Who doesn’t love inbound leads?
Inbound leads are amazing.
You create helpful, insightful, educational, and original content for your market, and people find you.
Next, they request a demo, take a product tour, download an eBook, cheat sheet, or checklist, and then enter your marketing and sales system as leads.
Unfortunately, most salespeople don’t know what to do with them. In fact, converting leads at the top and middle of the funnel is problematic for most organizations.
In the following video and article, we’ll explore how your lead management process can serve two very important purposes.
First, it helps your sales team close more leads, and secondly, it works to surface what is working and what is not within your sales process.
During my first year using HubSpot to generate inbound leads at a B2B software company, I consistently generated 100 leads a month (up from 10 leads per month).
I was very excited about these results. I had HubSpot set up. I had leads coming in. I had the data and metrics. I had everything working. I was pushing a lot of leads over to sales.
After that first year, I walked into my review meeting with the executive partners with a lot of swagger, subtly gloating about what I had done.
I sat across from the rest of the executive team and got one of the biggest shocks of my life.
They said, “Josh, I don’t think this is going to work out.”
I was completely blindsided and devastated. I was at a point in my career where I felt like I was finally contributing.
The problem was that none of those inbound leads I had passed over to sales had turned into revenue.
Fortunately, the executive team kept me around and gave me one more chance. I had to make it work. I had to find a way to get the sales team to convert those leads into customers.
I purposely put less time into generating leads and became a student of B2B sales.
I had to figure out how to get the sales team excited about working inbound leads, which enter during different stages of the sales process (unlike “contract-ready” ready-for-a-demo leads).
When you implement inbound lead generation, you expand your lead pool to include people who are researching their problem and looking for information about solutions. This allows you to build those relationships sooner, instead of just talking to people who are ready to buy. While the sales conversations are different, you’re getting many more leads.
Since that time, I’ve become an authority on lead management. This is where I’ve spent the bulk of the past few years. Rather than helping people on the traffic and lead generation side, I help companies set up business-specific lead management processes.
Why, you might ask?
I know firsthand that you can generate tons of traffic and hundreds of leads each month, but your business won’t grow if the leads are rotting on the vine and slipping through the cracks.
That’s the whole purpose behind lead management: preventing good leads that you are investing in from going to waste.
Lead management is the process of knowing:
Anyone from your team should be able to go into the system, look at a lead, and know exactly where that lead is in your process.
There are a few things you need to focus on in order to create a strong lead management process that will turn leads into revenue.
These are clear, agreed-upon, company-wide definitions for lead statuses, lifecycle stages, and how you track next actions (such as initially connect with the lead or schedule a demo). Your lead management definitions also include the criteria for getting a lead onto the deal board, definitions for all of the deal stages, as well as definitions for lead status.
Why is this critical for your “lead to sale” conversion rate? First, everyone must be playing from the same playbook. Don’t make your sales reps guess at the definitions in your CRM or create their own process. Most importantly, it also helps to keep your data clean and consistent.
When a lead comes in, how does it get routed?
What are the steps that the salesperson takes to connect with that lead? If they connect with them, where does it go?
What happens if a lead is qualified, but not yet ready to talk to sales?
What are all the scenarios that you need to be able to accommodate at every point in the sales process?
You must map all of that out. Your lead management process will be deep and complicated in order to make it as simple as possible for your sales reps. The last thing you want is to miss a key scenario and leave your sales reps to figure out their process on the fly.
When most people think of automation, they think of marketing automation, but there is a tremendous amount you can do with automation on the sales side as well.
Automation can help sales reps be hyper-efficient by touching as few fields as possible on the back end. It can also help your lead management framework stay intact, your reporting accurate, and your data stay clean.
Set up accountability so that your sales team understands their responsibilities. More specifically, they need to know which metrics they’ll get dinged on by their sales manager and which will have an automatic reminder within the system.
Since your data is clean and people are mapping their sales process to the lead management structure built into your CRM, sales reps will have a clear picture of their accountabilities.Without the definitions, process, and automation, it’s too easy for salespeople to fudge their numbers. It’s not their fault; it’s due to the lack of a lead management process built into the system.
When you have your definitions and your process, the data you need to make faster, better decisions comes into focus.
Your managers and executives get to step out of the technology and convey what they would like to see and report on. If you already have your data structured that way, with a lead management process in place, you’re able to get that reporting and make it part of their process.
Before they go into a sales meeting, your managers and executives will know exactly which reports they need to see. Conversely, they’d have no data to refer to without a lead management process in place.
Now they will know exactly what to focus on and everyone will be on the same page. This helps make accountability a lot easier.
Lead management is essential to B2B companies and businesses that have a non-transactional sales process.
If you have the concept of a lead or there is a “considered sales process” in your buyer’s journey, you always have the risk of leads piling up very quickly when you scale lead generation.
You need a simple way of being able to identify where people are in the process, who you need to call, what you need to call them about, and when to do it.
You can look at your whole week that way, regardless of how many leads are assigned and at what point they’re in the process.
You need a way to route and work leads without overwhelming your salespeople. When your salespeople get overwhelmed, they stop following up with those leads and stop closing. When the salespeople stop closing, it’s usually the marketing department who gets blamed.
There are 4.5 million new blog posts published every day. What does that mean for a company that is publishing content to get found?
