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Episode 25: Achieving Business Sustainability and Scalability with Suraj Sodha

Suraj Sodha of WPMaintain talks with Chris Davis, our Director of Education and podcast host, about using technology to build a sustainable, scalable business.

Listen to Episode (42:58)

Synopsis

ActiveCampaign Director of Education and podcast host Chris Davis engages Suraj Sodha of WPMaintain in a discussion about how a sustainable business is built. Suraj shares how he scaled his WordPress website maintenance business over time, what the transition to ActiveCampaign was like and how he uses the platform today to help run his business.

Suraj Sodha can be found online at WPMaintain.co.uk, on Facebook, and @wpmaintain and @SurajSodha on Twitter.

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Transcript

Chris Davis: Welcome to another episode of the ActiveCampaign Podcast. Today I have another [00:00:30] user story business breakdown, if you will, of one of our own to share some insight not only on his business and services but how he’s using ActiveCampaign to help manage that entire flow. Today we have Suraj Sodha. Welcome to the podcast, Suraj. How are you doing?

Suraj Sodha: Thank you very much, Chris. It’s great to be here. I’m doing good, buddy. Thank you for having me.

Chris Davis: Yes, yes, yes. Suraj, tell us a bit about [00:01:00] your company.

Suraj Sodha: We are based in the UK here, in London actually. Our company is called WPMaintain. What we essentially do, there are two services that we offer. The first is website maintenance for WordPress website users. [inaudible 00:01:19] business owners. They all have WordPress websites and we help them with the maintenance of those websites, basically the things that nobody else wants to do, or [00:01:30] that the business owner has no time to do themselves, or they don’t know how to do themselves, and they understand the value of focusing on what they’re good on and outsourcing the rest to somebody else. We become their outsource website department, and we take care of all the things that they don’t care so much about doing themselves because they’ve got a business to run, things like their hosting, their backups on their website, their security to make sure that it’s not getting hacked, updating the content.

Everyone talks about digital marketing, [00:02:00] and that you should be blogging, and you should be publishing on social media. They send us the content and we make sure it’s published on their blog properly with a nice image, properly formatted. For example, somebody’s business takes on more staff and they’ve got new team profiles to add onto their websites. We add the profiles onto them, or somebody leaves the company, we then take their details off. It’s basically management of the website, fixing bugs. In some cases, someone’s contact form might stop working, and [00:02:30] we can fix that, all those sorts of things that every business owner, unfortunately, has to deal with, but in reality has no time or patience to want to learn how to fix those things. We say, “You focus on what you’re good at and leave the rest of it to us.” That’s our main service.

Chris Davis: You know what, Suraj? I’ll add another level to this. There are not a lot of web developers that know how to do that effectively.

Suraj Sodha: Right.

Chris Davis: Even when business owners [00:03:00] hire web developers, it’s no guarantee that it’s gonna be done correctly.

Suraj Sodha: Right, and we work with a lot of web developers, web designers, marketing consultants, who actually do a great job, Chris. These guys are really good at developing websites, or designing websites, or consulting on your marketing strategy, and telling you what you should be doing. They do a really great job, but what they often don’t offer or they don’t want to offer is the behind-the-scenes [00:03:30] work that needs to happen to make sure that all of their work is running smoothly.

We get it all the time. A web developer creates a beautiful website, it’s really nice looking, it does everything the client wants it to do, but six months later, something’s out of date. Something needs updating, a plugin needs updating, or some content needs to be added because the marketing consultant said, “Hey, you should be blogging three times a month, or four times a month,” or whatever it is. Then what happens? [00:04:00] The web developer’s done a great job. It’s not his fault that the website’s not being updated because the client is juggling everything. They’re wearing 17 different hats in their business, which is very common. I’m sure a lot of listeners to this podcast can relate to that. I certainly could relate to that as well. That’s where the problem we found was, and we try and solve that problem with our solution of website maintenance.

