Sep 14, 2017 8:10 AM
Oct 5, 2017 5:59 AM
Last day of this AMA -- hoping to get a few new questions before we wrap it up. Due to business travel, I may be just a little bit late with replies this time. I will answer all your questions about sales though and have enjoyed our conversations here. Remember: if you have a tech question, you'll get faster replies if you direct those to the awesome folks on the HubSpot tech team.
Sep 28, 2017 11:08 AM
Hi YPG. Welcome to the community and my AMA. Interested to hear your question or thoughts about previously answered questions here. Help us get the party started today!
Sep 28, 2017 11:17 AM
This week's AMA is coming to you live from here at #Inbound17 where it's been flat out awesome all week. If you have a moment, ask me anything today or for next Thursday's wrap up of my AMA... And don't forget to see me speaking at 1:00 today on our research with buyers about sales behaviors. I guarantee that you will be surprised!
Sep 28, 2017 11:40 AM
@patlue - Great question! I love events like Inbound because the networking opportunities are amazing.Let me start with 2 stories from today.
1. This morning on the shuttle I met Stefan from Mindscape in Grand Rapids. We had a stimulating conversation about media, content strategy and being nimble as the world changes around us... plus what chatbots will mean for small businesses in the near future thanks to Conversations. That's networking, and it happened because he sat beside me on a crowded shuttle and I asked "Where are you from?" On the 20-minute ride, I could have remained silent or answered the stack of emails waiting for me. But I knew they'd still be there long after he was gone.
2. Yesterday I posted a bunch of photos on my personal Facebook account because of the awesome things happening here that I knew would make all my friends jealous... One friend also saw Facebook posts from another person he knew. And he realized that there were mutual interests, so he introduced the two of us. We met this morning (probably, at first, just to tell Chuck that we did since he went to so much effort). And it turns out that Mike and his colleague Tony are going to be huge help to me in my business AND that I have a client who needs them, so a referral is imminent.
So here's my answer to your question -- my approach is to be open and to seize opportunities because you just never know who you're going to meet. Everyone has something to offer to every other person. And so do you. You have something to offer, and it's only fair to be open enough for others to discover what that is for them. Sure, it's exhausting and there are times when you will want to retreat. Take a break and jump back in. The brilliant minds of the 21,000+ people here make it well worth the effort.
Sep 28, 2017 11:32 AM
Here's a question I was asked in a LinkedIn thread earlier this week: Why do sellers keep "pitching" generically and why don't buyers respond to pitches? My answer is that sellers do it because they see it being done and many think that is what sales is all about. IT'S NOT. Why don't buyers respond? Because it's insulting, boring, irrelevant and offensive. And it's unnecessary. There is so much you can learn quickly and easily about a buyer. Use information to personalize and create value. Sales is a noble profession built on real connections.
Sep 28, 2017 11:30 AM
Hey Deb! How do you approach events like these? How can a sales rep / manager / coach use them as networking opportunities?
Sep 12, 2017 10:56 AM
Hi - I'm wondering what the best practice is regarding sending cold bsuiness emails to personal emails.
Sep 21, 2017 6:47 PM
Thank you for your question, tommy_m_matthew -- I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this, too.
#1 -- Misperception: Inbound and outbound are mutually exclusive. IMHO: Industry, product, seller style, buyer preferences, and other variables determine how much of each approach are warranted.
#2 -- Misperception: It will happen overnight. IMHO: Creating content and lead flows and buyer personas and email templates and optimized copy for your web pages..... All takes time. It may not be exactly right the first time. Sticking with it is essential. Having a great agency helps (shout out here to protocol 80, Inc. because I couldn't do it without them!).
#3 -- Misconception: More is better. IMHO: I've learned (and am still learning) the hard way. Quality vs. quantity when it comes to content. High-value, engaging, on-target content draws people in. Adding content that's the same as everyone else's doesn't do the job.
Sep 21, 2017 12:51 PM
Hey @DebCalvert! Any tips on how to execute a successful cross-selling strategy? How should we motivate other teams (services, support, product marketing) to help source/qualify leads for sales?
Sep 21, 2017 6:31 PM
In some organizations, there's a belief that sales in everyone's job. I like that philosophy and enjoy seeing people from all functional areas taking pride in the products/services they help provide.
This is a matter, though, of company culture. It starts at the top with senior managers demonstrating inclusivity. For example, the mission of the company should clearly articulate what the company provides and why it matters. The mission should be inspiring to and inclusive of all departments. Everyone should be able to understand how the work they do advances the mission. When people in IT, finance, HR, supply chain, operations and others in non-sales and non-marketing functions see the work they do as contributing to a higher purpose, then it's easier & more natural for them to support sales work.