It means that the competition is fierce.
Not only does your blog content need to be high quality, but your headlines (i.e. the promise of what is in your blog post) need to be high quality too.
One mistake small marketing teams make when they’re just starting to publish content is using “why” headlines (i.e. headlines that start with the word “why”).
For example, one article I was asked to write for the software company I previously worked for was “Why Fortune 500 Companies Need an Online Customer Community.”
Many companies publish articles like these to create an idea in the reader’s mind that their services are of value. But these articles don’t sound particularly compelling, do they?
“Why” headlines CAN still work, but they must be curiosity-based. They can’t be an obvious sales pitch.
The person reading the headline can’t easily assume where the article is going. It must create curiosity.
One good example is: “Why Half of Florida Will Be Underwater in the Next 20 Years.” That headline creates curiosity. Here’s another one: “Why E-mail Won’t Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy by 2025.” People will be curious and want to know more.
Your headline must stop people in their tracks. If they’re scrolling down, it must make them STOP when see it.
The downside of “why”articles is that once people have their answer, they immediately leave your page. You’ll get more clicks, but less long-term value.
Resist the impulse to create a sales pitch in the form of a “why” article. The approach that works a lot better is a “how-to”article. These are more utilitarian articles with evergreen value for your reader.
Teach them how to do something. Examples are: “How to Accomplish X” or “10 Steps to Achieve Y”. You’re teaching prospects how to achieve something that matters to them.
However, be sure to avoid basic surface-level headlines like “How to Engage Your Customers,” followed by generic and obvious tips like “Step 1: Understand Your Audience.”This is isn’t new information. You have to go deeper.
There are several reasons why people prefer to write “why”articles in place of how-to articles.
One reason is that how-to articles are harder to write. These articles require specificity, examples, value, and visuals. Therefore, they take a lot longer to write.
Another reason people avoid writing how-to articles is the fear of giving away their “secret sauce.” But you should want to give away as much value as you can to rise above the noise and attract people to your business online.
People always want to learn how to do things that will save them time, make them money, or save them money.
A how-to article might initially sound boring, as it is utility-based and seems to lack a certain spark compared to a why article. However, you can add some spark and curiosity by coupling the how-to article with the word “without.”
For example, an article for my consulting company might have this title: “How to Turn More Inbound Leads Into Sales.”
Sure, this headline might be interesting to people who want to solve this problem. Now, let’s add the word “without.”
The new title becomes: “How to Turn More Inbound Leads Into Sales Without Firing Your Current Sales Team.” This title will stop people in their tracks. Here’s another one: “How to Sell Your House Within 30 Days Without Giving 7% to Realtors.”
It’s important to note that your “without” has to be a compelling task that your reader fears having to do.
With this formula (how-to +without), you lure the reader in, provide them with easy steps that lead them somewhere, and you build trust. Your sales pitch can be lightly woven in without causing any alarms to go off for your reader. It gives the reader value, which they’ll want to consume, share, and learn more about, thereby, taking the next steps with your company.
There is incredible competition for the eyes of buyers in all forms of online sales. Marketing, advertising, and sales all are competing for the most valuable slices of one very small pie.
Step up your marketing game by giving your reader some up-front value, piquing their interest, and drawing them in.
Success with a small marketing team is all about leveraging minor changes that will change your direction and get you on the path to growth. It’s not about spending a bunch of money on sponsorships or conferences. Small things add up over time and make a huge difference.
These days, the line between jargon and effective business communication is razor thin.
When you are running a fast-paced business, the language you use can bring clarity.
However, words can also add confusion. If you have ever tried explaining your job to a friend or relative who is not in your industry, it quickly becomes apparent that we cram too much meaning into business terminology.
For instance, take the following terms:
If I asked 10 executives in my network to define each term, I would get 10 different answers for each.
In addition to business terms meaning different things to different people, marketers have dulled the meaning of business terms so that one term can cover a broad range of business functions.
When you read the terms above, it’s easy to assume their meaning without ever needing to understand the nuances of each strategy and how to implement them successfully in your organization.
“Of course, I want more lead generation.”
“Of course, my team needs a CRM.”
“Of course, marketing automation is important.”
“Of course, my sales reps would benefit from the right sales tools.”
“Of course, my company needs a lead management process.”
We are all in agreement that busy people demand concise language.
However, this attempt to sum up a business function in a couple of short words leaves the conversation at a surface level without ever getting to the heart of how to use these tools and tactics to grow your business.
I am in the business of making a big impact on companies and their employees.
General use of business terms, such as “We will work on sales enablement,” or “Let’s use our CRM to grow faster,” is not enough.
When most people first hear about the HubSpot Sales Tools, they think, “Those sound cool.” This initial reaction is often a major factor in selecting the HubSpot CRM and sales platform.
However, implementing the HubSpot Sales Tools and getting your sales team to use them is a different story.
I talk to HubSpot customers every week that have access to the HubSpot sales accelerator tools, but are not using them. They are either unaware of how using these tools could benefit their company, or are simply choosing not to use them.
I could share my Hubspot story with these clients until I am blue in the face, but it still would not enact change at some organizations.
So, I took a different approach. I collected real data.
To get this data, my team and I at Small Marketing Teams did an experiment!
