Privyr Blog

You have ambitious plans to find and convert more clients, and you already know all the things you need to do. But you’re just one person (or a small team) who doesn’t always have the time to nurture every single lead according to an “ideal” sales process. That could take you weeks or even months of planning and execution.

It’s so easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed by the steps you need to take to warm up your prospects for a sale, especially if you handle all your communications manually. And now you’re wondering if you should just automate your sales process to make your life easier.

🤖 Sales process automation: The good and the bad

The solution seems straightforward: Just set up the automation once, so you don’t have to think about it later. Let autoresponders and marketing automations handle all your customer touchpoints – from the initial contact through every follow-up. No leads will ever get left behind on your to-do list. And you’ll only need to swoop in and close the deal when you know they’re absolutely ready to buy.

However, depending on your industry and business, there are a couple of problems with lead outreach automations. One, if you try to automate everything, you risk coming off as impersonal or insensitive to your prospects. Using autoresponders and scheduled content might even discourage some customers if the message isn’t right. Furthermore, if you use apps like WhatsApp to interact with leads, you could get banned because they have pretty strict rules against automated messaging.

With all these risks involved in sales automation, can you still make it work? Absolutely! But you’ll need to know what you should and should not automate in your sales process. And the simplest answer to that is this:

You should not try to automate everything in your sales process, especially the customer-facing tasks (like following up with a lead to schedule a showflat viewing). However, you should definitely automate tasks that are internal to yourself so you can take a huge chunk of the planning work off your plate (like setting an automatic reminder to yourself that a specific lead returns from their holiday at the end of the month). Let’s dig into the specifics.

🤝 First outreach: Should you automate this?

You want to quickly connect with new leads who initiate a conversation with you, or submit interest through your website or ads online. You’ve heard that it’s always better to contact leads as soon as possible, but you can’t be checking your phone at all times.

Therefore, you might be considering using autoresponders so you can instantly reply to new prospects and customer enquiries. But should you even use them?

Well, they are acceptable in some cases where you make it very clear that the message is an autoresponder (and by no means your actual reply). For example, it’s still fine if your autoresponder says something like, “Thanks for reaching out to us at ACME Residences. We’ll get back to you shortly!”

Here, you’re simply acknowledging that you’ve received their message, and you’ll be reaching out with more details later. Most people are going to be okay with that. However, if you try to do more than that with an autoresponder, you might end up annoying your prospects.

Potential setbacks:

If you try to engage the lead in a conversation with an autoresponder, what happens if they reply to the message, thinking that you’re actually there and available to chat? You will leave your potential customers hanging, and they might even feel irritated enough to never reply again.

Imagine walking into a physical shop and the salesperson says, “Welcome! How can I help you today?” You answer, “Yes, I’d like to buy a laptop for work.” And then the salesperson just walks away without responding. How would you feel and react? 😠😤🤨

Your customers would probably feel and react the same way if you tried to automatically start and drive conversations using autoresponders. You could end up with irritated customers who feel like you’re wasting their time because, to them, you stopped responding abruptly. Therefore, avoid using autoresponders in a way that makes your prospects think you’re currently at the other end of the line attending to them.

Furthermore, you should not even be using autoresponders on apps like WhatsApp where users are not allowed to use automated messaging, according to the official Terms of Service. In fact, you could get banned or even face legal consequences if you use unofficial tools to set up WhatsApp autoresponders.

The closest thing to an autoresponder you can get on WhatsApp is the “away message” feature. But it can only be triggered if the customer messages you on WhatsApp themselves. Plus, you can only set one type of away message at a time, with no personalisation, and you’ll still run into the same problem of leaving the conversation hanging.

Alternative solutions:

  • Just reply to the enquiry when you’re available. The lead will probably react better than if you auto-responded, but aren’t actually there to keep the conversation going.
  • You can automate alerts and reminders for yourself to reply to new leads and enquiries. For example, you can connect your lead sources to a CRM tool so you get instant notifications on your phone whenever a new lead is recorded. Even if you aren’t able to attend to them immediately, the tool will ping you at specific intervals until you are free to send a response.

💬 Follow-ups: Should you automate them?

Once your initial outreach is out of the way, you should keep engaging with your leads regularly. Or at least that’s what the sales gurus say. But the problem is that your sales cycle could be really long, especially if you sell big ticket items like cars and properties. As your contact list grows, you might find it difficult to keep every lead warm and engaged over the weeks, months, or even years.

Here’s where it becomes incredibly tempting to set up automatic ‌follow-ups as well. You might think to put every lead into an automated messaging funnel that sends out different messages at specific intervals; each targeting a different stage of the customer buying process. Additionally, you might even try to schedule appointment reminders for your customers to be super high touch and proactive.
So why shouldn’t you automate follow-ups? 🤔 You might be able to get away with automating follow-ups that aren’t meant to be super personal, such as “Hey, just wanted to let you know that we’re running a promotion in June”. But ultimately, automated messages lack personalisation, as well as the foresight to understand what your prospect needs to hear at that time.

Potential setbacks:

  • Your message might not be relevant or appropriate at the time of sending. For example, you have scheduled a message to remind your customer of their viewing appointment at 2pm, Friday. But they had to cancel to due to a sudden funeral of a dear family member. Imagine their reaction when they receive an automated reminder from you saying, “See you at the viewing later. Can’t wait to meet your whole family! 😉– complete with a dancing GIF. It screams unprofessional and insensitive.
  • Speaking of relevance, even with an automated “drip funnel”, your prospects might not be getting any closer to buying because they’re not receiving the right follow-up messages. Remember, your customers don’t move through the buying process at the same pace. The automation tool doesn’t have your ability to understand the actual customer journey – it’s just following a sending schedule.
  • Additionally, you’re not even allowed to schedule messages on platforms like WhatsApp. Again, they have very clear-cut rules against using automated messages. And any third-party tool that helps you ‌do so are usually unsafe unofficial apps that will have unrestricted access to your WhatsApp account.

Alternative solutions:

Once again, you can use CRM tools to set up automated reminders for yourself to follow up with your leads and customers. This could be an automatic push notification on your phone, let’s say, after three days or a month has passed since you last interacted with a lead.

In the reminder, many CRM tools like Privyr will even give you the option to quickly select one of your pre-written messages to send to the lead, so you won’t have to type everything out yourself. It’s absolutely fine to automate these because you still serve as the final checkpoint before a message is sent. And you’re the one who hits ‘send’.

The automated system shouldn’t be sending messages on your behalf. As smart as they can be, you’re the one who knows what is appropriate to send and when to send it. And taking the time to complete that last inch of review makes a huge difference in creating a pleasant experience for your prospects.

Before you go…

So the big takeaway is that you shouldn’t try to automate everything under the sun, because your conversion rates and your personal brand could take a big hit. Instead, you should use CRM tools like Privyr to automate internal tasks so you always know when to follow up and do so in just one click. Learn more about Privyr here, especially if you mainly run your business from your phone.

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Shuni spent way too much time on Yahoo Answers as a child. Now she writes content to help people make better use of software and marketing tools.