Chris Davis: It’s a huge solution, Suraj. I can [00:04:30] hear all of the marketing consultants rejoice right now. Virtually, I hear them all rejoicing because you’re absolutely right. As a marketing software company, we can equip you with the software, and we’ve got consultants and users like yourself that understand the importance of having a marketing strategy and leveraging that online, but none of it can take place without a website. Marketing consultants, [00:05:00] they can be top notch and they’ll say, “You need to do this, you need to have a landing page, we need to do this for our conversion, we’re gonna run ads, you need this page,” but if the business owner cannot get that page up, now the marketing consultant and active campaign were all kind of held hostage by the ignorance of understanding or the access to a resource to really help leverage their web presence.

Suraj Sodha: You hit the nail on the head. That happens a lot. We [00:05:30] get marketing consultants coming to us and say, “I’ve been advising my client to set up a pop up on their website to collect email addresses from their visitors, and I know this will help my client to grow their email list so that they could invest more time and money into some email marketing because it will help them grow their business, but the client has had that information for three months and hasn’t done anything with it.” That’s a very common conversation I have weekly [00:06:00] because with the best intention in the world, don’t get me wrong, the client wants to have that setup. They just don’t know how to. They may even have the plugins, they may already be an ActiveCampaign customer. They have the tools ready to go, but they don’t know what buttons to press to implement them, so we take care of that for them.

We’ve been described by some of our clients as an emergency service for their website so that we can bring all of these elements together. The marketing [00:06:30] guy says you need a popup on your website or you need a new landing page, and the client is blank because they don’t know how to do that. We can plug that gap and we work very well with other marketing folks and other marketing agencies because we get what they’re trying to do for their clients. We know technically how to actually achieve it, not just from a theory point of view. Technically, we can get it set up for their client and our client on the website. Tick that box and ultimately [00:07:00] then, the client gets what they’re paying for from a results point of view with the marketing consultant. He or she is happy because they’re getting their client to actually take action on the advice and the consultancy that they’re giving.

One of the biggest challenges that we find that marketing consultants have is not knowing what to advise their clients, but actually seeing the results in what they’re advising clients because things are not getting implemented, no action is being taken. [00:07:30] That’s why they love us. We love them because they feed us lots of great work regularly, and we help them to look good because their clients get the result that they’re paying the consultant for.

Chris Davis: Yeah, you’re freeing their business from the penitentiary of not being able to execute online.

Suraj Sodha: Right, I love that.

Chris Davis: What’s funny, sometimes there are online businesses on bail. It’s [00:08:00] working now, but potentially it’ll be right back in prison because they’re imprisoned by the technology.

Suraj Sodha: On that point about being held on bail, being held hostage, a lot of our clients also come to us and say, “I don’t really need the security because it’s never gonna happen to me. My website is never gonna get hacked, obviously. My website is never gonna go down, obviously.” Lo and behold, they come back sometimes and said, “Well, it happened to me.” It’s about [00:08:30] prevention rather than cure. If something does happen, we can cure it as well, but to use a medical analogy, we’d rather prevent it than have to cure it.

Chris Davis: Yeah, absolutely. Tell me a bit about who your clients are. Are you serving small businesses, solopreneurs, or are these more agencies? Do you have more of a B2B model? Who is your prime target audience?

Suraj Sodha: We’ve got a bit of a variety of all of the [00:09:00] above, to be honest. The majority of our clients we have, we have 300 or 400 clients here in the UK who we work with at the moment. The majority of them have come directly to us. They are small to medium-sized businesses, maybe zero to five staff, very small. Some of them are freelancers, some of them are work-from-home types. We also have good relationships with a number of web development, [00:09:30] and web design, and marketing agencies here in the UK who essentially resell or redistribute our service, and they white label it as their own because they recognize the commercial value and the commercial opportunity in offering an ongoing maintenance service, there’s a recurring revenue model there, but also because they don’t physically want to do the backups and the updates and all that sort of stuff. They’d rather outsource that to us. With those agencies [00:10:00] comes those slightly bigger clients where there may be some household names, some high street names that your UK audience would probably recognize.