We wanted to know how meaningful the time savings was from just TWO of HubSpot Sales Tools: task queues and email templates.
Sales reps have to handle a lot of different types of communication - from prospecting and re-engagement to proposals and follow-ups.
When a new marketing or lead nurturing offer is created, the marketing team will send the content to most of your company’s list.
However, for the leads and opportunities that are engaged with a sales rep, you don’t want marketing interfering with the relationship and messaging that the sales rep is establishing.
For leads they are working, sales reps often distribute new content offers themselves. Having sales reps distribute new white papers, invitations to webinars, and other relevant resources is also a common practice in account-based marketing, where there is a small number of target accounts.
To normalize this scenario for our experiment, we sent five contacts that we are engaged with a personal invitation to an upcoming webinar training we are hosting.
The experiment was simple. We compared the amount of time it took to send five emails to contacts using two different productivity approaches.
First, I created and sent an email to each of the five contacts inviting them to the webinar. I manually sent them using the HubSpot CRM, but I could have typed these emails in any CRM or email client.
I used this approach for each email to all five contacts..
Next, we sent five invitations to the aforementioned webinar using the task queue and email template tool built into HubSpot’s sales platform.
The five contacts were already in a task queue and the email copy was in a HubSpot sales email template. All I did was click start on the task queue before I:
After I clicked “send” on the email, I merely clicked “next” in the task queue and HubSpot took me to the next contact in the queue.
Before you read the results of this HubSpot sales automation experiment below, take a minute to make your best guess as to the time it took to:
Now on the findings of our test…
If you look carefully at the series of steps for each approach outlined above, you’ll see that in addition to more overall steps, the manual approach (#1) included more thinking and typing than the approach that utilized the tools in HubSpot’s sales platform (#2).
This experiment highlights the speed in which sales reps can interact with leads, and therefore, bring significantly more leads through the sales process.
Sales Productivity Approach #1
Total time to send 5 emails: 13 minutes, 29 seconds
Sales Productivity Approach #2
Total time to send 5 emails: 3 minutes, 49 seconds
By using only two tools inside the HubSpot Sales platform, I saved roughly 10 minutes when reaching out to five contacts via email.
This “5 email” task was chosen because the activity of emailing leads is very common among salespeople. From these results, you can easily see how choosing the more efficient approach can impact a sales rep's day, week, month, or quarter.
If you are an SDR or a BDR…
This means you are prospecting for new opportunities or qualifying new inbound leads.
Leveraging “Sales Productivity Approach #2” would save you 6 hours and 40 minutes hours a week. That gives each sales rep back:
If you are an account executive being fed opportunities by your SDR or BDR...
This means opportunities are turned over to you once they have been qualified.
Following “Sales Productivity Approach #2” would give you 2 hours back a week. That comes out to:
If you don’t have an SDR or BDR layer in your sales organization…
This means you cover the sales process from initial connection to close.
Utilizing “Sales Productivity Approach #2” would give you 4 extra hours a week that you can redirect back to selling. That is:
If your situation is slightly different, this model gives you the data and framework to build assumptions specific to your organization.
Your sales team is performing at its current level using their current process, habits, and tools.
According to widely-published sales efficiency research, most sales reps only spend 2-3 hours per day on selling activities. The rest of the time is spent on CRM, data entry, and admin activities.
How would your company’s sales performance change if you could give your sales team an extra hour or two of selling time each day?
If your sales managers can translate those “found” hours into productive selling time and not watercooler hours, it can have a significant impact on your company’s growth.
Ultimately, this time saving translates to 30-50% more sales conversations, demos, proposal calls, or negotiations.
If you use HubSpot, make sure your team is using the tools inside the sales platform. Also, make sure your lead management process and sales tools are set up correctly.
If you want guidance on how to train your sales team or set up your sales process in HubSpot, ask me about a free consultation today. .
If you don’t currently use HubSpot’s CRM and sales platform, find similar sales productivity tools that work with your CRM. The integration and data won’t be as tight, but you’ll be able to gain some efficiency.
The bottom line is that when you fully adopt processes and tools to create more “selling hours” in the day, you have a competitive advantage.
However, neglecting to arm your sales reps with time-saving tools to help them touch more prospective customers without losing any personalization puts your company at a disadvantage (from which it can take years to recover).
Do you have any quantifiable data around how HubSpot’s sales tools have made your sales team more productive?
Is your sales team is struggling to get leads on the phone?
This might be one of those situations where technology and easy access to digital data are getting in the way of good old fashioned common sense.
Check this out...
When a new lead gets assigned to one of your sales reps, there are things that sales reps do before trying to connect with the lead?
It is important that sales reps try to understand the lead’s situation or the context of their initial conversion so they can make their first touch a relevant interaction.
Since this cursory research only takes a few minutes, it is a major leverage point for small marketing and sales team.
By doing things smarter, your sales reps can close a lot more sales using the same amount of time and effort.
In this episode of the Small Marketing Teams podcast, I discuss how using your lead intelligence differently can result in an increase in revenue.
The first thing you need to know is that not all sales reps use lead intelligence (the data you have about a lead and their interests) the same way.
An AVERAGE sales rep looks at which offer or landing page the lead converted on before calling or emailing them.
A GOOD sales rep analyzes additional digital behavior, including:
Both of these approaches represent the use of quantitative data in building your assumptions about a lead’s problems, priorities, and motivations.
