“Should I Use SharpSpring, Hubspot, Infusionsoft or …?” 10 Questions to Answer Before Deciding on Marketing Automation Software

At Conversion Marketing Experts, we’re all about helping you make informed decisions when it comes to investing in and optimizing any digital, content and marketing automation software like SharpSpring, Hubspot or Infusionsoft.

This article assumes, (all assumptions can be a slippery slope), that you are familiar with these brands of content and marketing automation software. (If not: SharpSpring, Hubspot & Infusionsoft integrate your sales, marketing, digital content, team and analytics in a way that – when done right – crushes regular email marketing systems, or EMS.)

Marketing, like sales, is a game of failure. If your strategy, products, team, pricing or anything else really sucks, none of these enhanced systems will save you, no matter what the NLP seminar guy may be telling you.

Choosing an email marketing system (EMS) is different than making a prudent business decision with your team on whether SharpSpring, Hubpsot or Infusionsoft is most suitable for you. This is way beyond basic email marketing. Chances are you’re going to need qualified experts to help you succeed.

This is the key; you have to choose the people and system that are BEST for you, your team and your business model including goals and desire to scale. People manage these systems.

There is no one “right” or “best” solution unless I ask you at least 30 questions. I have about 100 in total I need to ask you to optimize your marketing, if you will hear me.

Caution: If you don’t know these questions, or anything about marketing automation software, what makes you think you can buy the software, train your assistant and get a result? Answer? You can’t.

In short, I am giving you the beginning of a series of critical questions to explore with your team BEFORE you invest money in content and marketing automation software. When we provide marketing management, consulting or training, we – as marketing experts – are teaching you what you don’t know. If you know what you don’t know you about marketing automation, you will sleep better at night. We teach this stuff.

If you want to take your marketing and sales to the next level and you’re ready to find the right content and marketing automation platform to enable your sales team, sales process and results, to shine, do you want to do it right?

Or do you want to do it like a hack? Let me ask you  …

Do you make your own paperclips, coffee cups, etc.?

Of course not! And for a very good reason!

These marketing automation systems can and must align sales, marketing (content), team, analytics and reporting in a way you can afford it and get a measurable ROI. If you’re not tracking ROI yet, SharpSpring, Hubspot and Infusionsoft can help you get much better reporting, although each of these systems has various capabilities when it comes to reporting or any other function.

Full disclosure: We are marketing experts, first, agnostic when it comes to recommending any system or solution whatsoever. Of all the best systems in the world, we choose to use SharpSpring because of the power of their solution, affordability, support, scalability for us and millions of businesses, native integration with Adwords, Salesforce. We could use anything. But we use SharpSpring because it is best for us, not necessarily for you.

Having said this, we are a certified SharpSpring partner. We do NOT get paid by SharpSpring any commissions for selling the software. We own a license and resell it. SharpSpring is one of the few companies in this business to focus on selling their content and marketing automation solution through partners – value-added resellers like us. Many of SharpSpring’s partners are marketing agencies. We, however, are not a marketing agency. We are marketing experts who provide management, consulting and training.

We are NOT an Infusionsoft partner any longer for many reasons. We were a top-ten rated Infusionsoft consulting partner for almost 8 years. Infusionsoft sells directly and through consultants who earn a 10% commission on all sales, including your monthly recurring. (Unless their management team decided to whack the commissions in half, again.)

Hubspot sells directly and through agency partners who get certified. Hubspot wants to be the big hitter and they tend to act like it and charge for it. We don’t get paid by Hubspot either. But we do recommend and have done great work in Hubspot. But we are NOT a partner. They charge the most and provide the heaviest beast of burden when it comes to properly setting up and managing the marketing platform. But hey, there are many qualified people including us who can and will do great work in ANY system.

Did you already buy SharpSpring, Hubspot or Infusionsoft in a seminar?

If so, I pray for your salvation. Do you know how much your people loathe you for buying content and marketing automation software in a seminar?

Please promise never to do this again. Ever.

I can’t tell you how many calls and emails I get asking me, “Hey, I own XYZ. I just want you to know up front that we’ve been burned by our first three web, email, automation, content marketing experts. They never did anything! Can you believe it? Do you know how much that cost us? Hey, can you help us for free?”

I pause, which is really difficult for a frustrated, 30+-year sales guy who decided to jump on the hood of the digital and content marketing bus a decade ago.

I say, “No. But tell me this. What system are you using now?”

