Lise Was Having A Rough Day with Her Sales Calls Until She Found Gold

Ever meet a salesperson who didn't deal with rejection, insults, isolation, self-doubt, and loathing due to the demands of the job? My story is about Lise, a fantastic, freelance contractor, and a current client we're helping with the art of content marketing, sales, and business development.

People like Lise, a freelancer and small business owner, me, and Nick, his wife Karen, and his entire team of people are a tiny part of the massive heartbeat of America; small business ownership, leadership, and management. With small business success in America, we would lose 60% of the jobs that remain, or worse.

As a freelancer, Lise is hiring by, managed by, and working with me and a client as a home-based telesales executive extraordinaire. Lise found me on LinkedIn, and when we finally connected the dots, she reminded me that I had hired and become friends with her son, Patrik, a brilliant young man I first hired when he was only 19. Like his mother, Patrik is an old soul and a great worker.

Small Business Case Study

Let me set the stage for you with a quick overview of the scenario or case study here. By the way, if you don't know my work, my elite team of creatives practice, "the art of content marketing." In other words, we create powerful marketing campaigns that are data and ad-driven, and we get sales results. Think, "New customers and buckets of cash flow" when the team aligns, and we all do our job following the process I share with all my clients. The process never fails; only the people to follow the process.

In this scenario, Nick and his team are 100% following the process I share with all clients. It's a strategic action planning model I use to coach and advise teams of business development people, along with the owners and key stakeholders

Nick makes my job easier than usual because he's so coachable and responsive. His approvals of new content, upgrades of systems, and empowering mindset he brings to work each day are refreshing. Heck, Nick's the kind of guy who wins the hearts and minds of his employees, customers, and locals in the community.

Nick is for the "little guy" in America; farmers, construction workers, builders, and people who build America. He's a family and community guy who exhibits the character and values of a leader we all would seek to follow. Watching and working with Nick in action reminds me of how my father showed up as a small town, small business owner, and community - the heart of America.

The campaign we're working on is for a big-brand farm equipment dealership owner with three locations in the mid-west. His name is Nick, and he's one of the sharpest CEOs in a hands-on way. He empowers his people to be friendly, customer-focused, and all about getting better business results. Nick reminds me of my father and how he handled his business and family. My dad was the first hero I knew in the business world.

It's Week Six - Momentum

We're starting week six of our digital and content marketing transformation. We're getting great results; eBay sales up 50% or more in the first 30 days, website traffic up 100% or more, a higher volume of calls to stores for sales and service, off-the-charts engagement on the Facebook ads, 300% potential upside for the Adwords campaign ROI, and other positive signs in the early stages of our work together.

Digital and content marketing, including daily social media posting, advertising, and engagement, is a team sport. It's also a contact sport meaning our goal is to make more meaningful "contact" with existing and new potential customers. That's Small Business Management 100 stuff. The same is true for sales and customer service.

Meet Lise In Customer Service

Lise is amazing. She's working from the comfort of her home office many miles from both Nick and me. Lise works with a short customer service script and a list of thousands of past customers. She is calling this list, talking with and thanking previous customers, and asking them how they're doing through the COVID-19 pandemic that's taken the planet by storm.

Lise is doing a fantastic job! Typically, I would have hired at least three people for the same project knowing I'd have to fire one or two of them in the first two weeks for non-performance. Yes, hiring freelance sales and customer service talent is just as hard as hiring any talent. You have to learn how to hire with your head, heart, and soul. Hiring is an art and one that is costly to fail at doing well.

We agreed to assign Lise 30 hours a week because, as a talented freelancer, Lise takes on a variety of business projects like this, and is paid well like more than 60 million other skilled freelancers in America.

Here's the exciting news that compelled me to share the story about Lise, Nick, and our early success aligning well as a virtual team with Nick and his people.

This morning, I opened my email to see this ...

Hey!!! just finishing up now. 80 calls 4 contacts and 1 HOT HOT . I am sending now. The retail price on the net is $14,600 so I am hoping Nick will have someone take it to him. That is a better end of day.

Thank you

Bruce H. shops the XYZ store

Keep reading Lise's email to me ...

Been talking to K. Looking at the ABC machine. He is really interested but his wife doesn’t really want to go anywhere due to the virus, so he hasn’t taken it any further. He asked for my direct number and I told him that I worked in the office but would call over to Mason. He said he would talk to his wife and I said we could probably bring the ABC machine to him.

