Before You Buy SharpSpring: SharpSpring Marketing Automation Success Video

Thinking about buying SharpSpring marketing automation for your company? Fantastic. Check out my video transcription or watch my training video BEFORE you buy SharpSpring or any other marketing automation solution.

As the founder and managing partner of Clarity Strategic Advisors, one of our primary focuses in consulting, advising and coaching our clients in the selection of marketing automation and related solutions that drive demand and revenue.

 This article is an edited version of the video transcription for those of you who tell me you prefer my written word more than any video.

Watch this video before you buy SharpSpring or any other marketing automation platform.

Transcription begins here ...

I'm also a SharpSpring partner and I am a huge fan of CRM, customer relationship management, integrated with some of the world's best marketing automation disciplines, and I'm going to walk you through right now the key things you want to think about before you invest your hard-earned money and energy and time into a marketing automation platform like SharpSpring.

I use SharpSpring personally. My job as an advisor and as a business consultant is to help my clients pick the right system. Sometimes SharpSpring is a phenomenal fit and I can know in about an hour conversation doing proper discovery with the users of the system. Once you get clear on a system that's right for you and your people, here are the things you want to think about.

First and foremost, never buy marketing automation software including SharpSpring or HubSpot or Infusionsoft or active in a seminar, especially if it's a seminar geared for motivation and they're famous people selling from a stage or the back of the room. I'm not taking away from anything those guys do because I'm on those stages from time to time more I'm in the rooms or behind the scenes engineering the campaigns and the content and all that fun stuff. But the key is ladies and gentleman before you invest in SharpSpring or anything else, you need to let your users drive the selection process and then let them bring to you as the business owner or leader the tools that they need to get the job done. And then you compare those to the features available in a platform like SharpSpring. Just understand.

Secondly, there's no perfect platform. SharpSpring is phenomenal. But again, back to what I originally said, choosing software is like choosing anything else that you invested. You have to think about the suitability and the viability of getting a return on your investment. SharpSpring is wonderful for many customers. I liked SharpSpring because they sell to agencies and consultants like me who then bring the product into the right accounts and when that happens, the software tends to work better. Not that people can't do this on their own, but I've been doing these kinds of automations since 2007 when I first bought Infusionsoftsoft, the original Infusionsoftsoft, ladies, and gentlemen go way, way back. Okay. This was in their early days. Automation was new. I was coming away from ACT, doing mail merge with Microsoft word, believe it or not, and it was really when the internet was kicking off and even then there was no perfect platform. That's what drove me to find Infusionsoftsoft and then I found SharpSpring actually they found me and we became partners like I am with many technology companies and they're phenomenal for the right accounts, the right teams, it's an all in one system that can plug into many other platforms like Salesforce.


So if you're running Salesforce, Salesforce is not truly marketing automation. Salesforce is customer relationship management, and they are the best in the business, the market leader. Marc Benioff, the CEO, brought this kind of software to the world so well one of the main leaders, but your success really depends on the owners telling you what they need and how they want to set it up. Because when you consider the total cost of ownership, which in the case of SharpSpring or HubSpot or Infusionsoft can vary widely depending on the size of your list, the number of your users, the amount of emails that you send. Those are the things that tend to affect pricing the most when you're choosing any of these systems, but you have to consider total cost of ownership because if you're going to invest $10 $20 $30,000 over the course of six months, 12 months, you must do a good job melding every aspect of your strategy and business and team into a platform like this, it will be your dashboard and it will be a good investment over time that will far, far outweigh any money you spent.

Even today, if you're watching this video right now, a certain percentage you will follow up, go to my website, complete a SharpSpring web form. You'll see my happy little automation sequence. You'll schedule a time on my calendar and 99.9% of the time you guys, you do not miss those appointments because you know I know what I'm doing. Just through my experience. You know, if you don't know, I owned a digital agency that was all built on this stuff and I sold it and now I just do consulting and online courses and writing and teaching and coaching, things I love to do. Um, because I need this, the authors I work with need this platform. Not, not SharpSpring per se, but a marketing automation platform. This is the underpinning of your business, ladies, and gentlemen, if you take your business seriously and you do because you're watching this video now, the total cost of ownership is nothing compared to the ROI.

