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11 Tips to automate your sales funnel for lead conversion

Calendly, September 14, 2021

At Calendly, we’re big fans of automation. It’s how we free up more time in our users’ schedules to focus on the tasks that grow their business – sales teams especially. Our recent article on Workflows got us thinking: How else can sales teams use automation in the sales funnel to convert more leads? 

To help business owners optimize their sales funnels for leads with automation, we asked CMOs and marketing enthusiasts for their insights. From enabling app integrations to leveraging for cart abandonment, they shared several strategies that may help you convert more leads and increase revenue. 

11 sales funnel tips to convert leads through automation

1. Enable app integrations 

Using Zapier has allowed us to implement automation throughout our entire sales funnel and enables us to move fast, qualify accurately, and action accordingly. Zapier is automation software that integrates with thousands of apps we all use daily. We integrate all our search ads, landing pages, email campaigns, and any other sales and marketing activity with the program. When a lead comes our way, Zapier helps us add them to the customer relationship management software (CRM), populate vital information, alert the appropriate sales team member, and enroll them in other campaigns based on the action they took. We love it, and continue to build more automation every day to help our team be more successful.

Zack McCarty, Qwick

2. Use data collection 

For us, leveraging automation in the sales process starts with simple things like data collection. Specifically, we have programs that allow people to see how much they would be paying per month for the number of faxes they can anticipate sending and receiving and how many lines they want. This quickly allows our potential customers to see how much they would most likely be paying for our service to fit their needs. Having this kind of technology aids in communication efficiency. Instead of the back and forth of emails, customers can decide right away if that plan fits their budget and needs. This keeps our sales pipeline flowing more smoothly. 

Adam Korbl, iFax

3. Offer free plans or usage

As a predictive typing software that offers AI-powered text predictions, we learned that one of the key factors to convert more leads is to offer a free plan that provides real and significant value. Delivering a strong and positive experience drives more satisfied users. We also encourage our users to invite their friends in exchange for extended access to more saved keystrokes in our software. This strategy helps their friends write smarter, while we reach a broader audience.

Guy Katabi, Lightkey

4. Accelerate sales cycles

Depending on how complex a deal is, people from several teams might need to meet with a customer. Calendly uses collective Event Types that automatically align meeting availability between the customer and our teams. If we need to loop in a solutions engineer, the Account Executive can send a link to their customer to schedule time together with everyone. If we need to connect somebody from our procurement team, legal, security, etc. with a customer’s procurement manager, we can do that as well. 

Creating those links and automating the scheduling enables our account executives to involve every team that needs to be a part of a deal without losing time to back-and-forth emails with multiple people. It really helps accelerate the sales cycle. For example, if you average five meetings per deal cycle with your buyer, you could reduce the length of that cycle up to 15 days by removing the friction caused by scheduling inefficiencies.

Amy McClain, Calendly

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5. Layer multiple automations

Being an SEO company, the majority of our incoming prospects come through organic search – only makes sense, right? Automation has been an important focus for us as we continue to grow and scale. The funnel starts at a free online SEO audit tool that any business can use to evaluate their website strength. This converts prospects that are ready and drives them to an easy-to-schedule consultation right on the calendar (integrated with our CRM and calendars for ease). The CRM automates the communication sequence from email one throughout the sales process. This helps us stay focused on the right stuff and not bogged down with non-valued tasks.  

Jenn Christie, Markitors

6. Embrace Scheduling Tools 

We use scheduling automation, such as Calendly, to speed up the time it takes to schedule meetings with prospects in our sales funnel. This type of automation makes our team really efficient at scheduling and booking meetings. This saves our team time so they can focus more on selling and less time on scheduling meetings.

Jordan Nathan, Caraway

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7. Automate sales communication

My team is able to convert more leads by automating the email communication process. During the earliest stages of a customer's interaction with your company, it's important to communicate regularly so that the lead doesn't go cold. If you're unresponsive, it may drive the lead to work with a competitor instead. Despite this, it's not always easy to keep track of each individual's experience with your company to date. And with floods of new leads incoming, your sales team would certainly have their work cut out in managing these processes manually. 

Paul Sherman, Olive

Read more about Workflows to learn how Calendly automates your sales funnel communications. 

8. Increase lead potential

By automating lead qualification, we have increased our lead engagement capacity. It helps us move more leads down the funnel. We use different methods to qualify leads, such as lead scoring and using AI sales (bots) assistants to engage the leads. Our AI sales assistants have the capacity to hold human-like conversations with leads, speeding up the process of scaling the funnel. They ask qualifying questions and transfer them to the sales team based on how they answer.

Katherine Brown, Spyic

9. Segment sales funnels

For me, automation takes place right in the beginning of the sales funnel. I operate and run an online content business and I wear the hats of the CMO and CEO respectively. I typically look to split visitors to my website into three categories: cold, warm (interested), hot (likely to buy). This is performed by an email sequence over a period of a month. I only give personal time and attention to people that are “hot.” Everyone else goes into another funnel to determine if they are “hot” or not. This approach has improved my conversions by up to 80% over the course of a year. 

My number one tip: Do not give customers who are just passing by too much of your valuable time. Develop mechanisms that will help you identify the "hot" customers in your sales funnel and devote 100% of real time to them alone. 

Mogale Modisane, ToolsGaloreHQ

10. Leverage for cart abandonment

One of the most effective ways to leverage automation is by doing so in the bottom-of-funnel stage within the confines of email marketing. Specifically, when a customer puts an item in their cart and then exits or forgets about it, there is not simply one email that is sent. Rather, there is a sequence of three automated emails that takes place: four hours after the abandoned cart, 24 hours after the abandoned cart, and 72 hours after the abandoned cart. On top of that, each step of the automation encourages purchase behavior via a small, yet personalized, discount code.

Ryan Craver, Mallary by Matthew

11. Program your follow-ups 

By automating follow-up with leads who are not ready, we have been able to convert more leads. Our nurture cycles make it easier for clients to say yes and remember our business. We find that after about 45 days into a nurturing cycle, we can convert a sale.

Loren Howard, Prime Plus Mortgages

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