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The Freelancer’s Guide To Automating Your Business | Part 2

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Last week we did a deep dive into the world of automation and talked about how it can help take care of boring, tedious, and repetitive tasks.
Well, this week, we're taking it a step further and discussing how to automate some of the client acquisition and marketing tasks in your freelance business.
In this episode, we'll explore the three core areas of marketing: lead generation, lead nurture, and sales, and discuss the numerous opportunities within these areas where you can implement automation.
From the moment someone first finds you to the moment they hand over their hard-earned dollars and become a client, automation can play a crucial role in streamlining the process.
I know that marketing can sometimes feel overwhelming, but by automating certain aspects of your marketing, you can…
  • Stay top of mind,
  • Build trust and credibility
  • Turn leads into actual paying clients…
…all without breaking a sweat!
I truly believe that this episode will provide you with practical ideas and actionable steps to start automating your marketing and make your freelance business more efficient. So grab a cup of coffee, put on your headphones, and let's dive in!
In this episode you’ll discover:
  • The three main steps of marketing
  • Automating each step of your marketing funnel
  • Linking your website to your CRM
  • Using automation to nurture your marketing leads
  • Defining a lead for your business
  • Automating your social media accounts
  • How to automate your sales process
  • The disadvantage of having someone set up automations for you
  • How to reject leads automatically

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[00:00:00] Brian: Hello and welcome to the six Figure Creative Podcast. I am your host, Brian Hood. If this is your first time listening to the show, first of all, hi. Hey. Hello. Welcome. Glad to have you here. This podcast is for creative freelancers who offer services and they want to earn more money from their skills without selling their souls.

[00:00:13] Brian: If that sounds like you are in the right spot. For our returning listeners, this is in part two episode. Also for my new listeners, this is part two episode, so you wanna go back to last week to get the entire spiel of what we're gonna talk about today, because we are literally picking up where we left off last week.

[00:00:25] Brian: Last week we talked about getting started with automation. I talked about why you want to get started with automation, which is because you want to do the boring, tedious, repetitive stuff less often.

[00:00:35] Brian: You wanna maybe earn more per hour for those of you who are on flat rate pricing, or you just want to get rid of the crap you hate doing if you're on hourly or day rate pricing for freelancers.

[00:00:44] Brian: And you wanna make sure the things get done that need to get done, that you might be forgetting to do or avoiding to do. Because if we're being honest with ourselves, we avoid when we don't wanna do something. Especially as creatives. We're like uh, I can do that later. I'll do it later.

[00:00:56] Brian: I'm not gonna do it later. I forgot about it. And then it never gets done. So automating [00:01:00] certain tasks that you're forgetting to do or avoiding until you forget to do is a wonderful thing. So last week I went over all the tools of the trade, the different automation tools that help with these different things.

[00:01:09] Brian: And we talked about automating the fulfillment process. What in your fulfillment process as a freelancer, meaning the services you're paid to do, what of that can you start to automate? I gave a bunch of ideas around that last week. Hopefully you got some takeaways from that. That episode hasn't aired yet as the time that I record this. I did two this week ' cause it's a two bar so I don't know what the feedback is yet. Hopefully it's positive. This week we're gonna talk about automating marketing. We're gonna automate some of the marketing tasks in your business, and we're gonna talk through this in what I feel like is a logical order of discussion from when someone first finds you to the second they hand over their hard earned dollars and become a client.

[00:01:40] Brian: And then you start the onboarding fulfillment process, which I covered last week. So we're kind do this in reverse last week, fulfillment after you get paid this week, marketing before you get paid.

[00:01:48] Brian: So before I get into the specifics of automating your marketing as a freelancer, I wanna talk about the three core areas of marketing so that we can talk about each of these in turn. The first part is lead generation. How do you actually generate leads as a freelancer? The second part is [00:02:00] lead nurture. How do you stay top of mind? Build trust, build credibility, get people to know like, and trust you. And then the third part is sales. How do we turn someone from that lead into an actual paying client?

[00:02:10] Brian: And there's a lot of opportunities within those three steps or three core areas that you can do automation. So we're gonna start first in the lead generation area.

[00:02:18] Brian: if you've already listened to the last week, you might remember that there's three parts of automation. There's a trigger, there's an action, and there's a result.

[00:02:24] Brian: And the first area I wanna talk about is your website. When we start talking about marketing, your website's, generally what I consider the marketing mothership, it's the central hub in which all other places point to. This isn't the case for every business, but this is the case for most modern businesses today.

[00:02:37] Brian: The website is the marketing mothership, and all other areas point back, whether it's just social media, whether it's paid ads, whether it's referral partners, whether it's word of mouth from friends and past clients. They're gonna send people to your website or they'll share your name with their friend or client or whoever.

