I love looking at processes and finding better ways to improve them through systemisation and automation. The intent is usually to reduce the amount of manual handling and/or double handling so that you are not spending time on repetitive tasks, and you are minimising human error.  The other major benefit is freeing up time which is one of your most important assets as a consultant or business owner.

But at what point to we stop the automation…when do we pick up the phone and make actual contact with that person?  What processes do require human interaction with a focus on building or maintaining a relationship?

I find it really interesting, how the more technology we embrace to try and build our email lists and sales funnels, the more we are getting away from the basics. The basics of building relationships with our customers by engaging in conversation, interaction and engagement.

Everyone is out there trying to achieve more in less time. Unfortunately the only real way to do this is either a). have a team around you who can assist you to do this, or b). you invest time and money into automating as many systems and processes as you can. This is great, and for many businesses is a fabulous model and works very well. The problem with this is when you are selling high value services, particularly in the consulting industry, people want to have a relationship with the real you. It is this relationship that converts one of your followers into a client.

I agree video marketing and content marketing in the form of blogs are a great way to build your authority within your field. They provide you with credibility online and potential customers have learned to expect this. But I still believe that meeting and engaging with your clients in person is still the most valuable way to ensure the longevity of your clients and ultimately your business.

Take easyconsult as an example. To date, nearly all of our membership sales have been the result of our members having a relationship with either our team or one of our team members. Many of our members have been clients of our BRS business, so they are familiar with the quality of our work and the value in what we have to offer. We have created an experience for them that they want to replicate. I love the fact that so many of our clients have embraced our easyconsult and easygovernment coaching programs and we appreciate their feedback and support. Notwithstanding this, we need to continue to improve our online marketing to encourage other members to join who haven’t had that same experience with us offline. This is not an easy task to do! Everyone receives hundreds of emails every day from different organisations trying to educate and/or sell them something. The competition for their attention is higher than ever before.

Usually the online sale all comes down to marketing, like a clever email title. The actual product or service being offered is almost irrelevant. That being said, you have to invest a lot of time into creating an automated sales funnel to nurture your list and educate them. Not that dissimilar to having a coffee with a potential client, or having a conversation with them over the phone. They may not become a paying customer straight away, but over time you will earn their trust by educating them and letting them decide when the time is right for them to take the next step.

Most people want to attract more clients and as much as I love to automate so much of what we do, often there is nothing simpler and more effective than a quality conversation, where you have their undivided attention.  Striking this balance is the challenge for all of us!