertise and knowledge that we have to you.

Thank you for joining us for episode number one, you’re in for a treat. In my opinion. With Leadspeak we’ll be bringing to you, industry experts and guests where we’ll be interviewing them and asking the questions that we want to find out from from people who build the systems that we implement for our clients. We’ll be sharing with you case studies that showcase the results that we’re getting for our clients and for our own business, and integrating some of the the latest tools that are out on the market and the impact they can have on your sales process.

We’ll also be asking some of the higher level questions of ourselves and providing some insight pieces on how latest developments in software packages and the results that we’re getting from some of our campaigns lead to to an impact in revenue, profit, customer acquisition cost, lifetime value. And finally we’ll be keeping an eye out on the latest industry news and bringing these to you in our weekly podcast. So, again thank you for joining me on Leadspeak and we look forward to taking this journey with you. So without further ado, let’s get cracking.

So episode one of Leadspeak is for me a fundamental episode in the league’s series, and it’s one that we’re going to be referring back to time and time again as the series grows and develops. So I want to answer some of the fundamental questions in this episode, so you guys understand what I’m talking about as we move forward. And also I can refer back to this episode in future episodes when relevant.

And I think the first question then for me is what is an automated sale system. The answer and the way we define it in our business is it’s the digitization of the sales journey.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have a sales process, a method that they take a cold prospect to becoming a warm lead, a hot prospect and then ultimately to a buying customer. So an automated sales system looks to digitize that process, and the way we do this is by designing and developing a process whereby we deliver value every step of the way. We just use the technology and the platforms that are available to do this.

This allows us to systemize the whole process and ultimately with having no human interaction involved we can deliver content. We can educate. We can transition prospects from one stage of the journey to the others, we can self diagnose, we can sell based on their problems and personalize that journey to them. All without having any interaction. So for me that’s what an automated sales system is.

It’s delivering value digitally along that sales process and ultimately at the end of that we have a hot educated prospect who’s ready to convert and ready to buy. And we can convert using digital systems or we can convert using human salespeople, because ultimately for some businesses there still needs to be that human element. Certainly in complex sales. So that’s what an automated sales system is for me.

There are numerous benefits to having an automated sales system, and it’s something that we talk about to our clients all the time. One being you are more in control of the customer acquisition cost using a digital system. If you were to use human salespeople to convert every prospect into a sale then the individual cost of that customer is extremely high because they’re ultimately paying for the human salesperson. Now in any sales journey you will have conversion rates at different stages. Not every prospect will convert from initial prospect to customer. So ultimately if you are interacting human to human at every stage of that journey those prospects that don’t convert to customers, the cost of that interaction is placed on the prospects do. So ultimately all the prospects then become more expensive. 

And it takes a very effective pipeline where you can convert 100 percent of the leads into customers. It ultimately doesn’t happen. It’s a hypothetical position.

So with an automated sales system we’re more in control of that customer acquisition cost because once we’ve plotted the journey, once we’ve developed the materials, once we’re able to train the system, the initial capital required to invest is is no longer a recurring cost. The recurring cost is in targeting and driving new customers through paid campaigns which is also something that we’ll be talking about in their Leadspeak podcast.

The second big reason for me as to why we would want to implement an automated sales system is that once the digital system is in place, and we know that it is converting, is effective, and we have trained the system to deliver that value, we can ultimately scale the growth of a business relatively quickly.

We use digital platforms and strategic methods to bring new leads to business, and many leads at any one particular point in time through targeted paid campaigns. And there’s no restriction on how many people can go through that funnel, because ultimately the funnel and the system, the digital system, will deliver the necessary value at each particular point in time to those new leads, it will allow those leads to transition from one stage of the pipeline to the next until they’re ready to convert. The sales people involved in the process then spend more time on conversions than they would do in lead nurturing, which is a traditional method of pulling prospects through that journey, which allows us to convert at a higher rate. It allows us to convert more prospects into customers and ultimately allows us to drive revenue and profit growth.

