Tag Archives: HubSpot

Sorry, but HubSpot is not “the” Answer

miracle_cure_pillAs much as I love HubSpot, it is not a miracle cure. While this may sound blasphemous coming from someone who frequently preaches the wonders of HubSpot in marketing workshops and speaking engagements, I’ve come to realize that HubSpot sounds so cool, and so useful, and so amazing that it’s easy to believe implementing HubSpot will transform your marketing.

Alas, a successful implementation of HubSpot (one that brings you customers either directly, or as leads) takes a lot of groundwork. And I’ll bet you already know that, just as you know that it takes more than an weight-loss pill to shed pounds. Yet weight loss pills continue to fly off the shelves…

Likewise, even the savviest of marketers are susceptible to the enticing siren song of HubSpot. It’s an alluring proposition – with one big caveat: If your marketing model already works great, then yes, it’s reasonable to expect HubSpot to be additive and improve your results. On the other hand, if results aren’t where you want and you (essentially) move your existing marketing model into HubSpot, chances are you’ll be disappointed.

If you’re looking to improve sales and marketing (and who isn’t?!) the greatest value of HubSpot is likely as a “good excuse” to re-evaluate your approach. All the automation and other goodies HubSpot provides work their magic best once you are crystal clear about the big picture, and where HubSpot fits in.

Ideally, before implementing new marketing systems (HubSpot or anything else), you’ll establish these two big picture items:

  1. What are the overall strategic goals of the company, and what are the roles of marketing and sales in supporting those goals? What are the measurable goals you need to hit this year and each quarter to support those goals?
  2. Who is your customer, and how can you replicate the sales process to recruit more, similar customers? What can you do to reach more like-minded people and move them through a process – your online sales engine™ – that guides them to choose you and creates ease in your sales process?

Having watched hundreds of companies go through this process for nearly 20 years now, let me reassure you that is is truly ok if you look at those two items and realize there’s some work to do. It’s the rare company that has all those ducks already in a row – that’s often why marketing and sales are working so hard to gain traction.  If all of these big pictures items were already in place, you likely wouldn’t be reading this article!

Tackling BOTH of these big picture items takes a big commitment, and is one that frankly few companies are deeply committed to.  For those who are, truly amazing things can happen.  If that kind of  work doesn’t sound daunting to you, and you’re willing to explore that journey, here are a couple of places to start:

  1. Creating measurable goals that marketing and sales can support starts with a strong vision of the company’s future. With that in place, you can align the dots to reach the end goal. The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is the simplest, most clear way of creating and implementing that framework I’ve personally experienced.
  2. Understanding your customer is more complex than it seems. It’s easy to get caught up in what who we THINK the customer is and what they want and what gets them to buy. Steve Blank has some great thoughts on Customer Discovery, and another helpful resource I’ve recently come across is the Buyer Persona Institute. They offer a useful blog and downloadable ebooks free!

Happy to help if you run into any questions along the way. Good luck!

Automating Sales by Nurturing Prospects with HubSpot

hubspot-logoThere are two tools I’m often recommending for blogs – WordPress and HubSpot. I recommend HubSpot in place of WordPress, or in addition to it, if you plan to automate sales by using a lead nurturing system.

Why would I want to create a system for nurturing prospects (aka leads), you ask? Let’s explore a few different angles in Q&A format.

Q: What do you mean by nurturing leads?
A: Most often, I am assisting companies with long sales cycles that typically close offline. Usually there is a lot of “spade work” involved in that type of sales process, and rarely are there enough people or time for the education and follow up desired – especially if the business is intending to scale. A lead nurturing system fills in the gaps, while adding automation and consistency to the sales process. As with all other aspects of online marketing, a system also allows for experimentation, measurement and improvement of the sales process.

Q: Our sales process is so personal / different every time — how could I possibly automate it?
A: Sales automation benefits from a deep understanding of who your customers are, and why they buy. Quite commonly, businesses are so busy growing and adapting that they don’t have the opportunity to to stop and reflect on exactly how their products and services fit in the marketplace. This is where the process of Customer Discovery comes in, ala Steve Blank. That’s the subject for a different blog post, though generally speaking you can think of Customer Discovery as a process designed to find the most easily replicable sales and understand what primary factors went into a prospects decision to buy. The automation process then capitalizes on these learnings.

Q: How do I automate the sales process?
A: Understanding who your prospects are allows you to create targeted “workflows” (i.e. a series of communications) for each type of prospect. Lets say you are recruiting students to a college. In that case, you have several different types of audiences: students, parents, and guidance counselors to name a few. And as you can imagine, the primary messages each of those audiences wants to hear are quite different. While that may seem obvious, few businesses in any industry are taking full advantage of tools like HubSpot to carefully craft online marketing campaigns deeply targeted to each audience – leaving room for companies who do to gain competitive advantage.

Q: What’s a workflow?
A: A workflow in HubSpot is a simply a series of emails that you schedule to be delivered over a period of time. The emails are designed to provide the information your prospects need as best as you can anticipate them, based on your Customer Discovery research. Prospects “enter” a workflow by “triggering” criteria you set, such as filling out a contact form. The trick is getting that contact form filled out in the first place. The good news is, many companies aren’t doing this yet, leaving plenty of opportunity for you.

For example:
Lets pretend I’m a student searching for the “best business degree in the midwest” on Google. (You can follow along by trying the same search and see what happens.) Personally, I’m besieged by ads to “speak to an enrollment coach now!” “request info!” “learn more!” and “enroll now!” However, the search I made was very early in the sales process (aka “Top of Funnel”), and I am not even close to being ready to be coached through enrollment, or to enroll now. (Seems kind of obvious when you look at it with a different lens, doesn’t it?) What I’m trying to do is compare different colleges, and not a single ad responded with “download a comparison of the best business degrees”. So I’ll wind up clicking on the US News Rankings link instead, and every one of those advertisers just lost the opportunity to start a conversation with me.

How could that example have ended differently?
1) Reflect the search query in your ad, such as “compare the best business degrees in the midwest”. 2) Create a custom page on your website (a landing page) that offers the comparison. 3) Offer something of value. Perhaps your custom page has an interactive tool. Perhaps you offer a downloadable guide (with your branding on it, of course.) By offering something of value, you create an opportunity to collect an email. 4) Once you have an email, you can “get to know each other” over time using a carefully crafted workflow. (HubSpot is smart enough to ask different profile questions every time a prospect returns to your site, building a profile over time – the subject for yet another future blog post!) 5) Answer the call when the prospect calls you, ready to take the next step.

In the end, the goal of sales automation with HubSpot is to make your phone ring. When your prospects already “know” you by the time they call, it will be different than the calls you’re receiving now. You’ll be answering late stage questions (at the “Bottom of the Funnel”) about how to engage your company, or how to buy Product X, because the prospect is already educated and ready to buy.

Here’s hoping this helps you get your phone ringing!