- Lise

A Day In The Life of A Salesperson

Why does my story matter? It matters because the campaign success I'm describing is extraordinary due to the alignment of the new team. Lise found "gold" amid hundreds of calls and conversations with past customers. The "gold" is the new sales and service orders, phones ringing, and keeping America's farming and other families as productive as can be even though most of us are stuck at home waiting out the pandemic.

I am new to Nick's team, and I have introduced other new freelancers to the team as well. Jeff runs all our digital advertising and analytics with me. Lise focuses on customer service and new sales calls.

We have other salespeople and customer service talent that does phenomenal work. It's incredibly gratifying considering I've witnessed a lot of marketing train wrecks over the last 30 years.

Here's the deal with being in sales. The sales job Lise is doing is NOT fun. It pays hourly as an independent contractor, plus activity and sales bonuses.

Think about the actual work someone like Lise does well for 30 hours a week. Sit, dial, smile, talk, smile more, thank the person, and update the contact file.

Much of the time, people don't answer their phone. What we do know is when people are home and stuck with their loved ones, they answer the phone more than usual. The alignment we experience now is good for Nick, us, his family, and business.

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Owning and working in a small business can be brutal, just like it can be brutal to perform well in any sales job. The ups and downs of being in sales torment even the best of us. Heck, one of my worst jobs was making snow during the winter while dragging wet, frozen fire hoses across a small, New England glacier. But then I learned the art of investing in people like Lise, and in marketing, advertising, copywriting, and sales for a lifetime.

If you own a business and you don't embrace investing in people, marketing, sales, and customer service, you will not be in business for very long. The same odds of failure are against us all, and most will not make it in business for ourselves. This is why sharing success stories counts.

Imagine for a moment feeling rejected 82% of the time while doing your job. Over time, rejection takes its toll on anyone. And the art of failing forward in sales and marketing, being data-driven, and aligning as a team are essential aspects of success. If being in business were easy, most of us would faceplant, crash, and burn into oblivion doing it.

Small business owners have to learn to love the journey. Otherwise, we are likely to bail out when the going gets tough like it is now, and millions of small business owners can't pay their employees or themselves.

There are always great leaders and success stories amid tough times, including pandemics and other natural disasters that humble humanity. Lise is one of the heroes in this story, as is Nick, because they go to work every day despite the odds of failure, and in the hope of success and glory. Guess what? Providing jobs during a massive layoff surge is darned essential, don't you agree?

For every up, there are at least 10,000 downs. (I exaggerate for effect.) The point is most of the time in sales; we get rejected, ignored, or worse, insulted, and cussed out. I know because I was born into being a sales and marketing guy learning from my father and mother as I watched them build more than one small business, through both success and failure.

Thanks for reading my article. I always appreciate your constructive, non-spammy, comments, and questions. If you'd like to contact me, please click here.

How To Hire A Ghostwriter You Can Trust

Do you need a ghostwriter to help you get your message out to the world? If you're a business owner, an agent of change, thought leader, advocate, and someone who wakes up every day seeking to make a difference, I'm writing this article specifically for you.

My goal is to give you the basics about ghostwriting, share why I love to write and where and offer you several essential suggestions for hiring a ghostwriter you can trust to get the job done right the first time.

Born to Write

As a published Amazon author, ghostwriter, award-winning blogger, and contributor to The Business Journals, Huff Post, and LinkedIn, I've been a writer for more than thirty years.

I was born to write, read, explore the world, and serve others.

When I was 13, I wrote a Letter to the Editor of the local newspaper where I grew up, Laconia, New Hampshire. The year was 1975 and inflation was raging out of control. Hamburger prices at the ski area were too expensive. So, naturally, I had to take a stand.

My first typewriter as an IBM, not this one. (Canva)

In 1978 during my junior year of high school, my father made me take a typing class. I thought he was a fool. Turns out my dad was a scholar who somehow knew I would grow up to be a writer.

I started writing marketing copy, sales letters, brochures, workshops, training programs, and other content for the companies who hired me out of college in 1983. In 1990, I started working for myself and wrote almost all of the sales and marketing copy for my businesses.

My first business was a financial planning and investment advisory practice. I sold it in 2000 to a major Wall Street firm. After that, I started a sales coaching business that morphed into a digital marketing and agency model specializing in marketing automation in 2007 when I launched my first blog.

