Time is the only resource that’s limited. And as a business owner, you’re likely very intimately acquainted with the amount of time it takes you to do even the simplest task.
Time that could be better spent on other parts of your business… or even doing the things in your life that your business supports.
Michelle Bell gives us a bird’s eye view of automation and how it can make a difference in your business… along with exactly how to get started using it.
Alyson Lex 0:00
On today's episode, we're answering the question, How can I fill the holes and gaps in my business without working a ton more hours than I already am? thriving in business does not mean you have to lose yourself. It does not mean following cookie cutter advice. What it
Jennie Wright 0:16
means is finding what works for you, for your audience and for your business. And working the process until you get to the level of success that you're looking for.
Alyson Lex 0:25
This podcast is designed to give you the tools and inspiration to build your business on your terms.
Jennie Wright 0:30
I'm Jennie Wright.
Alyson Lex 0:31
I'm Alyson Lex,
Jennie Wright 0:33
and welcome to the System to THRIVE.
Alyson Lex 0:37
Your Business has holes in it sad but true. Most businesses do. There are holes and gaps and things that you're missing. And frankly, you're missing them because you just don't have the time to deal with them. And that's the worst feeling as you know something's wrong, and you don't have the time to address it. Because you're so busy doing some other stuff. That's why we have Michelle Bell here today, because she's going to help us fill those holes. She's going to help us figure out how to get some of that time back and make it so we run our businesses better, more smoothly and more profitably. Michelle, thank you for being here with us today.
Michelle Bell 1:14
Well, thank you so much for having me. I'm really looking forward to this.
Alyson Lex 1:18
I think we're gonna have a really fun time, we're gonna have a great conversation. Yes, we are definitely. So what kinds of things? Do you see business owners missing in their businesses? Oh, that's
Michelle Bell 1:28
such a loaded question. They're missing energy, they're missing time, they're missing the fun, because you know, running a business isn't always fun, you go into it thinking, it's gonna be great. I'm gonna like be my own boss. And I'm going to do only things I love and the reality hits that no, you have to be everyone in your business, especially if you're just starting out. And so there's a lot of things to miss about having a team having a community that works with you, when you start out on your own.
Jennie Wright 1:57
What are the things like specifically are people missing? in their businesses? You mentioned team, you mentioned community, what else is missing? What are the gaps? Well, follow up.
Michelle Bell 2:06
Follow up is a huge gap. Usually, when you're trying to get business, you're always working on the the easy ones, the fast ones, right? Oh, this guy's ready to talk to me, I'm gonna talk to him the best aside from that you probably picked up three or four other leads that day. And those leads are now sitting in a pile on your desk. And it's the time and the space to catch those is one of the first biggest holes is having the ability to follow up on everyone. There's not enough time, there's not enough you to follow up on everything all the time.
Jennie Wright 2:33
Okay, so I talk about follow up as well, or I talk about filling gaps in businesses as well. It's something that I use in my own business, and with my clients to find the opportunities. And one of the things that you mentioned was the follow up, right, connecting with the leads and following up on the leads and things like that. And I would assume that you're talking about email marketing, I would assume that you're talking about those kinds of things. Can you go a little bit more into depth on what that would sort of mean?
Michelle Bell 3:00
Okay, so with a typical sales opportunity, right, you meet a person, you contact that person, you either sell it right in that moment, or you don't. So if you sell it in that moment, that's easy, right? It's done, it's done deal. But if you don't, there's this whole space that needs to be filled between that call and then actually purchasing that is a huge gap that can be filled with automation. Because the reality is not everybody likes being a salesperson, not everybody's good at being a salesperson, not everybody's comfortable making those Follow Up Calls because it can feel like begging. I mean, it can feel really queasy, right, Oh, God, I call that person and ask him for $5,000. I know I'm worth it. But it's really hard to ask, right. So when we fill those gaps with automation, that takes the pressure off of the customer, it takes pressure off of us, right, we can have a conversation, maybe even throw in some videos in our emails, do things that let the person feel still connected to us, without actually having to be connected to us, and get them to make that purchase through those automated processes, then you've scooped up say maybe another 50% of those leads. Now we only have to call a certain fee, right? Only the ones that didn't self serve. And those, that's when you have to pick it back up and be the person that calls But hey, you're not calling everybody. So it's a lot easier. And now they know you a little bit because they have listened to your videos, and they've read your emails. And so it's not so much of an impersonal call, as it would have been if you just did it after that first time you spoke to them.
