One of the first priorities of any business – especially brick and mortar businesses – is to find and implement a marketing automation system. And with so many out there to choose from, you can just pick one at random and go from there, right? Wrong.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is trying to implement a marketing automation system without first mapping out their processes. What they should be doing is putting the needs of the business first, and then finding the software that will actually achieve that result.
Wes Schaeffer is The Sales Whisperer, with over 20 years experience in sales training, marketing and consulting with a special concentration on CRM and email marketing sales, support and optimization.
Rich: Wes Schaeffer is the creator and owner of The Sales Whisperer, a sales training, marketing and consultation firm with an emphasis on CRM and email marketing sales, support and optimization.
A southerner by birth, Wes combines common sense with his formal training and attention to detail – that was pounded into his hard headed skull during 4 years at the United States Air Force Academy – to help professional salespeople, sales managers, business owners and entrepreneurs achieve miraculous growth fast.
Since 2012 he’s been the #1 reseller of the #1 sales and marketing automation software for small businesses. He’s the author of The Definitive Guide To Fusionsoft and It Takes More Than A Big Smile, A Good Idea And A Twitter Account To Build A Business That Lasts.
He now calls Southern California home, with his wife of 20+ years and their 7 children. Yes, he know what causes that and he refuses to give it up. (I don’t know what that means) Also, he loves the font comic sans. Wes, welcome to the show.
Wes: You had to throw that in, you were perfect right up to the end.
Rich: By “perfect”, you mean I read your bio exactly as you gave it to me?
Wes: Yeah, although you did kind of ad lib a little bit, but I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. It was perfect for you.
Rich: For me it was good. Excellent. Well thanks, man, for coming on the show. I wanted to start with, well, we’re talking about CRM’s, we’re talking about marketing automation. In your mind, what’s the difference between CRM and marketing automation, or are they the same thing?
Wes: Totally different. I even wrote a post awhile back that said CRM is dead. Partly because you need a headline to get people’s attention and partly because it’s partly true. At the heart of any sales and marketing automation platform is a CRM – a customer or contact related manager – a database. A Rolodex in the sky. But an old school, traditional Rolodex was a real Rolodex. It would sit on your desk and if you got somebody’s business card you would staple it or glue it or tape it to the little tabs and when you think about something, “Oh yeah, who’s that guy who does the conferences? Rich…what’s his name?”, then you scroll through, I find your card and I call you.
Having that in the sky isn’t much better. It helps in case there’s a fire or flood in your building so the names are saved. But to truly scale a business…you always say Henry Ford is a household name because he built the nest cars back in the day, but he figured out the best way to build cars. He streamlined and he created systems and created processes and that made it faster, it reduced the price by breaking it down into systems and incremental steps, he was able to create a division of labor and hire more people with lower skills. And because he perfected that, now he’s a household name. And so in your own business – whether you’re a solopreneur, a realtor, a chiropractor – if you’ve got a big brick and mortar business, you have to have processes.
You have to break everything down into incremental steps. Having automation connected to your CRM so you correspond and interact with the human beings in your database, because we do sometimes forget that’s a human being. You may be “Rich Brooks” in my system – or ID #6,742 – but you’re still a human being. So if you can have processes that can speak to you in a timely, relevant manner and do it consistently, then you will grow.
Rich: Alright, so my first reaction is, all I want to do is an impersonation of Patrick McGoohan when he says, “I am not a number!” , from that old TV show. Though 98% of my listening audience will have no idea what I’m talking about.
Alright, it sounds to me like what you’re saying is CRM – or, a customer contact relationship management – is fairly static, it’s a Rolodex in the sky. Marketing automation is about having a system to lead people down the sales funnel. It’s almost like the CRM is the noun, and the marketing automation is the verb. Am I close?
Rich: Oh, you liked that, did you?
Wes: You know, you always say you write down the stuff I say, that’s a writer downer right there. So everybody listening to this, that will be on the quiz. I’m stomping my foot, you need to write that down.
Rich: By the way, Wes and I are in a Mastermind together. We can’t talk about anything that goes on in the Mastermind because we were sworn to secrecy.
Wes: You already broke the #1 rule of the Mastermind!
Rich: There is no fight club.
Wes: You can’t talk about the Mastermind.
Rich: I know. But I do, I literally just take notes on all the awesome things that Wes says during the general sessions. One day I’m going to write a book and just take all of his best ideas.