I wrote for work every day and got better. The rest is history. I've been able to publish, speak, train, write, teach, and reach millions of people every year who read my articles, watch my videos, and hire me to be a ghostwriter.

Ghostwriting Basics

Ghostwriters write articles, ebooks, books, seminars, sales scripts, email marketing campaigns, websites, landing pages, and anything that requires the art and science of the written word.

Most of us get paid by the word and do our own work. The only reason I have a team of other writers behind me is that I used to own a digital marketing agency. I maintained all of the relationships I had with my best freelance copywriters and ghostwriters.

I love my writers dearly! I'm blessed to have great people to help me help my clients. For example, one project required us to write an entirely new website featuring dozens of police and military vehicles with customized specifications. This project required months of planning and hard work. In the end, the client got a great website and we got paid to write.

Be sure to hire a ghostwriter who loves to write. If they are truly committed writers, they will be able to show you their work. Here are some of the books I've coauthored with famous people.

I'm also the guy who worked with legendary, best-selling author, Harvey Mackay. My team and I crafted for Harvey and an entirely new library of online courses we wrote together for

In this case, Harvey and his staff worked extremely closely under the same brand and umbrella to make our work even better. It's not easy working with a true master, but it was one of the most rewarding, challenging experiences a kid from New Hampshire could imagine having.

Harvey Mackay and I, 2018

Copywriting and ghostwriting has always been more art than science. When you hire a ghostwriter, be sure they love to write the kind of content you need.

Most of us have areas in which we specialize. My ability to improve as a ghostwriter and copywriter happened in business creating sales, marketing, and training materials for my businesses and others.

Trust is a big deal when you hire anyone to write. All great writers have a unique filter or lens through which we see the world. We have biases and agendas just like everyone else. But when our job is to write for someone else, we need to get out of our heads and hearts and into yours.

"Hire a ghostwriter who will write for you more than themselves. This requires your ghostwriter to know your head, heart, and soul, and vice versa."

- Cliff jones

The Hiring Process Matters

Do you have a process for hiring a ghostwriter? Most of my clients find me online or are referred to me. When you search for the best ghostwriter to hire, you'll do your homework just like we will. The way we normally begin the process is by scheduling a discovery conversation.

The purpose of the conversation is to get acquainted and see if there's a fit to work together. It's kind of like a dance taking place. We feel each other out.

All great ghostwriters have a process for hiring the right clients. The reason we want to hire great clients is so we increase the probability of clear communication, commitment, and long-term success. Nothing, including great ghostwriting and marketing success, happens overnight.

Ghostwriters are creative people. Creative people are innately curious and we approach each client with the best of intention. We seek to know who you are, and what your goal is. We will ask you many questions before we agree to take on the first project.

Clear communication is the key to the alignment and outcome for every project because every project is important for professionals who care about results.

Most of us agree, hiring and managing people can be a costly nightmare. A great sign to look for early is the kind of questions and time a ghostwriter will ask you before you reach an agreement.

Hire With Head, Heart, and Soul

The best way to hire anyone is to invest the time to get to know someone. It's the same when you want to hire a ghostwriter. The best way to do this is to schedule a virtual video meeting or meet in person. Seeing someone eye-to-eye is priceless.

The conversation must be a two-way street. This means you will exchange questions and listen mutually. The goal is to seek alignment so you get what you want and your ghostwriter gets another great client!


Here are some of the first questions I like to ask about you.

Conversely, you as the client might as me these and more questions:

Now you can see the power of having a conversation for the purpose of getting to know each other.

Essentials for Ghostwriting Success

I love to write for myself and others. Based on more than thirty years of experience as a writer and ghostwriter, here are the essentials you must seek when you are the client:

Hire wisely!

For the Love of Writing

Every writer I know loves to write. We write because we love to practice our art. And imagine what it feels like to provide a useful, creative service that is the only one of it's kind.

Whenever you hire a creative person to write for you, with you, and to be part of you, hire with both your head and your heart. Choose wisely and be sure to align with anyone you trust enough to ghostwrite for you.

The best way to align with your ideal ghostwriter is to think of us as your trusted friend who you can tell anything. Our first job is to listen and hear the words not said as much as those said.

Now you know how to hire a ghostwriter you can trust.

Interested in scheduling a conversation about your copywriting or ghostwriting project?

Please click here and find a convenient time on my calendar.

Me, teaching from the stage about leadership.

