I realize now that we were very early adopters of an important new paradigm in marketing and one from which there is no turning back, once the journey is begun.
2013 marked the year that inbound marketing “crossed-the-chasm” from the realm of the early adopter into the early majority in the cycle of adoption of discontinuous technology.
HubSpot, in 2008 had a few hundred customers and the product compared to today was crude and limited in function.
It was basic and unsophisticated, but perfectly functional for content creation and inbound marketing as it was then.
Today HubSpot is a company of more than 400 employees, 10,000+ customers and more than 1000 partners. The product is unrecognizable from its early beginnings and leads the industry in functionality and usability.
In short, the product is a complete integrated tool-set for inbound marketing, which if used in conjunction with the HubSpot methodology will produce predictable and measurable results, a high ROI and a content legacy that will produce traffic and leads for years to come.
There are no short-cuts to inbound marketing success. The product and the methodology works as advertised. The results are tangible, progress is visible – or otherwise.
The chart shows our traffic and leads and sources for the past 5 years.
In May 2013, I began a marketing consulting with a sales and marketing messaging alignment project
WittyParrot, an exciting new Bay Area technology company. You can download my new eBook
Sales and Marketing Alignment, Content Capture and Reuse which is a result of that engagement on their new website; one of the first on the new Enterprise Hubspot COS, which went live in late October.
Most of my effort is now going into WittyParrot in the role of VP Marketing, which explains the drop in traffic on Admarco.
The first 100 days with WittyParrot have been astonishing and I will write about that in a different article.
Crossing the Chasm into an Avalanche of Content
5 years ago it was relatively easy to rank for long tail keywords, with search volumes less than 200 per month.
You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to create optimized on-page SEO with HubSpot, it was common sense (and still is) with a well though-out set of keywords. We never spent a day building back-links, we bought into the quality content creation strategy and decided to let this drive our success.
If you wrote a solid article every week, followed the HubSpot methodology, it got read, tweeted and shared on LinkedIn and it was not unusual for a small business like ours to get 200-300 visits for an article and to rank for important keywords in a few weeks or months.
new eBook or white paper could produce hundreds of downloads in a day.
Five years later it is much harder to create content that ranks in Google.
It’s much harder to get people to read your stuff and download your Top of Funnel offers.
People are buried under an avalanche of content and most of its mediocre.
Quality is King
Content is no longer king, it’s suffocating me and I want to turn the volume off, or at least way down.
Dr Mani’s brilliant article, published on the WittyParrot website,
“whittle down and tune-in” highlights the problem and a solution.
Counter-intuitively, Dr. Mani suggests that smaller is better than big when it comes to social networks.
That is you have to reduce the size of your social network to improve the quality of your interactions.
I’m much more selective who I follow and what I read because there is so much of it coming past every day.
I have no time for spammy email, I only read a few LinkedIn group postings and I’m very selective about the email open.
On content that I create, I strive to write original and thought provoking content and after 500 blog posts I’m getting better at writing.
Quality is everything.
But this is old news.
Inbound Sales = Content + Context
HubSpot is leading the
inbound sales movement in the same way they led the inbound marketing movement.
Buyers are most likely to be receptive to a conversation with a vendor/supplier when they are on your Website, when they are viewing a video or reading your content.
Would you prefer, an in-context conversation with an informed salesperson who is offering help when you are actively engaged in exploring options?
Or would you rather take a call from a sales closer who is trying to make their number this month, a week after you downloaded a white paper?
Or perhaps an endless stream of canned email that someone has spent a lot of time in a marketing automation and designed for your “persona” hoping it will strike a chord?
guide to building highly responsive sales teams to find out more.
Real-time Signals Responsive engagement in real-time in the buyer’s context seems intuitively to be a better strategy for engaging and facilitating buyers vs. programmatic canned responses.
Signals is a new product incubated within HubSpot that facilitates real-time engagement, which is integrated with HubSpot, but is available as a stand-alone product.
tried Signals when it was released – and I could immediately see in real-time when someone opened my email or clicked on a link and watched a video or downloaded something.
I was hooked on the product after a one-month free trial and gladly pay the $10 per month for the premium version.