Alyson Lex 4:34
I feel like this process also encompasses, like, if you're before the call, when they first come into your universe, you can nurture them with automation. And we've talked about that a lot here on the podcast and we know you got to send emails, you got to do all that. But how can we discover exactly what holes are present like if it's at the lead stage or the prospect stage or even the repeat customer Stage because I think there's some, some holes in a lot of businesses there. How can we really narrow down where we need to focus.
Michelle Bell 5:06
So having a good automation tool helps with that. Having a good CRM, not even just an automation tool, but having a way to follow through. So you want to have a plan, you know what your basic steps are, in order to sell somebody, if you're making a widget, you got to show them the widget, they got to touch it, they got to feel it, then they need to make a decision. If you're selling something that's more a service, talk, conversation, coaching, any kind of thing like that is info. It's not as tangible as a widget, right? So we need to be able to capture those leads know exactly what their pain points are, have a conversation with about those pain points? explain to them what that info product that you have is going to do for them, get them to buy it? Well, that's a lot of things to keep track of. So that that is one of like the major holes. If you're not using a CRM to track all of those steps, how are you keeping track of it? Is it a note card? Is it a scratch book? I mean, what are you doing it is all in your head, because I'm that kind of person. I'm like, I got this, it's all in my head. Yeah, but things get lost up there. It's kind of a trap. So we need to have a tool that helps us and assist. Now, if you can map out your process, if you know what all the steps are for you in your widget, or your coaching for your info market, if you know what it takes to get from A to Z, and that is the first thing you do is figure out what's my process from A to Z. If you know that, then you can put that into a system that can help you manage and track all those steps. By doing that, you're going to be able to identify when somebody purchases, how they purchase after they filled out my discovery call form they purchase after they talked to me they purchased after I sent them three emails. So when we know that, then we can go back and fix the places that don't work. Well. If it takes everybody 90% of my calls, have to see the whole process before they sign then I know we have a problem at the beginning, I need to work on how I'm talking to them. I need to work on the questions I'm asking in my discovery call questionnaire because you should be using a questionnaire if you're not, you really should, because it helps to shorten that lifecycle a great deal. If the first thing they do isn't, you know, hopefully, it's book a call to talk to you. But if you ask a couple questions in that process of booking the call, then you have information that you can use when you call them. So now your discovery call can be shorter, they will feel you know them because you're responding back to something they've already told you. Without that step, Your call is probably gonna take an hour instead of 30 minutes. So that's something that gives you back time. And that's one of the things that we're looking at too is how many, how much time are you losing, and all those holes. So all these little things can be improved upon all the time. Automation isn't just about getting things quickly and easily to somebody. But it's also about teaching you how to refine everything.
Jennie Wright 7:46
You talk a lot about automation, and you talk about different opportunities and ways to fill these gaps. This is going to be what's this going to look like exactly as an example. Is it just the emails that we send out? How do we sort of manage this to kind of get it done? As an example we can let's talk about something tangible. Somebody who has been in business maybe for a year or two starting to grow and see some some growth in their business, but is now experiencing like, things are falling off, right? They're not getting everything done? Do we do we go after this first as in like a low hanging fruit situation, fix one thing and then move on to something more complicated? Now, you mentioned mapping out a process is that going to help us sort of fix this? Give me a little bit more understanding there.
Michelle Bell 8:26
So as a first step, in my discovery calm, I always bring somebody in to say, let's automate everything that you're doing in my discovery call with them, I'm going to ask questions like, what are you missing? Right? Are you do you need more time? Do you need more help? What's your process look like? How long does it take somebody to go from a customer to or from a lead to a customer? And what do you have to promise and give them an order to get them there? So if you're sending 10 emails and three extra PDFs, and you're doing three phone calls, that's a lot, right? How can we refine that down. So we need to look at your process, put it into a system that can manage it and help you to identify the places where Hey, either automation can do that. I need somebody else to do that. Because you don't always have to be the person that does something, you can get a really inexpensive VA that can do some of those little things for you. I'm a person who does as much Process Automation as I do marketing. Automation isn't always about the emails. A lot of times it's just about automating the process so we don't lose things. If you put every lead into a CRM, and then we task you through that process. Okay, it's been three days since they got the last email. This is actually one that needs a call and we create a task for you to do that. Then that's something you don't have to think about every day like I don't have to be sitting here going oh my gosh, what happened to Judy Do I need to talk to judy is today the day to talk to Judy let me find all my little notes and see when I was supposed to talk to her. I love that the automation. It only puts in front of you the thing you need to do today. Right? Don't think about all the other things. The tomorrow things are for tomorrow. The yesterday things are gone. Let's just look at what you need to do today. And as long as we can keep it clean, you're focused, that gives you more time gives you less stress. So we really got to get those. And then again, those points where it doesn't have to be you, it can be somebody else. Here's one of the things I like to put in all my automations, though, is something called accountability. If we make a task for you, and you don't close up that task, within two or three days, we're going to send you an another task or an email that says, hey, you have something that's open, go do that, when you start hiring, you get a VA, or in your fulfillment person, we do the same thing. They get tossed, and three days goes by, you're going to get something that says, hey, go follow up with your VA find out why they didn't do that. So we stopped losing people.