SharpSpring Marketing Automation Works When It’s Worked by the Right People

When you get the right people using SharpSpring the right way… so you have to have, number five is a big one. If you don't have someone on your side to take the lead, the administrator of SharpSpring, much like you do for Salesforce, somebody on your team who's going to have all the passwords, all the logins, know the system and continue to learn the system and stay on top of it as SharpSpring and all these systems of all ladies and gentlemen. And that's what you get when you're buying software as a service. You're getting a piece of software that's in the cloud online constantly being upgraded so that the updates are being pushed out in what's called new releases and your administrator. Chances are it's not you if you're the business owner, I'm your administrator and your power users. Generally, it's a CFO, it's the head of marketing, it's the head of sales and the CEO or the owner, uh, or the VP division head.

They want the dashboard and they're going to know and oversee how all of this works. Make sure it fits the strategy and plan and goals of the business, but that administrator is not to be taken lightly. It's a very difficult position to fill. I can contract that for a short period of time for you guys, but basically now I'll help you find and hire that person, write the job description, the accountabilities, and all that fun stuff because you need them either as a freelancer or full time on your staff onsite or remotely. Number six, you have to plan to make SharpSpring successful. You're going to plan with a guy like me. If we ended up meeting and working together through a process I've been through hundreds of times that gets results. It's a step by step process. We will deviate a few steps in from the, from the process when, when it makes sense.

How Long Does the Setup Process Take?

Uh, some processes are much shorter and quicker than others where there's a bunch of legacy lists and content and data to move, but you have to plan the move to a platform like SharpSpring. You have to plan to keep working on the platform every week. You guys. Absolutely. And again, if you don't have the right people to invest in a platform like SharpSpring sure you can hire an agency there. Many of my peers out there, young men and women who are, who are building newer agencies, I've moved on from that world. I coached many of them and help them because it's a tough business. But, but if they're building a business around SharpSpring and their intentions are good and they understand the fundamentals of building companies, I will get behind them and help them plan to plan. And you have to map the key fundamentals of your business into the system.

And that starts with your brand and your identity and the messaging and the power compelling offers. Like download this free guide or sign up for this free course preview or you're invited to join us for our webinar or I'll see you at our trade show, right?

All of this is about creating an ecosystem where you have a functional inbound system that is also outbound, right? Because you have salespeople plugged into these systems, SharpSpring can stand on its own and do everything if you don't have Salesforce or CRM. SharpSpring is customer relationship management, email marketing, all your dashboards for marketing. All your landing pages can live here. Uh, interfaces with blogs. Social media accounts is a wonderful solution that's extremely affordable for millions of companies and most people have never heard of SharpSpring. So the fact that you're watching this video, congratulations. Never stop planning to plan and making it a team sport.

Okay? Now SharpSpring allows you to create a dashboard. All my CEOs want the dashboard. Now, hopefully, they're going to remember to log in and use the system and if you're a business owner, I'm just going to say this flat out or a division leader, if you're not willing to use the system and lead by example, forget it, stick with MailChimp or a spreadsheets or whatever else you're doing. This kind of success is driven by a culture of accountability, as I call it, with my clients. You guys have to measure everything. This will give you a dashboard, but you have to do all the inputs. You can do lead scoring, which basically increases the value of your leads as they go from market qualified to sales qualified. If that's how you measure, you can set up your pipeline, your opportunities. When you buy SharpSpring through me, I am going to set this up and I'm going to introduce you to people in my community who will add value when you need them as freelancers to keep your costs down.

What Is the Total Cost of Ownership?

Because when you're measuring the total cost of ownership, one of your bigger costs will be labor. My labor costs when from a hundred or excuse me, $25 an hour when I was earning $50 and I know we're learning this stuff in 2007 and eight and became a partner with Infusionsoft, but my labor costs over the years went up to a hundred there are very few people who can speak sales, marketing, analytics, technology, copywriting, and make these systems work in a robust way. And that's why you need to have the right people. Because truly these systems are for companies. You could use them if you're a small business owner. But honestly, I'm going to say this, don't get upset SharpSpring people. But you could use Pipedrive, you could use Nimble, you could use Active Campaign.

(DISCLOSURE ADDED: In most cases, I am a partner with the company. If you click my link and sign up for a demo, I earn a referral commission as the partner. These costs never increase your cost to purchase the software as is the case with most partner and affiliate programs.)