New Content Optimization System.
Hooray for the new CMS. The old one was a dog. I have not fully mastered the new COS yet, but its powerful, fast and positions HubSpot as a leader in terms of function and modularity and adaptive output… and did anyone mention it’s the fastest CMS out there?
No doubt the content avalanche will continue and get bigger, but not better.
HubSpot will continue to deliver tools that anticipate solutions to the problems and give us finer control over who and what we tune into.
I’m hoping to see the excellent HubSpot contacts system evolve more CRM functionality so that I can switch off Salesforce.com system as it adds marginal value to HubSpot.
The future belongs to the innovators who combine Responsiveness with Context and where their sales and marketing organizations deliver insight.
HubSpot is setting a brisk pace for innovation and leading the transformation of the marketing industry.
The future is very bright for HubSpot and I’m glad to be a part of it.
This article is a warning and some sage advice from someone who has been burned by making some of the mistakes listed below.
The industry is rife with consultants offering best practices on Linkedin and selling services around helping you get started and leveraging the power of the network. This is not one of those articles and I have nothing to sell.
I offer this free advice so that you can learn from my from experience.
This article will be of interest to anyone using Linkedin Groups and in particular the HubSpot Social Media Publishing capability.
HubSpot allows you to set up and automate social media publishing and monitor buzz for any number of keywords in an integrated fashion… it's great, it's powerful and it's convenient.
LinkedIN groups are very useful as well, - if you can find the ones that are well controlled and where people you wish to influence are participating in the dialogue.
The fact that HubSpot-Linked combination is so powerful and convenient comes with some warnings and a few things to consider when you start up.
Here are few simple rules to follow:
When you set up social media in HubSpot and enter your Linkedin credentials, HubSpot will auto-populate all of your groups. Do not check all of your "Publish to the following groups as..." or "select all" buttons when you post an article in HubSpot. This is how to get blocked on LinkedIn with just one post.
It’s OK to be a member of 40 groups, but as a rule your blog posts will be relevant to only a handful of groups. Therefore vary what you post according to the audience with highest interest/relevance.
Quality, not quantity is the rule. 3-5 groups that you focus-on for a few minutes each per day, trumps 40 that you drive-by once a week. Think about it, what buyer is going to spend time on more that two or three groups? Your job is to figure out which ones they are.
Don't post to Alumni groups unless it's relevant to the group; e.g. you worked at say MicroStrategy and you post a story about your experience or a learning from working there.
Whenever you post something to a group, you must add a comment, challenge or reason why you are posting it, so that it relates to the WiiFM antenna of group members.
Many Linkedin groups are very spammy, much noisier than just a couple of years ago…. so being a member of a 40,000 member OPEN group may not give you as much clout as a 500 member group with the right audience, which is CLOSED and well controlled by moderators.
The best way to engage on LinkedIn when getting started is to read and comment on others posts and ask questions…. Get the feel for the group before you post anything.
Many LinkedIn groups are forum only groups and don't allow blogs or links. If you have something to ask they can be very useful and if your insights are helpful, people will check your profile and may visit your Website. If you post blogs in some of these groups, you will get a warning and if you reoffend will be ejected.
First base on LinkedIn is to build reputation as someone with something of value to say with the audience and group administrators, -not to autopost everything you publish to your groups, unless it’s your own group.
It's perfectly OK to post other people's stuff in groups provided it's relevant and if it gives you an opportunity to add a comment that shows insight and will be of value to the group.
Be aware that Linked is involved in a class action lawsuit of their own for their practice of emailing every contact you have ever sent or received mail from, when they offer to “invite your friends to connect” and you accept.
Beware of trolls – certain groups have trolls that enjoy baiting, denigrating, criticizing and generally making a**holes of themselves. Do not engage and when it happens to you, flag it up to group owners.
I have been in LinkedIn Jail for over a year as I made the mistake of auto publishing into many groups when this feature was first release on HubSpot.
Very few groups allow me to publish my stuff (even if its fantastic) without it going into a moderation queue - from which it never leaves… unless I contact the group owner and ask them to publish it, which is a pain.