The BEST sales reps take it a step further. They build on quantitative data by adding qualitative elements.
These top performers build a narrative around the journey that the lead look - from the first ad or search engine query to their landing page conversions.
Where do they get this information?
They put themselves in the prospective buyer’s shoes by immersing themselves in the experience that the buyer takes.
They take into account the ad that got the lead’s attention and the language that led them to click on the call to action.
They analyze the copy on the landing page to identify the hook that caused the lead to first opt-in.
If the lead converted on a second or third offer further down the funnel after their first conversion, what was the communication and copy that drove them to take the next step?
Together this information in your CRM enables savvy sales reps to create a fairly accurate narrative that will inform how they connect with, qualify, and build relationships with leads.
Next, let’s explore why this is important.
It used to be that prospective buyers did very little digging online before contacting a company. Today, leads do 50-70% of the research on their problem online before reaching out to a sales rep.
That means that they have an understanding of their problem and potential solutions before they ever get connected with your sales team.
Think about the way that you make a purchase. You research online first. By the time that you speak with a salesperson, you are an educated buyer.
Have you ever had an initial conversation with a sales rep where they brought up points and addressed issues that were not relevant to your situation?
Now, think about sales calls you have had where the discussion felt like a continuation of the research and direction you were already heading?
The rapport and momentum of these two calls are completely different. The conversation that is built on a continuation of the experience you have already had closes a lot faster.
Instead of going into sales conversations cold, empower your sales team to look beyond basic sales analytics and be the next step in the messaging and call to action that they lead has already shown appeal to them.
Analytics is great, but knowing each buyer’s journey will give you a competitive advantage.
Just because you have the data in your marketing and sales platforms, does not mean that your sales reps know it is there, know how you use it, and are using it in their sales process.
This takes a clear process, simple actions, and ongoing monitoring of sales tool usage.
How many concerts did you attend last year? 1 concert? 2 concerts? Every other weekend?
For most performers, a concert is a one-time event. They move from city to city scooping up revenue from each performance’s ticket and merchandise sales.
I want to share a story about how one savvy superstar rejected that model so she could spend more time on other priorities.
This story comes with a very important lesson for marketers.
My wife and daughter recently watched Beyoncé’s new concert film, Homecoming. It is her live headline performances at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last year and the story behind it.
The visually-impressive film caught my attention as I made dinner and afterwards, I sat down the join then. By that time, I was hooked since I had been watching from a distance.
Apparently, the release of this film on Netflix coincided with her new live album featuring these performances.
Beyoncé had not released a new album in several years.
Since her last album, she had a very difficult pregnancy and gave birth to twins.
Beyoncé’s big comeback was this Coachella performance in 2018.
Leading up to the music festival, Beyoncé and her team had a choice.
Option #1) They could work really hard to put together this performance for Coachella.
Option #2) They could work slightly harder and accomplish:
They chose to work harder and so they could get more from the effort they were putting into preparing for the Coachella event.
In marketing and sales, I call this approach to prioritizing inputs and outputs a “Mileage Mindset” and it is a key to growing your business with a small marketing team.
To understand if you have a “mileage mindset,” let me ask you a question.
How many times have you done the hard thinking and writing around creating a whitepaper or webinar then left it in that singular format when the campaign was over?
Have you ever prepared for a presentation at a conference or industry event and then never re-purposed that into a webinar, ebook, or video series?
Beyoncé prepared 4-5 months for Coachella. She put in the brutal effort of preparing for a mega-concert once, but leveraged that work in other assets that would continue to pay off.
You may be thinking to yourself, “I’m really stretched thin. I don’t have time to plan out or repurpose my content to make the most of my investment.”
Beyoncé had a similar problem. She has twin infants. She had a 6-year-old daughter. She had an extremely busy megastar husband. She was getting pulled in all directions at once.
How did view the hill she needed to climb? Beyoncé knew this was not going to be easy, but she chose to push hard and put in the extra time upfront, so that her investment would pay dividends for the next 1-2 years without her needing to be in the spotlight all the time.
You see? Content repurposing is not a time suck. It is a marketing strategy for getting hours back in your day.
I think Beyoncé is great, but I’m not an avid fan. However, watching this concert film made me realize the brilliant marketing move that Beyoncé employs to do more using less of her time.
Just like you, Beyoncé’s time and attention are needed elsewhere.
Her lesson for content marketers, especially those with small marketing teams, is one that every growth-oriented company needs to take seriously.
This is a lesson in leveraging your time.
When it comes to marketing, all of the hours you put into your work are not equal.
Beyoncé shows us that one hour of work does not need to produce one unit of your desired outcome.
If she had thought of Coachella as a one-time concert, she would have generated 7-21 days of buzz and revenue from that one performance.
Instead, Beyoncé has a “mileage mindset.”
How about you?
If you work for a week to create a new content marketing campaign, it could generate leads for a week or two when you launch the campaign.
Here is how “Marketing Professor Beyoncé” would look at this.
She’ll say, “I’ll work hard for a week and a half, so I can generate leads for a year.”
When you create a marketing asset, you have done the hard thinking.
You have researched and developed your ideas.
You have organized them into production-ready content - whether it is a lead magnet (like a report, ebooks, white paper), a blog post, a video, a webinar, a presentation, a podcast, or many other content formats.