“We don’t have one. Well, we kinda do. But we’re using like 2% of it. 3% on Tuesdays. We send an email once in a while. And we paid all this money for it and …”

“Wait. Don’t go there again. I know it was painful to lose your shirt getting into a marketing platform and system. I assure you that if you invest the time up front to ask the right questions – the questions an experienced digital, content and marketing automation knows to ask – you’ve got a shot at crushing it, meaning ‘getting a new sales result you can see without losing your shirt. Or your mind.’ ”

“How much does that cost?” (Never trust a software sales guy to tell you what it costs. The real cost of this software is investing in proper set up, training, coaching and ongoing content marketing that must be fed into these marketing systems. Or don’t even bother.)

“Before we get there, don’t you want to know a few of the most important questions you’ve got to ask before you invest a nickle into any system as powerful as SharpSpring, Hubspot or Infusionsoft?”

“Uh, well, I’m kind of in a hurry. Sure.” (Squirrel… )

“Look if you’re too busy chasing another squirrel we can do this another time. But, IF you’re really committed to making a great decision on your content and marketing automation platform, and pegging a sales result you want, let’s take a couple  of minutes so I can give you a few of the questions you and your team need to discuss in detail, okay?”

I hear, “Sure,” distractedly, like he’s starting a webinar. (I love my job.)

“Great. Here we go. Before you or anyone else on planet Earth upgrades to a system like SharpSpring, Hubspot or Infusionsoft, talk about and answer these questions as a team.”

WARNING …

Everyone on your TEAM must be involved in choosing, customizing, training, coaching and daily use of the system. Otherwise you will FAIL. Miserably. And you will call the next digital, content and marketing automation guy and you will cry on his or her shoulder. Your turnover may hit 400%.

ANOTHER WARNING: NEVER BUY SHARPSPRING, HUBSPOT, INFUSIONSOFT OR ANYTHING LIKE IT IN A SEMINAR! THIS WILL MOST CERTAINLY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH AND WEALTH.

Okay, so much for my public service announcement. It needs to be said, more!

Here are 10 questions to begin your discovery journey …

  1. Who on your marketing bus is capable of driving a 800-horse power marketing machine?
  2. What is your primary goal for the beast? Please pick one goal and focus on it! Please.
  3. Who will use it and what past experience do they have?
  4. Do you have the internal resources to do this yourself? (Highly unlikely.)
  5. What do you and your team want your content and marketing automation system to do? What functions must it provide? (CRM or CRM-light, email marketing, lead scoring/tracking, analytics and clean dashboard reporting for ROI tracking at sales person and campaign level, landing pages, web forms, dynamic lists, work flows management, tasks, triggers, decision tree, etc.)
  6. What is the monthly budget you’re willing to invest, without losing sleep at night? You have to budget for optimization, support, training, and CONTENT.
  7. What current systems that you use and love will need to be integrated and do you have a full Scope of Work?
  8. Who will develop the full Scope of Work everyone needs to keep from getting screwed? If you don’t know what a Scope of Work is please book a time to talk with me or send an email.)
  9. Will you do what it takes to invest in the proper set up, training, coaching and ongoing updates EVERY content and marketing automation system will require?
  10. Who will feed the daily, weekly, monthly CONTENT to complete the machine? (If you don’t feed your marketing machine with great content, you are really screwed.)

Start here. Get clear.

Then do the most important thing you can do for yourself and your team – Go find a qualified-, willing-, ready-and-able digital, content and marketing automation expert to help you get the ROI you deserve. Hire and pay them what they deserve. Or outsource. Don’t be cheap and short term. That always fails.

Yes, you will have to choose wisely because – like choosing your marketing platform – you must hire directly or outsource your digital, content and marketing automation MANAGEMENT AND ONGOING OPTIMIZATION to proven marketing experts – professionals you trust and pay for advice, training, coaching and disciplined MARKETING MANAGEMENT.

Closing thought …

What if you could pay your marketing experts for performance?

Hey, we do that.

Just get in touch with us and we’ll tell you how our pay-for-performance marketing management model works.

We also do both virtual and onsite digital, content and marketing automation training and coaching.

We always appreciate your questions and comments here on our blog. Just add your comment below.

About the Author

I am Cliff Jones. I'm on a mission to teach and coach CEO's, business owners, sales and marketing executives how to use my Digital Marketing Action Plan (DMAP) to get high-ROI sales and marketing results in less time with much less stress. Connect with me: Twitter Facebook Linkedin Youtube

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