Heck, you could use Google contacts or your phone, which is free, right? I mean, a lot of people are running their businesses on their phones, but if they lose this in a toilet or a pool or something, uh, their list is gone because this system where houses your most asset, which is a list of prospective customers, active customers, past customers, stakeholders, investors, it all lives in SharpSpring.

And they live on the list and basically going to take in 90 to 180 days to implement a system like this. When I work with you, I charge a flat fee for the setup. I charge ongoing coaching and I have various content solutions through my writing team because we still do a lot of content creation, um, because it takes, it takes it easily 90 days to get this thing up and running. And it's true for HubSpot or any of them. But what you'll find is when you're comparing, make a good decision, don't rush into buying this stuff. Talk to people who you're paying a fee for advice. Um, and, and, and if that's an agency, great, but remember agencies are selling services like I do and we sell services that support your success in investing in a system like SharpSpring so that it stabilizes your company, gets everybody laser-focused and excited, right?

Culture of Trust and Accountability Is Required

You have to create a culture where you just don't show up with the software and announce it because that'll flip everybody out. But you'd get everybody to buy in and you help everybody understand why SharpSpring or something else like it is good for them because when you use these systems and you see the benefits and appointments show up on your calendar and people can click and book themselves in and your business is growing and you see that in your dashboard or you see that in stage two or three of your sales pipeline, you've got a bottleneck in the proposals and Oh by the way, it takes a day to get the proposals out. You guys, this stuff allows us to see and do see things and do things that using spreadsheets won't. Marketing automation is here to stay. I've been doing this since 2007 and this is a brand new business.

If you're considering SharpSpring, reach out to me, find me, Clifford schedule a time. I'll give you half-hour, 45 minutes of my time. I'm going to ask you some very direct questions because I'm going to help you understand if it's a good fit for you. And I'm going to tell you if I don't think it is as a professional, as a courtesy. And then if you feel I'm a fit for your team, again, I charge flat fees and I will help you meet people that will make SharpSpring fly. SharpSpring's direct support is phenomenal. SharpSpring's leadership team is phenomenal. Rick Carlson, you're doing a great job. All you guys work so hard in Gainesville, Florida, everywhere. Supporting SharpSpring, you're loyal to your customers, you're loyal to your partners and your agencies. And believe me, that doesn't happen often in the technology space. So just no behind SharpSpring are amazing human beings supported by a publicly-traded stock, um, where you have investors. Okay? And, and that's a real company. It's here to stay. So thanks for watching.

I'm Cliff Jones. Clarity Strategic Advisors.

Want to learn more about training and coaching your sales and marketing teams to get better results? Schedule a time to talk with me today by clicking here now.

SharpSpring Consultant Reveals Powerful Process for Making Your Marketing Work

As a SharpSpring consultant, I get to see a ton of marketing and sales campaigns come together, or not. The goal of this article and video is to help business owners and leaders understand why strategic planning and creative content are so important when it comes to making your marketing and automation work without losing your mind or your shirt.

If you own and operate a SharpSpring account to manage your marketing and sales, this article is for you. Even if you don't use SharpSpring because you're committed to another marketing automation platform, this articles is for you because what you're about to learn is a proven process for powering any marketing automation engine or campaign.

In case you want to read about this and not watch my video, here's the bottom line ...

You have to have sound business fundamentals such as an effective strategic plan of action and the right people on your team to execute marketing and sales success. This is your foundation, and we can easily agree all big companies and organizations depend on a strategic plan of action to align the team.

Given a sound plan and team, you then have your marketing and sales campaigns. Generally, these revolve around your website and whatever "real world" presence you see fit to integrate into your plan. For example, many of my clients attend trade shows. The question for them becomes how we make sure their marketing platform, SharpSpring, helps them make the most of their investment in every trade show they attend.

SharpSpring will serve as your "ultimate" marketing assistant and platform. It will tend to the needs of virtually any sales organization, and can always integrate with Salesforce and other CRM systems. But my approach with the marketing technology, much like the strategic plan of action is FOCUS.

The main point for you is if you own a business, you invest every day in marketing, sales, technology, and people to make it all work for you. When you embrace a solid plan of action, then your success is all about content.