[00:02:52] Brian: And then those people will Google you and then find your website, or they'll find your social media profiles and then click through your link in your profile to your website. All roads lead back to your [00:03:00] website and most cases, or it should, And your website serves two purposes. Do you know what those purposes are? If you do bonus points to you. If you don't, I'll share those with you. I guess it's three purposes actually, but for the terms of automation, it's two purposes. the two purposes for automation's sake is. Create a marketing lead, and the second is create a sales lead. The third purpose and the purpose that is beyond the automation side of things is actually pre-selling your services so that the person actually wants to buy before they ever talk to you.

[00:03:22] Brian: But that's a different discussion for a different day. That involves copywriting and messaging and et cetera, et cetera. we're not gonna talk about that right now because that's not part of the automation discussion. So two automated pieces that we need to discuss here.

[00:03:32] Brian: Sales lead and marketing lead. What are those? First and foremost, this is just terminology you should know. If you've been listening to the Six Figure Creative for a while, you know this. A marketing lead is someone that's signed up for something because they're interested in that thing. It might be a lead magnet, a cheat sheet.

[00:03:46] Brian: It could be

[00:03:47] Brian: A tool or a resource. It could be a case study or something that they're learning from you. basically any sort of lead magnet creates a marketing lead. And we'll talk more about lead magnets and future episodes. I have some stuff playing out about the that

[00:03:58] Brian: ' cause that's an area that a lot of [00:04:00] freelancers struggle with. The second thing, which I mentioned, which is a sales lead. That's somebody who's reached out to you, who is interested in your services specifically. So if they're reaching out for a quote requests, they're booking a call for a discovery call, they're asking about pricing or availability.

[00:04:13] Brian: That's someone who is a sales lead. and I'm gonna talk about both of these because they both have automation opportunities within those. So let's talk about the first thing, which is a marketing lead.

[00:04:21] Brian: Someone has come to your site,

[00:04:22] Brian: you are offering something. I'll give an example here for one of my clients. they do restaurant photography and videography to make their menus look better and their food look better so that more butts get in seats at the restaurants. So what does the lead magnet.

[00:04:34] Brian: It is a mobile food photography guide, meaning like how do you actually take photos for social media of your food with your phone in a quick fussy list way? Something like that. And if someone signs up for that on his site or through some funnel, they're now marketing lead. So what is the marketing automation opportunity within this scenario?

[00:04:50] Brian: well, let's go through those three pieces of automation, the trigger, the action, the result. The first is obvious. The trigger is someone filling out a form to get the thing that they wanted from you. So that's the trigger. [00:05:00] The action can vary depending on the person to person.

[00:05:02] Brian: An obvious action is to trigger an automated email to deliver that thing to them. That's a very important thing, and the result is they get the thing they signed up for. So that's an obvious one that most people, You've done it yourself most likely, and you might have done that with something that I've given away for free.

[00:05:17] Brian: that is a clear automation opportunity. When someone becomes a marketing lead, they sign up for that. The automated task is, it delivers the email to give them the thing that they signed up for. And the result is they get that thing. How do we do that? I talked about this in tools earlier in last week's episode where I talked about the different tools of the trade.

[00:05:33] Brian: This is where Easy Funnels comes in and saves the day. But honestly, any email marketing software can do this. The point of easy funnels is the fact that your website and funnels And email marketing software all live in the same ecosystem, so you don't have to use a third party tool like Zapier to automate this task.

[00:05:51] Brian: Otherwise, if you're using something like Wix or Squarespace and your email marketing platform is something like ActiveCampaign or ConvertKit, then you'll have to [00:06:00] use two pieces of software for that automation. Someone signs up on your website for that lead magnet. That information is sent to Zapier.

[00:06:06] Brian: Zapier sends it to your email marketing software like active campaign or ConvertKit, and then that software has an automation built in to then send that email off. So there's a chain of triggers, actions, and results. but because this is an audio focused show Yes. This is on video for YouTube. YouTube viewers. That's, like the smallest percentage of our podcast download. So, I'm not gonna create a whole visual for this, but I can if you want. So you can always use our feedback form by going by six figure creative.com/better and giving us feedback there if you wanna see more in depth tutorials on this.

[00:06:35] Brian: so that's the first part of this is automating our marketing lead capture. Someone signs up for something and then it gets delivered. Easy Funnels is the best and easiest tool to use for that. But I'm biased 'cause that's my software but I have plenty of people who would back me up on that.