This week I met with the marketing leadership team of a successful and fast growing B2B technology company with a
The purpose of the meeting was to understand their marketing goals and to explain our process for brand positioning and method for connecting website message, brand message and sales-ready messaging to the core value proposition.
It was a very interesting meeting. The company leadership recognized they are not addressing the need for mind-share development to enable them to move into new markets with their existing product suite.
"Why Me?" Messaging
In other words, they are doing a great job messaging to their existing markets with “Why Me?” product messaging and content and are effectively taking a larger share of the pie.
However, they recognize they are largely invisible on the Internet to a new digital, enterprise buyers who are focused on a higher-order set of problems and who use a different vocabulary to that of current users.
"Why Change?" Messaging
This is where a “Why Change?" message, coupled with opportunity and attuned to the buyer’s strategic imperative for change is required, to get visionaries and early adopters to pay attention and to grow the pie.
The opportunity to move into enterprise markets will enable the company to sell order of magnitude larger deals to customers looking to create competitive flexibility vs. fulfilling the need for a single unit of their solution into a department that has identified the need.
According to Wikipedia, “
positioning" is the process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization.”
Further down on the same Wikipedia page is this statement, “An important component of hi-tech marketing in the age of the world wide web is positioning in major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, which can be accomplished through Search Engine Optimization”.
The marketers I met with are 4-year veterans of marketing automation platforms HubSpot and Marketo and mature in their understanding of
demand generation and marketing automation and the direct link between quality content creation attuned to the buyers needs and goals and higher search engine rankings.
Mind-share is Linked to Search Engine Positioning
They understand that in order to achieve positioning in the mind of the buyer, they first need to achieve page 1 search engine positioning for the key-phrases their new audience is likely to be using… and this means generating quality content attuned to buyers needs and goals.
I didn’t need to sell them on the need for a structured approach to
marketing messaging or the need for a messaging architecture to enable content creation across the company that resonates with what buyers are trying to achieve, -they are actively seeking it.
Product Training isn't Enough
Similarly they recognize that their direct sales team is well equipped with product knowledge to respond reactively to growing demand, where the salesperson responds to an RFP, configures the solution, submits a pricing proposal and processes the order…. hopefully.
They admit their salespeople are poorly equipped to have proactive “why change” conversations with enterprise buyers however.
They recognize the need to equip the sales team with tools, training and a "Point of View" and stories to enable them to engage executives in "why change" as well as getting better at their "why me" conversations.
What’s Wrong with this Picture?
There are many who might say that there is nothing wrong with focusing on their existing market and full speed ahead with sales and marketing. However with a disruptive innovation, the creation of mind-share in new markets is a marketing imperative in addition to those they plan to dominate.
Kodak is an excellent example of the “innovators dilemma” – they grew to dominate every segment of their highly profitable silver-halide film processing market and nearly went under because they failed to adapt their business to digital image processing.
Connect Buyers to your Big Idea
The news is that the state of the union between sales and marketing is not all bad. Like President Obama's State of the Union message, we're doing well in some areas, but have a long way to go in others.
The state of the union between sales and marketing is imperfect, but growing stronger and the hard work and dedication of the pioneers is beginning to deliver quantifiable results. It is our unfinished task to ensure that both sales and marketing teams are served by the sales and marketing alignment process, not just a vocal few in sales.
The changes in buyer behavior are permanent and both sales and marketing must unite and adopt a new vocabulary, new methods and embrace new technologies to more effectively serve buyers, achieve revenue goals and to lower the cost of acquiring and servicing customers.
We need to recognize that for sales and marketing to best serve today's Internet savvy, socially connected buyer, we need to evolve one contiguous and tightly coupled revenue generation process. The outbound "hunter" B2B sales role as we knew it, is giving way to scientific methods of lead generation, lead nurturing and scoring, marketing automation, free trials and light-touch engagement across the
IMPACT buying process.
Inbound Leads vs. Traditional Outbound Leads
Mark Roberge, VP Sales at HubSpot is a 10 on a scale of 1-10 of the smartest sales leaders I know. When he talks about sales and marketing alignment, I listen.
HubSpot has created what is probably the most effective sales and marketing union in the industry and one of the fastest growth rates of a SaaS company in the history of the software business.