Example - one global produce company has a mission that includes aligning with customers in order to delight consumers. The word "delight" and the expectation that every employee contributes to it directly or indirectly impacts the way work is done. Additionally, people in all departments are routinely given opportunities to taste test the products and offer opinions. They are directly involved in contributing to the development of products that will delight consumers. What's more, there are opportunities for people to go to an in-store training program so they can understand, first hand, what happens when their products are shipped and merchandised. The outcome is that people in this company become brand advocates and work diligently to support customers, too.
By contrast, in many companies, people are so far removed from the products sold that they don't have the slightest idea what customers need or want. They don't know who the customers are and what problems are solved by their products. Providing them with extrinsic motivation (incentives) could, potentially, cause more problems that it solves -- unqualified leads that are rejected could cause feelings of unfairness, for example.
Intrinsic motivations are stronger that external ones. People who feel connected to the company and its mission, are highly engaged in their work and see its impact, and have a sense of belonging in the team will make referrals and act as brand ambassadors simply because they want to. An "everybody wins" approach (such as profit sharing) rewards everyone's efforts to drive top-line sales and increase profitability.
That's my recommendation... not quite what you were asking, though, so let's come back to the original question. If there is going to be an incentive for referrals/leads, I suggest taking the following into account:
1. Be very clear about what constitutes a qualified lead. Make the criteria objective and easy to understand. Be clear, too, about how you'll resolve duplicated referrals.
2. Be clear on what you're asking for and rewarding -- is it a contact name? an introduction? an appointment? closed business? With more work comes more need for training about the product and what it can do. Resource and reward referring employees appropriately.
3. Whenever possible, link these incentives to work that's being done. Leads generated from a particular piece of content, for example, is a better strategy than random referrals.
4. Cross-selling and upselling are more linear and easier to incentivize and execute. When a customer is already calling to talk to a service rep or tech support, there are opportunities. The customer, in those conversations, is sharing information about their needs and values. This information should be captured and people in those roles should be trained to listen for certain clues about additional needs. Motivating them to bring those clues to the sales team and to ask clarifying questions to flesh out those needs can be done intrinsically (see above) and extrinsically with rewards of some type. The type of motivation depends on what you sell, how much it costs, etc. Start by asking your sales team what percent of their commission they'd be willing to share on an upsell -- after all, these apparently are needs they haven't identified yet and getting the real-time info is a benefit to them.
Sep 29, 2017 1:47 PM
If I had created a word cloud for the most common phrases I heard at Inbound 17, I would say that "sales and marketing alignment" would be huge (I heard it a lot).
One of the statements that caught my attention was that sales and marketing alignment is really about aligning to the buyer, not as much about internal teams and processes.
I am curious to hear your take on this.
Thank you, as always!
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HubSpot support and inbound marketing for OEMs, contract manufacturers, and industrial suppliers.
HubSpot Platinum Partner & HubSpot Certified Trainer
Sep 30, 2017 9:07 PM
"Sales and marketing alignment" and "connecting with your buyer" would both be in my word cloud. LOTS of conversations about both at Inbound -- I heard these phrases in presentations, in Club Inbound, and buzzing through the halls.
If we take the two together, there certainly is overlap. A customer's experience is the composite of every touchpoint with a company. The vast majority of touchpoints are directly with sales or marketing. And, of course, sales and marketing influence other interactions where they are not directly involved.
Aligning sales and marketing is actually easier when you bring the buyer into the mix. Think of sales and marketing as two points on opposite ends of a straight line. They are part of the same line, but they are separated with lots of white space and room to roam in every possible direction. BUT... when you add a third point and connect the dots to it, you have a closed triangle. The buyer becomes the pinnacle point of the triangle with sales and marketing now focused and connected more definitvely.
Customers look for experiences that are meaningful, relevant and personal. If sales and marketing can form triangles that align to each buyer, there is a heightened opportunity for success.
Sep 21, 2017 11:37 AM
With the booming growth in mediums you can use to reach buyers (email, social media, smartphones, etc.) what are buyers' preferred methods of being communicated with nowadays?
Sep 21, 2017 11:45 AM
Buyers are not all alike, so that's why it's really important to develop a buyer persona. Some will prefer communication via text while others want email. Some are barely on social media at all while others are very active. We need to meet them wherever they are.
For our established buyers, my best advice is to ask about their preferences. A simple question like "Instead of assuming and always sending you emails, what are your preferences for how we communicate?" will let your buyer know you care. It will make you the seller who stands apart. Being responsive to any communication they initiate is also smart -- I have one vendor who responds to my texts and emails with unscheduled phone calls. Since I'm often in coaching or training sessions, answering my phone and having decent conversations is difficult. I've even asked for written communication, but he responds by telling me that he likes to talk. I get it, but it's not meeting my needs.
The bottom line is that we need to adapt to individual preferences and take the time to understand our customers and our prospects.
Sep 21, 2017 11:26 AM
Hi Deb, thanks for doing this!
Regarding Stop Selling Start Leading, is there anything to consider higher up the funnel to best implement this sales methodology? Is there anything the marketing team should know about lead scoring, passing leads to sales, lead nurturing?
