Since becoming a HubSpot partner in early 2016 I had no idea it would completely change may perspectives, not only in sales and marketing but on the whole of how I view running a business and what it takes to be successful.
One of the perks of the HubSpot partner program is the continuing education and professional development for myself and our staff. Recently I was selected to be part of the Sales Services Starter bootcamp, taught be the beloved David Weinhaus and Dan Tyre :) We focused heavily on how to help organizations optimize and get better alignment with their sales and marketing teams.
Below I want to focus on how the impact of learning and growing from the Sales Services bootcamp has helped our agency become an Inbound Sales organization and how it can help yours too!
Let’s Set The Stage
Lone Fir Creative is a Growth Agency, part of being a growth agency is helping other businesses grow. Much of our activity to date has been center around lead generation and customer acquisition. We’ve worked with numerous clients that have been successful in growing their business and we’ve worked with clients that it's felt like a tough uphill climb month over month and ultimately the campaigns fail.
I won’t be the first to say it, but marketing is an ever changing fast paced world and a constant learning experience, much of that learning is from failed campaigns and let down expectations.
But here is another thing that we’ve learned along the way.
If a company is getting a steady influx of leads, but can’t seem to close those leads. Is it entirely up to the marketing team to change, to further qualify and make those leads warmer? Well, yes it is! But the better answer is that it’s up to the sales and marketing teams to work together to align their overall goals and constantly improve so the marketing team can get better at bringing in the right leads and the sales teams can improve their process at moving those leads along the companies sales stages into a customer.
That sounds awesome, but how do you do it? Intro Inbound Sales...
What Is Inbound Sales?
First let’s start with a definition of Inbound Sales. (Here’s one from New Breed I really like)
"Inbound Sales is the process of focusing on individual buyers and their personal needs, points of pain, frustrations and goals. As an Inbound salesperson, it is essential that you prioritize the buyer's needs before your own."
Inbound Sales organizations must develop a sales process that supports the prospect through their buyer's journey. Notice the four actions (Identify, Connect, Explore, and Advise) near to the top of the graphic that inbound sales teams must implement to support qualified leads into becoming opportunities and eventually customers.
Next, let's dive into how to build out the tools necessary to support the 4 actions in the inbound sales process.
The 4 Phases To Build Your Inbound Sales Team
By focusing on the the methodology behind Inbound Sales, your sales team becomes more effective by using better technology, processes and content. Below are the 4 phrase of building an Inbound Sales organization:
- Organize: helps seller’s become more organized, almost half of sales people today use their inbox, spreadsheets or other methods besides a CRM to stay “organized.” If you’re going to be successful in this ever increase competitive environment, you need to use technology to keep track of all your prospects, deal stages, tasks, automation and analytics of what's working and what's not.
- Tools to stay organized: CRM, deal stages, task management, email templates and reporting.
- Optimize: why is it that today most sales people spend 65% doing something other and talking to potential buyers? Salespeople are often pushed to spend much of their time documenting and inputting data, how do you make them more efficient and able to spend more time doing what they do...sell?
- Tools to optimize: email templates and nurturing through sequences, sales document library, proper content to move prospect along, and prospect automation.
- Align: this is a constant battle between sales and marketing, most sales people rank the leads that marketing passes them as the least effective, while most marketers say they are passing salespeople high quality leads. Aligning your sales and marketing departments helps this battle.
- Tools to help align sales and marketing teams: persona and profile development, proper content development for those personas, feedback loop between teams, SLA and reporting.
- Transform: by building SLAs between marketing and sales, better reporting and the right establish feedback loops, your teams can constantly improve and in turn land more clients and customers.
- Transformation tools: inbound sales training, analytics and measurement of goals, and closed loop reporting viewable key stakeholders across teams.
Let's Break It Down
He's the part were we tell you how we've begun to implement the above phases of Inbound Sales and how it's help us land more opportunities over the past 6 months.
First I've got to include these short Inbound reminder from Doug Davidoff over at Imagine Business Development.
"...being Inbound is a mindset. It’s based on a series of beliefs and principles. You’re Inbound when you stick to these beliefs even if they don’t always play to your advantage currently. Make no mistake, you can implement inbound marketing - hell, you can be the poster boy for inbound tactics - without being Inbound. You can create value without being Inbound..."