Alright, so that’s the difference between a CRM and marketing automation, and that definitely makes sense to me now. It definitely clarifies it for me. So I’m sure there are a lot of business owner listeners out there right now who are saying, “Marketing automation and CRM’s sound too complex and expensive for my small business.” I’m sure you must have heard that over the years, Wes, what do you say when somebody brings you one of those hurdles to overcome?
Wes: A couple of things. One is, what is the option. The alternative is either to out in more hours, work 6-7 days a week on your business or hire staff which will eat into your profitability which will eat into your operational efficiency eventually. Because having staff – having great staff – is a great way to grow, but bringing on the wrong staff is a great way to go out of business. Very few people are very good at hiring and interviewing and screening, onboarding, managing, leading at setting expectations and sticking to it and seeing that people are achieving the goals and assignments that you give them. I’m not saying you stay a solopreneur forever, but if you’ve worked around human beings in the past you know it can be difficult. So that is one of your choices.
The other is to document what you do, figure it out and figure out how to automate it. I have tools that start at $9.00 a month that will automate your business, so I don’t want to hear it. Anybody can afford $9.00.
Rich: Well that’s absolutely true, I think anybody could afford $9.00 and hour. But what are you getting for $9.00 for a marketing automation tool?
Wes: Ooh, I can’t tell you that, that’s one of my top secrets.
Rich: Ok, moving on. If you’re just getting started and decide that his marketing automation is going to help me grow my business, how do you get started? Like, what’s the first step?
Wes: Well, I have a thing that I call, “process before login”. So if people go to thesaleswhisperer.com/pbl, I have a free download. And what I tell people is, do not even start looking at software or start demoing software until you know what your processes are. I start with people when I do demos, and if they don’t have any kind of software for mind mapping we’ll do it in a Word document or a Pages document or Google docs. And it can be an outline it can be dragging shapes/a box/an arrow, but walk through a process.
Let’s say you were going to have a booth at a trade show, so start maybe 60 days ahead. When would you want to start promoting that? You’d send an email to your list 60 days ahead. You want to segment your list. Let’s say the conference is in Philadelphia, would you want to email everybody in Pennsylvania or in the Northeast. Would you want to send them a postcard, would you want to send them a reminder 30 days out, would you want to send 5 reminders. So you think through that.
Ok, now you’re at the show, what information do you want to collect from them? What is your call to action, what will entice them to stop by your booth? So you collect their info, now what do you do? How will you segment them? Are they just a prospect, a trade show attendee overall, or are they a Philadelphia December 1st attendee? And then what information will you collect from them? Let’s say it’s my booth and you stop by, “Hey Rich, are you interested in sales training? Or are you interested in copywriting assistance? Or are you interested in buying software?” Now those are all different things, and I want to speak to you in a relevant manner, I want to follow up.
If I’m selling trucks and I send you information on minivans, you’re going to opt out. You’re going to think this dude doesn’t know who I am, he’s totally clueless, I want to find somebody that knows me. So just write that out on paper, what information will I collect, how will I follow up, will I send an email right away or wait a day or a week, do I assign that to one of my sales staff or do I make the initial call, do I collect their contact information or mailing address and send them a catalog. And then how many steps – 5 steps or 27 steps – over the course of a month or a year, how long do I follow up with you after meeting at a trade show. You don’t need any software to write that down, and I encourage you to not use software to write that down. I have butcher block paper. I’ll rip that stuff out and lay it on the dining room table and start mapping things out. I have a 12’ whiteboard in my office, I like to see the big picture and write things out. Then I’ll take a picture of it with my iPhone – then it’s digital – then we can start creating things. So start there, process before login, what do you want to happen.
Now this applies on a “contact us” webform, it applies if somebody calls or they stop in, or if you get a referral, it applies if they download your free report. You can do the same thing when you’re launching a webinar, a Black Friday sale, whatever. Write it out on paper first, and then figure out the software that can do what you need to get down,once you document what you need to get done.
Rich: That’s really interesting because I think most small business owners – myself included – would have thought of it the other way. It’s like, let me get a piece of software, see what it does, and then we’ll start marketing to people. But that was completely backwards. What you’re suggesting is instead we need to figure out what we need as a business and maybe go back to bare bones using paper and pen to map that out, and then maybe we go shopping for a piece of software that can help us.