The more creative, engaging and compelling your marketing and sales messaging is, your content, the easier it will be for you to attract, engage, and convert more prospects into happy, paying customers.

We can all agree that we depend on the internet and technology to compete for our fair share of customers in any business or market. With or without marketing technologies like SharpSpring, the business of life might be simpler. This does not imply your life would be easier until you learn to master the art of strategic planning aligned with creative content, committed people and a purpose-powered business culture.

I always appreciate constructive comments and questions here on my blog. If you need help with strategy, sales and marketing performance, action planning, training, and creative content, connect with me here for a free ROI strategy session.

To your success, Cliff

P.S. If you are interested in learning how SharpSpring can make a difference for you and your business, let's go through a Marketing Automation Vendor Comparison that will show you the best value for you, not me. Ask me about special savings and programs for making SharpSpring work for you.

What Can Kartra and SharpSpring Do for Your Business When It Comes to Managing Relationships, Content and Marketing Automation?

Want to get a glimpse of a typical day for me when I'm in "campaign building" and creative technology mode? What would a customized, online training and group coaching program do for your sales and customer service teams? Want more clarity, confidence and results from your sales, marketing and tech investments? Let's connect.

Who Wins This Marketing Automation Vendor Comparison? SharpSpring vs. Hubspot vs. Marketo vs. Act-On vs. Pardot vs. Infusionsoft

Want to see who wins this marketing automation vendor comparison? Check out my short video or read the article because I'd love to hear your opinion on which of this list of marketing automation "heavy hitters" might be best for you and the people who work hard for you.

I'm going to do my very best to walk you through a case study that compares what I consider to be the biggest and most competitive, most widely used marketing automation platforms in the industry. All of these solutions can be integrated with CRM. Each of these vendors offers their basic CRM or what I would call more like a contact management list management system.

This particular worksheet is provided compliments of SharpSpring to SharpSpring partners. I am a SharpSpring partner, but as any of you who know me well, who have worked with me one on one in the hundreds of instances I've implemented or optimized a marketing automation platform, you know I am a suitability guy. This means I help you choose and optimize the marketing automation platform that is BEST for YOU.

The main message of this article and video is this: Always include your key people in the process of evaluating the best marketing automation solution for you and your team. There are MANY VARIABLES to consider!

Please, never buy marketing automation or any software for your company in a seminar and bring it back to your office and wonder why nobody is very happy with you.

You’ll hear the details of the comparison in the video. The needs analysis that will produce a side by side comparison, including trust, radius reviews. This scenario includes a larger company, typical of what I prefer to work with.

Here’s the company profile …

When you watch the video you will hear and see my detailed breakdown of the marketing automation vendors so you can see a side-by-side comparison.  Listen to the nuances of my professional opinion after hundreds of implementations and optimization projects since I started using marketing automation software in 2008. (The article would have been way too long.)

Sharpspring is the only company I know that exclusively focuses on selling through partners like me, consultants, marketing agencies, integrators, technology firms. They mostly sell directly to businesses.

My top insights shared in the video ...

  1. Look at the annual cost and upfront commitment. That's a big deal. Contract terms, third-party CRM integration availability is also important. Except with Infusionsoft, this is not entirely true. (Full disclosure: Infusionsoft and I had a long run as a top-rated partner. I know it well but don’t like it much.)
  2. Infusionsoft offers solid customer relationship management for outbound salespeople where you can sort reach contacts drilled down, and leverage a lead scoring system. So it's not a terrible CRM.
  3. I would say the best free CRM here is HubSpot, but just know they limit what you can do in free CRM.
  4. Infusionsoft is the lowest price in this comparison. But you should not buy this on price alone. Focus on function and ROI! (What do you people want?)
  5. The upfront commitment to make the software work for you is a big difference. Now, the vendor comparison is a little misleading. If I'm going to set up a full system, you should plan on spending about $10,000 including a great strategic input based on a lot of thought, clear communication and experience through my process and about 90 days plan to invest for an initial build or a high-performance optimization, about $10,000, maybe a bit less.
  6. You can see some of these solutions are much more expensive. I'm telling you when we get into a cost-cutting down cycle in this economy, companies will be cutting these expenses and head counts. And you all know what I'm talking about, month to month terms unlike everybody else.
  7. I can run this marketing automation vendor comparison for any scenario. It takes me about a half hour to do it and run you through it. I can work in any of these systems because what I focus on is the strategy of the campaign, the targeting, and most importantly, the messaging, the frequencies, the things that actually make any of these incredible systems work.