[00:06:46] Brian: And you can get a free trial by going to Easy funnels.io if you just wanna try it out for yourself. But now let's talk about sales leads. There's a number of ways people can become a sales lead. Easiest and most obvious, and the one I'm gonna focus on here is someone has booked a discovery call with you.[00:07:00]

[00:07:00] Brian: They've booked some sort of call, which is the best way to sell people on services, especially when you're charging more and more. You're a high ticket freelancer. You're not doing nickel and dime a hundred to 300 to 500 projects where you can't even afford to get on the phone with them because it would take more time to sell them on the phone than they're paying you to make it worth your time.

[00:07:15] Brian: a bad cycle to be in, so you're charging more. You're on the high ticket freelancing train. A client's worth 1500, 2000, $3,000 or more, preferably, then you can get on the phone and sell them or zoom or in person at a coffee shop whatever your preference is. But to get to that point, they've come to your site.

[00:07:30] Brian: They love what they see. They love your portfolio testimonials, case studies, whatever you might happen to have. Maybe they've even signed up for your lead magnet and now they're warmed up. They're nurtured. They know I can trust you. Now they've actually taken the step to book a call on your site.

[00:07:44] Brian: What marketing automation opportunity do we have in this scenario? This is where, to me it gets a little bit fun

[00:07:48] Brian: because the triggers someone booked a call. Great.

[00:07:50] Brian: There can be a series of actions. There can be more than one action taken in this scenario, and I'm gonna talk about a few of those right now. Action one is they get added to your C R M. That is [00:08:00] very important, and what C r m you use can depend on your niche and your personality and your preferences. But I've seen people use everything from the free HubSpot account, which I don't necessarily recommend to the paid close.com or Pipedrive account, which I do recommend.

[00:08:13] Brian: There are some that are focused more on creative or freelancers like HoneyBook and dedo. The only one I'm an affiliate for is Pipedrive. That's the one that I promote the most. It's the one that I believe in the most right now. but the automation sends the information from your booking software, whatever that happens to be. If you use Easy Funnels, that's all built in, so they can book through easy funnels. Zapier can send that information to your C R M. Now it's created what's called an opportunity in your C R M. We'll talk more about sales in a second.

[00:08:40] Brian: That's one of the later stages here, but it's created an opportunity and that opportunity now has a monetary value attached to it. If you don't know the monetary value right now, you can always estimate, and then when you actually have the sales conversation, you can update to the actual amount. So that's the first action you can take, and the result is you now have an opportunity in your C R M that you'll always have a next [00:09:00] step on it for the rest of your life.

[00:09:01] Brian: That's one of my sales rules is every lead or every opportunity in your c R m always has a next step associated with it, with a reminder usually, or a booking or an appointment or something, or you are forced to check it off as done or it is on your calendar to do that thing. That is just a quick tidbit for you on this episode.

[00:09:17] Brian: Not marketing automation, but this is what leads to that is they have to first get into your C R M instead of manually entering the data like a plug. We have the automated from your email capture or your booking software capture sent over via Zapier to your C R M. It's relatively easy to do. That's one of the earlier things you should be doing in any sort of marketing automation,

[00:09:36] Brian: it's wonderful. but there's more you can do than just send them to the C R M. The trigger is still, they've booked a call with you. What other actions can we do? Action one is you can add them to what's called a reminder follow-up sequence.

[00:09:47] Brian: this is really important to make sure they actually show up for their call. ' cause many people forget, or many people aren't fully bought in, or they're a little skeptical, or in most cases, If they booked any more than two to three days out, they [00:10:00] will literally just forget. 'cause it's not on their calendar or they forget to add it to their calendar.

[00:10:02] Brian: So the trigger, they booked a call, the action is they get added to an email marketing sequence, which Easy Funnels allows you to do, where you can send a series of emails all leading up to the call. And that series of emails generally should be focused around a couple things. The first is give them any information they need to have before the call.

[00:10:20] Brian: The second is a reminder to put the call on their calendar. And this can be all one email, or it can be separate emails, or it can be a text message, whatever you want. and then generally you want an email 24 hours before the call, one hour before the call, and then when the call is going to start. Those are all automated emails. Yes, you could manually send them out, but. If you are anything like a lot of freelancers, especially the more successful ones, you have a lot of things going on yourself.

[00:10:43] Brian: And this is one manual task you should not have to have on your plate. When you're going about your day. You're adding value, you're delivering on what you've been paid to do, and you have a sales call coming up tomorrow or today.

[00:10:53] Brian: You're not the one that should be on the hook for sending those reminders out to make sure that they know what's happening, that it's gonna be at this specific time to show up with [00:11:00] these pieces of information so that you can actually help them the best. This can all be automated.

[00:11:04] Brian: So that's it for automating lead generation. Just to recap, you have sales leads and you have marketing leads, and there are a few different tasks you can do with both of those.