Another reason why we we would want to implement an automated sales system into our business is because of the ability now to capture data at every single point of that journey. A lot of businesses and certainly a lot of clients who came to us, they were struggling to map the prospects that were in their pipeline. They could see from an event that they had attracted so many conversations at the top of their pipeline, say a thousand prospects or opportunities, were apparent in that pipeline and then they would not have any visibility of where that prospect was in that journey until someone or something became a customer.

Now if that conversion rate from prospect to customer is so low you don’t, without any visibility, you don’t know what’s happened in the middle, and also it stops you having any sort of ability to forecast what your sales are going to be, which contradicts business strategy in a way that the financial experts of business, the CEO, the CFO, they will always be looking to try and estimate and budget, and forecast what future revenues will be in order to authorise investments into improvements in the business. Without that data how can a CEO and a CFO look to plan how much money they’re going to have to spend and ultimately what they can spend that money on.

The reason a digital system can give you that data is is because we can extract data at each point of that journey, we can we can use the digital systems to do that. And part of the automated system will collect that data and it will export reports that detail those analytics. I think I did a review of the analytics platform that we would use in a system and any point in that journey we can extract over 80 different metrics, 80 different data points at any particular time which would showcase actually how many people are in that pipeline. What the problem of that potential customer is. What stage of the journey they are at. And ultimately we can apply a confidence rating against that prospect based on the conversion rate that we’ve experienced before in that same system to say actually, this one prospect is halfway through the pipeline, we’re going to apply a 60 percent confidence rating on that prospect, because we know from past experience that 60 percent of the people who get to this point will convert to becoming a customer. Our average order value is X and therefore we can plot that this potential customer is worth so much to our business, in addition, to saying actually at this point in time it takes another two weeks or a month to transition that custom that prospect to conversion into becoming a customer. So we we know how much that prospect is worth and we know when it’s like to convert.

So it gives a lot more flexibility in the planning of other elements of the business, it gives us a lot more view into the future and a lot more credibility when we’re having these sales and marketing discussions within our businesses. We’re able to do that because of the the rising technology, the development of the platforms that we use to build these systems.

And I think for me one more benefit, one more reason why we would have an automated sales system in, is because in today’s world the complexity of products has gotten so great. The constant development of products is so fast, that a lot of people struggle to determine what the value of a product is in terms of what benefits does it deliver to potential customers.

If our sales people are spending so much time now explaining and educating our prospects on the products that we’re trying to sell then, ultimately increases our sales cycle time, increases the cost of customer acquisition again, because ultimately our sales people are spending more and more time with an individual prospect in educating them in the benefits and value of our products and services, which limits our growth potential, it limits our revenue potential, and the consequence of that is we don’t grow as fast, and the predicted growth that we do have takes longer to arrive.

Again two negatives for a business looking to beat its competition, to continue to be successful in the markets that they’re aiming to be leaders in the.

So, if you were to ask the question is automated sales the future of sales based on the reasons I’ve just given for implementing an automated sale system into a business, I would definitely say yes. There is no place in today’s world for an organisation that doesn’t focus on maximizing profitability and maximizing sustainability in the challenging environment that we work in.

If I was a CEO of a non-digital automated sales service provider I would be looking at my sales director to say one, what are you doing to maintain a low customer acquisition cost, 2, What’s the conversion rate from prospects through to customers. 3 What does the pipeline look like for our business to allow me to plan my future spending to allow me to have discussions with shareholders on what the future value of the organization looks like and where is the evidence to make those forecasts credible.

I know of lots of organizations where the forecast given by sales in order to meet revenue targets are completely subjective. And for me that’s what an automated sale system helps to provide. 

I think there are definitely some external forces on organizations that will move more and more businesses to using automated sales systems.

If we consider now that nearly every industry is globally competitive and with that comes the rise of increased competition levels, there is a price reduction benefit, a high risk of others competing on price. If we can control our customer acquisition costs, if we can reduce our reliance on fixed cost human resource, then it allows us to be more competitive, 2) to maintain profit margins in tough times, And 3) look to drive a sustainable source of new customers.

The rise of technology in terms of 1) we mentioned the data acquisition using different platforms but 2) the ability to embed A.I. into our sale system so we can personalize and we can predict who it is we are talking to, and what value proposition they will react to in order to convert from prospect to customer makes the automated sales system far more effective route to market.