Mark published an article this yesterday on the HubSpot blog entitled,
"Help, my sales team thinks our inbound leads suck" which captures with great clarity, a number of issues I was planning to write about in my sales and marketing alignment blog today. I will discuss them from our viewpoint as facilitators of change and enablers of the sales and marketing alignment process.
Buying a list of names vs Inbound Lead-gen.
Generate lots of leads, but only pass the good ones to sales.
Inbound marketing has turned the fit/pain funnel on its head.
In an outbound model, companies start with a list of executives at a “perfect fit” company and bombard them with hundreds of calls and emails until 1% or 2% call back and admit they have pain.
In an inbound model, all your leads have the pain your company solves. Otherwise, they would have never conducted that Google search, downloaded that whitepaper, or read that blog article that led them to you. The problem is that your company doesn't sell to the entire world. Some percentage of these leads are just not a fit for your business. However, the inbound leads who
are a fit are exceptional -- and they close much faster and at a higher rate than your outbound opportunities.
The problem here is that marketers get so excited to be generating hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of
inbound leads each month, that they end up passing
all these leads to sales. If Marketing passes the sales team 1,000 leads, only 100 of which are good, and Sales has to sift through 900 bad leads, they're going to hate it, and they're going to say things like,
“These leads suck.”
However, if Marketing can filter out the 900 less-fit companies and pass along just the 100 good ones, their sales team will think they have the best marketing department in the world. As a result, Marketing and Sales must align to develop and
implement a lead scoring system that makes sense and results in only good fit leads getting passed from Marketing to Sales.
Comment: We generate well in excess of 500 leads per year for our consulting business over more than two dozen landing pages, but only about 5-10% are a fit for our business. Prior to new capabilities delivered in the HubSpot3 Contacts System, we struggled with the above problem. However we have now implemented a lead scoring algorithm to help us figure out our best-fit prospects and to engage and market to existing contacts more effectively.
Don't Call High
When I started Advanced Marketing Concepts nearly 9 years ago, we used to teach salespeople a combination of techniques, including a cold calling workshop, how to get access to the decision level or VP. Today, those executives are virtually impenetrable to outbound cold calls. Mark's advice is spot-on.
Mark Roberge writes, "... not every inbound lead is going to be a C-level executive. In fact, very few of them will be. You’re much more likely to get a mid-level manager, associate, or even an intern on the other end of the phone. So what does your typical salesperson think?
“This isn’t a qualified buyer. This is an intern. These leads suck." However, who do you think told the intern to do the Google search that led to your company? The C-suite. The inbound lead indicates that pain exists at that company -- the pain you solve. So call the mid-level manager. Call the associate. Call the intern. But don't try to sell them.
You're right -- they're not buyers. Instead, use that call to prepare yourself for the call with the executive. Ask them, "Why did you download that ebook? Why did you read that blog article? Who told you to conduct this research? Why? What are your boss’ key initiatives for 2013? What did your CEO talk about at the annual kick-off?" If you're doing inbound marketing well, you'll be surprised how much these leads trust you and how honest their answers will be.
Now you're in a position to call high. You don’t have to leave the typical voicemail ...
“Hi John, we help companies like you get more leads and customers from your website. Give me a call back so I can tell you more about ways we do this.”
Instead, you can leave one that says ...
“Hi John, a number of people from your company have contacted me about effective lead generation strategies. I understand you're hiring 10 new sales reps next quarter and need to increase lead generation by 35%. I've been working on a strategy with your team that I would like to run by you.”
The Elevator Pitch is Obsolete
Lead with your buyer's interest
By the time they get passed on to your sales team, a typical inbound lead might have visited your website 15 times, read 11 blog articles, opened 3 emails from you, and downloaded 5 ebooks. They’re already several stages into the
buying cycle before they’ve even spoken to someone from your company. So what do you think happens if a sales rep calls them up and leads with a stone-cold elevator pitch?
It comes across as completely tone-deaf to the prospect, right? It might even erode most of the trust your marketing team has worked so hard to build up. The lead hangs up on your salesperson, and again, your salesperson thinks,
“These leads suck.”
