Sea of Knowledge

How and When to Implement Automation

Manual lead intake, triage, and deal progression drains your marketing and sales bandwidth and leaves your customer's experience vulnerable to delayed data updates, mistakes, or abandonment. We'll automate field updates, deal stage progression, and task creation for your team.

Automating portions of your business operations often reveals mixed feelings amongst your team. You’ll find that some team members believe this is essential to your organization’s future. At the same time, some insist that automation will never achieve the personal touch they provide. In some ways, they’re both right.

Automation is not a fix-all for the challenges your team faces, nor is it meant to replace the personal touch added by your sales team. Automation exists to ease the challenges you’re facing by enabling your team to do more of what they do best - create compelling messages and build relationships with your prospects and customers.

We’ll walk you through the decision-making process when considering automation, as well as the common pitfalls and steps to execute.

A word of caution. If your team has not yet defined a customer journey map (and at least one buyer persona), take a step back and invest in those deliverables. Automating portions of your sales, service, and marketing processes without laying the proper foundation can lead to rework and customer frustration down the line.

When to Automate


If you notice that your teams are repeatedly following the same steps to reach a milestone in the customer journey or achieve a specific goal, this is the perfect use case for automation.

Manual Data Management

While working on a sale, your team may be wasting time attaching contacts to deals or updating company information that can be quickly surfaced automatically with the right plugin. Or, your marketing team may be struggling to manage the stage changes for inbound leads before they go to sales - another great case for automation (and potentially lead scoring!).

Manual Reporting

If management is spending an hour (or more) building manual reports, automated reporting and dashboards are worth the investment.

Batch-and-Blast Email

If your marketing strategy emphasizes building and manually sending emails addressing your entire audience. Implementing automated workflows that slice and dice your audience based on behaviors, demographics, and more can supercharge your marketing efforts.

Copy and Paste

Whether your sales team keeps a Word document containing all of their sales outreach copy or your marketing team is creating ten versions of the same email, your team copy and pasting their way through their job is a significant sign that it’s time to automate. Implementing smart content or creating email templates and sequences can quickly boost both morale and results.

Mistakes to Avoid

Automating without a Plan

Reference your customer journey frequently throughout your automation build. Ensure your automations are addressing pain points. Quality over quantity is essential.


It’s never the goal to automate everything your sales and marketing team does. Instead, the goal is simply to enable them to do it better, faster, and more effectively.

Ignoring Adoption

If you build a wealth of automations but fail to educate your internal teams on what you’ve created and how to leverage it to their advantage, your automation efforts will not have the desired impact. So, invest in training, education, and enablement for your sales, service, and marketing teams.

Spamming Customers

Just because you can send your customer 50 emails a week doesn’t mean you should. Be sure your communications are well-placed and adding value to your customer experience.

Ditching Documentation

Automation can give you tunnel vision. The process sucks you in and the potential excites you! However, don’t forget to document what you’ve built and share that documentation internally. It will help you quickly determine workflows that need to be updated over time and see the impact one automation may have on another.

Misvaluing Metrics

Just because you have a high open-rate doesn’t mean your automations are effective. So, remember to dig deep into your metrics and see which automations are converting, not just increasing engagement.

Automating and Abandoning

Don’t set it and forget it. We rarely get it perfect on our first shot, and automation is no exception. Set a plan to revisit your workflows regularly for maintenance and improvements.

Tabling Testing

When you’re on a roll, stopping to test can be a bore. However, testing that your automations are performing is crucial to ensuring a positive customer experience. Pro tip - pass your automations to another team member to test. They may spot hiccups you missed.

Implement Automation

1. Define your Goals

Work with your customer-facing teams and leadership to determine what you’d like to achieve in 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Then, work backward from there to schedule builds & deadlines.

2. Integrate your Tools

Most importantly, ensure your CRM and your marketing automation platform are in sync. Without a steady data flow, you can risk a misfire triggered by outdated or inaccurate information. If possible, consolidate your tools. Using the same system for your CRM and marketing automation is always preferable. (We recommend HubSpot!)

3. Start Small

Your first workflows do not have to take weeks to build. List out all of the opportunities for automation you’ve identified internally and include order of importance and a rough time estimate or level of effort score for each. Start with the high priority, low level of effort

4. Snag Some Quick Wins

Mix in a few quick wins with your high-priority builds.

Examples include:

- Welcome email sequence for new subscribers

- A/B testing for landing pages

- Automate social scheduling

- New lead notifications for sales

5. Test and Test Again

After you get your first workflows up and running, be sure to test them several times. Then, pass them to a team member and have them do the same.

6. Build a Maintenance Plan

Document the automations that are live as you build them. Consider the goals for each and set calendar reminders to review them on a regular basis.

Automation Brain Dump

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Here’s a brain dump of our favorite business-to-business (B2B) automations to get you started.

Deal Stage Automation 

When a meeting is booked with a lead, move them to Lead Status = Meeting Booked and Create a New Deal with Deal Stage = Initial Meeting.

Lead Score Alerts 

If you’ve implemented lead scoring, set notifications for the appropriate sales reps when a lead hits your sales qualified lead (SQL) threshold and set the Lead Status = SQL.

Form Submission Confirmation 

Once your customers or prospects submit a form on your site, trigger an email to hit their inbox with a quick thank you and a value-adding content offer (blog post, ebook, etc). If the form submission gave you more insight into your lead, update relevant fields with a value that reflects they’re most recent action. For example, if they’ve submitted a form for a demo, set Funnel Stage = Decision.

Sales Triage

Our global, Enterprise clients love this one. When your leads hit the ideal lead score, trigger an automation to assign them to the right sales representative. This could factor in country, annual revenue, job title, and more! Determine how leads are assigned to your sales team and start automating. Be sure to also trigger a notification to the owner that they have a new lead.

Onboarding Automation 

Enterprise organizations often involve 2+ departments in their onboarding process. Work with the teams managing sales, service, invoicing, and contracts to determine what tasks need to be completed to successfully onboard a customer and automate them! Automating task creation will keep your onboarding process on track and get your onboarding teams out of Smartsheet and Excel.

PS - This onboarding process should be documented in your customer journey.