You may not know it, but you have done the hard and the most time-consuming part.
Beyoncé’s lesson is about putting in a little extra work to get the most from that investment.
The beauty of this model is that you are now working with leveraged hours.
To create a video series from that ebook, you don’t need to put in the same amount or type of hours that you did to plan and create the ebook.
The thinking is done. The content is done.
Now, channel your inner Beyoncé to take that thought leadership and turn in into multiple potent content assets.
First, you need to understand that Beyoncé did not mix the live album or edit the Homecoming concert film or even upload the finished product to Netflix.
She just did the part that only Beyoncé could do upfront.
So, I recommend outsourcing (or offloading to someone on your team) a large portion of the content repurposing. This part of the “mileage mindset” allows you to work on other strategic initiatives or get started on the next content campaign.
Let’s take this further so you can start putting this into action today.
Here are your steps to develop a “mileage mindset” to turn your content marketing strategy into an engine that will generate traffic, leads, and sales for years to come.
Some of them might be out of date or less relevant to your target audience. However, if it is still accurate and important to your audience, put it in the pile of assets to turn into additional formats.
Go into your next content campaign with a plan to turn the upfront thinking, planning, and content creation into as many formats as you can over the next few months (along with the corresponding mini-campaign launches).
Identify the content formats that make sense for your content and market. If you created an executive report for the buyers in your market, know that turning that content into blog posts or an infographic will serve a different purpose and drive different outcomes than using that information in a webinar, in-person lunch and learn, or presentation at an industry conference.
Content creation is only half your growth equation. Just like you did with the original content asset, you will need to get each new asset that you create in front of buyers. Common content distribution channels include emailing your list, digital ads, and partner communication.
This may feel like a lot of work, but as a leader in your business, you need to set the expectations that content is not fully published until it has been repurposed into 4-5 additional formats.
Everything from doing more with less to getting hours back to work on other priorities while leads are automatically generated starts with your “mileage mindset”.
Then, be clear about the content repurposing process and each person's role in the system.
Soon, just like Beyoncé, you’ll be able to squeeze every drop of marketing power from everything you do.
If you are under pressure to increase revenue, it can be an awful feeling.
Everything becomes very urgent and chaotic.
You are motivated, but if you don’t get tangible results in short order, your mindset and ability to take action can start to spiral.
Have you been in this position? Are you there now?
Do you feel like you have tried everything to increase sales, but you are only seeing slight growth?
Maybe you are banging your head against the wall because, even when you work your butt off to fix it, you keep ending up in the same place.
Today, I want to share a basic math equation that has a direct impact on your sales growth.
The problem is that is most sales managers ignore it.
They contort their team into messaging acrobats and implement complex sales training and technology before solving this fundamental element of lead management.
I don’t know for sure why people overlook this secret to unlocking revenue growth.
Maybe it is so simple that you assume you have already gotten the formula right.
Maybe getting it right is harder than you thought.
It goes like this…
If your sales reps can sell X every hour they spend selling, they can sell 2X if they spend two hours selling.
I know….mind blown.
When, in fact, this is 100% on you.
You are giving your sales team a clunky process and inefficient toolset, so reps are only spending 2-3 hours a day selling.
You are not alone. Most reputable research indicates that sales reps only spend 30% of their time on sales activities and the rest of their time is spent on sales admin and CRM tasks.
When was the last time you audited your sales reps’ days?
If they are getting your current results selling 3 hours per day, what would your revenue look like if they spent 4 or 5 hours per day on selling activities?
But, it is not as easy as cracking the whip to get them to spend more time selling.
Lack of efficiency in your sales process is caused by an imbalance in what I call the “Sales Efficiency Formula.”
>>> Easy Processes + Time-Saving Tools + Clear Data <<<
Combining the three components of this formula gets to the heart of how your sales team works their leads - from how leads are routed, how outreach and follow-ups are tracked, and which leads get converted to opportunities.
It also makes it easier to coach your sales reps and identify friction in your sales process sooner.
Giving your sellers a lead management process built on this formula might feel like a big undertaking at first.
However, it is the deep planning you do upfront that will deliver a simple and efficient process to your sales reps – that will serve them and your company’s growth goal for 5-10 years.
Choosing to do the hard thing gives you MORE control over your results and MORE levers to work with to get results in the future, than any of your other options.
In fact, your old instincts to change up your product or messaging OR fire your sales or marketing team will begin to feel like “hope and pray” strategies.
When you have a solid lead management foundation - built into your CRM and that your sales reps use and love – you’ll have a tremendous amount of confidence that the leads you are investing so much in to generate will turn into closed sales.
Want to get my secret sauce for turning your sales team into a hyper-efficient sales machine?
I recently led a masterclass on my method for turning more leads into paying customer (without firing your sales team and turning your company upside down).
I’m making this training available to people in my network for a short period of time.
If you want sign-up for the next web class, visit https://hssalessuccess.com/
Sit still. Did you feel that?
That is the traditional SEO ground shifting beneath your feet.
The way that your company gets ranked on the first page of Google or Bing has significantly changed in the past 2-4 years.
Are you seeing it?
I started to notice it about a year before I sold my company in 2017. We had relied on creating the best, most useful content in our industry to get found and generate leads (mainly via organic search traffic).
