Inbound scheduling automation is the process of attracting, booking, and following up with prospects in pursuit of a sales appointment.
Rather than chase down prospects and get stuck in endless back-and-forth email chains, companies today rely on scheduling apps to put that heavy lifting on autopilot.
In this guide, we’ll break down how to use inbound scheduling automation to double your sales pipeline and significantly increase your speed to lead.
Why Inbound Scheduling Automation is a Must-Have for Sales
Chances are you’re already juggling your fair share of marketing tools, right?
Meanwhile, some people are understandably skeptical of automation and what automated tools are actually capable of.
Hey, we get it. That said, inbound scheduling automation is already a staple of sales teams today and is only poised to become more important in the future.
How so? Below are some key stats and pointers that highlight why scheduling automation is such a game-changer.
Scheduling Apps Save Your Reps Serious Time
To say that there’s a widespread sales rep productivity problem would be an understatement.
Not only do over half of sales reps miss their quotas but most reps only spend about one-third of their time actually, you know, selling.
That’s why freeing up tedious, time-consuming tasks in your team’s schedule is so important.
Scheduling appointments and following up with leads and prospects is a notorious time-sink that represents more of a game of fetch than a productive use of your reps’ time. These sorts of tasks are exactly what automation was made for.
Automation Empowers Reps to Focus on Relationship-Building
Food for thought: 50% of salespeople say that relationship-building is their favorite deal-related activity according to Salesforce.
Anything you can do to be more personable in an era of increasing digital sales is a plus. Prospects today expect personalized service and personable salespeople. By the way, your reps want to deliver an awesome experience — the key is giving them the bandwidth and opportunities to do so.
Also, consider that inbound scheduling automation can actually help with delivering a better experience by routing your sales leads to the right reps (but more on that in a minute).
Leads Drop Off Faster Than We Can Keep Up with ‘em Manually
This is a big one.
According to recent speed to lead statistics highlighted by Chili Piper, the odds of qualifying a lead drop a staggering 80% after five minutes of no outreach.
This graph from Vendasta helps illustrate how much any significant lag in lead response time hurts a potential deal.
Your reps might be the best salespeople on the planet, but they can’t compete with the robots when it comes to booking and follow-ups.
Automated routing and scheduling ensure near-instant contact with your prospects to keep them engaged and very much still in your sales funnel.
Take a look at this gif to see the entire routing cycle played out from the customer’s point of view.
Based on Chili Piper data (over 2 million meetings booked), leads can be on the phone with a rep in 10-12 seconds after clicking a CTA.
When we talk about speed to lead, we mean speed.
“Who Really Needs Scheduling Automation, Though?”
Inbound scheduling automation is particularly useful for startups, and enterprise companies alike.
If your business sells any sort of product or service which requires a demo, scheduling apps allow you to qualify leads and get your demo in their hands ASAP.
Such tools are also fair game for any company with a busy or stressed out sales team. As noted earlier, automation can help trim the fat from your reps’ schedules.
Additionally, platforms like Chili Piper allow you to distribute your leads in such a way that no single rep or team is overwhelmed.
A tool like Chili Piper can be simple enough for a 2-person sales team to use, or scalable enough for a massive business. Some of Chili Piper’s clients have over 15,000 employees and hundreds of sales reps.
How Inbound Scheduling Automation Boosts Sales
The need for scheduling automation is well-documented. In fact, we’ve seen firsthand via client case studies how a meeting scheduling app can significantly boost a company’s lead pipeline.
One case in point is a sourcing business who used Chili Piper to generate $10 million in pipeline.
But what does the process behind inbound scheduling automation actually look like?
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how a scheduling tool takes care of the tedious tasks related to setting up meetings. We’ll also highlight the key benefits of using an automation platform rather than “winging it” in terms of follow-up.
Entice Your Prospects to Take Immediate Action
First things first. Let’s look at the “inbound” aspect of inbound scheduling automation.
Conventional wisdom tells us that 98% of visitors won’t leave their contact information or convert after landing on a website.
But with an inbound scheduling tool, you provide your visitors with an immediate opportunity to take action.
For example, check out how Segment puts their schedule-related call to action front-and-center by inviting visitors to book a demo.
This same opt-in opportunity accompanies visitors as they move from page-to-page, meaning they can book at a demo at any team as they learn more about their suite of products.
SaaSOptics does the same thing. The big green button funnels users into a form page to schedule a demo.
Listen, visitors can’t interact with your company or site if they aren’t given a chance to do so. Promoting your demo serves as a constant reminder that you’re willing to give your visitors a taste of what you’re selling, encouraging them to take the crucial step through your funnel.
Automatically Collect Your Prospects’ Essential Information
Remember what we said earlier about salespeople sending so much time not selling?
The previously noted Salesforce data says that salespeople spend approximately one-third of their time researching prospects.
With inbound scheduling automation, you can automatically collect your prospects and leads’ most important information as soon as they’re interested in booking a demo. This significantly cuts down on time spent researching.
Check out how RingCentral does exactly that, providing a brief web form while enticing visitors with a demo video to push them to book faster.