Wes: Dude, I’m getting my pharmacology degree because by the time I speak to people, most of them need drugs. They’re like, “I’ve demoed Nimble and Salesforce and ZoHo and Active Campaign and Hubspot and Insightly and Ontraport and Greenrope..”, and they’re just batty. And I’m like, “Calm down, it ain’t that bad. Let’s figure out what you really need to get it done.” How many people do you have, how many users, how many people need to login, are you primarily inline or offline or mixed, how many contact do you have, how often do you correspond with people, are you great at making content, are you doing pay-per-click ads? Once we boil that down to its essence, boom. I can figure out with 99% accuracy what you need and we’ll figure out how to fit your budget.
You’ve got to back off of all the clicky clicks and the demos. People sign up for these demos and their inboxes are just literally flooded with emails about all the different products and they don’t even remember their login information on all these trials they did. It’s just a total waste of time and it’s frustrating and it doesn’t have to be that way.
Rich: Right. So what I’m hearing is there’s no need to automate anything until you actually are clear on what you need to automate.
Rich: Alright. So you just mentioned a slew of names – many of which I’d never heard of – when it does come to this. So let’s say we’ve gotten it down to that place where we’ve got our butcher block paper out there and we’ve mapped it out and we know what we need as a business. We know what our sales funnel is going to look like, how we think we’re going to get our clients, how we’re going to turn them into email subscribers or buyers or whatever we need to do. Is it now time for us to choose one of these platforms?
Rich: And does it come down to a Coke vs. Pepsi thing, does it come down to a matter of personal choice and what the budgets are, or are there ones that are better for certain types of tasks?
Wes: It’s in the fringes, to be honest with you. If you pick any reliable, dependable, well backed up piece of software and you learn it and you dive in and you apply it, your business will grow. So for the most part you are getting into the finer points, the nuances.
So Ford versus Chevy. It may be one has a little more torque and you do tow a trailer and over the lifetime of owning this – and you do tend to keep your vehicles 10 years – then maybe that diesel in the Dodge is going to hold up better over that span. But those people, just looking at a truck, they want to get a diesel, it’s really do you like the leather in this one or do you like the buttons on this one.
Rich: Right. And what did your daddy drive.
Wes: Exactly. And so that being said, you find somebody like me that works with a lot of different platforms and has done it for damn near two decades, and I’ll help you pick the right one because I personally use these. There’s a difference between using software to grow your own business and being an employee that just sells the software. They’re just going to tell you what the marketing department told them and hope it sounds right.
We start with a very detailed analysis asking you a bunch of questions. Like I said, I have a $9.00 app I make money on, I have a $3,000 per month app I make money on. So as long as you buy from me, I’m happy,
Rich: Well, as long as you’re not biased.
Wes: But I’m going to help you find the right one. Whereas if you go to the Ford dealership they’re going to tell you 90 ways to Sunday why they are better than the Chevy. And most of them may be true, but can you be sure all of them are true. So find somebody that works with various platforms that’s going to dig into your business and your goals to help you make the right choice based on those finer points, because over the lifetime of your business you will see an ROI – even on those fringes – but ultimately you’ve got to stick with something. Pick something and ride it, dance with who brung you.
When I got started with Infusionsoft in 2008 it was hard to use, there were a lot of embedded windows and you had to go deep to make things really work. But it was the primary game in town, so I stuck with it. It took me hours and hours and hours to automate my first process and that thing still is running today seven years later.
Rich: I agree with you, I think it’s similar like when some people ask me, “I know you’re a WordPress agency, I’m also talking to a Drupal company and a Joomla company and somebody else who does Squarespace, which one is better?” And I’m like, it really doesn’t come down to the platform on a certain level. I mean I like WordPress but I’m sure the people who use Drupal think it’s the best thing. It comes down to does the agency you’re working with really know that platform and can they make it sing for you, or if you’re going to do it yourself. So I think it’s similar, it’s like any one of these will work for you. That’s what I’m hearing from you. But the thing is, once you choose one, then you really need to learn it.