[00:11:11] Brian: The end result is getting them into your email marketing database and getting 'em into your C R M depending on which one of those leads they are. Next, let's talk about automating lead. Nurture. Lead nurture, again is the act of staying top of mind until they're ready to buy And building trust and credibility all along the way that, so that when they are ready to make that decision, you are the obvious choice for this. if you haven't heard about me talk about this before, this is an important concept. It's called the 3% rule. And the 3% rule basically states that in any given group of people, only about 3% of them are ready to make a decision right now.

[00:11:43] Brian: So if a thousand people know you exist as a freelancer, Only about 30 of those are ready to make a decision right now. So what do you do with the other 970 of them? You nurture that lead over time so that when they're ready to buy, they both remember you, that you exist, and that they are going to [00:12:00] choose you as the solution to their problem or the person that's gonna help them towards their goal.

[00:12:03] Brian: Whatever kind of freelancer you are.

[00:12:05] Brian: Now there are a number of ways to nurture. You could do this just one-to-one, where you're staying top of mind via text message or sending them emails or regularly booking meetings.

[00:12:14] Brian: while that's great. I prefer to do it one to many. Yes, you can still have one-to-one conversations. You can still have one-to-one meetings, but you can automate a good portion of this so that those things get on your calendar automatically. Here's what I mean. It's called email marketing inertia sequence, a wonderful thing.

[00:12:31] Brian: You can also do this with text messages meaning. You can do this exact same thing, sending text messages instead of emails.

[00:12:37] Brian: But just know you can do everything I'm gonna talk about here with texts. It just takes a different platform. Easy Funnels does not do texts, at least not yet,

[00:12:43] Brian: but emails from 95% of people will be good enough for the most part.

[00:12:47] Brian: so first, let's talk about how we are able to nurture somebody. It's because they are a lead. What is a lead well defined by multiple people? The most recent biggest person talking about this right now is Alex or Moey. His book, a hundred million Dollar Leads came out.

[00:12:59] Brian: It's wonderful, but he [00:13:00] says A lead is basically someone we can contact. So you can define that however you want. I personally define that as somebody who's either phone or email address that I have. You could also say social media, we'll talk about that in a second. There's some things you can automate there, but either phone or email.

[00:13:13] Brian: So we have their contact information in some way, shape, or form. How can we stay top of mind? Well, there's something called a Nurture Campaign. And a nurture campaign is a series of either emails or text dripped out over a period of time. On the short side, this could be seven to 12 days on the long side. I've seen people automate like a year long sequence, which has its pros and cons,

[00:13:32] Brian: but depending on what software you use,

[00:13:34] Brian: You can pre-write a series of emails to go out so that every person goes through it the exact same way. And this has a huge advantage over something like social media or over something like weekly emails that you manually send out. Whereas when you pre-make an automated sequence of emails or texts to go out to somebody in a specific order, you control the messaging throughout that entire thing and you can build a narrative that takes them through this thing so that when they're ready to buy, they're gonna choose you.

[00:13:59] Brian: let's [00:14:00] compare that to something like social media, where they're coming into the conversation in the middle of it with no context about anything else that's happened. They're just getting your social posts. they say a new one every week and they could be coming in the middle of a story for all they know.

[00:14:12] Brian: or you're sending out weekly emails notifying them about new podcast episodes like this one. The problem with that again, is you might be coming in the middle of a series, like let's just say you join my email list this week, and the very first email you got from me about this podcast was this one is a part two.

[00:14:26] Brian: Well, That kind of sucks 'cause this is literally in the middle of a series. You were part two, you missed part one. So the point of an automated series of emails, which actually if you would've gotten this email, you would've already gone through my nurture sequence.

[00:14:37] Brian: The nurture sequence allows us to tell a specific story, and there's certain types of emails you can send. They all do different things, and I'm not gonna talk about how to write every single one of these, at least not right now. If you want that, you can gimme your feedback and our feedback form,

[00:14:49] Brian: but Easy funnels is the easiest way to do this. That's why Easy's in the name so that when someone is on your email list and they've been delivered the lead magnet or they've booked a call with you.

[00:14:58] Brian: and maybe they weren't ready to buy at the [00:15:00] time and it just wasn't a good timing for them. They can be added to a nurture sequence. So if you think about this from the Trigger Actions results framework for automation, the trigger is someone has gone through the initial phase of contact, they have joined your email list through a lead magnet.

[00:15:15] Brian: They have joined your email list through a contact form or a quote request form, or booked a call with you and they're on your email list. That's the trigger. Now, the action is after a certain period of time, from one to three days, they get added to the email nurture sequence or text nurture sequence if you're using text messages.

