Episode 03: Key Tools To Automate Sales

The marketing and sales SaaS industry is booming. The number of new platforms being launched that all look to provide an element of uniqueness is exploding, with thousands of new platforms being released every year. So how can you, as a Sales Director, as a CEO, as a Marketer, choose which platforms to employ into your ecosystm.

In this episode you'll learn about 10 or so key tools that we use throughout the automated sales journey that really help us to build high converting, digital systems for us and our clients. We think there are some real golden nuggets in this episode, and we're sure it's not one to miss.

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

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • The top 3 platforms to target cold prospects and what makes them so special.
  • The answer to the question...do I still need a website?
  • A killer automated chatbot platform for B2B companies.
  • Which platform can enable you to track engagement on commercial proposals issued.

Links and resources mentioned in this episode:

Thanks For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us this week. Be sure to join us in episode 4 where we will be discussing Customer Acquisition Cost and Lifetime Value, and why these 2 metrics determine if your business will succeed.

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


Episode 3 -- The Key Tools We Use To Automate Sales

[00:00:01] Welcome to the Leadspeak podcast with me. Alex Thackray.

[00:00:16] Welcome to episode three 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 Thackeray, founder of Leadfreak. Where we build automated sales systems for many different business types. We want to pass on some of the expertise and knowledge that we have to you.

[00:00:40] So episode three already and it's gone very quick. We've had some great feedback on episodes 1 and 2 they're now live and being streamed from iTunes, Stitcher, and from our website.

[00:00:53] So plenty of places that you guys can go back and look at episodes 1 and 2. Like I said in those episodes they are kind of fundamental episodes on the Leadspeak series.

[00:01:04] We really start with some core elements in those two episodes which we will refer back to time and time again, and you know, it's two to have in the collection whether you download them whether you favourite them on the platforms themselves.

[00:01:17] Now just make sure you go back and listen to those episodes and really take home the message.

[00:01:22] Episode 2 we reviewed our internal system. We initially called it the SCISSC framework, it's the sales automation framework, the sales system framework. In this episode we discussed the three different layers that we use within Leadfreak to derive what that automated system looks like for our clients, it gives us a a framework and a process to work to in order to identify how we can deliver value and transition our prospects from one stage of the buyer journey to the next.

[00:01:56] So well worth a listen to. This week we're going to focus on some of the core tools that we use at each stage of that sales automation journey. Why we use them. And some of the potential upside of using each of these platforms, they each have a lot of value to give in the journey itself. And you know, we look to to use a core set of software platforms in working with our clients, so we become master of these platforms themselves. We've really done a lot of research on what works best. Why is it the best and and looking at potential future growth for those platforms, what platforms do we want to go on that journey with. So today's Episode 3 is going to be a really really interesting episode of Leadspeak, so buckle in and let's go for the ride.

[00:02:50] So I guess putting some structure on this episode, I don't want to just be shouting the names of platforms at you through your headphones. To put some structure around what we're going to discuss I want to follow the buyer journey. Let's start at cold audiences, how do we bring those into the business, moving through to nurturing those prospects throughout the buyer journey, until they're in a position to to make a decision and therefore convert at the end of that journey.

[00:03:21] So starting off on cold audience engagement and bringing new prospects into that lead generation funnel, into the automated system, I want to talk pretty much about three different platforms.

[00:03:37] Now I know there are hundreds if not thousands of platforms that people integrate into their tech stack, leading people from cold audience through to converted customer. We don't have the time, the resource, to research every platform that is available on the market. If anyone has any more suggestions about some platforms they've experienced and found to be good we'd love to hear them, but want look at the core platforms that we use. I mean, we'll probably review about 10 to 20 throughout this podcast.

[00:04:13] The core 3 at cold audience targeting level that we use would be linkedIn, Facebook, and AdWords. Note the exclusion there of Twitter. We aren't huge fans of Twitter as a platform to engage with new clients. We know other people are, other people are very successful at it. We think the platform is slightly limited in the grand scheme of things. So, we'd like to stick to the three linkedIn, Facebook, and AdWords. Obviously depends on business type, it depends on who the customer is and what the value proposition is of that business.