Where it started for us at Lone Fir was when we decided we wanted to have a predictable pipeline of business and less waiting for the next referral to come down the pipe. We LOVE referrals and welcome them for sure, but they aren't predictable and often come in waves. So for us it was about developing a system that could us grow and follow to be successful.
In short, we went through the above steps, organize, optimize, align (this one is easy for us since we are a relatively small organization), and transform.
We were already using the CRM and had access to all the sales tools we could ever need. But we weren't following a process or using many of the tools properly. Here are some of the actions we tool in the organize phase:
- Set up our CRM and began to live in it
- Made sure all contact with prospects was being captured in the CRM. Using the Gmail integration to log email and responses, logging phone calls and in some cases playing around with using the HubSpot call integration where we can call directly from the browser in HubSpot and it logs our calls.
- Have begun leaving many notes on each contact record and deal, helps you stay organized and have all the information in one place.
- Began using HubSpot to track all of our sales tasks. Creating follow up reminders, and actions specific to each prospect and target account.
- Set up our deal stages in the pipeline accurately and follow our sales process
Pro Tip: set up workflows that are associated with each stage of the deal, for instance, when a deal is moved to the "Ready for Estimate" category create an internal task that automatically gets added to the correct persons task list so they know it is waiting on them.
This area for us is going to be a constant learn and improve phase. Here are some of the things we've been working on to better optimize our process:
- Create more personalized email templates. This has been removing much of the generic sales language that would make it applicable to everyone and adding more actions or reminders in each template. So when you load a template in either Gmail or HubSpot you are prompted to add items and provide better explanation.
- Revamp all of our sales our reach sequences. This really made us work at defining our process from the first outreach phone call to the first email and include tasks along the way, ie reaching out on Linkedin or sharing a message on a social platform so there is something to reference later. A sequence is a workflow that you can enroll an individual contact in that helps to move through into your sales pipeline. For instance, intro call followed by outreach email #1 > 2 days later another call and email #2 with value add > 3 days later add a task that reminds you to reach out on Linkedin with a personalized message plus phone call and email #3, etc, etc. These are all automatically done and tasks scheduled so rep knows who to reach out to on any given day.
- Uploading all PDF docs to Document Library in HubSpot. This is pretty awesome since you get a notification when someone looks at a document and how long they spent on each section of the document. Helps with conversations moving forward with the prospect.
Since we have a smaller team, this area of alignment hasn’t been difficult for us at all, but we had to start from the beginning:
- Developing our ideal buyer profiles and personas so we knew how to plan out their individual buyers journey and what content needed to be created to help in the sales process. Some of that content has already been created and much still needs to be done, but we have a clear roadmap that should help us in the coming months.
- Reporting has also been a focus, are we putting in the work to make the proper amount of prospecting calls and sending the goal amount of emails, setting the right number of meetings, etc. How are people interacting with the content that is sent to them? Are they opening the links, spending time reading the articles or pages, how far are they getting into it before falling off, and many other questions we are building our dashboards with.
Ultimately is all boils down to increase our revenue and identifying where people are falling off in the process.
We are still working on this aspect. For instance:
- We are working on moving the entire team through the Inbound Sales course that HubSpot offers so that everyone on both the sales and marketing side are all equipped with the same baseline knowledge to speak the same language.
- For building our dashboards and reporting we’ve been turning to an amazing service called Databox, if you haven’t heard of them yet, you really should check them out, amazing real time visual tools to create dashboards for basically anything, easy to setup, fully customizable
Best of all, getting starting with this easy to use intuitive box of tools called HubSpot is FREE. So set up an account and get started asap, best way we found to get started is identify someone on your sales team that is tech savvy and use them on a "pilot" program to help experiment with the process and refine it before rolling out to the entire team.
The Sales Services Kickstarter has really “kickstarted” us into being able to offer these same services to our clients and helping to align their sales and marketing teams.
If you’re wanting to learn about how Sales Enablement could help your organization and how you could benefit from tools like HubSpot, let us know, we’d love to talk about your unique service and product. Also, we offer Inbound Sales Services programs for growth oriented organizations that want to align their sales and marketing team.