Instead, salespeople need to leverage all the data you've collected about your inbound leads in your contacts database. How they found your website, what pages they viewed most, what emails they opened and read, how often they shared your content on Twitter and FaceBook: All of this tells you loads of information about what the prospect’s problems are and how you can help. Your salespeople should be using
that information to open the conversation on the phone ...
Sales Rep: “Hi, Mary, this is Mark from HubSpot [pause because at this point Mary may start telling you how much they love your content and your company]. I noticed you downloaded our ebook on lead generation. What specific questions did you have?” Mary: “Oh, I was just doing research. I didn’t know I’d actually get a call from a salesperson." Sales Rep: “That’s okay. I’m actually looking at your company's LinkedIn page right now and had two quick tips for you. Do you have a minute to go over them?” Mary wants to hear those tips. Mary will ask more questions. Mary will be impressed with how helpful and smart you are. Mary will wonder what she can buy from you. Congratulations! You no longer have a salesperson-prospect relationship, you have a doctor-patient relationship. Now you can diagnose whether you can help their company -- and how.
If you’ve never cold-called before, you’re not missing out on much. Imagine a day where you dial the phone 100 times, leave 95 voicemail messages, and not one person calls you back. Of the five people who did pick up the phone, three hung up within the first five seconds. And when you do get somebody on the phone who’s willing to talk, it’s clear that he’s not really qualified to buy from you. But because you’re having such a lousy day of cold calling and feeling unloved -- and because you don’t have enough leads to begin with, and beggars can’t be choosers -- you book an appointment with them anyway. It happens more often than most salespeople are willing to admit.
But with a steady stream of inbound leads flowing in, your salespeople can approach these initial conversations from a position of strength. Every minute you spend on the phone with an unqualified buyer is time you could be spending with a warm lead. Do build trust. Do understand the prospect’s needs. Do attempt to provoke pain if it doesn’t exist. But most importantly, do move on if they're not a good fit. Thank your prospect for their time. Introduce them to someone else who can help if you know somebody. Encourage them to continue to enjoy your content. And quick ... call that next inbound lead.
If you have had a productive conversation with a prospective lead, send a
qualification confirmation note to confirm agreement in the points discussed in the recent conversation and the next steps you agreed to in the meeting.
Don’t “Always Be Closing.”
“Always Be Helping.”
Most salespeople, following the directive of the infamous movie
Glengarry Glen Ross, adopt the rallying cry, “Always Be Closing.” But this is a disastrous approach to take with an inbound lead. The internet has shifted control from the salesperson to the buyer. People can research your company, research your competitors, understand your price, and sometimes even try your product -- all without speaking to a salesperson. And by the time an inbound lead reaches your sales team, that’s exactly what that person has done.
Sales should not start out by looking to close. They shouldn’t even be thinking about pitching your product. Instead, they should look to
help the buyer. Strive to uncover the thing your buyer is worried about -- the thing she's stuck on -- and if you find it, help her with it. Don’t try to tie it to your product. Just help them. Buyers don’t need to talk to Sales anymore. Make them
want to talk to you because they trust you and you've been helpful in the past in solving their problems. If done correctly, your product and how it can help them will naturally come up at the right time.
Just as the internet has changed life for the modern buyer (and the modern marketer), life has also changed for the modern salesperson. In all cases, it’s for the better. If your salespeople still complain that your inbound leads suck, try running an experiment. Choose a sales rep with an open mind, and tell them they need to make their goal this month from inbound leads alone, using the guidelines above.
Then tell the rest of the team to watch as their colleague starts closing business faster and at a higher rate. Nothing succeeds like success. The rest of your team will soon follow suit.
This year HubSpot took some very big steps in product usability and capability which established the product in a new market, where it is able to compete directly with marketing automation vendors Pardot, Marketo and Eloqua, but with some fundamental and important distinctions in that it is a robust and easy to use inbound marketing platform.
HubSpot accelerated growth and now has more than 8,000 customers in 46 countries. During the year HubSpot placed itself on the path to IPO by adding key executives and raising a further $35M in a funding round to bring the total funding raised to $100M.