P.S. If you want to see more of my work, click the links below:

  1. The Business Journals - Contributor
  2. Amazon Author - Four books.
  3. Medium - Contributing Partner
  4. LinkedIn - Contributor
  5. Huff Post - Contributor
  6. Personal Blog - My Stream of Business Consciousness
  7. Harvey Mackay Academy - Co-founder, Managing Editor
  8. - Founder, Managing Editor, Blogger
  9. - Award-winning blog.

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.

How Marketing and Other Technologies Take Business Leaders Down

Did you know that modern-day marketing and other technologies can actually hurt business leaders and in the worst scenarios take them down and out of business altogether?

It's also true that when you invest in the right technologies by empowering your best people to choose them based on their needs, your technology can lift you up to new levels of success. But the former is more often the case based on my direct experience as a trusted strategic marketing and business development advisor for many years.

I know a fair amount about the technology world well because I've lived on the front lines working with the leading technologies for over twenty years. Somehow I love learning and working in any technology that helps me and my clients align the people to the plan of action for revenue and success.

Listen to me say what you would otherwise read here.

Growing A Business Is Not Easy

Let's face it, starting and growing a small business isn't easy. And considering only about 3% of all businesses break through $1 million in revenue, you can see there must be a reason so many of us fail.

The biggest reason is a lack of good judgment as business owners and leaders. In the simplest sense, we do dumb things like blow precious start-up capital on fancy office furniture, or even worse, the software you think will "double your sales" even if it never can or will. We do many things wrong when it comes to technology because we don't know what we don't know about it, and we fear to ask for help or training or coaching because leaders with power don't like to feel or look stupid.

When it comes to today's technology, there are definitely some big blunders business leaders and owners make. The first and biggest is not being willing to learn the essential fundamentals of technology. If you can't speak the basic language of marketing automation, customer relationship management, search engines, social media management, content and lifecycle marketing, etc, how do you expect to lead the team who needs to respect you to do their job?

Another big mistake is winging it on technology or sticking your head in the sand pretending it will all go away when the power grid goes out. For example, I talk about not buying software in a seminar. It's based on a true story I've seen many times in which business owners buy software in a seminar and wonder why everyone back at the office is pissed.

None of this technology stuff will go away before you go out of business unless you get a grip on how marketing tech can hurt more than helping you.

Know the Fundamentals or Retire

It's essential for all business leaders to speak the fundamentals of technology and do what is suitable for their team. If not, you might as well retire.

Suitability is a term I borrow from my former business as an investment advisor and wealth manager for more than a decade. The investments we made for clients had to be "suitable" for their financial profile and needs. The same is true when business owners make investments in people or technology. It's all money and that money needs to have a return on investment unless you're a non-profit or have a big trust fund to deplete.

What I want to emphasize most is you as the owner and leader need to know enough to empower your people in marketing and sales so that they get what they need and are able to align and perform well. This is the primary way my strategic action planning process called Clarity makes an impact - we cut unnecessary costs and focus on empowering people with the technologies they choose to use to do their jobs.

You have to plan to make technology work for your company or business. This begins with everyone willing to be trained, coached and advisors who are not selling software or making a direct living by selling software. If the software is one of the biggest investments you make to empower people, and people you hire are by far the most important capital for you to grow without losing your mind or shirt, why would you buy software from Dundersoft while attending a motivational seminar?

You can see I'm using hyperbole to make a point - business owners and leaders need to learn what NOT to do. Then, like all great strategists, we can focus on what to do next.

That's how a life-long sales, marketing technologist, and business owner strategist approaches getting to more revenue and operational stability. Getting a grip on the tech is just part of the bigger strategic planning objectives we meet. But it's a big one that creates a lot of conscious and unconscious fear and mayhem. I know because I've eliminated this mayhem hundred of times from all kinds of companies.

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What Are You Talking About When It Comes to Making Your Marketing Work?

In case you're short on time, watch this video.

This article is about the conversations we have as CEO's, business owners and leaders with the people we employ in sales, marketing, technology, talent acquisition, and strategic alignment for better business performance.

Did you know that the words you use affect how you think and behave? That's the bold and brave science of Linguistic Relativity. If you don't know the work of Nora Lidisky*, you need to check out her TED Talk. First, read the rest of this article because then you will have proper context for what you're talking about most in your business.