In closing, remember to never buy any software like this in a seminar. The bigger the company, the better the leadership and capabilities of the marketing and sales pros. They “get it” when it comes to choosing and investing in their marketing technologies.

But most small business owners don’t “get it.” They wing it and that gets expensive and frustration fast.

If you need help contact me.

I always appreciate your constructive comments and questions.

To your success!

P.S. I normally suggest far simpler solutions now for true, small businesses of one, two and three people. Schedule a time to chat with me if you’re interested in learning more.

CRM User Review - Pipedrive vs SharpSpring vs Infusionsoft

Want better sales pipeline performance and results? Check out my CRM User Review video comparing the CRM function of three popular CRM and marketing automation solutions.

What's the best CRM or marketing automation solution for you and your team? Well, you can't teach a kid to ride a bike in a seminar if you ever studied Sandler Sales Institute and the legendary work of David Sandler who wrote a book by the same title. (It's one of the best books ever on sales. See link below.)

Here's the bottom line - know how your salespeople will use your CRM and empower them to focus on PROCESS and ACTIVITIES every minute they are in sales mode. Make it easy for them to research, contact, engage, update and convert new customers through your sales stages.

This is critical for outbound B2B sales organizations or anyone who's serious about accelerating sales success. When you focus on a sales process it's game over!

Why do you suppose every successful company empowers their salespeople by listening to their needs and providing amazing admin support along with marketing automation and content like pitch decks, proposal templates, email templates and more? ROI - Return on Investment!

Here's the Sandler book I suggest.

Did this video and article help you? If so, thanks for subscribing to my email updates, blog, and YouTube channel, maybe even leaving a positive comment, or sharing this video with a friend.

Want to connect for an ROI Strategy Session and explore what I can to help you get better marketing ROI and sales pipeline results? If so, the best way to do so is the contact page of my website or LinkedIn. You pick. I promise to listen, ask a few relevant questions, learn about your goals and frustrations, and give you my honest, professional opinion about what I may or may not be able to do to help even if it's in some small way.

SharpSpring Saves You Time and Money With New Content Calendar Manager

This post walks you through how SharpSpring saves you time and money with the new content calendar manager. The short video is the best way to see exactly how I test drive the new SharpSpring tool for better managing social media marketing.

Who is SharpSpring? Glad you asked.

SharpSpring is one of the leading marketing automation solutions on the planet. But you may not have heard of them because they don't spend money advertising directly to business owners, sales and marketing leaders. Instead, they choose to target and market value added consultants like me, and mostly, amazing agencies who see the power of putting SharpSpring in place as the content marketing and customer relationship management solution in one.

My short video walks you through SharpSpring's newest feature called the social media content calendar. I call it a manager because that's what it does. It makes managing your social media posts to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter easier because you can do all the work in one place and schedule for posting now, or in the future.

Block Time, Schedule Social Media Posts

One of the best ways to get even more from a social media management tool as powerful as this is to block time every week, month or quarter to plan, choose, set up and schedule all your social media posts in advance, IF that makes sense for your business model and marketing plan.

If not, there are many other ways to make social media a more effective tool for top of funnel marketing awareness and lead generation. But the key is knowing who will do this hard and very important creative work, and make sure it gets done on a regular basis. Consistency is one of the keys to being effective with social media marketing. Don't cut corners because every word, every image, every link makes a difference.

The bottom line is social media, when done consistently well over long periods of time, can be a powerful way to boost traffic, attract and engage more of your ideal customers.

How do you manage your social media now, and what would you change, if anything?

I always appreciate your comments and questions here on my small business success blog.

If you'd like to learn more about SharpSpring, or how I and my small team of writers and marketing geeks can help you with content, strategy and creative marketing insights, connect with me here.

To your success!

Marketing Automation Vendor Comparison - SharpSpring vs. Hubspot vs. Other?

This is a marketing automation vendor comparison case study featuring the leading marketing automation solutions on the market. In the interest of full disclosure, I've worked in marketing automation since 2008 when I became an early customer, then a top-rated partner, with Infusionsoft. I am currently a partner with SharpSpring, and have invested thousands of hours working in many of the best marketing automation solutions on the market.