The vast majority of our customers are smaller owner-managed businesses, people who have been in business for a while and importantly, almost all of them have tried to do this maintenance stuff themselves for a number of years [00:10:30] and they’ve finally cracked. They’ve realized they can’t wear every hat in their business and that the only way to grow their business is to grow their team, whether it’s hiring staff or outsourcing to services like ours. Those are the types of clients that we find ourselves working with a lot more because they value the fact that I’m paying this company a small fee every month, and it is taking this massive headache away from me, and they’re solving this problem, and that’s worth more than me trying to figure it out every [00:11:00] single month. It’s leverage, very similar to how ActiveCampaign delivers the value, not just to us as a customer, of course we’re customers, but to your other customers as well because you realize actually for what is a relatively small investment, you get so much value and so much of your time freed up that it just makes sense to do it that way.

Chris Davis: It’s important because WordPress is here to stay. In the past, maybe people had questions [00:11:30] like, “It’s here now, but look at Squarespace, Wix, Weebly,” but WordPress is here to stay. More and more entrepreneurs, and small businesses, and startups, websites are powered by WordPress, and everybody who uses it loves its flexibility, but it does come with that maintenance fee to it. Let me ask you this. You’ve been doing this for a while. In fact, how long have you been doing this?

Suraj Sodha: We’ve actually been in business, in total, [00:12:00] for about nine years now.

Chris Davis: Nine years, congratulations.

Suraj Sodha: Thank you so much, approaching that decade milestone. In terms of the WPMaintain service, it’s only been running in its current form for three years. It took us a solid six years to figure out what the real problem was for our customers, and then we shifted our focus from originally it was web design. We were a web design agency, but things changed, the market changed slightly. We thought rather than just being [00:12:30] another website agency, let’s meet people for the aftercare because we found out that was the real problem. Even we had the same problem.

Six months later, a year later, a client would phone us up and say, “Can I add this to my website now?” It’s like, “Okay great, how do we charge for that? How do we justify a one-off fee for that?” Then it doesn’t seem justifiable to the client to be paying 200 pounds to add something small a year later, but we couldn’t do it for free. You see what I mean? There was a real problem there, [00:13:00] and we found that in a lot of web design firms, and freelancers had the same issue. That’s why we then recognized, “Let’s focus our efforts on helping other web designers, other agencies, with this aftercare that nobody seems to be able to get right.” We think we’re working on the right model, and it seems to be working in the sense of clients are loving it, and we’re growing very fast.

Chris Davis: You dropped a couple nuggets in there. One [00:13:30] was it took you six years you were willing to dedicate. Here’s the thing that I love about what you said about six years. Some people will put a year in and not be willing to shift. You had six years in, and you had the presence of mind to say, “We’ve been doing this for six years, but there’s a shift that we need to take because of what the market is showing us,” and you just being in tune with the problem. I often tell people [00:14:00] that it takes hours of serving a particular audience before you really identify the real issue. Nobody just starts business, “Hey I have a business,” and it’s right. It takes time, and I commend you for hanging in there for not only six years, but shifting and being able to maintain. I would just project that this model that you’ve had for the last three years is probably going to be a lot more sustainable and scalable than [00:14:30] the previous six.

Suraj Sodha: For sure.

Chris Davis: Those were two things I didn’t want our listeners to miss out on, is your consistency and endurance over time in business. You’re not on here saying, “Hey Chris, I listened to this podcast, put up a landing page, and a month later we were in business.” I commend you, man. I wanted to speak on, before ActiveCampaign, how were you getting [00:15:00] the word out about what you’re doing? I know you use ActiveCampaign for a lot of the client flow too. What was life like before ActiveCampaign?

