Note: This is a guest post by Aaron Stead, vice president of Sales at Infusionsoft. Small businesses everywhere are getting bogged down by the day-to-day responsibilities that come with running a successful operation. And as more leads and sales come in the door, the amount of manual work and follow-up the business has to do only increases. Ironically, entrepreneurs become a victim of their own success; we’re not OK with that. We’ve spoken to thousands of small businesses from all types of industries. Over and over again, we hear small business owners saying, "I wish I could just clone myself!" For a small business, hiring a bigger staff isn’t always an option. The economy is forcing businesses, big and small, to do more with the same or fewer employees. There is a new wave of marketing-savvy small businesses who are transitioning to the Web, and creating a lot of buzz around an emerging technology. It's called sales and marketing automation software and it is delivering benefits to thousands of small businesses around the world. Until recently, sales and marketing automation software has only been available to large businesses with big marketing budgets and a full-time IT staff. Now, with minimal financial investment, small businesses can leverage marketing automation in powerful ways. Plus, the technology is becoming easier and easier to use so small businesses can actually get marketing automation campaigns implemented in a matter of just weeks. So what are small businesses automating to save time and gain efficiencies? Let’s take a look at five things your small business didn’t know it could automate. 1. New Lead Follow Up Studies show that 80% of people buy between sales contact #5 and #12. Yet, most businesses stop following up after attempt #3, essentially prepping prospects to buy from someone else. Remember, prospects buy when they are ready to buy; not when you are ready for them to buy. Marketing automation campaigns can be set up to ensure that you follow up with every new lead that comes through the door through a series of e-mail communications automatically sent out on a schedule that you determine. Tip: Use marketing automation software that can adapt the message based on the prospect’s behavior and interests like reports they downloaded, links they clicked, emails they opened, etc. Also, incorporate direct mail, voice messages, social media, fax or text messages in the sequence allowing prospects to respond to their favorite medium. 2. New Customer Follow Up Use marketing automation campaigns with new customers to continue the relationship and get repeat sales. You can ensure that you wow every new customer and continue to deepen the relationship. It is 10 times cheaper to sell to an existing customer than it is to find a new one. Tip: When you treat your customers this way, you increase word of mouth, ensure tons of referrals and upsell and cross-sell to your customers like never before. 3. Long-term Nurture If you follow up with your new leads and customers and they don’t bite on your initial offers, you’ve got two choices. First, you can assume they’re bad leads/customers and ignore them by moving on to your next batch of hot leads. Or, you can use a marketing automation campaign to “drip” communications to them over time. Continually providing value and keeping in touch enables you to build a relationship making you more likely to get their business. Tip: Don’t fall into the buy or die trap! If you’re always selling, you’ll tick people off and they’ll begin to ignore you. Be the valued expert by continually providing useful tips, tricks and ideas that help your prospects and customers. 4. Collections Many small businesses streamline collections by setting up marketing automation campaigns. For example, a couple of weeks before a credit card expires, an e-commerce system triggers a “Your credit card is about to expire” campaign encouraging customers to update their card information. In many circumstances, collections can double using this technique, while the amount of work that went into the effort was reduced by 50 percent or more. Tip: Start your communications with a pleasant tone. Always give people the benefit of the doubt. They’ll appreciate you for that and reward you for it. 5. Workflow Some of the newer, cutting-edge sales and marketing automation software allows you to bundle your commonly repeated tasks and actions into “one-click tasks.” For example, you often answer the same sales questions every day. With marketing automation software you can start prospects on a follow-up sequence to provide more education; or “flag” the person as someone you need to call again in a few days. Tip: By automating and tracking your workflow you reduce the potential for human error and ensure that all necessary actions are performed every single time. Check out how the social media marketing and online branding company, Mint Social, automates workflow so that it can serve a bigger client base. Small businesses can leverage the efficiencies provided by the Web. They no longer have to fear their own success. Armed with the latest in sales and marketing automation tools, small businesses can act and market like a much bigger business, but they can do it on a small business budget and without adding a bunch of staff. About Aaron Stead As Infusionsoft’s vice president of sales, Aaron is instrumental in driving the company’s overall growth strategy. A proven leader with an extensive background in the CRM software industry, Aaron has a knack for getting to the heart of customers’ needs creating benefits to match. Prior to joining Infusionsoft, Aaron grew several North American revenue channels for UK-based Sage, a global CRM software firm.