Having a conversation is a two-way street. When you endure the stress of making your marketing and sales work, the stress compels you to have crucial conversations without letting emotion take over and ruin you.

When it comes to making your marketing work with less cost and stress, what conversations are you having? I ask because I find most CEO's and business owners are not having essential, crucial conversations with their marketing and salespeople.

The High Cost of Winging It

In the worst cases, small business owners completely wing it when it comes to investing in sales, marketing, people, or technology to grow their business, which is typically the best investment they will ever make. Then they wonder why their investment returns are low and their frustration levels are high.

"We spent another $100,000 and a year trying to launch my product. This is the third agency I hired. They all said they could get this done. I ended up losing three years and $300,000 for nothing." - Anonymous New York Times bestselling author.

I hear hundreds of stories like this because people find me and need help fixing their pain which is not being able to attract, engage, convert, and retain enough customers. That's because they don't have a sound strategy, plan of action, or the people they need to get the job done right the first time.

What happens when you wing it in business, sales, marketing, or hiring people? Utter chaos. Nobody enjoys coming to work without feeling aligned with the leader, owner, manager, and team. That's why it's essential to talk about what's working, what's not working, what's missing in marketing or sales or customer service, and figure out what's next to fix it and get better results. This is crucial conversation stuff for marketing, sales, and tech.

This Is Why Marketing Pros Change Jobs So Often

Turnover is a massive cost and hit to your bottom line. There's no reason not to get to the root cause of this and fix it as best you can.

The reason marketing pros change jobs so often is the same reason Marcus Buckingham with Gallup discovered over a decade ago - marketing people don't leave jobs, they leave their marketing supervisors. Check out this article about what great managers do in this HBR article. The bottom line is people leave supervisors, not jobs or companies.

When we talk about marketing, it's usually not fun. That's because marketing is a game of frustration and failure. Think about the thin margins for conversion rates on your marketing investments. For example, what was the ROI on that big trade show you and your team hits every year?

Sometimes you don't know the questions to ask because you're too busy working in your business. I can be guilty of this too. But since I sell a powerful strategic action planning process that aligns and fires up marketing and sales teams, I must walk the walk. That means I follow my process, hire the best people my money can buy, delegate what is not my role or responsibility, empower everyone in my strategy, purpose, vision, mission, goals, and plan of action, and we get better results together. Yes, I have an active, written strategic plan. Most days it works.

We Fear Hiring the Best and Firing the Rest

We've all hired toxic people and let them work for us too long. That's because it's hard to fire people. Yet one of the biggest costs we incur as business owners is failing to hire with process and discipline. If you fail to hire the best people you afford, and you delegate well to empower them, then get out of their way, you've got a shot at scale and sanity presuming you lead and manage well. If not, oh well. Maybe you'll learn when you fail enough. When it comes to making the tough call to let someone go, you have to have a process to fire anyone who's not willing or able to perform their role on their team. This is what a "culture of accountability" is all about.

A high-performance sales and marketing culture MUST be created, committed to and lead by someone who IS that person. If it's not the owner of the business, he or she needs to hire someone to lead the team. A true leader will practice tough love and empower your marketing and salespeople. You have to be what you say you plan to do with your action plan. This is the Clarity strategic planning process teaches you to "hire to the company values you are willing to write, learn, practice and keep as commitments."

If you own the business and you manage marketing, sales, delivery, and fulfillment, how effective do you believe you are? When was the last time you conducted a 360 degree feedback survey or took a hard look in your mirror? It's not easy to own or lead any business. It's even tougher to manage marketing and sales. It's impossible to do it all for long. All we need to do is look at how few of us succeed over the long-haul. The people who succeed have a strategic plan of action that gets implemented with success. This is what happens when everyone aligns and does their part of the plan. Everyone performs like a championship team.

How to Make Your Marketing Work Without Losing Your Mind or Shirt

The way to make your marketing work better, and to fire up your sales process is to empower your PEOPLE to be part of the creative, strategic and tactical PROCESS to define and achieve the GOALS. Clarity is a bullet-proof action planning solution that works when you work it. That's why I focus on teaching, training, and coaching the Clarity workshops online and in the real world.

Make the time to work "on" your business. Why would you ever stop working "on" your business? Because you get stuck working "in" your business just like Michael Gerber taught us in his bestselling book, EMyth. Clarity helps you work "on" your business with your team. Diversity and inclusion make the Clarity process even more powerful. The extreme alternative is you think and plan alone in a box. Clarity is about thinking OUT of the box. And getting results.