[00:04:55] Now linkedIn gets a bad rap sometimes, it's often seen as not much happening. I have conversations on a on a weekly basis with clients, with prospects, should I use LinkedIn to bring new leads into my business and how do I go about doing that. I guess you could have said 18 months ago that LinkedIn was a platform on the downhill. Unable to gain traction it was seen as a recruitment tool rather than a professional networking site. It was seen as you know, not much engagement, not much interaction amongst LinkedIn users and it was difficult to stimulate those conversations at a lead generation level. I think in the past 18 months since that they've really made some fantastic steps forward in engaging with their users and creating conversations. Three elements for me within LinkedIn is the inclusion of live video. It's a brilliant way to engage. There's also changes in algorithms which increases the impressions of personal posts and also the increased impressions of company page posts.

[00:06:03] We've seen a lot of success for some of our clients using LinkedIn company pages. And the biggest aspect for me is the ability to search and target for your customer Avatar, your perfect client. LinkedIn gives you the ability to search on function, on company, on company size, on seniority, on region.

[00:06:24] You know the possibilities are endless in terms of narrowing down the search function on LinkedIn to really allow you to speak to your target market. There is no other platform out there at the minute which allows you to segment your target audience by so many criteria on a professional business to business remit, and all will be revealed as to why I was specific around B2B targeting. One other element just fun is LinkedIn now allows promotional campaigns to track engagement, track conversions, whether that's through lead form collections without even leaving the LinkedIn platform, or tracking user behaviour once they've moved from LinkedIn platform to your website, which is always an added bonus to calculate the ROI on any marketing spend on the LinkedIn platform.

[00:07:17] Now I could quite easily spend the next hour or so talking about how to use LinkedIn to drive lead generation to your business, were going to serve that for a future episode of Leadpeak. We've got a lot to get through in this episode so we will come back to that one.

[00:07:35] Now the next platform to touch on with regard to cold audience targeting and initial prospect engagement is Facebook.

[00:07:43] The Big I Am, The the don of online marketing, it is one of the top two platforms in the world taking up to 70 percent of all online advertising spend, between Facebook and Google. There's a reason why, it's because it works. There's a second reason why, is because Facebook as a platform has been designed for businesses. For advertising. They have made it so easy for businesses to to create a profile and to start using that platform to spend money, to create advertisements to run promotional campaigns.

[00:08:20] They've made it too easy in fact. They've made it so simple for business to go on there. One it increases competition, but two a lot of people end up spending a lot of wasted money on the platform because Facebook just allows them to run promotional campaigns without really having the business apply any strategic thought to those campaigns that they are building. That's one element, but knowing how to use Facebook is an extremely powerful skill set in today's digital world. The audience segmentation and targeting elements of Facebook is unrivaled. Notice why I said LinkedIn B2B is great. Facebook B2B and B2C is also unbelievably powerful. The reason I say that is the search functions on Facebook are brilliant. You don't get function search like you would do on LinkedIn. You don't get company search unless it's a big brand, you can find people who are interested in a brand. One way of targeting your competition if that is your competition.

[00:09:28] So you mainly if you were to create audiences on subjective thought and interest pieces you have a whole set of criteria that you can pick from whether it's interested in certain TV shows, interested in different hobbies and sports, and even things like financial characteristics of people - are they are high net worth individual, are they married with kids? So many different criteria that you can start targeting on Facebook.

[00:09:56] The second element for me is that engagement and behaviour tracking that Facebook does, you'll have heard of the Facebook Pixel. For us the Facebook pixel is one of the most fundamental things, pieces of software that you can attach to your website. It allows Facebook to track users and even to pull non-Facebook delivered traffic from your website into custom built audiences so you can create specific audiences around those people who are interacting and engaging with your business. You can then extrapolate those audiences to create larger audiences covering a whole region, which you can then use in your other promotional campaigns.

[00:10:38] So that's two elements of Facebook. Third is the building of messenger and chatbots, automated sequences to to engage with users on a personal level. That's another function that's really starting to drive a lot of engagement and a lot of awareness with target markets.

[00:10:57] And the range of promotional campaigns that can be built within the platform as well. So you have your standard text and image ads, you have carousel ads which are sequences of images, you have canvas ads which gives the user a, you know, an experiential campaign on their smartphones. You have video ads, you have again chatbot LinkedIn ads.

[00:11:21] You know, the the possibilities of really flexing your design muscles and engaging with your target market is really, really powerful on Facebook as a platform. Many, many businesses are built on the back of creating these campaigns as a service, it's a huge industry now. And there's a reason for that, when it works, when you can get effective ROI on your ad spend and you can scale relatively easily using the Facebook platform. Then why would you not.