Suraj Sodha: Life before ActiveCampaign was on a piece of paper with a pen and a notepad. I don’t say that lightly. I’m not exaggerating. Nine years into business, we’ve basically seen [00:15:30] the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of marketing tools, and CRMs, and email marketing systems, and deal management. We’ve pretty much been there, done it, and got every t-shirt, and every bit of swag that we’ve been sent. I come from a place of knowing the market very well, but also knowing what didn’t work for us. Ultimately, we kept going back to the old pen and paper [00:16:00] or notepad. We thought we were getting really tech crazy when we started using a spreadsheet and things like Evernote, which are great tools, but not tools designed for doing what we needed to do. We were sort of getting by.

Over the last year or two in the last three-year period of really fast sustained growth in our business have we realized that actually we can’t cut corners on these really important [00:16:30] tools. We can’t just keep using a spreadsheet to manage things because actually, it’s not giving us insights, it’s not giving us data to make decisions based on data, which are far more informed. Otherwise, you’re just guessing basically on some sort of a spreadsheet, color coded system. It doesn’t quite make sense afterwards. Also, things like Evernote, which don’t get me wrong, we love these tools, but we like now to use them for what they’re intended for. We found [00:17:00] things started to get messy, really messy. We’re forgetting what we’ve done with certain clients, we’d forget what stage of our sales process certain clients were in because somebody forgot to update the spreadsheet. All of these sorts of things started to cause problems. That’s when we recognized we need to fix this problem in order to grow and help our clients better.

Chris Davis: I love it. Essentially, what you’ve said is what I see so frequently. Again, [00:17:30] another nugget. You dropping them all over the place, but when profitable processes become painful. You had processes in place that were generating money. Everybody, the reason why Suraj is able to stand before us today approaching a decade in business and using a model that is very strong is because you started out manual, which a lot of people fear, but [00:18:00] that is what helped you become so intimate with your processes. By the time you implemented technology it was like, “Oh my gosh.” It was almost instant relief and success, right?

Suraj Sodha: Yes, absolutely.

Chris Davis: Everybody, you’re always going to have a manual process. In fact, all businesses start out manual. Please don’t start a business thinking you can just automate from the jump because it’s those manual processes that are gonna inform the platform what it [00:18:30] needs to do. When those manual processes become painful, that’s your first indicator that’s like, “Wait a minute, there’s gotta be a better way.” Again, I commend you for that as well. Great to hear it. It’s funny how we can use technology out of its intended purposes to get us to a point, and then it’s just like, “Let me invest the right technology. Let me get serious about my business.”

Suraj Sodha: You hit the nail on the head again there about [00:19:00] starting off manually, really getting to know your processes and system intimately so that you can transfer them to technology afterwards. I’m very much a systems and processes kind of guy. As a startup business when you’re fairly small and you’re still figuring out your pricing structure and how you’re making regular revenue and profits every month, I get that there is always that balance between investing in tools that will [00:19:30] make your life easier versus saving money, and saving costs, and getting by with a spreadsheet until you’re ready to invest. I think that process is actually a required process.

Exactly what you said, I wouldn’t advise people to jump straight in and automate everything because then you lose touch a little bit, and you really need to know what’s going on so then you can let technology take over. We treat ActiveCampaign like a member of staff. I know it sounds a little [00:20:00] bit weird, but we do in a sense that it now does for us what a member of staff … We haven’t had to make anyone redundant because of ActiveCampaign, no one’s lost a job, but it does the work or it saves a whole bunch of us in the office time from doing a whole person’s job, which is making sure everything is up to date, making sure the client’s in the right place at the right time, they’re getting the right message, et cetera. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Don’t jump straight [00:20:30] in there. Figure out your flow and your systems first.