[00:15:31] Brian: And the very first thing that happens is the first email in the sequence, the. Which is usually expanding upon whatever thing they sign up for in the first place, or usually giving some amount of information further above and beyond. What was in the initial email they ever got from you? The initial conversation they had with you?

[00:15:44] Brian: If it was a sales call. And then a wait step happens. If you think about this from a flowchart perspective, it's send email, wait a day, send email, wait two days, send an email, wait three days, send an email, wait three days, send an email, wait five days. You can space these out gradually further and further so you're [00:16:00] not overwhelming people, and then eventually you can even just automate one email a month to stay top of mind.

[00:16:05] Brian: Everyone can do this however way they want, but whether or not someone ever opens your email. The very least they're getting a reminder that you exist. 'cause they see it on their phone, email from Brian Hood, from six Figure Creative email from Soandso, from whatever design company, from Soandso Photography.

[00:16:20] Brian: And that's just one little reminder, one additional touch point that says, oh yeah, I need to really book that. Or, oh yeah, I need to get my together so that I can go do that thing.

[00:16:27] Brian: I So if you go back to that example with one of my clients where he's in the restaurant photography business where he is trying to take pictures of food, what sort of nurture can he do? If they sign up for a lead magnet around taking better photography with their phones for their menus, he might have an email talking about.

[00:16:41] Brian: The best hashtags to use in their local area for social media could have an email about

[00:16:46] Brian: what menu items are trending right now in the greater scheme of things. Again, this might take a little bit personalized knowledge for the niche, but that's the power of a niche is you can deep dive and figure these things out. You can talk to your clients.

[00:16:55] Brian: You can figure out what's selling best. can even pull people and try to figure these things out. You can use [00:17:00] social engagement metrics to say these things are getting the most engagement on social media. You see how every one of these is establishing him as the expertise in this niche. He can give food photography tips and emails, and he can sprinkle in direct calls to actions to book a call or take the next step with him to sell them his services.

[00:17:16] Brian: key here is he doesn't have to remember to do any of this. These are all things that automatically go out and then when someone replies or someone takes the next step by booking a call or whatever, now it's in his court, he can take a manual action. And the great thing about automation is you can automate the repetitive, boring, annoying stuff that you'll forget to do anyways.

[00:17:33] Brian: And then when someone raises their hand and says, I'm ready to take the next step, you can take it over manually. You can have a text conversation. You can book a meeting, a phone call, whatever you need to do, and take it over as a human being.

[00:17:42] Brian: Let's talk about social media really quick and nurturing on social media. 'cause social media is a, to me, a great nurture place but it's really hard as a growth medium for most freelancers. It takes a lot of talent, a lot of skill, a certain type of personality to really grow on social media to where you're using that as a discovery platform can be done, but it's difficult.

[00:17:59] Brian: So if you're not a [00:18:00] natural on social media, you can still use it to your advantage in nurturing your clients, meaning you're staying top of mind, you're building trust, you're building credibility. There's all the stuff you put in emails. You can create content around on social media. But how do we automate things?

[00:18:11] Brian: There's two areas of automation in social media. They're helpful for freelancers. The first is scheduling software where the trigger is we schedule a post or a series of posts, or we schedule our week or months content. The action is the software will automatically posted at the time that you've chosen, and the result is you have a social media feed that is staying updated on a regular basis without you needing to be there for every single post.

[00:18:33] Brian: Wonderful thing, simple. most people who use social media regularly already know this stuff, so I'm not gonna go super deep into this. Truth be told, social media is not part of my growth. I'm not a social media expert, but there's one area I do wanna talk about that I've seen some people using that I think is brilliant.

[00:18:46] Brian: And that is using chatbots, I guess, is the best way to use it. There's a tool called Mancha, m a n y, That allows you to do something cool, and you've probably seen this in certain things, and that's where you can comment with a certain word to get a DMM sent to you. So if you've ever seen someone comment with a [00:19:00] word poop and I'll send you my colon cleansing guide.

[00:19:03] Brian: I dunno why that's top of mind. Whatever. Let's shake. Any of you up here are sleeping right now and thinking, God, Brian's boring today. comment with the word poop and I'll send you my colon cleansing guide that's all automated. So when you type the word poop, It's automatically sending you a dmm.

[00:19:15] Brian: That's a wonderful way of farming your social media following. So when you create content, let's go back to my client's example. Food photography straight from poop to food. That's great. Anyways, you create content around, mobile food photography or taking photos with your phone for social media.

[00:19:30] Brian: And his actual upsell is going in and actually taking video, getting video of the chef to make a story around that and branding films and. Taking actual menu photos that are actually shared for their website and for their menus or whatever, not just the quick and dirty stuff they show on social media.

