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Automation.

That’s it. Just that one word.

Automation.

More and more businesses – especially the sololpreneur setups – are reaching for automation.

Why hire people when you can instead set into place some technology and just automate the process, right?

This is true. But with technology can sometimes come the misunderstanding of how to develop the process that drives the automation. The other misunderstanding happens when one thinks automation fixes everything, and that no human interaction will ever be needed.

Everything comes with a process. For example, you can have 100 bells and whistles, but if there’s no process for which one goes off first, and how they loop or repeat, or why they’re going off to begin with, then you’re just stuck with a useless bag of shiny metal that you can hock off to your kids for toys.

It is also important to understand the limitations of the technology, and you need to bring in the psychology of how us humans are going to interact with it.

One of the more simple ways small businesses are automating is through their scheduling. But as with any system, there’s a learning curve on developing this process, and the potential that not every part of the process can be automated by technology. Many times you still need a human cognitive touch.

I remember when these tools first came out, some thought it started a relationship out with a distant approach. Their thoughts were that if you didn’t even have the time to bat a couple emails around to schedule, why would one take any initiative in the job itself? However, as time has progressed, these tools have turned into a seemingly love affair for both sides of the scheduling process.

Automation means less time in the inbox. Who isn’t sold on that?

Of course, we can’t discuss this automation without first very quickly touching on the technology options that are out there. There are many options on the market today, but through my experience, I found that these are the top 3 hot applications to choose from:

  • TimeTrade
  • Calendly
  • ScheduleOnce

Below are the top two ways these automated scheduling tools are rocking businesses this year:

1. Sales Funnels

Developing a sales funnel is some fun stuff! But don’t stop short with it! This entire topic is something we could spend countless chapters discussing, so I’ll save most of that. Let’s speed ahead here:

A great example of a sales funnel that will use the auto-scheduling feature is within a campaign that has qualified leads.

When I refer to “qualified leads” I’m referring to leads that have been through a process that has proven them to be a strong and worthy prospect. We don’t want just any bloke off the keyboard to get a hold of your schedule.

An example you might plug into your sales process is to offer these qualified leads a free introductory session with you to see if they’re a good fit as a client. This funnel is already being automated through your marketing software, such as Infusionsoft or Aweber, so all you have to do is plug in that sexy fun email that also contains the scheduling link, and voila!

What NOT to do here is to offer that link out to a mass quantity of unqualified leads or prospects. That will cause a huge potential hijacking of your schedule by weirdos who just want to suck up your time with needless talk and pick-your-brain for free.

Anyone experienced in business knows to run from the “pick-your-brain” mentality with racers on your feet.

Make sure that this is a sales funnel that has been through a process that has qualified the leads before you pass out that golden link to them.

2. One-Off Appointments with Clients and Prospects

Batting emails back and forth to schedule with a client or prospect isn’t time efficient for either party. Who wants to read email these days!?

Fast forward time, and save your manicure!

This is especially a great tool for the solopreneur who is running everything within their business on their own. Offering a quick link where the client or prospect can choose their time on their own is a complete no-brainer.

What NOT to do here is to use this tool for scheduling that requires any additional tracking processes associated with it, UNLESS, you have developed an extensive post-scheduling process to accommodate it.

I have some clients who bill per coaching session, and their billing team has to be in control of the scheduling side to ensure the integrity and accuracy in the billings. Or there has to be a process to ensure accuracy in the historical side of the calendar, so billing is accurate. It’s a balanced process.

You also don’t want to use this tool if your clients are only allowed so many sessions per a specified period of time (i.e. they’re only allowed 2 sessions per month) and you have to police it.

In other words, as an example, if you have to stay on top of your clients to ensure they’re scheduling 2 sessions every month to prevent them from missing too many sessions and becoming a risk for attrition or extension on services, this isn’t a solid automation process. You can still approach this automation, but there’s more to it.

(So extend that process with a use-it-or-lose-it policy. There’s always solutions!)

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