Chris Davis: As you’re talking, I can easily see it. I just want to make sure our listeners understand the method here. There’s a method to exactly what you’re doing, and the migration from doing things a certain way to all the way now, to me, it’s business beauty. It’s like I can listen and watch something like that all day [00:21:00] because it’s a model that any business can take and use as like a blueprint. Again man, I keep putting my hat on to take it off. Keep doing it. Let’s talk a bit about your WPMaintain. Just in hearing what all is encompassed with what you’re doing for your clients, I can already imagine a few flows [00:21:30] and processes that would need to be maintained. How are you using ActiveCampaign for that?

Suraj Sodha: This is my favorite part of the podcast because I’m a techie at heart. I love getting my hands dirty, and setting up automations, and workflows, and deals, and pipelines, and so forth. The way that I use ActiveCampaign with the business is the first port of call is our website. When somebody makes an inquiry from our website … Actually, that’s [00:22:00] one point of entry into the business. It’s either the website, or someone’s been recommended to us, or they phone us up, or we meet someone at an event or an exhibition, and so forth.

Predominantly, most of our clients come through the website. They fill out an inquiry form or a call back request. That contact form is linked straight into ActiveCampaign and creates not only a new contact but it tags them from the relevant source that they came from, so website form, [00:22:30] or phone call, or current client referral, or from an event that maybe we’re exhibiting at. We set up all these tags. That then alerts one of our sales guys, usually myself. I handle most of the initial sales calls. Just say “Chris has filled out a call back request on your website. Call him back today or by 24 hours from now.”

I phone you up, Chris, and I have a little chat with you to find out what’s going on, how I can help [00:23:00] you. If you ask me then, which most people do, “That sounds great. Can you send me some more information?” I think that process is probably common for a lot of our listeners here today as well. You can speak to a potential customer and inevitably they’ll say at the end of the call, “Great, can you send me some more information?” We have a little campaign set up where when someone does say that … Don’t get me wrong, not everyone says that. Some people may say, “Thank you, it’s not for me. Goodbye.” That’s [00:23:30] fine as well. For those people that say, “Yes, send me some more info,” we add them to a campaign that basically is pre-written, pre-setup with a PDF of what we’re offering, and a bit of text to make it personalized. It will say your name in the email. They also say things like, “Hey Chris, it was great to speak to you a moment ago. As promised, here’s the PDF with more information that you requested. If you have any more questions, here’s where you can find me.” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, basically.

[00:24:00] It’s those things that we were doing manually. When we got off the phone with someone, I’ll have to type out that email every time and personalize it and then attach the PDF. It may seem that makes me seem real lazy, but if you extrapolate it across a number of phone calls a day, you’re saving a whole lot of time from doing that manually every single time, especially because inside ActiveCampaign it tracks the opens, and the clicks, and the replies, and what have you as well. [00:24:30] That’s really handy that you don’t get in your traditional email client. That’s why we do that. Then let’s say you love the information. You say, “Yes, I want to go ahead.” At that point, we create a deal.

We have, I think, five or six stages in our deal. I’m not in front of my computer right now so it’s off the top of my head. I think it’s about five or six stages in this pipeline for WPMaintain. The first is shown an interest, wants to go ahead. At that stage, we gather some information. [00:25:00] There’s an alert that goes out as part of an automation to one of our team that says, “Can you call this client and say, ‘Welcome aboard. This is the information we need from you to draw up your contract, to get access to your website.'” We need some technical bits from them, their business address, their login details for their current hosting provider, their website logins, all those sorts of things. Once you’ve got those, they get stored on that contact record as a note. We add a note. That’s actually the first note that we create.

[00:25:30] Once that contract has been sent to the client, one of our team, this is one of the manual elements of the workflow, they get dragged to the next stage of that deal, which is called Contract Sent. That is exactly what it says [inaudible 00:25:47]. At that point, everything from there onwards is automated in the sense that the proposal software that we use to send out our contracts where our customers sign them online, on their iPad, or their computer, they do [00:26:00] an electronic signature, that has an API that actually feeds straight into ActiveCampaign with lots of automated tools that you can link various third party tools into your ActiveCampaign, which is one of the reasons we chose ActiveCampaign because of that opportunity and those options. As soon as that customer has signed that contract, ActiveCampaign will automatically move that customer from Contract Sent to Contract Signed.