[00:11:55] Again the analytics on Facebook is excellent at tracking conversions on websites and applying values to those conversions against your ad spend so you can really see which campaigns are working, which campaigns are not. The ability to create variations of ads. You know I can talk, I run workshops on Facebook advertising which lasts minimum of three hours and even then I am just scratching the surface.

[00:12:22] I'll wrap it up there for Facebook but Facebook as a platform for engaging with cold prospect is really really up there.

[00:12:31] And the third platform i'm going to briefly talk about at a cold audience level at that initial prospect level is Google AdWords.

[00:12:43] Now I could talk about AdWords as a tool to use further down the funnel, closer to the completion of that buyer journey. And the reason I say that is because you would employ these different platforms not only at the start of the journey but throughout, throughout retargeting, in driving traffic to multiple stages of a funnel at any one particular time. Adwords, because it is using what they're actively searching for at that particular moment in time, it lends itself to been more towards the conversion end of the buyer journey. And that's when you really start to get specific with your keywords, with your ad groups, with your campaign style, and your budget amounts. You can really start to engage with people who are ready to buy.

[00:13:35] We see it as a bit of a shortcut in a short term boost on conversions on sales. If we speak to a client and they are looking for instant results and they are not utilising AdWords as a platform, we will always look at "always being if it fits their target audience", we will always recommend that they run and optimise their Google I words campaign just to make sure that those quick wins of targeting people who were searching specifically for the services that you provide as a business. You are more than likely to come off better off, you most likely to be successful.

[00:14:13] Obviously there is work involved in that in terms of ad creation, optimization, keyword targeting, and making sure your quality score as graded by Google is high to make that effective, but as a platform to deliver that instant success Adwords for us is very powerful.

[00:14:40] So moving then into that automated sales system and once we've attracted our target market to engage with us and they are receptive to the value that we have to deliver, the core element of where we take that traffic is on to the website. On to an owned asset of the client. When we say website, it doesn't necessarily have to be a fully built site it can be a particular landing page, it depends on how you are delivering the value that you've attracted that target market with in the first with. Generally it is a website. A landing page being one page of a website which is highly focused around one particular value stream.

[00:15:28] But the website gives us so much give capability as an owned asset to really deliver value. Continue to engage with our target market as they find out more about their problem, about the consequences of not solving that problem, and about the future state of the industry, around the services that you provide as a business, and the benefits of using you, and establishing that credibility and expertise. Really the website is a core function of delivering those three stages of that automated system that we discussed in episode 2.

[00:16:08] Now obviously there are many platforms on which to build a website. Hopefully listening to this podcast series you already have a website that has built. We are massive fans of WordPress. We think you know, the capabilities you can embed into those websites with open source created plugins it lends itself to delivering what you need throughout the automated system.

[00:16:35] There is one platform for us which is involved in the duration of the automated sales system and that's Activecampaign. Now Activecampaign, and again there are others on the market which provide a similar service, is almost an automation platform. It has two sides to it one is the CRM system where it will create contacts within the platform almost like you would on MailChimp add them to lists and then also becomes an email markering and automation platform so you can easily create an automated e-mail sequences to deliver value to those prospects who engage and opt in on the website. So for example if on your website you have a download of a report or a white paper you would then have the prospect opt in to receive that free download, Activecampaign would take that opt in, it would automatically assign that contact to an automation series, the automation series would then deliver that value piece, you are then left with that contact through which you can market to and nurture and deliver value to, to move them further down that buyer journey. We find Activecampaign a very cost effective platform that delivers a lot of high end automation for the marketing strategies we deploy throughout the automated series.

[00:18:13] So for example, using Activecampaign we will obviously deliver the value piece as a download to a prospect that opts in and engages with us. We can send personalised site messages to those contacts when they come back to our website at a later date. And based on their behaviour previously we can talk to them about a specific topic, a specific problem that they've addressed or identified with us that they have before just to maintain that conversation. We can automatically add contacts that are opting in to our value pieces into custom audiences on Facebook to build those segmented audiences that are so powerful in attracting new leads to the business. We can create automated e-mail sequences that introduces Leadfreak as a business to our prospects over a two to three email sequence that delivers value every step. We use Activecampaign in as a pipeline management platform. We use Activecampaign as an onboarding platform once a prospect becomes a customer and we send them a more detailed introduction to the business. And then we also use Activecampaign in its automation series to put clients into a feedback and referral loop whilst they are working with us to continually drive feedback testimonials and new client referrals. Referrals being mportant because they are one of the most cost effective new sources of business that a company can have, cost of acquisition is very low, generally there's not much selling needed to do to convert, so adding a system that attracts those new clients in Activecampaign is very powerful.