[00:19:45] Brian: that's the hope there. So he can share on his social media, all of these things, and then he can say, I. Comment, food, comment, mobile, comment, whatever below to get my guide. And that is actually lead generation from the nurture campaign. Or it could be comment menu to get more [00:20:00] information on getting updated menu photos.

[00:20:01] Brian: These are all different little microwaves that we can automate things. So the trigger, again, talking about trigger action result. The trigger is someone comments with a certain word. The action is the software MiniChat. will send the DMM with next steps or a link or whatever the information was. And then the result is that person now becomes a lead on your email list or they become a, booking on your calendar to go back through some of the automations I've talked about today.

[00:20:23] Brian: So that is it for lead nurture, at least as of right now. There's still more to this, but these are kind of some of the big picture things and if you somehow skipped last week, I'm talking about this from the perspective of giving you ideas. I don't want you to go off and do every single one of these, and I don't expect you to know how to do every single little micro step within all these automations.

[00:20:39] Brian: The whole point of this episode is to open up your mind to start thinking bigger about the types of things, and seeing what's possible. Again, I'm happy to go in depth with any of these and make some video tutorials and show you how the specific clicks to do within these steps, but things like Zapier, easy Funnels.

[00:20:54] Brian: Pipe drive, whatever you are using to automate things. They all have tutorials to help you with this stuff. They all have [00:21:00] live chat to help you with this stuff.

[00:21:01] Brian: Actually, Zapier is only email support, but their support is wonderful, but they can all help with this stuff. So to figure out the specifics, generally it just takes a YouTube search or a search that their help documents and you can figure out the specific clicks. So don't let that be the hold up for this as an excuse to keep you back from automating the things that you know, you need to be doing.

[00:21:18] Brian: So let's get back on the track here. We talked about lead generation automation. We talked about lead nurture, automation. How do we stay top of mind? How do we build trust and credibility with people over time? So that we're top of mind and we're the obvious choice when it comes time to buy. The third part is sales, and to me, this is where fun stuff really happens.

[00:21:33] Brian: In sales, there is so much to automate because if you think about all the things that need to be done in a typical sales process for a freelancer, let's just talk through some of these, bigger things. And these are, all automatable as far as I can remember or tell. And every one of these is gonna take a different configuration depending on what software you're using, what tech stack is, what they call it.

[00:21:49] Brian: But it can all be done. So let's think about in general, what sort of things in no particular order need to be done to close somebody to get payment? The first is

[00:21:57] Brian: collecting a payment, which can sometimes be over the [00:22:00] phone, sometimes as you send an invoice out. So this invoice needs to be sent out, possibly a proposal or a estimate needs to be sent out, a contract or an agreement.

[00:22:08] Brian: You might need to send out reminders and follow ups,

[00:22:11] Brian: and then within that, if you're using a C R M, you need to update the opportunity within the c r m to different stages. Remember, I talked about this in last week's episode, how when you're setting up your c R m, there's different stages, kinda like a Trello board from the. Call, booked to call, showed to offer, made to close deals, something like that.

[00:22:27] Brian: That may be like four or five stages for a sales pipeline.

[00:22:30] Brian: And then when you close a deal, you have to update the sales notes you need to. Market as one. You need to, again, these are all little ticky-tacky things that can add up, especially if you're a higher volume freelancer, you're doing high volume, relatively low fee, or you're just an agency with a ton of clients.

[00:22:44] Brian: This stuff really adds up. so now let's talk about how we can automate these things to get 'em off our plates, so that in the perfect world, you have a conversation with a client.

[00:22:51] Brian: And from there you either take payment information and close and all those things I just talked about are automatically done with one single automation Maybe you're a more bespoke freelancer. You need to create a [00:23:00] proposal for them so that after the sales conversation's over automatically, the proposal's generated and you just customize it to their specific needs.

[00:23:06] Brian: And then the proposal is sent and everything else is automated, from payment to stage update to reminders and everything. All of these things can be done, and it takes whatever configuration you specifically need for your business and everyone's different.

[00:23:18] Brian: But there are two softwares, maybe three. there's two that I can definitely recommend, and a third that I've never used, and then one that I'm working on. It can all help with this stuff. The first that I recommend is Pipedrive. Again, my affiliate link for that is Pipedrive studio.

[00:23:31] Brian: That'll give you a 30 day trial instead of the typical like 14.

[00:23:34] Brian: But that has automation built into it, and that has proposals, I believe. I know it has contracts, I know it has invoices and reminders and things you can set up in there. The second is dodo. That one by far is the most robust automation, and that's pretty much the. Number one reason I would ever recommend Dodo.

