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How to Take Vacation Without Sabotaging Your Sales Team

summer_vacationYou know those weeks where you feel drained, unproductive, and every little task you do seems to take forever, sucking up all of your energy? Other times, it's the exact opposite -- you feel energized and ready to take on the world. 

How do we have more of the latter days and less of the former? I think I've uncovered the secret ... 

Whether you're in employment in the E.U. where employers are mandated to offer their staff 20 days of paid vacation, or you're in the US where many employers offer little to no paid vacation, it's vital that we take the time off we need to relax, de-stress, and rejuvenate our minds -- but that doesn't mean we actually do it. 

Why is it that we don't take the vacation we need and deserve? Many marketers find the idea of leaving their job for a week or more a very stressful experience. Will management hold it against them when it comes to getting a promotion? Will the workload before and after the break become overwhelming? Will their absenteeism cause a massive fall in their KPIs, causing them to struggle to get back on track? All of these fears combine to make for an overworked and under-productive staff.

The key to calming these fears and taking a relaxing vacation is all in the preparation. If you have the right inbound strategy and tools in place, you can have your cake and eat it too when it comes to vacation time. Keep on reading to learn how to set yourself up for a relaxing summer vacation and set your marketing and sales teams up for success for the rest of the year. 

Before You Go: Fueling Up Your Inbound Machine

Many HubSpot customers will start to see dividends within their first three months of implementing an inbound approach to their marketing strategy -- but the inbound machine takes a little warming up before you see results pumping out the other side. 

It's for this reason that you need to start creating content weeks or months before you go on vacation. By writing at least a blog post a week, you'll start to bring in traffic and leads to your site in the short term -- and it'll keep working while you're on vacation, too. After all, Google doesn't take holidays! Come August, you'll have a plethora of leads finding and converting on your website from posts you've written now, which will ensure your sales team has the lead flow they need to get your business through the quieter summer months.

Getting great content up on your blog doesn't need to be a huge task either. Here's a post that can teach you to write a blog post quickly. Then, once you have several blog posts together, you can turn them into an ebook that you can use for lead generation purposes. All of this content will help you out while you're gone. 

One of our customers found great success creating lots of content that paid off during the summer months. "Implementing HubSpot in the summer was actually perfect," said Justin Chant, Marketing Executive at Cleantec Innovation. "We weren't ferociously marketing or selling due to it being a quieter part of the year, which gave us the opportunity to take our time with our first campaign and make it work. We needed time to get content together in terms of downloads and blogs as we really were starting from scratch. The results were instant."

During Vacation: What the Inbound Machine Can Do While You're Away

With a little bit of forward planning, you can set the inbound machine up to run on its own while you take your much deserved break away from the office. You've already got the content written to fuel this machine -- you just need to set the machine to run. There are lots of ways you can use marketing automation to fill the top of your funnel and nurture those leads so that your sales pipeline looks really healthy for kicking off Q4 strong. Here are just a few things you can automate to run in your absence to keep business booming in the summer.

1) Send Your Weekly/Monthly Customer Newsletter

If you have a weekly or monthly newsletter that needs to go out on a particular date, there's no need for your customers to miss out if you're taking some time away from the office. A little bit of forward planning can help keep this on track and your contacts in the know of everything going on with your company.

In email tools like HubSpot's, you can put your newsletter together ahead of time and schedule it to go out on the date and time that your clients are expecting it -- no need for you to be there to hit send. If you don't have HubSpot, most email marketing tools will have this functionality in place for you to take advantage of as well.

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2) Nurture Leads With Regular Email Updates

Just like your customers shouldn't be ignored while you're on vacation, your leads also need to receive regular attention from you. Setting up an email nurturing workflow will ensure that they are still receiving relevant content that keeps your brand top of mind until they're ready to buy.

As always with lead nurturing, the trick is to be as targeted and personal as possible in your messaging. With marketing software like HubSpot's Lead Management tool, you can create targeted lists based on a number of criteria: company size, industry, content they have previously downloaded, stage of the buying cycle, among endless other options. Once you have your lists created, you can build out a workflow to hit them up with relevant emails while you're away, as well as notifying your sales team if they engage with those emails in an interesting way.

If you don't have marketing software in place like HubSpot, you can speak to your developer about creating an integration between your CRM system and your email marketing tool so you can still send targeted nurture emails to your leads. 

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3) Notify Sales When Hot Prospects Are on Your Site

Time is of the essence when it comes to selling your product or service. When someone visits certain pages on your website (e.g. your pricing page), they are probably interested in what you do and are looking for more information on how that can help them.

With a marketing software like HubSpot's Prospect tool in place, you can set up daily, weekly, or monthly email notifications that tell you and your sales team which companies have been visiting your website. You can set up as many people as you like to receive the email notification, so you can take off and rest assured that your sales team is equipped with the knowledge they need to source and qualify new leads.

Another way you can help your sales team follow up with leads in a timely fashion is by getting them to install Signals, which is a free tool that notifies you when a lead opens an email, clicks on a link, or visits your website -- in real time. 

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4) Schedule Social Media Updates

It's important that your social media presence doesn't suffer in your absence. Your audience is still expecting valuable content from you and waiting to share that content with potential new clients within their network.

By scheduling posts to go out while you're away with tools like HubSpot's Social Inbox, your audience and your business won't miss out. You can post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, and Xing, and you can schedule as many posts as you like throughout the period you're away. You can even take control of your colleagues' accounts and post on behalf of them, expanding the reach of your content.

Just remember to not overschedule and come off as a robot churning out content -- switch up the time of day you post, and make sure you or someone on your team is checking in periodically to respond to people on social media. Which leads me to my next point ...

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5) Monitor Social for Relevant People/Keywords

As inbound marketers, we know that just publishing content across all our available social networks isn't enough -- we need to listen and respond, too. With tools like HubSpot Social Inbox, you can set up relevant streams from your social networks and get an email when someone mentions something that is of interest to you or your sales team. You can set up streams based on important keywords while you vacation and make sure that nothing gets missed.

Examples of some streams you could set up include mentions of your company name, mentions of your product plus the words 'demo', 'free trial', or 'sample,' as well as mentions of your competitors.

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6) Report Progress of Company Goals

Just because their marketer is on vacation doesn't mean that management take a break from worrying about reaching the company goals. Even if they themselves are away from the office, the state of the funnel is still top of their mind.

A great way to impress your boss and ease their mind about the funnel is to apply all of the automation mentioned above, and then set up a dashboard or email report for them to see that business has not come to a standstill. In your marketing software, you can provide them with a view of the entire marketing funnel at any given time -- sent straight to their phone! 

So with all of that in place, August is going to shape up to be one of your most productive yet. While you take the break you need to come back refreshed and more productive to close out the year strong, your website will be drawing in awesome leads who will be nurtured to great health for your sales team to work.

Your customers will still be getting their regular updates, your leads will be getting valuable content to help them get closer to sales qualification, and your social channels will be managed and attended to. Not only that, but your management will be able to see all of the progress you are making -- and who knows, may even start implementing more paid vacation! ;)

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