[00:20:14] We talked in Episode 2 of Leadspeak about the self diagnostic stage of the automated series. So in actually delivering that to our prospects we can segment based on problem using the website and different pages of copy on the website which leads them down a journey. We would then provide a self diagnostic tool which would gradre or rank the specific problem that they are facing based on their own criteria.

[00:20:46] Now to deliver the functionality we generally would use a quiz based capability on the website whether that's through a plugin or a platform known as gravity forms. Now Gravity Forms is a huge resource where you are able to ask those questions and use logic and calculations to derive a status. We would use a download as we've discussed before, we might use a platform called typeforms which is a very user friendly way to engage with somebody on our website and ask them the questions and calculate those answers.

[00:21:29] Now depending on the business that we are working with and it is certainly something that we utilize at Leadfreak is the use of webinars. We use GoToWebinar or Zoom. These platforms are kind of similar in their capabilities. They provide a platform for one to many speaking over video conference software, it allows you to restrict input from attendees of the webinar, it also allows you to track and monitor how engage people are throughout the webinar at what point they dropped off, and gives you the ability to record those webinars so that you can look to offer those recorded sessions as a value content piece for new prospects to come in. Also gives you the ability to schedule webinars and provide those flexible dates that you see on other peoples websites. So that is Zoom and GoToWebinar.

[00:22:29] Now the next two platforms I want to talk up kind of blend into one topic which is chat bots. Automated chat sequence facilities that can be used on websites, certainly Facebook Messenger, and really allows you to engage with your prospect on a personal level at scale.

[00:22:51] Now I've mentioned one there for Facebook Messenger. Facebook have now opened up the ability to have messenger as a platform itself on your website almost as a live chat function. This is a big breakthrough from Facebook. It used to be the case where you could have Facebook Messenger embedded on the site but as soon as someone wanted to engage you they would be taken away from your website onto the messenger platform, which obviously disrupts their journey, and takes them away from your assets, which you wouldn't necessarily want to happen. They've now changed that so the conversation takes place on your website. Messenger as a as a standalone. You know it's very much like a lot of the other live web chats that are out on the market.

[00:23:47] What we do is we use a platform called Manychat. Manychat allows you to create these automated sequences very easily within Facebook Messenger and a lot of clever things that Manychat can do in its sequencing.

[00:24:02] For one example we ran a competition for a restaurant where they could design and create their own burger. They can have a maximum of 10 ingredients within the burger creation and we decided to use Manychat as a platform to run that competition on, both on their website and on Facebook as a promotional platform. The results we got back from that were tremendous. It was a very successful campaign and a lot of that was because of the engaging chat sequence that was employed throughout that campaign which made actually completing the application to enter that competition very very simple and very engaging.

[00:24:46] One of the limitations of using many chat and Facebook Messenger as a chat bot function on a website is that it's great for businesses focusing on B2C markets where the majority of users that will attend the site are already logged into Facebook. To actually use the chat function on the website you need to be logged into Facebook. So if you install that on the website and a prospect wants to talk to you using that chat function they will have to log in. On a B2B level, it's a part of the journey that I wouldn't want to take my prospects through. So we need to find a solution to remove that. And there is a second platform that I'm about to talk about which will allow us to do that, and it's one of the most up and coming platforms that's out on the market today.

[00:25:37] And that platform is Drift. Now, relatively new to the market it's really gaining traction in its client base. It started out as a web chat function. They always had big plans.

[00:25:51] Obviously the Web chat software platforms are many in their numbers, and Drift found a way to differentiate itself from its own competition, and to do that they they built this automation element to their product. So it is a web chat function. But also allows for "playbooks" as they call them to be created, whereby you can run automation sequences and link them through to automated calendar entry segments. So that actually if you are looking for people to book calls with you to close a deal as part of that journey on your website then Drift gives you that capability.

[00:26:31] We employ it at Leadfreak under our main headline on our site you will see a "Book A Call" button. We really want our prospects to engage with us and open up a discussion with us, as part of that automation sequence we will ask them a few questions around what their problem is? What is the size of their business? Some segmentation questions so that we can actually talk to them about specifically around what they're after. Rather than starting from fresh every time, it's very very powerful.