[00:23:50] Brian: It's more complex. It takes a really good technical brain. I don't generally recommend you paying someone to settle this stuff, up for you, because in generally what I've seen is when someone sets it all up for you, [00:24:00] you have no idea how it works. So you never use it to its full capacity. that's generally the trap we fall into and we try to pay someone to do something for us versus learning how to do it ourselves.

[00:24:08] Brian: And then the third. C r m. There's one called HoneyBook. I don't have any experience with that, but I think Dato's number one competitor. And then there's the fourth, the mystery one that I've been using, recently. That's my own setup that I'll maybe share with you one day.

[00:24:19] Brian: And that one definitely has all automation capabilities in it, but it's probably just as complex as ddo. There's a spectrum here. If you've noticed that the more capable a piece of software is, the more complex it tends to be because there's so much you could do with it, you get overwhelmed how do I do something?

[00:24:34] Brian: Well, there's three different ways you could do it based on all the tools that they give you, So let's try to simplify this as best I can. You've already automated the part of the process where someone books a call, that's a trigger. The action is Zapier or some other automation sends the contact information to your C R M, whether you're using Pipedrive, sato close.com, whatever, HubSpot, all of them can be zapped over to their C R M to create an opportunity.

[00:24:59] Brian: And [00:25:00] that opportunity now is in your booked call column. Now you need to actually qualify the lead. Does the lead match your needs as a freelancer? And it can be a bunch of different things. the popular qualification framework is bant. I think it's budget, authority, need.

[00:25:15] Brian: Timeline. I think those are the four qualification questions, and there's different ones that are out there, but budget, do they have the budget to work with you? Are they even in the ballpark authority? Do they have the authority to make the decision or do they have a business partner or do they have someone, their boss, to make a decision?

[00:25:28] Brian: Depending on what kind of freelancer you are, maybe a third a band, and there's four other members. The solo band member does not have the authority to make the decision. N is need. So do they actually need your solution? And then timeline, are they looking to start this process within the next however many days, 7, 14, 30 days, or is it beyond that?

[00:25:45] Brian: And you need to put the sales conversation off until they're closer to the actual, decision making time. That's one qualification framework, but you need to qualify the lead. So you're looking through the information they've given you and you're deciding as the freelancer, should I take this call or not?

[00:25:57] Brian: In most cases, unless you're really struggling, you should not [00:26:00] take every call because some people are just tire kickers. Some people are a waste of time, some people are. You cannot help. And by taking on these calls, there could be some side benefits from doing it.

[00:26:08] Brian: This is not a conversation for that. We can talk about that in another episode maybe. But in general, especially when you're in demand as a freelancer, you should not take on every call. So then what do you do with those calls that aren't qualified? in some software, You can have automation set up so that you can just one click reject the lead.

[00:26:24] Brian: So if you reject the lead within one button press, It can automatically put a note that it was lost due to unqualified lead because if you. Mark a deal is lost in the booked call column and not the approved lead column, then we know we lost the deal because they were not a qualified lead. So they can put that in there. It can send a wonderfully written, pre-written rejection email from you saying, Hey, thank you so much for being interested in my food photography services.

[00:26:49] Brian: So glad you booked a call. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm gonna be able to help you with your needs because you do Chinese food and I hate Chinese food. I don't know, whatever the reason, because you're a [00:27:00] fast food restaurant and I only work with fine dining. I dunno, whatever your reasoning is.

[00:27:02] Brian: Here's a list of other potential freelancers that might suit your needs better. But again, thank you so much for booking. I went ahead and canceled the call to respect both of our time, something like that.

[00:27:12] Brian: So that's a one click rejection. The trigger is you click reject, the button reject, or you marked as lost in a specific column on your c r m, the action is rejection. Email marked as lost and categorize the lost reason. All great things to do on sales. But what if you approve the lead Well approving the lead would then do a number of things, and you would approve a lead in most CRMs by dragging the opportunity from the booked call column to the approved lead column.

[00:27:35] Brian: Or in some CRMs, you push the button that you approve the lead. Wonderful. Now that's the trigger. The actions that follow can vary from person to person, but there's a few things you can and should do. The first is send a follow-up email saying Thanks so much. Looked over all the information and I can't wait to talk to you about this.

[00:27:50] Brian: Looks like, definitely something that is in our wheelhouse. Whatever. Looking forward to our call on whatever the call date and time is, it can then put them into the follow-up sequence to remind them [00:28:00] about their call. I talked about that earlier. You should be automating emails that go out 24 hours before an hour before, and then right when the call starts, if it's a digital call.

