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.
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 jones.com 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.
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