Data from SuperOffice notes that companies can increase leads by over 60% simply by collecting data from web forms.
By requiring specific qualifying information such as company, industry, or location, you can quickly qualify your leads and provide your reps with the context they need before hopping on a call.
Allow Leads to Schedule Meetings on Their Own Terms
Anything you can do to make life easier on your leads is good news.
That includes setting up a meeting.
By embedding a scheduling calendar on-site, you empower your leads to book meetings that mesh with their professional and personal calendars. Rather than force them into an awkward time slot, they’re given control and flexibility.
This likewise lets them know that you respect their schedule and reduces no-shows. In other words, a win-win.
And again, this is all before you or your sales team has to lift a finger.
Here’s an example of a booking calendar in Chili Piper, aligning your visitors’ availability with that of your sales reps. The calendar only populates available times based on your reps’ availability so everyone’s online schedule is on the same page.
In cases where a lead meets your most important criteria and signals themselves as a hot prospect, Chili Piper also allows leads to get in touch with a rep at that very moment (granted there’s someone available). If not, leads can schedule a future meeting right then and there.
Ideally, your meeting scheduler software should confirm the next steps with your leads so they know what their next steps are and that your product is fresh in their minds.
Here’s what that confirmation process looks like in Chili Piper:
In the case that someone goes cold or no-shows a meeting, you still have their essential contact information stored. This makes for easy manual follow-up and outreach in the future.
Additional features in Chili Piper like one-click booking via email means that you can reach such leads directly in their inboxes without having to direct them back to your site to book.
Automated Routing Then Delivers Your Leads Directly to the Right Reps
Now, onto the even better stuff.
What happens behind the scenes via automated routing is where scheduling tools really shine.
As noted earlier, leads can only book based on your routing rules and availability settings. This means defining your reps’ schedules, roles, seniority, and so on.
Doing so upfront lets you create a booking and routing system that works like a well-oiled machine. In other words, no scheduling conflicts and reps are routed to relevant prospects.
For example, companies are able to establish rules to ensure that more valuable prospects are routed to veteran reps.
You can also set parameters so that nobody is saddled with twice as many meetings as someone else on your team.
Then, your automation platform takes it from there when an actual booking happens.
Checking your rules against your reps’ calendars and your prospects’ parameters, reps are sorted and assigned meetings accordingly.
Then you have a bird’s-eye view of who’s “next in line” for any given meeting in addition to a detailed meeting calendar.
The end result is booked calendars that don’t require your reps to chase after prospects or nearly as many no-shows.
This sort of overview not only provides a comprehensive view of your reps’ schedules but also the state of your inbound pipeline.
Review Your Inbound Sales Performance and Fine-Tune Your Tactics
As is the case with any sort of inbound tool, reporting and analytics are obviously important.
For example, which of your reps are closing the most deals? Have you seen an increase in meetings since implementing automation software? How full is your pipeline at any given time?
Here’s a snapshot of the assigned meetings dashboard in Chili Piper, showcasing specific types of presentations, how many attendees are in your queue, and how those meetings are performing.
You can also see how inbound leads convert versus, say, leads from events or outbound efforts. Based on this, you can adjust your strategy accordingly and invest in tactics that result in the most deals.
That’s the process of inbound scheduling in a nutshell.
Although not totally set-and-forget, having a scheduling tool take care of all of the above saves significant time and energy for your sales team.
Are There Limitations to Free Scheduling Software?
When looking at any sort of marketing tool, it’s crucial that your solution has the features and functions that make sense for your business.
So, how do you pick the best appointment scheduling software for small businesses? Or an enterprise company?
We put together an in-depth analysis of how Chili Piper compares to tools such as Calendly and Acuity scheduling, digging into the key differences between scheduling software solutions out there today.
One key automation feature in Chili Piper is suggested meeting times in emails. Syncing with your reps’ schedules directly in your inbox, our platform highlights available times and puts them front-and-center in your contact’s inbox.
Cool, right? However, the sales impact of this sweet little feature is nothing to scoff at.
Fact: we ran a test and found that suggested timing in emails resulted in 13x as many demos versus a mere calendar link.
Another added bonus of Chili Piper is the ability to select between different types of lead-routing.
For example, companies can choose round-robin routing or select meeting attendees based on ownership. This gives you and your sales team a sense of flexibility and routes leads in a smarter way beyond first-come, first-serve.
Chili Piper’s integrations are another upside worth noting. After all, every business has its distinct software stack and preferred platforms.
From demand generation tools to your CRM, your scheduling app should seamlessly integrate with the tools you’re already most familiar with (think: HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot).
Speaking of which, our Salesforce integration is notable as you can actually make and manage appointments directly from the platform. If you’re already spending most of your day in Salesforce, you can go about business as usual.
And that’s our guide!
Ready to Get Started with Inbound Scheduling Automation?
Putting your scheduling on autopilot does double duty of making life easier on your sales reps while also increasing your pipeline.
The end result? More sales closed faster and more opportunities to build relationships with your customers.