Alyson Lex 10:43
We've talked about building out our process. But when I ask this next question, I really want I want the gateway. Okay, so like, what is the best way to get started using automation in our business, I know we've, we've built our process, we've got our map, we see the holes, what's our automation gateway drug.
Michelle Bell 11:03
So I have a kickstart program that I like to use. And it's because I've learned from doing this a million and a half times, there's always five or six things everybody needs. And it really does not matter what kind of business you have, everybody needs the same five things because the foundation of any business is essentially the same. What's unique about it is you and your product. But a product is a product is a product, right? If we just need to have systems in place. And so a lot of that is a strong foundation that anybody can apply. And the things that you need to get started with a CRM are the things that connect it to where you're getting your leads. So your website, first place, right, you need to update your contact us form your newsletter opt in, and have a discovery call form on that site. So a lot of us do this will be like book a free call with me. And they just go right to the appointment calendar to book you need a step right before that, that's here's two or three questions that are going to help me help you and then you book your appointment. So rather than waiting for people to figure out what those questions are, we've kind of done this a lot. We know what those basic questions are, we have a basic package of like six must haves that are already built in for the CRM, and there you go, just connect those, that's your first step, we start getting all those leads, wherever they're coming from into your CRM. That is how we take over and then let everything process out from there, your Facebook ads, your Instagram posts, it's the same thing, replace that instead of in your, in your Instagram and your Facebook bio saying, Michelle bell.com, you're gonna say Michelle bell.com backslash discovery call. We don't always have to send them to our homepage. In fact, it's terrible place to send them, send them to something directed. That's going to get them in your CRM, and then we can manage that process.
Jennie Wright 12:52
Okay, so my follow up to Allison's question, as you mentioned, there was five or six things that everybody needs. Right. So you mentioned one, which is connecting your website to your CRM, and then I don't think we got the other four or five. So what would be what would be that list?
Michelle Bell 13:06
So what I meant by four or five was there's four or five places in your, in your content that you're doing that? So I
Jennie Wright 13:13
say, Okay, understood.
Michelle Bell 13:14
Yeah. It's your social media, hookups, your website hookups, nobody has to spend time building that
Jennie Wright 13:20
understood. Okay, I got that. Okay. So if how do we tell if this is all kind of working for us, Michelle? Like, is it just adding more busy work to our lives? Or is this actually going to keep us from our goals? Or is this actually going to help us in the long term?
Michelle Bell 13:34
Well, it definitely should be helping you. And if you find that it's in the beginning, it's going to be painful, right? Because anytime you're building something, there's a lot of front loading time in there. But then it gives you back all the time. Because once we've got this process down, now, we're not worrying about things we have follow up in place. And it should actually improve things because the automation is gonna take over the not low hanging fruit, right? Easy calls, they but they buy right then in there, it's the follow up on all the 80% that aren't the easy that we're automating. So if we're doing that, if we're creating conversation, we're now following up with them immediately. 30 minutes after the appointment, tomorrow, two days from now, we're sending automated messaging, giving them the link to go by, that should improve your sales. Because otherwise, that might have sat on your desk for three or four days before you got up the nerve to call them and say, hey, I want your money. So that's an improvement. The other way that we improve by using a tool like this is to actually create a dashboard where we can see the metrics. Look at that. And no, I have five people in my discovery call right now. Three of them have had their appointments and I'm waiting for them to buy two of them. I'm waiting to have the appointment because it's in the future. So I have numbers and I know what's happening, and then I can see who bought and who didn't. So at any point in that process, I can go back and improve it. If I improve it, my numbers should get better. We're always looking for ways to improve.
