Today is a special type of episode called a Mastermind discussion where I invite more than one participant to have an open discussion to clear up a major pain point we see in the world of marketing and sales automation.


My Guests for Today’s CRM Mastermind: 

  • Scott Gellatly from Scale My Empire in Melbourne, Australia
  • Alex Bass, founder of CyberBytes in New York
  • Mark Colgan founder of Yellow O and our Head of Stack Services here at Automated

I’ve invited these 3 experts to help me shed light on the topic of choosing and building-out your scalable CRM system.

This is the aspect of any sales stack that can either be the most expensive mistake you will have to replace, or the most valuable tool helping your sales and marketing team understand where every prospect is at and triggering the necessary automations to better customer experience.

This is a subject I take very seriously, so one guest will not cover all of our bases.


We go in deep – this discussion was over 120 min in total before edits. You will hear about:

  • What to look out for when considering ‘Free’ versions of a CRM…
  • CRM strategy – when and how to consider CRM in your stack…
  • The necessary considerations around CRM-triggered automations
  • How to set up your CRM for success
  • Pricing for the two main CRMs we will highlight,
  • And the business models of each of these CRMs so you know which will be best for your business long-term…

If you aren’t able to take notes – we have you covered – the full episode can be found in text format on with links etc…

Mark, Alex and Scott are the absolute experts in Startup to SMB CRM builds, so please pay attention to what they have to say if you are considering a new CRM for your business.


Key issues/topics we’re going to address:

  • Too many startups are pulled into CRM builds without understanding the end goal (how it will be used).
  • How to integrate is becoming easier – yet more convoluted than ever as we transition from the previous generation of coded and hooked integrations into the world of connectors.
    • Questions about why not start with a cheaper solution and then migrate to a more robust solution in the following years? (Alex B can speak to this, was asked this morning)
  • How to know if your CRM is set up for success, or if you just assume what you are dealing with is ‘typical’.
  • In particular – SME vs SMB CRMs – the two we’ll go into today are Hubspot vs Copper.
  • Different types of CRM suit different types of business. A huge source of confusion in the buying process. E.g. if you sell services/face to face, you need a relationship focussed CRM (Copper), not marketing focussed one (infusionsoft, hubspot).


Scott Gellatly – Agency CRM expert

Scott Co-founded Scale My Empire in 2014 – an agency focused on helping SMBs to become more profitable through technology platforms.

  • Expert at creating systems that make your team profitable. Maximize team productivity.
  • Established in 2014 and have worked with over 400 businesses to implement more efficient and productive systems that focus on profitability and scalability. Hence Scale My Empire!
  • Specialize in Sales CRM, Project & Resource Management

Scott is an expert in:

  • Copper CRM & pandadoc proposals
  • Mavenlink
  • Google Data Studio
  • Automations & integrations between them
  • Work with partners to deliver a complete tech stack for services agencies.


Alex B – lots of work with businesses who have outside sales processes/workflows

Founded CyberBytes in 2010, started off doing web development/online marketing, transitioned to IT as a managed services provider, and now we do all things automation, integration, and process surrounding G Suite and Copper CRM at the core.

Alex is an expert in:

  • Copper
  • PandaDoc
  • Help Scout
  • G Suite
  • Asana
  • Airtable
  • (Tools that help with building processes around sales/project management/admin/operations)

Mark – Tons of SaaS experience

Mark runs, a B2B SaaS Sales and Marketing consultancy and is a founding member of a (a Techstars ‘18 InsurTech startup). Mark possesses over 10 years of experience in both Sales and Marketing and has built Marketing departments from the ground up. He’s originally from London but streaming to us now from Phuket Thailand. He currently helps B2B SaaS companies scale their revenue through repeatable, scalable and profitable growth strategies. Achieved through a combination of years of knowledge as well as deep experience with MarTech and CRM.

Mark’s expertise is as follows:

  • Hubspot
  • Salesforce
  • Drift
  • Intercom
  • Autopilot


High-Level “State of the Union” with regards to CRM industry

The fresh-faced has raised another round bringing the total to $87M. Their focus on smaller companies that need a specific service has made them more attractive that SaleForce in many ways. The world of all-in-ones is getting bigger and bigger which is leaving room for smaller, more directed, companies to thrive. When companies like Hubspot try to be more “Democratic” by getting customers more products seems to be backfiring. Not every company needs an all-in-one package.

The next generation of CRM may include Artificial Intelligence. Whoever can master this aspect of the industry will surely win Phase 3. Another possible solution to the all-in-one approach is to make sure the CRM company has one highly specialized focus. As the company grows, they can then offer other services, but only with high demand from their customer base. 