[00:26:58] They've also now started using e-mail sequences linked to their chat function. So if you send an email to a contact and you put a link to your website the prospect, if they then go to your website, the chat function or the chat automation will recognise that they're responding to an email that was sent and will talk to them in such a fashion. That is very very powerful. It's not the cheapest platform on the market, but what it does compared to the others is substantially better.

[00:27:34] So those were some of the tools that we use to help nurture and move our prospects through our automated sales system. Obviously together along with the value proposition and the designed pipeline system it becomes quite a complex mix of platforms. We want to just now touch on one platform that we use at conversion stage and that's when we we are offering a proposal to someone that's engage with us and ready to buy.

[00:28:07] We use a platform called Better Proposals it's a new player again on the market. It is someone we're excited by. They are quickly making amendments to the software based on customer feedback.

[00:28:22] And, you know, even the capabilities of that platform now are very good. The key element of that platform for me is the proposal tracking, or their live tracking of someone engaging with a proposal that you have issued.

[00:28:36] One of the problems that many businesses have is they issue proposals to engaged customers or engage prospects, and then hear nothing back and don't know what that engagement is with that proposal. Better Proposals live tracking allows you to see exactly which page of that proposal someone is viewing, who is viewing it, how long they are spending on that page, their transition to the next page, and subsequently their journey through the proposal. It's almost like live website tracking.

[00:29:05] Better Proposals gives you that visibility, and we've used it in very powerful ways to boost our conversion. So where someone is viewing one of our proposals we will follow that journey they take on our proposal at any one particular time. We know that actually at that moment in time they are engaging with our proposal, they are considering our offer, and then we can contact them proactively while that proposal is top of mind to close out any queries. It really helps to to stimulate that discussion.

[00:29:38] Going back to the drift platform. Better Proposals allows for the integration of drift where you can stimulate live web chat conversations around a proposal or when someone's viewing it. Now you can do that in two ways you can have it as a proactive on they proposal reader on the prospect side, they will engage with the web chat when they want to ask any questions, or you can do it on a proactive side where you will automatically kick-off an automation which engages with that person while they are viewing the proposal.

[00:30:10] We use both, we also it where we will, or our sales team will, contact and engage with our prospects as they are viewing our proposal or after they are just viewed our proposals so we are top of mind and again it is a very powerful platform to utilize. And certainly one for the future with the rate of pace of change that they are making to that platform based on customer feedback.

[00:30:35] I think I need to touch on analytics. Throughout the whole automated sales system journey from cold prospect through to conversion, we are looking at capturing data around our prospects and building up a comprehensive portfolio. Now there are numerous analytics platforms out there. But certainly when it comes to website analytics we can not rate any higher the use of Google Analytics. It links comprehensively with most of the platforms out there, so you can really start to gather a macro level picture of what is happing on the website as well as individual behaviour flows and goal conversions around different sources of traffic, we find it an excellent platform.

[00:31:21] We've also started using the new platform Data Box which gives us live dashboards for many many different platforms. I think one of the key areas of development in software businesses is to integrate lots of different platforms to provide comprehensive data packages and Data Box is really making a headway in that landscape. And it's something we're really enjoying using. We're setting up now for a lot of our clients so they can have an instant look at results both presales, pipeline and post-sales, so integrating with accounting software and putting all that data into one place. Very easy to consume, very well presented, and really helps to paint those pictures of our prospects and how they're engaging with our business. It's definitely worth taking a look at.

[00:32:18] And I think that about wraps it up for the key tools that we use to automate sales for our clients. Hopefully there are some golden nuggets in there, some platforms you've not heard of, certainly in the later stages of the podcast. Make sure you look at the likes of Drift, Better Proposals, Data Box.

[00:32:36] Make sure you really start to learn how to effectively use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google Adwords to drive those prospects to your business and ultimately how you can tie that in with your automated sales system as designed using Leadspeak Episode 2.

[00:32:54] Now I think I've taken up enough of your time for today. Whether you are listening to this in the evening whether you are driving your car I will let you continue with your day and wish you a very pleasant one.

[00:33:06] Next week we will be discussing customer acquisition cost and lifetime value and how we see it playing an imperative part of business, of a successful business, in today's world and you know how some business models have drifted away from from that. It's going to be a very interesting one. I held a lecture for the MBA students a couple of months back, and actually, it was around delivering value digitally and in a big part of that topic was around customer acquisition cost and lifetime value. It's really a podcast episode you want to want to listen to. So make sure you join us next week for Leadspeak Episode 4.

[00:33:47] Take care.


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