When they hit Contract Signed, the next stage in [00:26:30] the deal process, a number of tasks will automatically be created for the relevant team member to then follow up with whatever the next task needs to be. Once the contract is signed, usually things like send to accounts for creating the invoices. Another task is assigned to one of our team members to start the process of migrating their website. Another one is saying, “Prepare the welcome pack, ready for completion.” All these things start firing off. [00:27:00] Once those are all marked as done, client then moves into the final stage, which is testing and then Account Setup.

Account Setup, a whole number of new tasks get fired, which basically say things like, “Issue invoice, call client to say thank you, and post them their welcome pack,” which basically contains a nice letter, a thank you card, and some stickers, and some swag that we’ve created to send out to our clients, which is nice because [00:27:30] they get to feel something in their hands, something tangible. From a digital company, it’s rare that they’re going to get something in the mail. That lumpy mail where there’s an envelope stuffed full of goodies, it’s actually a nice way of staying ahead of your competition and in front of your customers’ minds, that you’re not just another one of these emails that they’re going to get saying, “Welcome to blah, blah, blah.”

That’s pretty much the workflow of our business. [00:28:00] Obviously, there’s a little bit more to it into the minute intricate detail, but in general as a bird’s eye view, that’s pretty much how ActiveCampaign runs our business for us.

Chris Davis: I love it. I was just sitting here as you were talking just kind of smiling because you are using the platform exactly as anticipated. You’ve got proposal software, you’ve got other people on your team, you’ve got tasks. This is [00:28:30] what automation looks like. Everybody, this is automation. This is marketing automation, the perfect blend of manual processes and automated processes, like finding that balance.

Suraj Sodha: Exactly. I forgot to add there, obviously bringing the whole marketing mix into it, once somebody does hit that final stage, Account Setup, they also get [00:29:00] added to a new tag which is basically called Customers. We have a tag list of all of our customers who we know that anyone with that tag has gone through all those five stages, they’ve reached the final stage, and they are a customer. When we do need to send out an update in a few month’s time, which is another automation that we have set up, once Customer A has had a tag called Customer assigned to them for three months, send them [00:29:30] an email saying, “Happy three month anniversary. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?” We have a little bit of play time with them, and we ask them at that point for a review. We say, “It’s been three months since you’ve been using us. We hope you’ve had loads of value from our service so far. We’d like to ask you a little favor.”

Bear in mind, this is the first time we ask them for a favor. We don’t upsell, or cross sell, or offer them other products in this period because it’s the period [00:30:00] of building value. If you sign up with us today and tomorrow I say, “Now you can buy this, buy this, buy this,” you may feel a bit of buyer’s remorse, you may feel like I’m trying to squeeze you for every pound or every dollar. We leave it for three months and in that three months, we just deliver the value. We get on with the updates, we show them that we’re actually doing the work for them. In three month’s time, we hope they’ll be happy to leave a positive review for us on our social media, on our Google page, or even just email it privately so we can share it with the team. That’s another automation that kicks [00:30:30] in.

Chris Davis: That’s huge. Just think about it here. Everybody, Suraj said he has around 300 customers, right?

Suraj Sodha: Yes.

Chris Davis: Just imagine the amount of time it would take for one individual to keep track of three months in to reach out and contact every customer.

Suraj Sodha: Right. It’s impossible to do, but now we can reach out three months in, six months in. We recently hired [00:31:00] a graphic designer in house and he’s designed one year anniversary cards, and we’ve filmed a little one year anniversary video, just a bit of a laugh to be honest. It’s now easy to track that one year. We’ve got a date-based automation just to alert us internally that says, “One week before your one year anniversary since your customer became a customer. Prepare the one year anniversary card to mail them in [00:31:30] the post, and in a week’s time, email them this email to say, ‘Can you believe it’s been a year? We’ve made you a little video to say thank you and to share with you what we’ve been up to.'” That goes to a landing page somewhere.