I guess another question to ask, while we’re on episode one, is if automated sales strategies are so good, if they are hugely beneficial for the businesses that install them into their way of working, why aren’t all businesses doing it. 

The technology’s available, it’s economically effective, it is sustainable. It can save businesses. So why. Why is it not the way everyone operates? In the discussions I’ve had with clients, with potential clients and with clients that haven’t come on board with Leadfreak, is because it’s a change. Because it’s a different world to the world that they are currently operating in. And in these businesses that we are talking to, for those people who make that final decision on making that change, it’s a big risk. 

If a company is fully versed in employing a sales team, putting them to work, giving them the tools that they need to to go out and bring in new business why would they necessarily want to change that system and gamble on this new way of operating. In the discussion I have in return is actually employing a human sales resource is in fact riskier than utilizing the technology in building a digital system.

The reason I say that is because sales people and a notoriously expensive. Not only do they command a high base salary with benefits, they also command commission of any sales that are made, certainly in in some industries, in some regions more than others, but also the business side in terms of admin, in terms of employment, in terms of training, the actual cost of employing a salesperson is actually very high. And like we’ve discussed already, that impacts that customer acquisition cost. 

And sales people also don’t get it right. It’s not a repeatable element or a repeatable asset. It’s subjective in how it operates. It takes time in terms of hitting the ground running so to speak, and ultimately perform in different ways and to different effects in different businesses. So a sales leader might be a leader in one business, they might go to another business and not perform as well despite the fact that a risk has been taken on employing that person based on previous experience.

A digital system, an automated system, is a risk in bringing that into a business that hasn’t operated that way before. There’s a slight amount of work in changing the processes within the business to accommodate this new strategy into the operations, but ultimately as like a human salesperson it is a trainable element. You go to market, you pull prospects into that system. Where the system works. you look to optimize, where the system isn’t so effective you isolate that part of the system and you look to improve it like you would any other process within a business.

So certainly on my side the risk of change is what scares a lot of people to not adopt this way of working. Certainly in some of the conversations I’ve had they’ve not even considered this way of generating new business, just because they have not been open or privy to anyone else working in the same way. If people within a business are working as hard as possible to maintain sales targets, to maintain revenue and profit growth at what point of their day time do they spend looking at new ways of working, looking at new systems that ultimately, there is an investment in time there is an investment in cost. It is far easier for them to work in the manner that they are working now. [00:18:25] But you ask the question is it worth the gamble. If you can have a repeatable system, and you can train that system, is it worth the gamble to move ahead with that way of working.

And the forward looking businesses the more forward looking sales directors and managing directors that we speak to, and we explain the benefits of the system, are more than happy to come on board, and and more than happy to go through that element of training and that pain period that is involved in bringing new systems to businesses than those that look to the way things have always been done and maintained status quo. For me it will be those businesses that maintain status quo that will struggle as the global economies, the global marketplaces change, the competitive forces increase, the amount of investment decreases, and the rate of return expected by shareholders increases. 

For me another reason why companies might not choose this new way of working is because they’re not actually problem aware they don’t realise that they have or they currently don’t have a problem in generating new business. And it’s our job as digital automation experts to educate our own marketplace on the benefits of using an automated system like we look to install.

There is a flipside to being problem unaware where a system could potentially drive new revenues, new profits, is that there is still money on the table in your marketplace. And if there’s money on the table someone else is going to see it and someone else is going to disrupt the market with a new way of working. We see that more and more with the rise of technology in many different industries. If there’s opportunity there someone will see it and some will take it. So it’s on the businesses themselves to identify that automated sales strategies could be a potential way to increase revenue above and beyond those levels that they’re currently operating at.

And that’s about a wrap for episode 0 0 1 of the Leadspeak podcast. I’ve been your host Alex Thackeray of Leadfreak. Join us next week where we’re going to be discussing the lead freak s c i s s c framework. This is how we run our workshops in determining what does that automated sales process look like.

Something for you to take away and to start to analyze and review for your own business and see in actually how you can make some first steps into the world of automated sales strategies. So join us then.

It’ll be a pleasure to have you back. In the meantime take care.

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