Also, there are other worthy email marketing and marketing automation solutions on the market that are not included in this post. For example, MailChimp, Constant Contact and Aweber are worthy email marketing services, aka EMS.

The reason I limit my marketing automation vendor comparisons to the following list of companies is because the marketing team at SharpSpring built their tool to feature the more robust, true marketing automation solutions available on the market today.

Which marketing automation solution is optimal for you? The one you have right now IF you're getting the sales and business results you seek. I suggest to everyone that choosing the best marketing automation solution is never done in a seminar, on a whim. These are serious systems for powering high-ROI sales and marketing results. Small companies become big companies when marketing automation aligns well with the sales focus of the organization. But your success is determined by choosing "suitable" marketing automation based on your business model, strategy, goals, people, and more.

In other words, you need to do your homework before you invest in marketing automation.

If the people helping you choose, implement and power marketing automation are not completely plugged into your strategy, people, content, target market (Avatar or Persona), and 94 other key discovery points, you're probably not getting the best results.

The marketing automation vendor comparison used in this video is powered by SharpSpring. It will help you quickly and easily assess which marketing automation solution is best for you. Whether you're launching your marketing automation solution for the first time, or up sizing or down sizing, this is by far the fastest way to help your team assess the major players in the market.

Got a question or comment? Please post it here on the blog.

You can also connect with me here.

Let's get social ...


SharpSpring Marketing Automation

Get expert help you can trust with SharpSpring marketing automation. As a certified SharpSpring partner, I've worked with hundreds of small company owners, leaders and managers for more than 20,000 hours setting up, optimizing and powering SharpSpring with amazingly engaging content. I've also worked in many competing marketing automation solutions such as Hubspot, Infusionsoft, and Act-On.

Are you ready to discover the power of "The Ultimate Pipeline Manager" powered by your SharpSpring marketing automation platform? Great. Let's schedule a one-hour discovery conversation to discuss your business goals, budget, team and other important factors to make the most of your SharpSpring account.

Also, I invite you to explore the Marketing Automation Vendor Analysis to determine which system is best for you. This detailed analysis takes your company profile and analyzes the start up costs, monthly costs, features and customer reviews of SharpSpring, Hubspot, Act-On, Marketo, Pardot, Infusionsoft

What Could SharpSpring  Marketing Automation Do for You?

Still Shopping Around for the Right Marketing Automation Solution?

Let me help you with your due diligence! I've saved hundreds of companies tens of thousands of dollars in software costs and leaky marketing campaigns that don't work.

The best way for me to help you is to schedule a free Marketing Automation Vendor Analysis.

This detailed analysis only takes about 20 minutes to go over. It provides you with an apples-to-apples breakdown of all the major marketing automation solution providers.

Which marketing automation solution is best for you?

Let's find out!

Schedule a time to connect here.



Sharp Spring Review

I'm a SharpSpring consultant and even though I work in any of the major, marketing automation solutions, this marketing automation vendor analysis review will reveal to why I choose to be a proud SharpSpring partner. SharpSpring powers my small business and websites because it's the most suitable marketing automation solution for me.

Warning: Watching this video will save you buckets of time and money IF you're in the market to invest in a marketing automation solution to power your people and drive the growth of your business.

If you're in the market for a marketing automation solution, how would you know which vendor is best for you? Most importantly, which marketing automation system is best for your team - yeah, the people who wake up every day and get to use it. Let your team help you choose the most SUITABLE solution for your company.

The reason it's essential to review all the major marketing automation vendors (BEFORE you buy one at a seminar) is because all the major marketing automation solutions cost tens of thousands of dollars to set up and power over the long haul.

How much will these systems cost you? Check out my video that details the powerful marketing automation vendor analysis tool available only to SharpSpring partners. It's amazing because when you compare apples to apples, and you know what you need your marketing automation solution to do for your business, then you can quickly and easily compare all the big players including ...

Which marketing automation solution is best for you out of this selection? These are the big dogs in marketing automation. And they are quantum leap beyond email marketing systems like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact or Aweber, just to name a few.

The answer lies in doing the research!

Check out the case study I share in my video.

Got a question or comment, maybe even need some help?

Schedule a free ROI strategy session with me, or leave a comment here on my blog.