Why Salespeople Can’t Rely Solely on Automation to Close Deals


Consider these three questions from your daily life:

  • Have you ever pushed an elevator button repeatedly that was already lit, hoping the door would close faster?
  • Have you ever hung up a telephone call with customer service after being put on hold for more than a minute?
  • Have you ever stared at those three dancing dots in a text conversation while the other person was typing, only to watch them disappear and never get the message?

Of course you have. Our culture now expects immediacy because we are used to it. Technology has created an expectation that we can get what we want, when we want. And automation companies like FranFunnel are part of the problem. ;)

Meanwhile, that impatience doesn’t seem unreasonable because anyone under thirty doesn’t know, or at least can’t remember, a time before automation existed.

(How exactly did people make their dinner plans without cell phones? Carrier pigeons? Smoke signals? And did they plan to eat pizza weeks in advance? Savages!)

How salespeople feel when automation fails

As a salesperson, you want automation just as much as customers. You would love to live in a world of nonexistent hold times and flawless technology integration, but it’s not always possible.

So when leads don’t respond to your automation, there’s that unmistakable voice that pops into every salesperson’s head about the person’s intent:

“Oh well, guess that customer wasn’t really serious about opening a franchise.”

“If they don’t have the time for me, how the hell am I supposed to make time for them?”

But understand, there are so many more other reasons why you didn’t get the response you desired. Not all of which are tech based.

You’re right to be bummed out. But automation notwithstanding, every lead is a human, and every human rests at the nexus of a vast number of interwoven causes and conditions that influence their buying behavior.

So what’s a salesperson to do?

Accept technology’s limits and double down on grit

Let’s talk about three key failures of automation.

LIMIT #1: The technology didn’t work the way you wanted it to.

Technology fails all the time. Especially automation. If a piece of technology works 99% of the time, you may think that’s pretty good. But when used over and over again that can mean hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of processes are done incorrectly. Take email autoresponders for example.

Features like email automation are very complicated protocols. Here’s the flow, for your reference:

  1. The messages originate in the backend of our software.
  2. Our email service provider sends out the message.
  3. That pings the lead’s email provider.
  4. The message gets delivered to the lead’s inbox.

Which means, if you’re a salesperson using our app, trying to connect with your leads, book appointments and close deals, these delays mean that your messages may never get sent.

How to fight this limitation: Do more than one thing! Diversify your outreach tactics.

LIMIT #2: The medium isn’t right.

Every salesperson has their preferred form of communication. More and more these days it’s text messaging, but email and phone still are quite popular.

Similarly, leads have their preferences. The fact of the matter is, some people still prefer phone calls. Which you can’t automate, unfortunately. But even if customers don’t like texting, that doesn’t disqualify them from engaging with your business.

How to fight this limitation: Do all of them, even if they’re manual. Getting personal goes a long way.

LIMIT #3: They got distracted by something else in their life.

Bic, the stationary supply company, recently commissioned a study that surveyed two thousand adults about technology’s impact on their patience.

Their researchers found that people start to grumble after waiting twenty seconds for a traffic light to change and sixteen seconds for a web page to load.

Not surprisingly, the respondents pointed to their gadgets as the prime source of their agitation.

Curses to you, damned machine!

Way to fight this limitation: Much like with text messages, it's important to ask a specific question to hook your leads in and overcome declining attention spans (although links work much better in emails). Also, send messages manually!

Technology is great, when it works. So be vigilant.

After being in the messaging software business for well over 1000 days now, we’ve accepted the fact that as a tech company, we can only do so much as an app.

At FranFunnel, we will do everything we can to make your life easier, but we can’t do it all.

And that’s when you, the salesperson, have to step in. Manually.

To connect with your leads in a personal and immediate way, sometimes you will have to double down on your efforts to protect yourself against the inevitable imperfections of technology.

The reality is, everything in tech has limits at some point. That’s where you step in.

Maybe that would make a good meme.

Human Beings: The Original Automation.

Scott Ginsberg is Head of Content at FranFunnel. He had a car phone in his 1994 Pontiac Grand Am, mostly for calling his mother.

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