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Communication has never been more salient. Various forms of communication dominate our social discourse and behaviours, with technology at the forefront of our daily lives. To some, if you are not connected to the slipstream of mass communication, you are disconnected and irrelevant. Every socially credible 21st century citizen (at least in the West) has to have social media accounts, multiple email addresses, avatars, mobile bank accounts and a plethora of subscription services for Slacking, Zooming, Skyping and streaming their workout playlists.

In this age of communication and technology dominance, isn’t it ironic that it seems harder than ever for salespeople to reach out to new customers, and harder still for consumers to contact companies? There was a time, believe it or not, when your energy company had an address and telephone number. That was it. Good luck trying to get through to the switchboard, but at least your options were numbered. These days, your energy company will have a mobile app, website, Twitter account, chatbot, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile and a team of offshore headset jockeys ready to field your call. Is it any easier to get through? No, usually. Companies can more easily hide behind so many channels and not actually commit to helping anyone.

I’m pessimistic when it comes to enforcing consumer rights, but more optimistic in looking at things the other way around. Salespeople, for instance, have come up against a resistance to cold calling for decades, but technology has helped consumers harden their defences with caller ID, call screening, number blocking, email filtering, and so on. What does the salesperson have left in their arsenal? My answer is automation.

Empower reputation with automation

The differentiator to business success in our 21st century global economy is reputation. It isn’t enough that companies are seen, they also need to care. Modern consumer demand dictates that companies walk the talk, and because businesses are more visible than ever, there’s literally no hiding place. And as reputation becomes more important, it’s crucial that marketing departments and sales departments work together to generate new leads.

They achieve this by understanding modern customer behaviour. For instance, data from 2017 reveals that 88% of US consumers research before they buy. In other words, they don’t want to be pounced upon when first considering a purchase. They don’t want a call straight after visiting your site. They want to think things over, compare costs, measure options and take it slow. It’s at this point that finely tuned automation comes into play.

It will do your company and your reputation no harm at all in showing thought leadership. It will mark you out as a voice in the industry. With this in mind, have something your curious visitor can download, such as a pdf, an ebook or a podcast episode, so they can take it away with them and digest it over a cup of tea. Let automation handle this for you – no cold calling and no desperate attempt to net the fish before it has settled.

A nurtured lead is a happy customer

The goal is to ensure your company’s products or services are on the curious visitor’s shortlist. Their curiosity alone means they’re in the market for something, and your automation skills will help to nurture their interest over time. They want to buy, but not just yet. Use automation to stay in the consumer’s eyeline using inbound marketing principles and ensure marketing and sales team alignment.

Automation will help you discover more about your potential customer before you even talk to them. By increasing awareness of your brand through online materials, you can track user behaviour, pinpointing interaction (social and otherwise) that will help you make a more informed human introduction when the time comes.

Your automation process works fluidly within your sales and marketing funnel, so that when the curious visitor feels they can make an informed decision, they will come to you. And that’s when you start earning your keep, because if you can’t convert that curious visitor into a happy customer based on all the information you have about them, and how good a fit you are for them, then your salesperson hasn’t done their homework!

Photo by Joel Mott

RPA leads to love, actually

But don’t forget the power of maintaining a good relationship with your new customer, which is too often ignored. Don’t be indifferent (I love this infographic). Automation can still play its part in re-engaging with customers so that they feel valued. The idea is to build relationships with people, not constantly acquire new customers. Loyalty will keep your business running from now until the cows come home. Do that instead. It’s better.

Robotic process automation (RPA) has already done the grunt work for you in getting to know your customers really, really well. Love is in the air! Use this to your advantage and reward them with new conversations; personalised communications that remind them why they plumped for you in the first place. When they’re considering their options second time around, make sure automation has done its job in making you the default choice for a repeat purchase.

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