Sep 21, 2017 12:46 PM
Interesting question, ashleywr -- thanks for keeping me on my toes today!
The Stop Selling & Start Leading research with buyers gives us a behavioral blueprint for sellers. From this research, we are able to identify 30 specific behaviors that buyers want sellers to exhibit more frequently.
In order for sellers to be more effective in exhibiting these behaviors, there are some lead scoring, lead nurturing and lead passing considerations for marketing and others to consider. Let me cover one example of a behavior buyers want + offer some thoughts on the implications for marketing.
1. "The seller fully answers my questions and provides information that is relevant, timely and useful." This is the top-ranked behavior of all 30 that buyers want to see more often. In the comments we gathered, it became clear that buyers are frustrated when we ask them qualifying questions -- they've already qualified themselves and want to talk about other things. This HubSpot research in the Buyer Perceptions Study is very revealing when it comes to how we're not being relevant, timely and useful.
What can marketing and others do to enable sellers to exhibit this behavior? Some starter thoughts:
Other desirable behaviors include "The seller demonstrates a personal commitment to fulfilling any promises made or implied by the brand he/she represents" and "The seller speaks with genuine conviction about the higher meaning and purpose of our work and relationship." I'd be really interested to see what others in the community here have to say about what these mean for lead nurturing, passing along leads, lead scoring, etc....
Sep 21, 2017 11:40 AM
Hi Deb, thanks for sharing all of your insight. I'm excited to learn more from your book/Inbound session! I was wondering if you'd be willing to share some of your favorite resources? What other influencers in this space influence you? Do you have any favorite blogs? How do you stay up on what's changing?
Sep 21, 2017 12:14 PM
I love this question, mwhiteo51, and I look forward to meeting you at #Inbound17.
Answering your question could take all day. I feel really fortunate to have had lots of mentors and examples in the sales space.
I try to keep up with what's changing by conducting research, reading blogs and books, attending webinars, and working with a diverse mix of clients (who use a variety of new tools and approaches). I'm curious, and I use conferences like Inbound to ask questions and meet people. I attend sessions about topics I know nothing about or go to speakers I don't see eye-to-eye with so I can see things from other perspectives and (hopefully!) avoid limiting myself. I also work outside of the sales space to bring new ideas in... Research in the leadership space, for example, turns out to be highly relevant for sellers -- that's the topic I'll be speaking about at Inbound.
Among the resources I'm closely tuned in to right now --
The HubSpot team and the folks at protocol 80, Inc (a HubSpot partner agency). I've learned a lot, despite my own initial reluctance, over the past year about Inbound methodologies. I'm still learning! HS blogs, videos, infographics, research, case studies, and events are incredibly valuable to me.
For balance, I also pay attention to the folks who advocate outbound selling. Jeb Blount, Mike Weinberg, Anthony Iannarino (among others) are diehard defenders of cold calling and "the hustle." In my opinion, there aren't two vastly different approaches to selling that are mutually exclusive. The right approach is often a blend of both. The right mix depends on what you sell and who you are.
Buyers are the best resource of all. I coach sellers to ask buyers about their preferences and to learn from their buyers every day. My books are based on research with buyers, and I'm humbled by how often my hypotheses about buyer responses is different from what buyers actually want. We have to keep asking to keep current!
Specific resources I will recommend in this brief post --
1. The Sales Experts Channel is a group of 63 sales authors, speakers, trainers and coaches from around the world. I founded this channel nearly a year ago with the express purpose of bringing diverse opinions together in one place, and it continues to be a great resource to me, too. The hundreds of webinars here are free and available on-demand.
2. Consider podcasts that you can find on iTunes and listen to in the gym, on the run, or when you need a shot of sales motivation. Barb Giamanco, Will Barron, Maxwell Bogner, Donald Kelly, and Brian Burns offer a diverse mix of viewpoints to get started. There are lots of other really good ones, too, so search until you find the topics and hosts that are right for you.
3. The Women Sales Pros site has a fantastic blog with female contributors that bring fresh voices and incredible insights. I strongly recommend this weekly read!
4. If you want fresh content every weekday, be sure to bookmark Top Sales World. Audio, webinar, blog, articles, books and more show up here. It's the "hypermarket" of sales thought leader contributions. You'll find more here for Sales Managers and executives, too, that may be useful.
5. Another content curator is SalesPop from Pipeliner. It's getting stronger every week, and there are contributors here that you won't find elsewhere. Give this one a try, too!
Specific books I recommend frequently: The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Perfect Close by James Muir, Selling with Noble Purpose by Lisa Earle McLeod, Selling to the Point by Jeffrey Lipsius, Grit by Angela Duckworth, Mindset by Carol Dweck, Sales Magnet by Kendra Lee, and (of course!) Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah... I read a business book every day, so hit me up if you want a more specific recommendation.
Hope this is helpful and wasn't more than you bargained for!