Admarco.net Traffic and Leads
This year we increased our inbound traffic by more than 100%. We generated nearly 700 leads and published more than 50 content pieces. Our Website was redesigned by
KunoCreative to give it a brighter and more accessible look and feel, with a design spec inspired by
a visit to the Apple Store.
Our average visit-lead conversion rate decreased to 1.5% after we reworked all of our landing pages and increased the number of fields on the form, which has had the desired effect of improving lead quality.
We have 35 landing pages, with an average conversion rate of 17%.
Major HubSpot Improvements
The HubSpot product got a lot better this past year. For our purposes, the Email and Contacts applications are the most important and useful innovations.
Analytics and dashboard.
The analytic engine was rewritten this year and is more robust and comprehensive and the Dashboard landing page after login provides a particularly useful snapshot of performance vs. last month and a jumping off point for all applications.
Prior to the new email tool, we have used the MailChimp and Constant Contact email services, but no longer. With the new integral email tool, it's super-easy to create and send emails within HubSpot. So easy in fact, I drafted a blog article on a recent SFO-Boston Virgin flight using the onboard WiFi. When I was happy with it I posted it on HubSpot and sent an email to a targeted set of users using the new contacts and email applications, which took about 10 minutes.
The contacts system allows us to segment by any attribute or combination of attributes in a beautiful, easy to use interface. This has been very useful in identifying the various interest groups who have converted into leads over the past 4 years.
One insight that was particularly interesting was learning more about our most frequent visitors - those with the highest lead score. The contacts with the highest lead scores are nearly all consultants and competitors in the sales and marketing performance improvement business and this highlighted the need to negatively weight these visitors in the lead scoring algorithm.
Smart CTA’s, Smart Forms and Landing Pages.
These three innovations make it much easier to develop once and re-use elements common to Blog, Email and Website content creation. For instance I reworded a Call to Action for an email I sent out recently and changed the link to a new landing page. The CTA was used on a dozen other pages and the simple update to the text and the new landing page link published immediately to all other pages.
Workflow Engine and lead nurturing
This is an area we still need to exploit and I plan to take few days over the XMAS vacation to read the tutorials and rework our major lead nurturing paths. It takes time and effort to think these through and to create the necessary content to make them work.
Areas for improvement - HubSpot CMS and Blog
The blog and CMS are the weakest part of the platform and long overdue for an upgrade. I believe the rewrite is nearing completion on the blog and this will be welcomed by the community using the HubSpot CMS and blogging platform.
Inbound Marketing is the future of marketing and the marketing and PR industry is rapidly transitioning from the old World of outbound interrupt marketing to inbound or permission marketing as it is also known.
Inbound marketing works and has been proved in thousands of instances to lower the cost of marketing and to create a content legacy that keeps on generating mind-share, traffic and leads for both very small and very large companies.
We can now assign rules for the execution of a new inbound marketing project to ensure the likelihood of a positive outcome and rapid return on the investment.
The purpose of this article is to highlight the effort required to be successful with Inbound Marketing, not to lay out the rules for inbound marketing success, that is another article.
The Challenger Selling concept is gaining in popularity based on the number of people joining the
LinkedIn Group, the rank of The Challenger Sale book, (currently #2 in Amazon sales and marketing category) and the references to the book on the Internet.
Last week we saw a spat between sales training profesionals in one of the LinkedIn groups, about the veracity of the Challenger model, caused no doubt by the mindshare "Challenger" is generating in the market at the expense of rival approaches.
The Challenger behavior archetype identified in The Challenger Sale research stands out because Challengers produce better results than any other sales behavior type selling complex B2B products and services. Why? Because these individuals bring insight and informed opinion to influence the thinking of buyers and they exert a degree of control on the outcome of a complex B2B buying process.
When do Challengers engage in the Buying Process?
I was asked this question yesterday by the SVP of a major information services company in conversation about the difficulty of selling a B2B product and services against strong competition in 2012. While I am not affiliated in any way with the CEB, I offered the following.
Challengers are able to influence buyer thinking through their expert opinion and industry insight and are capable of exerting control in moving the buying process along.