[00:28:09] Brian: Wonderful. So So you have the call with them. The call goes great, but they're not ready to make a decision right now. Now you have what's called

[00:28:15] Brian: a hot lead. You've had a great conversation. Everything looks like it's a good fit. They're interested, they're just not ready to make a decision yet for whatever reasons. Now, what can you do?

[00:28:23] Brian: If you drag them over to the column that says offer made, meaning that you offered to work with them, you didn't say that it was a bad fit on the call, you can now automate a certain number of things. You can automate this. You need to manually follow up in a week to check in or maybe automate your follow ups.

[00:28:37] Brian: Again, it depends on what you do, but generally I say when you've made an offer to somebody to work together, you should have a 30 to 60 day follow-up series of emails that you send at a certain cadence. The reason being, and this is a study I did in my own, sales, 50% of my income for an entire year came from follow up five or greater.

[00:28:54] Brian: if you have a client that you are in a sales conversation with and you don't follow up at least five times, you're likely missing [00:29:00] out on at least half of your income.

[00:29:01] Brian: The best way to follow up is to always have reminders as the next step, and the best way to always have reminders on the next step is to automate the reminders as much as possible in many CRMs, you can say as soon as something is checked is done. Go ahead and schedule the next follow-up. If I mark something as one in my c r m, meaning I got this paid, or maybe they paid the proposal, that's the trigger.

[00:29:22] Brian: They paid the invoice, or they accepted the proposal. Now it'll just automatically wipe away the follow-up reminders so that I don't keep getting those on my calendar. Are you starting to see how all of this can be mixed and matched to your specific needs? This stuff can be fun, it can be exciting, or it can be a big chore depending on what kind of person you are, but it only has to be set up one time.

[00:29:40] Brian: And once you set these things up, invest a little bit of time working on your business so that when you're working in your business, you're more effective because you don't have to remember to do all of these things.

[00:29:48] Brian: I have only scratched the surface of what sort of automation opportunities are available. There are things that you can do that would blow your mind. You can do things where a text is sent, a reply is sent back to you, and you can have chat G b t [00:30:00] automate the follow-ups based on a certain q and a.

[00:30:03] Brian: You've pre-answered questions using chat G B T, and it'll perfectly formulate the responses based on what you've told it to do. That's great when you have high volume sales through text. But that is beyond the scope of what I'm gonna talk about today. But that is just one small, taste of what you can do with automation in sales.

[00:30:17] Brian: But I'm gonna wrap this episode up with one big reminder. I said this last episode a couple times. I need to say it, this episode at least one time, and that is Only automate the steps. When you have done two things, the first is becoming proficient at it, meaning you're good enough at understanding all the pieces and how they fit together, and you have done it manually. Those two things need to have happened before you ever automate. So if you haven't manually sent rejection emails, you haven't manually added the follow-up reminders.

[00:30:41] Brian: You haven't manually done the task that when someone accepts the proposal to manually send an invoice, if you haven't manually done those tasks. Enough times to know the exact process and steps. You cannot automate it yet. So the last thing you ever need to do is over automate your business with a bunch of crap that you've never done, because that's not the bottleneck in your business.

[00:30:58] Brian: Every business has a bottleneck,[00:31:00] and the only time you need to automate things is when you've become proficient at it and you've done it manually enough times to know that it is the right thing to automate. So if you want any more information about what I've talked about in this episode or last week's episode, My call to action, I implore you, I beg you, I'm on my knee. I wouldn't get on my knees, but this is a standing desk and I'd be outta the shot here. I beg you, Go to six figure creative.com/better b e t t e r and give me your feedback. There's questions on there. There's a series of questions on what we could do better, what you wanna hear more of.

[00:31:29] Brian: You can answer as few or as many of these things as you want. Just gimme some sort of feedback so that I know what sort of content to create for you from here. do you want more about automation? Because this is one topic I really haven't talked about much.

[00:31:39] Brian: I looked through our backlog of episodes and I the last time we talked about automation was like 30 episodes ago, and even that wasn't a dedicated episode to automation. It was more about our Easy AIDS framework, which is eliminate, automate, delegate, mitigate, something like that.

[00:31:52] Brian: Automate only one of those four steps. Hopefully this stuff is valuable for you. And if it's not, hell tell me. Say Brent, don't ever bring up automation again. It's too visual. You need to see it [00:32:00] to understand it. So why would you do an audio podcast for this? You idiot. You absolute stupid idiot. Tell me that stuff.

[00:32:05] Brian: I love to know that I'm an Enneagram eight, so I can take whatever you throw at me, be as mean as you need to. that's it for this episode. Thanks for listening. We're watching. You're watching You like this orange shirt. I like it. Bye.

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