Wes: Absolutely. Just like buying a computer. You can search and search for 6 months and prices keep coming down. The minute you buy the prices go down again and you feel like a fool. You can’t feel that way, you gotta jump in. But be leery of the consultant that says, “Only this. You should only do Drupal.” And I’m like, “Really?” I’ve been a WordPress guy for 7 years, but I’m moving my entire website – 137 pages, 700+ posts – to HubSpot. WordPress is still fantastic, and for 95% of the people I ever speak to WordPress is fine. But I write a lot of content and I need integrated analytics, not only integrated with my CRM but I need it integrated with my social media and paid ads, which I was not doing in the beginning. People would say I should have chosen that from the beginning but I hadn’t heard of HubSpot, plus it was more expensive and I was bootstrapping my business and I couldn’t afford it.
So not everybody needs to totally change horses 7 years later, but maybe you do. You’ve got to be open to it so just find something that speaks all the languages to give you the best advice.
Rich: Cool. One concern that I have with some of these tools – without mentioning names – we recently started playing around with one of these marketing automation platforms where I had just been using an email service provider in the past, Constant Contact. So we were using both of them side by side – we have 2 different organizations – we have Flyte and we have Agents Of Change – and every time my guy sent out a test email for the Agents Of Change podcast for me to look at, it didn’t show up. Not even in my junk folder. We finally had to send it to a different address so I could take a look at it, it got me very concerned about email deliverability. Do you have any kind of insight when it comes to email deliverability when it comes to some of these marketing automation platforms?
Wes: I do. It’s funny you bring that up right now because I just interviewed (sessions 140 and 141 on the Sales podcast) Brendan from Ontraport and I interviewed John Morrison from Active Campaign, and I said let’s get to the bottom of this email deliverability thing. It kind of goes back to what I said before, as long as you pick a reliable, reputable company you’re ok.
And really – what you probably don’t want to hear – is that a lot of it is on you. How is the content, what are you putting in it – are there a lot of images or links or spammy content – is there a lot of all caps or a lot of exclamation points? All those things set off triggers. And again, there may be some finer points, somebody may be 96.2% deliverability, someone else may be 95.8%.
But for the most part these companies are all very competitive and reliable and so you’ve really got to look at what are you sending and how is it structured. As long as you’re picking up one of the main, top tier players, the deliverability is pretty comparable.
Rich: Yeah, it’s funny that you say that because I get emails from all these different internet marketing agencies and I’ve also notices that I’m not getting something from Company X, and then I see it in my spam folder for no good reason. So sometimes I wonder if this may come down to your own email rules and what you’ve set as spam in the past when it comes to Gmail or whatever tool you may be using.
Wes: Yes. And it’s your own rules. It’s also your history of interacting with that provider and even that individual sender of the emails. I use Google Business and I have for years, they’re smart, man. They know if you’re opening the emails or if you’re clicking on the emails. If you get an email from somebody for months and months and you don’t open let alone click anything, these algorithms might start filtering those things for you.
Email is here to stay, but it is tougher. But at the end of the day, as a business person, it’s bad news because you have to be better and spend more time on it. As a consumer though it’s good because the business people have to be better and spend more time on it. But as a business owner again, it’s better because if you’re competitors aren’t going to spend the time and look for a shortcut and send this out to some server firm in China or Bangladesh or Philippines and just try to spam and push people through, those days are gone. People aren’t falling for that anymore.
Rich: So email works as definitely part of automation, but you mentioned earlier some other things as well. When you’re putting together your own marketing automation system – whichever platform you happen to choose – what are some of the other things you’re using? Do you engage with social media, is that part of the marketing automation system for you?
Wes: A little bit. Well, ok, and that’s part of the reason I’m switching over to HubSpot is the tighter social media integration because social media is also here to stay. And I want to know what people are clicking on, what are they engaging with my content. But you have to enter the conversation going on in the mind of the prospect. I do text messaging with my parents and on Facebook, they are not on Instagram or Snapchat. So if I’m catering to people in the 60+ community, I may not need that social media platform.
I just had drinks with a friend of mine last week at a place called Public House and I met Jerry the owner. Good dude, great place, great restaurant, unique brewers he gets on tap. We were talking about another company and he made a comment about how many followers they have on their Instagram, and it was a related but a different business in a bigger city. I’m like, “Dude, you can’t compare those two.” We’re in a smaller area, a little harder to get to, but he’s not selling physical products, he’s selling an experience, great food and great beers.