I'll use the IMPACT buying model from the book, "
Why Killer Products Don't Sell", which accurately describes a universal buying process, to discuss engagement points. For an in-depth look at the buying process and how buyer behavior is affected by risk, get an instant download of the
Killer Products Whitepaper.
As a vendor, you can be engaged in a buying process at any point in the buying cycle, but the closer to the start of the buying process, the higher the odds of succeeding.
Think about it for a moment. You can get married the week after you meet someone, celebrities do it almost daily - we see them on the cover of supermarket comics at the checkout. But this is not normally the case, most marriages begin with a courting period, followed by a formal engagement. Making a complex B2B sale is like getting married, except if you are a celebrity.
The odds of winning a deal you did not initiate are better than marrying Kim Kardashian after dating her for a week, but they are not great.
Mike Bosworth in Customer-Centric Selling suggests that your chances are between zero and 20% of winning an RFP if you did not initiate the discussion. If you initiated the conversation, your chances of winning are up to 80%. (Any update on these numbers would be greatly appreciated, as I suspect they may have changed in the last 10 years)
So is it easier to disrupt status quo thinking as Challengers do, in the Transaction phase after the RFP arrives, or when the buyer recognizes they need to do something to correct a sub-optimal condition at say IDENTIFY or MENTOR at the start of the buying process? Duh!, it's obvious that it’s easier to influence thinking at the outset and becomes progressively harder as the buying process matures. It's not impossible to turn around an RFP that is written by a competitor, but I wouldn’t want to base my income on winning RFP’s influenced by the competition.
But how to engage earlier in the buying cycle?
How to Engage Early in the Buying Process
We read about Challenger success in the case studies in The Challenger Sale book, but we don't how the salesperson engaged the buyer.
I don’t have that data, but I suggest that the best odds for Challengers succeeding are as a result of an inbound lead at the outset of the buyer’s journey or through leveraging a client relationship to upsell or cross-sell into an existing account… it’s all about gaining access.
Buyers will research approaches and gather ideas around solving a problem or achieving a goal through an Internet search, long before they are ready to buy. They download whitepapers, E-books and attend Webinars and conferences in return for exchanging their contact details and opting in to receive your communication… and they become leads in an inbound marketing system
Inbound Marketing Creates Challenger Openings
In about 25% of companies surveyed by CSO Insights in 2012 , it's marketing that creates the opportunity and an opening for Challengers, but typically when these leads first convert on your Website, they are initial inquiries and are not sales ready.
At this stage buyers are looking for possible approaches and associated risks, not product. This is the ideal opportunity to begin to influence buyer thinking through a combination of behavior based lead nurturing, until they achieve a “sales ready” lead score, and helpful insight provided by sales professionals who look more like consultants than salespeople to the buyer.
Why is Inbound Marketing Important again? Check these numbers
46% of daily Internet searches are for information on products or services.
70% of the links search users click-on are organic—not paid.
75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
Take-Away: If your business is not ranking well for the words that describe your products and services, then you’re not getting found for them by potential customers either.
Find out if your Website is Capable of generating Inbound Leads
How can you find out if your company Website is capable of generating inbound leads to feed your Challengers? You can
run a free Marketing Grader report to see if
you doing enough to bring visitors to your website and fill the top of your sales and marketing funnel. The report tells you how you are doing when it comes to converting traffic into leads and leads into customers and what marketing activities are working (or aren't working)?
If your Website scores less than 70 on Website Grader, the chances are you are not getting enough leads. If you need to generate more inbound leads, I suggest that you give inbound marketing a try.
I’m here in Boston for #Inbound12, with 2800 HubSpotters, customers and partners at the World’s largest gathering of Inbound Marketers, for 3 days of meetings, presentations, tutorials and networking with the HubSpot community.
View from my hotel of the Charles River and Cambridge
Keynotes from Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, co-founders of HubSpot on Wednesday highlighted the momentum that HubSpot is building in the market and the increasing velocity of the Inbound Marketing movement.
Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah took the stage for 90 minutes to announce HubSpot3 and demonstrate the new product capabilities that will enable marketers to easily create marketing that people will love.
