There’s always something to howl about

What’s the End Goal To be?

I’ve been migrating all of my data to Infusionsoft  lately.   A little at a time.  Easy does it.  One list, suck it in, de dupe it, and on with the next.  Tag it.   Infusionsoft is powerful stuff.  A good tool.  I hate the counterintuitive interface.  I hate the fact that you can’t ‘tag’ people at account creation without saving.  I hate the fact that the Usability Team was likely ignored.  And I hate their customer service, which is of the same ethos as big boiler room refi shops from 2004.   That’s all I’m gonna say.  There are things to hate about it, just like there are things to hate about ACT!, Heap, and whatever CRM Mark Green whips out.

But, all that aside, Infusionsoft does a lot right.  It combines an auto-responder, some analytics, a project manager and a goal tracker in the same spot.  It tells you what to do, step by step.   And you can set up smart workflows for different things.  Right now, I’m underusing it.

What it taught me was a fundamental weakness in my business.  Before I can sell, before I can scale, I have to create a coherent, robust & predictable customer experience.  Meaning this: when I send people to a web page, or offer, Infusionsoft strongly suggests I know what happens next.  And in my nascent business, selling blogs and social media propagation, I don’t know what happens next.   I haven’t engineered a good enough customer experience to throw a bunch of customers at it.  Yet.  I’m tons closer today than I was yesterday, and this weekend was “what I want to happen time.”

But there’s the rub: most CRMs fill a leaking bucket.  You throw some autoresponders and newsletters at people, and yeah, they’ll perform.  The efficiency loss is never addressed:  what happens when you make a sale.

And the other one: most people, especially D’s hate to be scripted.  They hate to feel like they’re on some assembly line that they do not control.   I lose time, personally, not in my ability to sell and market but because I have so many points that need to be improved.  I don’t have the entitlementality that other automation junkies have–I want to honor the customer first.  I want them to feel comfotable in every way.  Broadcasting to a list on a CRM is a fool’s errand unless you can efficiently and honorably deliver the goods.

Infusionsoft helps.  By its nature of thinking of things in action sequences, I learned what I want my customer intake to be.  What pages I have to build.  What things I have to do. I’m almost there.

What I’ll bet is this:  you do things that are like reinventing the wheel all the time.  I’ll betcha anything that you are filling a leaking bucket, and WHAT HAPPENS once you get the deal is where your business suffers.  It is with mine.  When I was an unabashed rake, I didn’t honor my customers.  Because they were fungible.  Replacable.  All the work I did generating leads was worthless because they didn’t turn into lifelong customers.  I was on my way to that path with my new business.

Then I decided to be the best, by making sure that my customer experience was coherent.  My take on a good customer experience is a few things:

  • Instant deliverables.  (Can be applied to Real Estate if you, say write a manifesto like Greg did on the divorced commisison…a mortgage dude can do a walkthrough of the process).  If your web guy instantly sent you a list of current best practices, would you dig?  Yes, you would.
  • Stellar communication: (you always know what happens next, and when it’s gonna happen.)
  • Keep your promises.
  • Ruthlessly Grade yourself and future plan for things that slowed the process.
  • Solicit Customer feedback & future plan for things that can upgrade the experience.

I did it as a lender and it made a profound difference in the ‘where’s my deal,’ calls, and thus my life.  When I automatically emailed all my deals in progress each day, even when there was nothing to report, people trusted me more, they felt connected and they referred their friends.

All the lead generation in the world isn’t gonna help if your bucket has no bottom and a bunch of holes in the sides.  And having a good customer experience is easy.  It’s not enough to outshine the 99% of your competition that is on a failure path.  You have to be the best possible experience, worship at the church of skinned cats, and subordinate your ego to what is actually happening.

And that, friends, is a big damn blue ocean.  But that’s what the OODA loop is all about.

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    8 Comments so far

    1. Brian Brady July 8th, 2009 8:57 am

      I agree that most folks hate to be scripted but like to know what happens next. Chris, are you sending a “here’s what you can expect from me”, welcome email, after you’ve taken an order? Are you sending “daily status updates”, like you did in lending, for your blog biz?

    2. Chris Johnson July 8th, 2009 9:38 am

      Haven’t decided. My turn around is BANG BANG. So what happens atm is that someone gets a blog, they have a draft in a day. I’ve sold 30ish YTD. 7 returns/refunds. all my fault, mostly.

      That is the customer experience I’m working to execute by using infusionsoft, & WP wishlist.

      Speed is everything. If you deliver fast, you don’t have returns. If things linger then you do. This i’ve learned. Same deal with lenders: elminate doubt and you eliminate shoping & buyer’s remorse.

    3. Jeff Brown July 8th, 2009 10:00 am

      It occurs to me this is where transparency has real merit. Once a prospect crosses over to client status, the less mystery is attached to the process the better. One of the best days of my career was when it finally dawned on me how much better ‘less than good news’ went over when the client had developed ever deepening trust due to our warts and all communication style along with frequency.

      Seems to me you’re on the right track here.

    4. Joshua Keen July 8th, 2009 11:50 am

      Welcome the Infusionsoft! I couldn’t agree more with your assessment. What Infusion forces in your business is clarity – clarity at each (and every) step of the sales process.

      When I moved my database from TopProducer to Infusionsoft – nearly two years ago – my mantra became “What Happens Next?” In fact, that’s the subject line of the first auto-responder my new listing clients get from me.

      Suffices to say, it’s a “work in progress”.

      Dan Kennedy refers to this process as “sales choreography”.

      “If you don’t have a system for selling, you are at the mercy of the prospects system for buying (and for not buying). Such a system has to be built at the macro and micro levels.  A process for moving a prospect along the path, from first expression of interest to completed sale. Contrary to the nonsense spewed about leaving salespeople to their own devices to preserve spontaneity, encourage creativity, and so on – Selling is a scientific and mechanical process…not something you should make up as you go along.  Everything should be choreographed, from the first step the prospect takes into the selling environment, moment by moment, movement by movement, sentence by sentence.”

      Now…there’s quite a lot of resistance to this idea, of course, because it requires a lot of thought, discipline, and practice by salespeople – lots of checks and balances to ensure proper implementation – and Ds won’t like it, for sure.  Best to leave that to the compliants of the world.

      I can assure you this – when we master it – the payoff will be enormous.

    5. Chris Johnson July 8th, 2009 12:06 pm

      Thanks, Joshua. What happens next, when does it happen.

    6. Benjamin Ficker July 8th, 2009 5:07 pm

      I’m looking forward to getting set up with InfusionSoft, but man, that set up fee is a big hurdle for a CRM. Do you set up the system to get more clients or get more clients to afford the system? Either way, its definitely the system I want to use. I’m looking forward to your review when you have everything up and running.

    7. Tom Vanderwell July 8th, 2009 7:26 pm


      You’ve just described what I spent most of today working on. Taking my lending practice and raising it to the next level, the Bloodhound level.

      Was talking to Greg about it the other night, but you are absolutely correct, you need to work on “what happens next.”

      Stay tuned and thanks for writing this!


    8. Mike Taylor July 10th, 2009 3:31 am

      I am currently looking at Infusionsoft as well and I agree with Benjamin, that set up fee is a tough pill to swallow. I am just starting to dig into this, but it seems a little like killing a fly with a sledgehammer to me. I mean this thing seems very robust, and I just don’t know if I need or will use half of the functionality of the system.