Chris Davis: I love it.

Suraj Sodha: That’s the kind of stuff, it’s hard enough doing it the first time and sending a thank you email or three month thank you email, but now we can do three months, six months, nine months, and then one year. In the future, who knows?

Chris Davis: For everybody listening, [00:32:00] just think about this. If you could send communication to all of your customers in three months, six months, nine months, and 12 months, what would that be? Just do the mental exercise. We hear how you’re using it, Suraj, but make it personal. Make it personal to your business. How could that transform your business? It’s just amazing to me how some of what appears to be some of the most [00:32:30] simple automations, like a day-based automation three months after date is completed, trigger this, that seems to a lot of people too simple. They think that it has to be more complicated, and no it doesn’t.

I’m so glad to hear and witness how you’re using it. I am an advocate in many forms of your business, an advocate of you just toughing it out and [00:33:00] shifting with the market, an advocate of you taking your manual processes and not trying to automate every single one of them, and then an advocate of just how you’re using not only ActiveCampaign but understanding what other tools are important in the process to plug in and really give that consistent client flow that feels personal and is an aide. Everything that you’re doing is an aide now and will be later as your company [00:33:30] continues to grow. Absolutely amazing. We’re reaching the end here. If I could have you just dial back a bit. When you first started with ActiveCampaign, if you could tell the Suraj of the past, if you could give yourself some advice when you were getting started, what would that advice be to help people [00:34:00] achieve quick success with ActiveCampaign?

Suraj Sodha: There’s two things that I would advise myself. The first is, take a step back and get a big piece of paper, a pencil or a pen, and draw your customer’s journey onto this piece of paper. Literally, how many entry points are there into your business? Your website is probably going to be one of them, [00:34:30] maybe some shows or some networking events, maybe just people phoning you and finding you on a directory somewhere, existing clients refer you. All of these things, list them out. These are all the entry points or the triggers into your business. Then what happens? Who’s responsible for phoning them? If you’re running a business just by yourself, then most of these alerts will only come to you, which is absolutely fine as well.

Draw it out, and literally map out that roadmap to say, ” [00:35:00] If Customer A came into your business from one of these routes right now, what would be the flow and the journey from the sales process, to sending them your contract or your proposal, all the way through to getting paid, your invoice aide.” Whether it’s a recurring monthly invoice, or a one off job, or a one time service that they’re buying from you, write the way through to that point, and then draw maybe a line down the page [00:35:30] and say, “Aftercare.” That’s where ActiveCampaign really comes into its own. I think most of your listeners, most of the users, will have, give or take, some form of process where there’s manual, ActiveCampaign, or otherwise from the point of inquiry through to the point of invoice. Most of our friends here will already have that process somewhat refined, but what ActiveCampaign, we found in our business, really changed the game [00:36:00] was the aftercare, like I said before, the periodic emails, the alerts to us.

We now have birthday emails and all sorts of alerts and tasks, which for our business, are more important to have automated than the sales process. The fact that our sales process is now so automated, there’s a massive bonus as well. That’s the first bit of advice, map it out. Whether you’ve got a big whiteboard, or a bit of paper, whatever it is, map out that [00:36:30] journey. Secondly, start clicking, and dragging and dropping, and playing with the system. I think of myself as quite a techie person, and even I couldn’t break ActiveCampaign. The way I like to learn is to click around, make mistakes, press a button, see what happens. When I first started with ActiveCampaign, I added myself in as a test client so all the alert emails just came through to me. [00:37:00] You weren’t experimenting with your real clients, but that way I got to learn the system, especially if you’re gonna be using it yourself or whoever at your business is gonna be using it the most, just give them time to play around with it. Try to break it because, I promise you, you can’t.