The First 6 Years
HubSpot is just 6 years old and has been the leader and visionary in the movement to transform marketing from the traditional interrupt-driven marketing forms of direct mail, advertising, email marketing and telephone solicitation to opt-in, individual inbound engagement.
Halligan stated that the first 6 years of HubSpot were all about building a software platform for inbound marketing that would pull people into the sales funnel with great content. In just 6 years HubSpot has created a customer base of nearly 8,000 customers, a partner and services market-place that is now selling and supporting 25% of the HubSpot revenue stream and through the API, delivering nearly 80 value-added applications and completing more than 5,000 service projects.
In the next 6 years, HubSpot is focusing on how to use context to pull people through the funnel and create marketing that people love, - in the same way that Amazon does… relevant messaging at the right time. Amazon achieves this through the integration of front and back-end processes and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars building the capability.
Halligan highlighted the problem in the marketing software industry and the reason why marketers were still using old methods and it's because the software required for doing this is not connected and runs on different systems and it’s just too damn hard to make it work. Then he announced the fruit of the past 12 months of development effort, HubSpot3 and handed the stage to co-founder Dharmesh Shah.
Shah likens Hubspot3 to an iPhone for marketers , everything you need, beautifully integrated at your fingertips, (he also announced HubSpot for the iPhone and demonstrated 3 of the most important HubSpot applications).
HubSpot3 boasts 100 new capabilities, some of which were demonstrated in the 6 new applications that form part of HubSpot3. The central capability being a single new contacts database that captures everything about a contact. I have been using a number of the these new capabilities for the past several months as part of the HubSpot Beta program and I love the elegance, ease of use and integration of HubSpot3.
My message to marketers who are on undecided as whether to jump into the inbound marketing water is, now is the time and HubSpot is the platform.
Core applications in HubSpot3 are;
Capabilities from basic information, CRM and importing data, custom fields, drag and drop, visitor tracking, a Facebook inspired timeline, email and social interactions.
New capabilities include bookmarklets, ability to publish from multiple accounts to multiple networks, suggested times to publish and schedule posts, social analytics, social contacts, retweets, likes and the ability to see who in your customer base is interacting.
The Landing pages module is elegant and creating new landing pages takes minutes, with pre-populated, beautifully designed templates or the ability to import your own, require no coding, are optimized for conversion and development is drag and drop with live preview. Smart forms that remember if you have completed a field in the past and remove it from the conversion form, enabling a visitor to get your offer with just their email address.
Calls to Action Buttons
I have been using the new CTA module and it is really easy to create or import CTA’s that look professional. CTA's are located in a central dashboard, with A/B testing that’s super easy to build, along with click and lead tracking analytics. A neat feature if you discover from testing that one CTA converts much better than another is the ability to change out all of the CTA’s you have developed that could be resident on dozens of pages from the dashboard with one click.
The email tool is completely new and better than any of the competitive toolsI have used recently. No more exporting lists to run in someone else’s email tool. The email tool comes with dozens of beautifully designed templates, it’s designer friendly, and features a single page view and floating live preview, it enables easy personalization, uses the same Calls to Action buttons and makes social sharing easy.
The new workflow module is a killer-app that will really appeal to users of the traditional marketing automation platforms. Users want marketing programmed email and offers that are relevant, insightful and that create value, - they are receptive to the right offer at the right time. While traditional marketing automation platforms have promised this, they are too hard to use and customers have typically spent in excess of $50K on consulting to try and make them work. The new workflow module enables, development of workflows based on behavior from simple form submissions, email interactions, social engagement, offline engagement and will enable you to update the CRM, update a lead score, set a lifecycle stage, or change a call to action.
There are plenty of competitors to HubSpot that mimic HubSpot’s language and do pieces of the inbound marketing puzzle - and you can get the job done by cobbling all of them together. But it takes time, effort, coding, developers and I don’t care how much money you pour into your old marketing automation platform, it’s not going to give you what HubSpot does today.
Bottom line, HubSpot enables marketers to get more done in less time, with less effort and lowers the cost per lead.
HubSpot is innovating faster behind a powerful vision – “create marketing people love” and delivering software with the power that you need and the ease of use to make it easy. Time to get on board.