GE 127: Automation Master Brad Martineau on How to Set Up Successful Sales & Automation Funnels [Podcast]

brad martineauHi everyone, today’s interview is with Brad Martineau, Cofounder of SixthDivision, a company that helps businesses plan out and thrive on marketing automation via Infusionsoft. Today we’re talking about the dire importance in planning before implementing any automation, and how SixthDivision has grown helping companies do just that.

An Early Employee Branches Off From Infusionsoft

Brad started his business career as Infusionsoft’s sixth employee and got a front row seat in watching the company grow from just six to 150 people, and from $500,000 to over $15 million in revenue.

He saw that Infusionsoft was building a really cool tool that helped small businesses leverage the power of technology, but he also saw a lot of their clients struggling to implement it.

So in 2010, he broke off from Infusionsoft and started SixthDivision, and the whole goal of that company is to make it easy for people to get their automation ideas implemented so they can make more money and have more time on their hands.

What SixthDivision Offers

The end result of what SixthDivision does is to help people get their ideas implemented at lightening speed. (It’s their main value proposition.)

Specifically, they help their clients focus on client acquisition: getting more leads, and turning those leads into clients.

And when you get into that area of business, says Brad, they’re two main components:

  1. Advertising & generating traffic to get leads
  2. Converting leads to prospects and prospects into buyers

To do this, they have offerings that range from hanging out in their office for a few days to signing up for membership so SixthDivision becomes a part of their team, ensuring ideas get taken care of quickly.

Why Marketing Automation Can be Confusing (And Why Some People Call Infusionsoft Confusionsoft)

The reality is, says Brad, even though some people complain about technologies like Infusionsoft being confusing, he’s found in most cases it’s just a result of the user not understanding exactly how Infusionsoft should be used in their business.

He says it’s like teaching a young child to ride a bicycle. When the kid first starts trying to learn, he thinks it’s one of the hardest things he’s ever done. But a year later, it’s super easy for him.

The thing that’s changed and made the task easier isn’t the bicycle, it’s the child’s knowledge and skill of how to operate it.

“It’s not the tool,” says Brad, “it’s that the tool is forcing you to do something that you’ve never done before.”

When someone is forced to think about their business through a lens they’ve never thought about it before (like automation), that’s where the problem starts. Because in the past, small businesses haven’t had the capacity to do any kind of automation, so they haven’t been required to think along those lines.

But, Brad says, as they grow their own business, they will start to look for ways to help their clients automate with technologies other than Infusionsoft.

A High-Level Thought Process for Implementing a Successful Client Journey: The Lego Principle

To start planning for a successful client journey, Brad says you need to start with what you sell. (Not the benefits of what you sell, the actual product itself. You can’t go to a restaurant and order Mexican food. You’ve got to choose a taco or a burrito.)

Once you’ve determined that, you can go back another step and ask how you’re selling your product… via a sales team or an automated online process?

From there, you then need to think about and identify all the ways you’re capturing leads and what your strategy is to get those leads warmed up to your brand so they’ll be in a position to consider buying from you.

After that, you think about the individual steps you have outlined to get those leads warmed up: via webinars, events, Facebook advertising, and so on. All of the things that lead a person into talking to your sales team. (If that’s how you’re selling, that is.)

Then you can zoom in and look at just your sales process and figure out how that should run and what kind of experience you’re creating for your prospects.

And once you’ve got everything planned out (not before), you can create a blueprint to finally put everything in place and get your automation running.

Brad refers to this as the Lego Principle.

I’ve you’ve ever bought a 1,000-piece Lego set, you know that when you open the box, about seven bags pop out along with a guide to walk you through how to build the piece bag-by-bag before you get to creating the final product.

It’s the same for your business. Your business is the 1,000 piece Lego set with a picture on the box, but you can’t expect yourself to try and put together all 1,000 pieces at once. You have to identify the bags that make up that picture, and then focus on one bag at a time.

Mapping Out the Customer Journey

Brad says he doesn’t know of a tool that can be used specifically for building out customer journeys, but they use a tool called Basalmiq, which is a digital wire framing tool that allows you to create a visual and digital format of how people will run through your business.

SixthDivision Revenues

In the first year of SixthDivision, they brought in seven figures, and each year since, they’ve grown anywhere from 35% to 45%.

In fact, they were on track to double their revenues this year before they decided to shift to a recurring revenue model, but they still expect to close out the year with a little under $3 million in business.

Startup Marketing Automation Mistakes

Specific to marketing automation, Brad says the biggest mistakes he sees startups making is not knowing what they’re doing and not getting clear on how they’re actually going to get what they want.

People tend to buy marketing automation based on the high-level benefits of making more money, saving a lot of time, or getting more visibility.

But what people fail to do is ask how these automation tools are actually going to give them what they want in a tactical sense.

If you ask them for a plan on how they’re going to reach their specific goals with automation, most people can’t give you an answer, because they’re simply buying a dream.

Another trap he sees people fall into is trying to blueprint and implement at the same time.

These people might know how they plan to use marketing automation to make their goals happen, but they set out trying to build those processes before they have a solid plan in place.

Beyond that, he says, is the fatal mistake of trying to do it all yourself or trying to do it all at once. Often, he says he sees individuals trying to fit a year’s worth of automation setup and tweaking into a one month time frame, which is a recipe for disaster.

“When you’re disciplined about that process,” says Brad, “that’s when you can actually gain some traction and make something happen in your business.”

An Automation Success Story

A few months go, SixthDivision took on fixing a registration and check in process for a conference that notoriously had huge, long, massive lines at their check in counter.

They put a process in place with Infusionsoft that helped them automate their check in process, and even though there were 3,000 people checking in that morning, 45 minutes into the check in, there were no lines, even though they’d erred on the side of caution and set up for the huge, long lines they’d experienced in the past.

A Simple Funnel Setup

To set up a successful online sales funnel, Brad suggests starting your planning at the end of the funnel, not at the beginning.

You need to start with what you want the person to buy (whether it’s a $10 or $500 product), and then think through the things they will need to know and understand in order to buy it, and work backwards from there.

Where are you trying to get them? What are the things they’ll need to know about the product before buying it? What are they afraid of?

Then you can create a lead magnet that’s extremely enticing to them and deliver it in a way that will highlight all the benefits of what they can get by continuing on and diminish the fears they have.

Email Sequences to Check Out

Advice to His 25 Year-Old Self

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” -African proverb

“You can go as far as your brain will allow you to go,” says Brad. “And if you’re limited it’s because you’re limiting your brain.”

It’s also important to recognize that you need to be able to let things go and that the way you do things isn’t necessarily the “right” way, it’s just “a” way.

“Your business will go as much as you do,” he went on. “And when your business stops growing it’s because you stopped growing.”

His Ideal Day

One Must-Read Book

Brad suggests Ready Fire Aim by Michael Masterson because it breaks down the revenue phases that businesses go through as they grow and points out the biggest challenges you’ll have during each of those stages.

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About Eric Siu

Eric Siu (@ericosiu) is the CEO at Single Grain, a digital marketing agency that focuses on paid advertising and content marketing. He contributes regularly to Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes and more.

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