It’s been almost a month since StraightArrow’s trip to HubSpot Inbound 2016. The rush of the event may be over but the learning and practice of inbound never stop. As a business development and client relationship manager for StraightArrow’s HubSpot clients, I went to Inbound this year with the goal of immersing myself in inbound sales, extending my knowledge of the HubSpot software, and also getting a chance to meet my clients. I would say that I definitely covered all of that. Bringing home these new experiences gave me the motivation to become a more effective sales rep.
The New Sales Playbook
It’s easy enough to say that good sales strategies are built into well-defined purchase funnels--after all, much of inbound marketing, even its newer techniques, proceeds from time-tested funnel models. So it was timely, to say the least, when HubSpot Sales Product Lead Matt Schnitt said, in his session, that today’s buyer funnel is broken because it lacks the human element.
We tend to focus on the sales from the process end: visitors, leads, MQLs, SQLs, to opportunities. This does not really mirror the buyer’s journey but instead reflect our org charts. We have to go back to the basics, thinking about the person not the process, as Elias St. Elmo Lewis did in 1898 with his seminal AIDA model, named for its four stages: awareness, interest, desire, and action.
Today’s buyers don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to. With ready access to information from various sources, including experts, influencers, and fellow users or consumers, they are well-positioned to make their own decisions. It’s their behaviour in their decision-making process that should guide yours. The key here is demonstrating value: provide the best information you can to help them with their needs and pain points and be ready to acknowledge that your services might not fit the bill.
Value comes in interaction with leads from the beginning of the process. Websites used to be owned by marketing and there was no sales involvement whereas interaction can now come from sales and emails come from their inbox.
Creating a buyer-centric funnel with HubSpot Sales
In a session called “The Art of The Five Minute Response Time,” Josh Harcus discussed how most companies wasted opportunities with delayed responses, with companies taking 42 hours, on average, to reply. “Nothing affects your ability to qualify [leads] more than response time.” The longer it takes to respond to a lead, the more likely they are to go cold and look for other providers. Businesses need to meet their buyers where they’re at in the sales process. Initial dials to leads that become qualified is higher—21 times more likely—if called within five minutes, as opposed to those called between six to 30 minutes after.
Tools and technology come in handy for sales reps through sales enablement. This means giving sales teams the ability to sell by providing the goal, processes, systems, technology, and content needed to improve sales performance, in order to increase revenue for the organization. For example, email automation software allows companies to program responses to customers based on specific actions they might take, or let visitors know that their concerns have been received, at least until a sales rep can properly attend to it. Nothing’s worse than being left hanging, after all.
On Creating Customers for Life
But if there’s one thing these all build up to, it’s this: people do business with people they like and trust.
Whether it’s providing genuinely helpful information instead of spinning a sales pitch, or developing a system that makes sure each customer’s query is responded to as quickly as possible, the best sales techniques are geared toward building goodwill with customers, whether potential or actual.
And the truth is, you don’t need many customer apostles to have a sustainable business. It’s good to focus on growing existing relationships rather than focusing on getting one-shot sales.
One of the things I learned at Dr. Tony Alessandra’s session, “Creating Customers for Life,” was finding out what you’re doing with your current customer apostles that you don’t do with other customers. This can be taking them out to lunch, doing more phone calls, going to a game together, etc. Aim to do these activities to your targeted customers over the next 12 months.
These "consistent moments of magic” for your customers make for not just a repeat customer, but an apostle that sells for you internally and externally.
I personally found that it’s when you meet clients face-to-face—rare in the offshore outsourcing industry--that you realize that these people you talk to everyday via email and Skype are humans like you. They have interests, hobbies, and real stories to share that give you the link to be able to connect with them on a deeper level. I even had the chance to meet a client for whom we’ve recently begun providing growth-driven design services.
Happy Sales Reps, Happy Clients
When you are an empowered sales rep, you have the ability to connect with your customers in a way that makes you a trusted advisor.
Sales Enablement and the HubSpot Sales & CRM Software, improves on existing tools by integrating them and smoothing the flow between process, from marketing to sales and everything after. This makes the whole inbound sales process easier, letting me focus on the most promising opportunities and growing my relationship with clients. Leveraging all the behavioral signals in HubSpot for more timely interactions also guarantees the best possible experience for myself and for the clients I interact with.
With Dr. Tony Alessandra
Another truth about sales arises from this: that happier customers make for happier businesses, as well. This is embodied in HubSpot’s Happiest Customers Award, which is founded on the correlation between increased inbound activity on the customer side and increased revenue—an award that StraightArrow won for the second year running.
BONUS: Experience Inbound 2016 with Isabel's video