Strategy before CRM Implementation

Mark and I had a great discussion on a previous episode about the mishaps that occur when founders/teams choose to implement CRM ad-hoc out of an immediate need and go “CRM Shopping” before taking the necessary steps to plan out the holistic operations of the business.

This, in my experience, is where I see a lot of bootstrapped startups opting for free Hubspot accounts. Then, consultants like us come in when they are ready to build a complete sales stack and, depending on how fast things are moving or how far they’ve gone, it can be difficult to replace the disparate system that’s been pieced together.


What makes great CRM?

After you’ve planned out your sales/marketing strategy, and you have a firm understanding of your customer journey and pipeline stages, it’s time to look at appropriate CRMs.

For SaaS, a company needs to have the ability to integrate well with other platforms. For example, subscription billing. Depending on your SaaS model you may have a mixture of self serve and inside sales. Therefore you run the risk of double counting opportunities.

Determine the aspects of your stack you have to keep and find a CRM that works with those hub tools.

For organizations with outsides sales systems. They must have the ability to build structured processes such as, required fields that have multiple stages of automation triggers. Some level of structure makes tools like Airtable difficult for CRM because they are so free-formed. They can get overwhelmed very quickly.


Zapier is a great product to help connect different CRMs. Some of the integrations claimed by companies turn out to not be that great. That’s what makes Zapier so great. Copper doesn’t have to build out so many different integrations. Tools like Zapier and Tray can do that work for them, and so far they are doing a great job. itself is in an interesting realm. They used to be more customer focus but they have quickly moved up to larger enterprise type companies. Their white label integrations have begun selling integration to companies like Copper, instead of them having to do it themselves. This is exactly what Copper ended up doing. So heads up for Copper users – 80% of the integrations on their integrations page are powered by which is not really a bad thing.

Hubspot wins on integrations (as expected) with over 200: 

hubspot integrations


Copper is creating deep integrations with a few key partner platforms: integrations

Pricing and contracts

Free CRM is usually the optimal situation for smaller companies who are just getting started. It’s also a good way to shop around before committing to any particular CRM. Find out which one is most intuitive to you and your team, then invest. 

However, sometimes companies discover CRM too late and they are already confused and overburdened. Making the purchase asap and getting going might be the right choice for many companies. The best way to handle this is to look for a consultant to help you navigate the software and maximize its utility.

Hubspot’s pricing – although free to start – gets expensive when you choose to use it for some necessary CRM functions: 


Copper is not ‘cheap’, but it’s also never gets expensive on a per user basis:

Copper CRM Pricing

CRM setup

Most importantly is setting up documentation and walking through the pipeline process. First, what is the qualifying aspect for your company? Is it the initial phone call? or is it the initial or second meeting? Thus, “Leads” is usually the first part of the pipeline. Name each stage so they are clearly distinguished from each other.

Mirroring pipeline stages is very important. If you use outreach tools, make sure that the pipeline is mirrored in your CRM. Sales enablement must act lockstep with your CRM or you can lose a ton of leads.

It’s important to make sure your sales team is asking specific questions of your clients that are directly linked to which pipeline they should be added to. Each lead should be labeled based on their current status and what is keeping them from becoming a customer. Maybe it’s just not the right time for them to sign on, set a reminder to e-mail them in 2-3 months to see where they’re at. 



Sometimes when a company feels like they “lost a lead they quickly label it as such and forget about it. This is not an efficient method. Use your automation to send follow up e-mails that are specific to that particular the client’s pain point. Whether the time frame is 3, 6, or even 9 months you, you may just get a handful of clients simply by following with accurate automation. 

You also want your automation on stage alerts. Alert sales team members when prospects have spent a significant period of time in a particular stage and how you can move them along. Inactive days compared to a different custom field of “follow-up sequence”, can’t use native integration for inactive days if you are using multiple pipelines.

What does the future look like for

They don’t want to sit at a $25m company forever. Copper is definitely moving up to mid-market because of pressure from investors. But the plan is to move slowly upmarket, and it even seems as though they are taking a step back temporarily. Right now they are winning mid-market deals.

I think copper learned their lesson, trying to go SME too quickly. Now they are back to focusing on where I think they are fantastic, the SMB market (50-250 employee companies), as they don’t want to be a simple CRM for startups – their tech allows them to be used for larger orgs. They are still years away from being players in the enterprise space, and they are aware of that. They may stay private for a while, but going public is definitely an option for them when they want it.