They don’t run specials or bring coupons, so you’re not going to have a Groupon and show up there spending $5 when you’re spending $50 dollars. So you really have to look at your people. What are you creating for them, what do they want and just speak to that. Do everything you can to speak to that. So maybe you need to do text messaging, maybe you need to get better reviews on Yelp. It’s called “citations” – that’s the word nowadays – and those are important, especially for brick and mortar businesses and especially a restaurant. So are you encouraging people, are you sending them a text, are you sending them postcards, direct mail, voice broadcasts? We would take that from somebody that we like.
I brought a big package to a firearm training course through a voice broadcast, and I remember it specifically. My wife was having surgery and I was just sitting there for hours at the hospital and they had a little courtyard and I was just sitting outside doing nothing and my phone rang. I had nothing else to do so I took the call and it was this company that I liked but I was distracted by my wife, so I wasn’t responding to their emails saying “last chance”. So I bought what they were selling sitting in the hospital courtyard because they had a multimedia approach.
And I’ll tell you a story – because it’s not that I didn’t want to hear from this company – I liked the company and have bought other stuff from them, I was just distracted at that particular time in my life. So you have to take that into consideration, too. So if you have a good offering be committed enough to have a multimedia, multi step approach to reach them.
Rich: And do you think this was probably tied into some sort of marketing automation system?
Rich: And that’s pretty cool because I hadn’t heard of voice animation. I certainly knew that certain marketing animation tools would send out postcards on your behalf. If there was one thing in your opinion that marketing animation tools should do that they don’t do now, what would you add to that list?
Wes: That they could do that they don’t?
Rich: Well yeah, like, what is the next step in marketing automation tools? Have you ever had that moment where you say, “I wish I could have my marketing automation tool do this for me”, and you just haven’t seen that out there?
Wes: I mean, because I play with so many I’ve seen it all to a degree. I’ve seen them interact through API custom coding, they can make things really do anything. It’s really kind of scary. So I’m not so much concerned with that but it kinda goes back to your original question. And it’s kind of a catch-22. I’ve worked with affordable platforms that are like the swiss army knife and they just gave you everything, and that’s their selling point, it has everything. But you know what, that can be a distraction.
It’d be like if you’re trying to take pilot’s lessons and I set you in front of a console of a 747. So I would say to kind of answer the question in a little different way in that. Go back to your process before login, determine the minimum that you need to reach your ideal prospects where they are and get a tool that does that. Maybe you need something that if you’re going after a younger crowd then you need the text messaging integration. If you’re going after an older crowd maybe you need a direct mail component where you can write your letters and postcards and get them sent out automatically for you.
So I think we’re going to start seeing a rebellion against the mechanization and “my robot can out tweet your robot”, and I think people are going to start being rewarded again for being a human being. So again, find the thing that’s the easiest to use that delivers the minimum technology that you need to reach your ideal people where they are. Does that help?
Rich: Absolutely. In fact, I think my biggest takeaway from today has been that you put the needs of the business first and then you find the software that will actually do it. And that I think is a piece that has not been communicated well enough to small business owners like myself who are constantly bombarded by all these different platforms that we could use, and suddenly we’re buying a car that’s much more than we need or maybe not the right fit for us because we don’t even know where we’re driving yet.
Rich: Wes, you dropped a lot of value here. I know that you have a podcast which you briefly mentioned, we’ll have a link to the episodes you mentioned. And you have a blog out there as well. Where can people find you either because they want to learn more about what you’re doing or maybe they need that sales whisperer who can help them figure out what marketing automation platform is right for them?
Wes: Well during the week I’ll be at the Public House, at the bar. As soon as I hang out with you, we’re going to Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula Valley, so I’ll be there on Friday nights, or if you can’t get to Southern California then just visit thesaleswhisperer.com. You can find me there, I’ve got a little chat window that I monitor myself, so 9 times out of 10 you’re going to get me. If I’m awake and around you can email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook , I’m pretty easy to find.
Rich: Awesome. Wes, thank you very much for your time today.
Wes: Alright, man, my pleasure.
- You can find Wes at his website, on Twitter or on Facebook.
- Wes mentioned 2 recent episodes of his podcast that delved deeper into email deliverability:
- Here’s the link to the free download Wes mentioned for his “Process Before Login” guide.
- Rich Brooks is the head honcho and comic relief of Flyte New Media, his web design and marketing firm in Portland, Maine. He is also the brainchild behind the Agents Of Change DIgital Marketing Conference.
- Transcriptions services provided by Jennifer Scholz Transcription Services.