I saw firsthand how tactics and pillar SEO practices that worked a few years ago are no longer as effective.
In this episode, I’m going to reveal how small marketing teams can compete in this new SEO world.
The first thing you need to know is that SEO is different in different markets.
Your market exists on a spectrum.
On one end, you have low-density markets where there is little digital content being published.
On the other end, you have very crowded markets, like marketing, where thousands of new content assets, like blog posts, infographics, videos, and podcasts, are being published daily.
Let’s be clear about one thing. Regardless of where your business falls on this spectrum, you still need to produce the best, most compelling and helpful content in your market.
Next, identify where your industry falls on the spectrum. Are you in a crowded market or are few companies taking advantage of digital channels (this is very rare these days)?
If you are in a less dense market, you can still focus on the technical on-page aspects of SEO to get ranked. Marketers love this because it is very much within their control.
As you move across the spectrum, things get a little more complicated.
The technical side of SEO still matters, but it alone won’t get you on the first few SERPs (search engine results pages).
So, what is the major driver in SEO for crowded markets?
The answer is your relationships and reputation.
You need to get people to link to your articles from their blog posts and other digital publications. Getting people to link to your resource involves:
In my experience, most marketers hate this part. They like pulling the levers behind the scenes to drive traffic and bring in leads.
This key SEO skill resembles more of a sales role and that is not what most digital marketers signed up for.
Since you are most likely in an increasingly competitive market, I want to share three simple tips for improving your search engine ranking.
Warning: While three steps sound simple, following the advice below actually takes a lot of time, skills, and effort. You are not going to get it right the first few times you work this system.
Step 1) Create better, more comprehensive and helpful content than everyone else out there. This involves research into what is ranking today and what is being shared.
Step 2) Leverage your relationships, reputation, and quality of your content to get people to share and link to your blog.
Step 3) Take care of the basics, like your on-page SEO.
Like most digital marketing tactics, search engine marketing is changing.
One of my favorite ways for small marketing teams to leapfrog their competition is to recognize these shifts sooner and make adjustments to capture more traffic, leads, and market share.
Are you ready to jump head first into the HubSpot CRM or another new CRM?
Maybe, you already took the plunge and it is not living up to your expectations.
If you think a newer, more modern CRM will make your life easier and solve your sales team’s complaints, I’m here to tell you from first-hand experience that it is not that simple.
In this episode, I’m going to let you in on a secret that will get you to that promise land and reduce your frustration along the way.
The trend in CRM and sales tool marketing right now is “simplicity.”
Simplicity is supposed to solve all of your CRM adoption, sales velocity, and reporting problems.
You’ll see ads and emails touting “The world’s easiest CRM” or “Finally, a simple CRM.”
If you came from the world of ERP-type CRMs like Salesforce, Oracle, and Infor, this message is a breath of fresh air.
After all, “I love filling out 11 fields and clicking to 4 different screens to track a next step with my leads or set up a follow up call reminder” said NO SALES REP EVER.
The problem with the “simple CRM” message is that it is misleading.
It you buy a CRM based on ease of use, you end up mainly living with the default settings.
My clients are often afraid to look under the hood into everything their CRM can do for fear of complicating their sales process or going down a rabbit hole that frustrated their sales reps.
So, they stick with the out of the box settings.
Trusting that the CRM software provider’s defaults will work for your business means you neglect important parts of configuring your lead management process that make your sales team efficient and give your management team the data they need.
When you are seeking a simpler CRM, you have to understand two things. And neither of them have to do with features and functionality.
I call this the “Duality of Lead Management.”
You need to know that:
In the end, your CRM and daily task flow for sales reps need to be dead simple. Period.
Before your CRM can be simple for your sales reps, you need to work through the complexity that comes with overlaying of your sales processes on your CRM, sales automation opportunities, and creating your lead management framework.
When my team first starts taking clients through the HS Sales Success program, our process for setting up sales teams for success using the HubSpot CRM, I can see them get increasingly frustrated during the first workshop.
They were promised a simple process in their CRM that makes their sales team crazy-efficient and keeps their data clean so that managers can make quick, accurate decisions.
What they are experiencing is a deep dive into their lead sources, lead tracking data, and sales process. We lay out their headache-inducing current CRM process before mapping it their new lead management definitions and process.
It is a lot to take in.
You can hear the frustration in their voices as they worry about overwhelming the sales reps and grinding sales productivity to a halt.
Then, we reveal something that makes all of that stress disappear and puts their fears at ease.
We introduce them to the Duality of Lead Management.
We remind them that, as we create their new lead management process, we need to get our hands around all of the routes leads can take, people who handle leads, and different sales steps for different markets or products.
Only then can we run those inputs through our HS Sales Success system to produce an ultra-efficient workflow for their sales team.
It is not until we help them understand those two things - (1) the end result will be a process that your sales reps use and love AND (2) the complexity of the initial workshops is necessary to reach that goal - that my clients fully understand the importance of lead management and the process they need to go through to get it right.
You can immediately see the tension leave the meeting. Their energy level jumps and their buy-in to continuing the upfront lead management deep dive is stronger than ever.
So, the question of whether you should get a simple CRM or a more complicated sales system for company is not the right one.