The support is amazing as well. Depending on which plan, I guess, the listeners are on, if you have an account manager or an onboarding manager, use them because they are really, really good. They will save you hours, [00:37:30] sometimes, trying to figure out how to run a specific automation. Of course, you can just play around with it yourself, but why do that when you’ve got someone who can give you the answer straight away?

Chris Davis: Right. I’m glad you brought that up because maybe some listeners are looking in their account, following as you’re talking. They’re like, “What is this deals thing that he’s talking about? What is this CRM?”

Suraj Sodha: It can be overwhelming if you don’t have that [00:38:00] plan.

Chris Davis: Yeah, that’s our Plus plan, the one that you’re talking about. Listeners, our Plus plan is the one that comes with the deal CRM and enables you to automate your sales process as well as any process, as you just heard Suraj doing so. I’m glad you brought that up. That’s an important piece. Alright, Suraj. How can people get in contact with you or find out more about your business and services you offer?

Suraj Sodha: Sure. I’m all about relationships and engaging with people. [00:38:30] Let’s put business aside for a moment. I would love to connect with anyone here listening to this podcast. By all means, leave a comment. If there’s a comment section somewhere here where you are right now, leave a comment, and I’m sure I’ll get back to you here. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter. It’s @surajsodha. That’s just my personal account. I would love to hear from you guys and help answer questions. From a business point of view, there are two places that you can find me or find [00:39:00] out about our services. Our first is the WPMaintain website itself. It’s wpmaintain.co.uk. Also our second service, which we are also running through ActiveCampaign, it’s called Design Hero, very similar concept. We take care of our clients’ design needs where they don’t have the facility or the funding to hire an in house graphic designer full-time, but they know they need regular design work for their marketing, and social media, and what have you. You can find [00:39:30] that at www.designhero.uk, not .co.uk, just .uk for that one.

Chris Davis: Great. All of the links will be placed below as well. If you couldn’t scribble or maybe you misspelled something, don’t worry. Everything will be displayed below this episode as well. You can access all the episodes at activecampaign.com/podcast. Alright. Suraj, thank you so much. It has truly been a pleasure. Thank you for just [00:40:00] being transparent about your business and some of the flows that you’re using and how you’re using automation to help leverage your scale without ramping up staff. I really appreciate it, and it’s been a pleasure.

Suraj Sodha: Thank you. Pleasure has been mine. Thank you, Chris.

Chris Davis: Alright. Another great podcast in the books. This one was especially good to show an provide insight on how a [00:40:30] sustainable business is truly built from the time that it takes, to the effort, to the adoption of technology at the right moment to really help scale and relieve the weight from person to technology. I love it and again, if you can’t tell I’m a big fan of the process that Suraj has gone through and is going through. These podcasts are all [00:41:00] available at activecampaign.com/podcast. All of the show notes, any links, you can always go there for the most recent episode as well as all of the episodes in the past.

If this is your first time listening or if you’re a long-time listener and have not subscribed to the ActiveCampaign Podcast, please do so today. You want to do that so that you get a notification the minute a new podcast is released. We’re available on iTunes, [00:41:30] Stitcher, and Google Play, and any other mobile application that pulls from a regular podcast syndication feed, as well as SoundCloud. You have no excuse at this point on to not only be a listener and follower but be subscribed. For those of you who are subscribed, please go and leave a five-star rating and a comment of how you’re enjoying these episodes.

If you’re looking for more insight on just [00:42:00] how to understand the marketing automation space, more as well as ActiveCampaign, I invite you to our education center at activecampaign.com/learn as well as the various training opportunities that we have from one-on-ones to office hours. All of that can be found at activecampaign.com/training. With that being said, with this episode, the previous episodes, all the resources you have, let’s get [00:42:30] to your business being built and achieving the potential and the success that you desire. I’m glad that we could be a resource to help you utilize that. This is the ActiveCampaign Podcast, the small business podcast to help you scale and propel your business with automation. I’ll see you on the next episode.

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