Check out my video that walks you through a FREE Clarity Training preview. Take a look at the simple, step-by-step process I use myself and have taught and coached for over a decade to hundreds of other business owners. Clarity is a strategic action planning process you can use to write your own strategic plan. I teach it in customized onsite workshops, virtually, and soon the online classes and community for coaching.

P.S. *A big shout out and thank you to Paul Gowin, one of the best human performance coaches I've ever met.

Why I Chose to Focus On Training and Coaching Marketing Managers and Marketing Directors

Working in a marketing job, or managing your own marketing for your small business is one of the toughest jobs in the world. The truth is, marketing is a game of failure because most marketing campaigns successes are measured in small percentages. But that's okay as long as you have outstanding marketing management disciplines.

I get to create new online and real-world training and coaching programs now that I've sold my digital marketing agency. Having worked in sales and marketing my entire professional life, I've got some war wounds.

The reason I focus on working with marketing managers, directors and small business owners who need to get out of their own way and build a small, in-house marketing team, is because I know how difficult the work can be and I created a system to ease the pain.

How To Get "Clarity" and Confidence in Marketing and Sales

The system I created is called Clarity. It's a strategic action planning process I've used with my own businesses and thousands of others since I started using it in 2007. My online courses will soon be featured on a brand new online learning platform.

The current version of Clarity emerged from earlier action planning models I used to set up marketing automation software for my customers between 2008 and now. I was one of the earliest marketing automation guys on the planet because I have always loved buying and using any software tool or system that can help me be more efficient with my marketing and managing a business.

Here are a few suggestions if you're wondering how to get better sales and marketing results with less stress, time and money:

  1. Business, sales, and marketing are team sports. If you need customers, you need to contact many prospects. So all of this marketing stuff is about helping you make contact with people who might do business with you.
  2. Most small business owners and big-time CEO's can't or won't manage their own marketing. Small business owners often blow it after they get the basics. It's not easy to learn to trust and delegate. Every big company CEO already knows better, and they can well afford to hire others to do what they do best.
  3. If you don't have a written, strategic plan of action, let me help you write one. Include your key, valued people in marketing, sales, and finance in the process. When you have a sound plan, you will have "clarity" and you will know exactly how to market and sell with the utmost efficiency.
  4. Hire the best advisors, employees, and contractors your money can buy. Ditch the rest. You can't afford to hire and pay people who can't or won't get the job done right the first time. If you don't the roles, the jobs, how can you hire and manage effectively?
  5. Wake every day with a strategy and team you believe in. Work from a serious, shared plan of action. Measure everything in sales and marketing. Manage it all like your business is your best investment because it is.

Gratitude Counts

I'm grateful for my experience as a career sales and marketing guy. One of the biggest transitions I made over the years was learning to invest wisely in marketing to build my own small businesses. When you work for a company and you invest their money, not yours, the emotions are much different compared to when you invest in your own business.

Either way, one of the biggest and most-costly mistakes for business owners, leaders, and even some of the world's most famous business people, have to rely on the right marketing professionals to get the job done.

Now you have a simple list of things to consider if you want to get better business, sales and marketing results.

Clarity gives you confidence. That's why I called my company Clarity Strategic Advisors, LLC.

Let us give you clarity and confidence so you can sleep well at night.

Got a question or comment that's constructive? Please add it to the comments section.

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.

Losing Your Mind, Or Shirt, On Marketing That Doesn't Work?

This is a story about a very bright woman, a CPA, with two Masters degrees, one in tax, the other finance. Let's call her D.

I read a post of hers on Facebook a couple of days ago. I sent her a message and offered to listen. What I heard was typical ...

She has lost her shirt, and faith, not her mind, by hiring a new marketing guy, buying Facebook ads, and promoting a lead generation campaign to grow her tax consulting business.

D and I talked almost right away when she called me. Guess what?

None of the new marketing worked, and D lost thousands of her hard-earned dollars, and several months of her time.

Was it the marketing guy's fault if he didn't know what he didn't know? (Strategy for getting customers vs. his one way of generating leads)

Check out the video to hear the whole story, and how simple it will be for D to get new customers.

Marketing can be maddening, but it doesn't have to be when you have the right strategy and plan of action to get the customers you need and want.

Connect with me on social media or send me an email if I can help.

Grow your business. Live your dreams!