Interview with Clate Mask, CEO, Infusionsoft
Tell us about your role at Infusionsoft. What inspired you to establish a CRM focused company?
The inspiration behind Infusionsoft was fueled by a problem that my other co-founders, Scott Martineau and Eric Martineau, and I identified after having worked in the trenches with small business owners. We had started a custom software company for small businesses where the idea for Infusionsoft was sparked by a problem one of our clients had. He had mistakenly sent an email offer to his entire contact list, upsetting those who earlier received and acted on a less appealing offer. This was the lightbulb moment where I realized all small businesses need the ability to automate and segment contacts based on their specific needs and wants because great service is the foundation of every successful small business.
We got to work on a CRM product that would help small business owners with their marketing, leading them to grow and expand without having to increase the size of their team on an already over-extended budget. Fast forward nearly 15 years, and we now have the most powerful and versatile Sales and Marketing Automation platform for small businesses.
Tell us more about Infusionsoft’s technology and your target audience.
Our mission is to simplify growth for millions of small businesses worldwide. At its core, Infusionsoft is a platform to help growth-minded small business owners get their business organized so they can deliver more personalized service and close more business.
What are the differences in the challenges faced by SMBs and enterprise clients, in leveraging CRM to drive ROI?
The CRMs used by enterprise clients are much more complex than the product that we offer. Small businesses simply don’t have the same needs as enterprise businesses, so we tailored our product to ensure that small businesses aren’t spending time and money on features that they don’t need — and that their workflow is streamlined to their needs.
During two years of intensive customer and market research, Infusionsoft found 70 percent of small businesses want to quit the hodgepodge of tools they use to manage the growing demands of today’s customers, Infusionsoft helps streamline complicated tech-stacks by providing an all-in-one tool for small business sales and marketing efforts. They can leverage Infusionsoft to convert more prospects with less effort by using tools like email sequences and workflows that are automatically triggered by their customer’s actions.
What is the hardest part of re-inventing a brand?
There is a lot of hard work that goes into truly understanding what the brand stands for. There are a lot of opinions on that, and it’s never easy to become laser-focused on what you believe and stand for, who you serve, and why. Many people think of a brand as just the logo and design systems, but it’s every interaction. Once you have a clear vision for the brand at its very core, it is long and hard work to align every part of the organization around that brand promise. It’s not enough to simply look and talk differently. You have to be different, and your customers have to viscerally feel that difference.
Tell us a little about your collaboration with Orix Growth Capital. How did it happen?
One thing that we did well from the get-go is find the right investors from the start — something we’ve been able to continue doing. We began seeking out more investment opportunities that were completely aligned with our vision and the direction we are looking to take Infusionsoft. In May, we revealed plans for market expansion with the launch of a new, easier-to-use CRM platform with lower pricing and a free trial, build specifically for small business service providers.
Orix has been fully supportive of our vision, recognizing how imperative it is for Infusionsoft’s customers to be able to orchestrate their business through a single platform, saving both time and resources. We are channeling our efforts into maximizing customer growth, rather than revenue growth — something that Orix has been fully on board with since the get-go.
How do you plan to utilize this latest round of funding?
The $20 million investment we received from Orix will help Infusionsoft accelerate product development in addition to the branding and marketing of its new, simple CRM for small businesses. It will allow us to capitalize on our efforts in helping small businesses manage leads, schedule appointments, send quotes or invoices, collect payments, and automate repetitive tasks from one platform.
According to you what is more important, building a great product or keeping your customers happy? How do you manage customer satisfaction for 180,000 users?
We work hard to create and maintain a culture that focuses obsessively on the customer. Our leaders in every area of the business are expected to understand the own their respective parts of the customer journey, the customer outcomes that need to be delivered, and how other areas of the business are impacted. We all work together on behalf of the customer and that’s what is most important. We have a group of fantastic leaders and team members who are empowered to deliver customer success and we work tirelessly to do just.
How important is the role of Artificial Intelligence in the CRM domain?
We are moving in this direction. As I mentioned above, we have recently created 50+ industry-specific marketing templates available to our customers. Currently, I’m focused on making sure we have the right team in place to help us prepare for an AI-centric world. With the right talent, I plan to work with them to ensure we have the best systems and processes in place in order to leverage the vast amounts of data we collect.
Without the correct people, systems, processes, and the data are useless. Being able to make sense of it all to find patterns is what empowers AI solutions to help our users and their customers — and it’s my team’s responsibility to make sure we put all the information to use to help small businesses succeed.
What Sales and Marketing technology tools does Infusionsoft currently use?
We use a variety of Sales and Marketing technology tools to help us manage every part of the customer journey.
What is that one standout feature in Infusionsoft’s CRM that sets it apart from the rest?
It’s not so much a feature as it is our vision. Our software was built from the ground up to solve the biggest challenges small business face in delivering personalized service — our sole purpose is to help them succeed. Our efforts do not encompass mid-market businesses nor enterprise businesses. It is our narrowed focus that has established us as the only solution on the market specifically developed with small businesses in mind that offer the breadth of capabilities that Infusionsoft does.
As a business leader, where do you see the CRM industry in the next five years?
There’s no doubt in my mind that future CRM software will be much simpler and more consumer-focused. I think this shift will be fueled by small businesses realizing that CRM is more than just a business tool.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
What are you currently reading?
“Measure What Matters”
What is the best piece of professional advice that you have received?
The best advice I’ve ever received was from my father, who told me to choose faith over fear.
Who is that one person from the industry you would love to hear these answers from?
Thank you, Clate! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
As CEO of Infusionsoft, Clate leads the company’s vision, strategy and growth. His entrepreneurial spirit sparked early in his career and evolved into the software industry while he was at About.com. From there, Clate co-founded Infusionsoft with brothers Scott and Eric Martineau as a way to give small businesses a leg up with smart marketing automation tools designed just for them. His passion for helping small businesses grow is the driving force behind the company’s success.
At Infusionsoft, we understand that growing a small business is hard. That’s why, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, we are solving the biggest growth challenges for small businesses—so they don’t have to make so many sacrifices on their path to success. We believe in the passion and dreams of entrepreneurs. We believe they are job creators, problem solvers, innovators and the backbone of the economy. Small businesses are what make communities special and unique.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.