Along those lines, I want you to see through the marketing messaging of the “simple CRM” platform. They don’t tell you the whole story.
The truth is that there is a time when your CRM should be simple for your sales team to use on a daily basis.
However, to get there, behind the scenes, you’ll need complex, business-specific lead management processes and automation.
Without it, your dream of a simple CRM experience that allows your sales reps to handle more leads, get into more sales conversations, and close more deals, will stay only a dream.
If you bought HubSpot’s CRM based on its brilliant ease-of-use, but you’re now dealing with the wild west of everyone using it differently and following their own process, I’d love to connect.
When most people think of HubSpot, they think INBOUND MARKETING.
When most people think INBOUND MARKETING, they think lead generation.
It goes something like this:
Produce original, educational, insightful content to:
This is how I grew my last company from 10 leads per month to 300 leads per month – through 100% inbound leads generated by HubSpot’s marketing platform.
This growth model works great if you are the type of business that has a big enough target market where people are searching for and sharing information about your industry, your product category, or the problems that you solve.
What should you do if your market is smaller? Is this model relevant if you have a finite pool of buyers and you know how they are?
In this case, companies often switch to an account-based marketing and sales approach (ABM).
The question then becomes can HubSpot’s successful “inbound” philosophy blend with ABM and can the HubSpot platform be used for ABM strategies.
If you are a B2B company that wants to feel confident that you are using the best marketing and sales platforms to grow your business AND you are committed to making ABM a major (if not the primary) component of your marketing strategy, you are going to want to pay close attention to the next few paragraphs.
The first thing you need to know is that HubSpot has three primary modules – marketing, sales, and service.
In a traditional inbound lead generation model, HubSpot’s marketing hub takes center stage. You are blogging to get found, building a following, and nurturing new leads down the funnel using marketing automation emails.
With account-based marketing, marketing features take a backseat initially to HubSpot’s sales features and CRM. ABM is all about getting into sales conversations, building one-on-one relationships, and turning those connections into sales and long-term customers.
The inbound approach, built on educating your market, plays well into this type of relationship-building. Even though supporting sales is the primary goal in ABM, salespeople who only talk about their products and only push for the sale will fall flat. Buyers are busy and they still need a reason to give you their attention and time. Helpful, unique content gives target contacts that reason.
Luckily, HubSpot’s sales and marketing toolsets contain almost everything you need to support an ABM strategy. However, it is paramount that you configure your HubSpot lead management setup to maximize sales rep efficiency, maintain clean data, and provide transparency about what is working and what is not.
The following framework outlines how to run your ABM strategy on HubSpot.
The role of marketers and HubSpot in account-based marketing.
Run branded digital ads to specific roles at your target accounts (companies). These ads will lead to landing pages with top-of-the-funnel content offers provided by your company. Once they are on your list, you can send email marketing campaigns with educational resources and relevant offers to bring them down the funnel.
Arm your sales team with valuable information that will get the attention of your target contacts, stay top of mind, and bring people down your funnel. This will include tools, videos, white papers, assessments, and more. Marketers will also prepare email templates, snippets, documents, and automated sequences in HubSpot’s sales accelerator toolset that sales can use to provide personal touches at scale during various points in the selling process.
Once you are on a target account’s radar, they will visit your website, social profiles, other searchable information about your company to conduct their own evaluation. Leverage your company’s content and marketing offers to build credibility with these leads and bring them down your marketing funnel by offering ungated blog content, as well as relevant resources that they can download via landing page.
SEO is not out of the picture with account-based marketing. Industries that lean toward an ABM sales approach are often ripe for SEO domination since fewer people are producing quality ungated content consistently. While ABM is your primary strategy, since creating SEO-friendly content takes time to see results, using HubSpot’s SEO tools to publish topic clusters in the background will pay dividends down the road. Your content will saturate the research your leads are doing on you. Before you know it, you will be known as one of the main players in your industry (regardless of your size) because every time someone search for something related to your business, your industry, or the problems you solve, your company’s information will appear.
You don’t need to rely on HubSpot alone. Leverage HubSpot’s ABM integration for targeted ads and the augmentation of account information. With most HubSpot’s Connect partners, you will be able to use the information in your HubSpot CRM to target accounts more accurately, as well as pump lead intelligence back into HubSpot.
You’ll notice that this framework is for marketers, not salespeople. These are the ways that marketers will use HubSpot to support your sales team during your ABM campaigns.
When you implement your ABM strategy in HubSpot, your sales team will be at the center of your outreach and relationship-building efforts. For them to be successful and be able to handle 10-20X more contacts that they work today, sales reps need:
Let’s boil it down for you so that you can take action today. Your takeaways from this advice include:
HubSpot works well with account-based marketing strategies. However, you need to turn the traditional inbound lead generation model on its head.
Start with setting your sales team up for success with solid lead management processes in your HubSpot CRM and sales tools. Taking on HubSpot’s Sales and Marketing platforms at the same time can be a lot to swallow. If you are budget sensitive, you can start with HubSpot’s Marketing Starter package and layer in advanced marketing automation later with an upgrade to Marketing Professional.
Marketers play a significant role in ABM strategies – from warming up the audience so they pick up the phone when a sale rep calls them by providing educational content and product marketing material to sales reps at every point in the relationship-building process.