Alyson Lex 15:02
I'm always really curious about automation, I'm always fascinated by it. Because the idea of having more time and not having to do things manually is, it's very attractive to me, as someone who runs a business, let's be honest. And I really like what you said about the first step in automation, is to begin to get all of your leads in one place, whether they come from your website, a networking event, a Facebook ad, your Facebook page, or instant wherever, funnel them into one place, so that you can see, it's like when I have the Google Contacts, right, I have my my email addresses and the phone numbers because I'm an Android, I go to add a phone number to my phone, and it pops up with that person's email addresses in one place, even though it came from two different sources. I guess that's kind of automation. But I really like that, because that's not something I currently do. And I'm going to be adopting that in my own business. And I know that if our listeners want to know more about automation, they should reach out to you. So how can they do that?
Michelle Bell 16:05
So they can go to my website and reach out there, and some virtual work life.com. I also have Michelle Bell calm. And there's lots of interesting information in there all about identifying your ideal customer lifecycle. I have worksheets that will help you figure out your process. There's a discovery call form there that asks you questions, because I want to know about you before I talk to you, that everything is there to help you and some other things that we may not have touched on, I do Process Automation as well, not just sales. So think about that, when you're thinking about all the things that are costing you time and money. Sometimes it's the processes, I have a great process for hiring that automates the hiring, which if you you know, if you're if you're looking for a VA, if you're looking for a tax person, you want to make sure that you're hitting all the right steps for hiring. And if you're not sure what those are working with somebody who does automation can help you with that.
Jennie Wright 17:01
Great, and we're gonna get all that onto our show notes, so everybody can find you. Before we sort of wrap up this episode, Allison, I have a couple takeaways that we want to share with the audience. The takeaways are our opportunity to pull out what we think are really important points, things that we think that you should look at in your business right now. And things that we think you can apply pretty much right away. I'm gonna take the first three, Nelson's going to grab those last two. So the first takeaway is, first find the opportunities in your business and look at the automations that you either can use or have or should have, they're gonna save you that time and energy. Look at the low hanging fruit first, as my is my recommendation. What do you need? Is it email? Is it social? What's the thing that's going to give you back a little bit more time, that's gonna allow you to be more present in your business. Number two, and this is something that I think is a great one is mapping out your process, looking how you currently track everything that you're doing for a client or everything that's in that process, whatever that process is for like, like you were saying a widget or coaching? Take a look at all of it. Where does stuff get lost? Where does opportunity exist? How can you make it better? Number three, this is an Ask yourself question. What are you missing right now in your business? How long does it take for somebody to go from lead to customer, look at those gaps in the process. And then we can start to address and fix those
Alyson Lex 18:17
really liked takeaway number four, which is all automations need to have accountability, especially when there's a human element, check your stuff, people, I have heard so many times. And this is the non human element that oh, I set up this whole sequence and it didn't fire because nobody checked on it. And so machines need accountability too. But people definitely. So if you're going to automate stuff, or outsource stuff, make sure that you automate, to remind yourself to follow up. And then of course, the last takeaway is, the first place to start is by getting all your leads to live in one place. I think that's such a game changer.
Jennie Wright 18:53
I absolutely agree to so I just want to take a second to thank Michelle, for being on with us today. Michelle, thank you appreciate your time. Michelle was a featured expert on a an event that I ran recently at the time we're recording the event is about to go live. When this actually comes out. It'll be way way in the past. So I just want to thank Michelle for everything that she did as an expert on that event, and the time that she took to promote it. So thank you, Michelle, for being on this and what you did before.
Michelle Bell 19:19
Oh, well, thank you for having me here. And on the summit. It's been an absolute pleasure working with you. I've learned a lot from you actually. And just I'm really excited to see what happens next
Jennie Wright 19:30
thing because I'm so glad. And I just wanna take a second as well to recommend that everybody who's listening, take a look at the show notes for this episode, check out Michelle, and connect with her, follow her follow her on social look at our website. Everything will be in the show notes so you can go to System to thrive.com find this episode and connect with her from there. And if you're listening to this episode, and you'd like more of what you're hearing, please do follow this episode or follow this podcast I should say wherever it is that you're listening. And if you'd like to please leave us a review. Now don't forget that we have I have a very special gift for everybody that's listening, head on over to System to THRIVE comm forward slash content and grab our 128 content topic generator. This is one of the best ways that you can figure out how to create content and not have that blinking cursor staring at you. Thanks so much for listening, everybody. We'll be back again soon answering another big question. Thanks again for watching or listening to this podcast. We hope we've answered some of your big questions today. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast anywhere you're listening and leave us a review.
Alyson Lex 20:32
We publish multiple episodes per week, all designed to help you grow your business. Look for us online on Facebook and Instagram at System to THRIVE or our home on the web at System to thrive.com