In business, we are trained to constantly learn. We are told that we are at a disadvantage if we are not always seeking ideas, advice, and tips.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you can actually grow your business faster if you turn that wisdom on its head…especially if you are part of a small marketing team.
In this episode of the Small Marketing Team podcast, I’m going to share a powerful productivity secret used by the world’s top marketers.
It might make you uncomfortable. It might feel scary at first, but I’ll walk you through the three hacks for switching your mindset to getting better sales and marketing results by learning less.
Tune in to learn how consuming less information and focusing on certain types of learning will catapult your business like nothing else.
I have two questions for you…
I recently lead a session for the HubSpot User Group in my hometown of Phoenix on How to Create A Chatbot In HubSpot That Turns Website Visitors Into Sales Conversations In Your Sleep.
During the two-hour seminar, I facilitated a discussion about both how conversational marketing is different than other types of inbound marketing and how to develop an on-site lead generation strategy using chatbots.
In this episode of the Small Marketing Teams podcast, I walk you through these same tips that I gave the HubSpot User Group. You’ll learn how to build a chatbot that helps you impact every phase of the marketing and sales process.
This step is woven into the fabric of how companies move forward with new marketing strategies, projects, and tools. This gate can also be where good ideas go to die.
Has the following situation ever happened to you?
You have the right plan and the ability to execute for your company, but the executive team, CEO, or your direct supervisor gives you the thumbs down.
It could be your social media strategy, a new marketing platform, changes to your sales process, or any number of new ideas.
Even when you are 100% confident this approach will have a big impact on your business’s growth, you still can’t get people to sign off on moving forward.
Then, since you believe in your ideas, you reexamine their objections, change your business case, and they still put the brakes on your plan.
Thousands of small marketing teams are frustrated by this every day. You start wondering…
The truth is that they don’t dislike or disagree with your ideas at all.
So, what is going on here?
In growing a company with a small marketing team and working every day to help small marketing and sales teams over the past 2 years, I have become a student of what holds companies back and the systems and mindsets you need to overcome those hurdles.
In this episode of the Small Marketing Teams podcast, I explain why the psychology of trust and risk are the real culprits and how you can overcome these challenges to get buy-in for your marketing strategies.
The conversation around how to get people to open, click, and convert on marketing and sales emails has been intense for almost two decades.
Some people swear by short emails. Others see success from emailing lengthy stories that build trust and relationships. You can also find studies that tout both approaches.
So, what are small marketing teams supposed to do?
Let's start by acknowledging two things...
The truth is that it depends on many factors, such as:
In the latest episode of the Small Marketing Teams podcast, I break down two long emails of similar length to prove that this discussion should not just be able wordcount.
I give your small marketing team a lens in which to view your email marketing strategy that highlights when to use short emails, medium-length emails, and long-form email copy.
There is an organization near Phoenix called Feed My Starving Children. They package up meals and send them to starving and malnourished children in places all over the world.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a Feed My Starving Children event at a local church.
There were 40 tables. There were 10 to 20 people at each table. Together, we packed 34,000 meals for these kids in 90 minutes. That’s enough to feed 93 kids for an entire year.
That was one of three sessions planned for Friday night and Saturday morning. The goal was to pack over 100,000 meals between the three sessions.
What can small marketing teams, who are always trying to do more with less, learn from this type of system?
This experience with Feed My Starving Children gave me insight into how small marketing teams, like you, can get more done with limited resources and take on and beat companies four, five, six times your size.
In this episode of the Small Marketing Team podcast, I walk through 5 micro-system that you can begin implementing this week to help you move from slow linear processes to a well-oiled machine.
I don't get paid to set up basic marketing and sales automation. If that is what you are looking for, then I don't want your money.
In fact, you shouldn't pay anyone to set up basic workflows.
You or a member of your team should take an enter-level class from HubSpot or your marketing platform so that you can do it yourself.
It is that simple.
However, here is the thing that most people get wrong in how they view marketing and sales automation...
It takes a novice to set up basic and some mid-level business automation.
It takes a ninja to set up automation that takes into account all of your existing data objects, processes, and automation flows.
Getting expert help with marketing and sales automation is not about knowing the tools to set up a workflow.
It is about working with someone who can understand how automation will, won't, and can impact everything else you have done in your marketing platform and CRM.
Why, when I introduce myself to someone in a networking situation, do I try to not to use the term “marketing?”
Marketing has a bad reputation.
People don’t trust marketer. Marketing conjures feelings of manipulation.
Despite the rise of helpful, educational, valuable content marketing, marketing still has a credibility problem.
While marketing automation software can revolutionize the way your business gets found, generates leads, and brings those leads down the funnel, it is often met with skepticism.
While marketers know the value of marketing automation, I’m afraid that getting buy-in is always going to be an uphill battle.
Ready for the good news?
Inside many marketing automation platforms lies a multi-million dollar secret that many marketers and most executives don’t know about.
It has been way too long since I published a podcast episode for you. That ends today! I'm back and excited to bring you fresh tips for growing your business - even if you are not a well-funded start-up or household name brand.
Over the past year, I dug deep into how marketing is changing. If you are experimenting with these shifts, then you will be well ahead of most companies - big and small - that ignore them.
In this episode, I give you six areas to focus on in 2019 that will help you make the most of these trends in how people find and buy from companies like yours.