Recently, I had the opportunity to take HubSpot’s Pipeline Generation Bootcamp to learn some tools of the trade to assist me in my position as a sales associate for Raka, a platinum HubSpot agency partner in (sometimes) sunny Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I expected to get quite a bit out of the course, but I still was surprised at just how much I ended up learning about inbound sales and the best methods to reach prospects.
After spending time with Dan Tyre and the team at HubSpot, here are my seven main takeaways from the bootcamp.
Inbound sales lessons
1. You’re always selling to a human.
As a HubSpot Partner, we sell our digital marketing services to businesses who need them to grow and thrive, so essentially we’re a B2B (business to business) company. With that said, businesses are made up of people, so we’re really an H2H (human to human) company. If we can’t sell our services to the humans who represent the company, we’re not going to get any sales. That means you can’t go in with a standard, robotic approach and a checklist you recite, because the human on the other end of the line and/or screen isn’t going to connect with that.
2. Every interaction requires a personalized touch.
Once you understand number one, the next thing is to not only research the business you’re trying to sell to, but to also do some research on the people you’ll be talking to or meeting with. Check out their LinkedIn profile. What’s their current position, previous position, what groups do they follow, what organizations do they volunteer for? Essentially, you want to see what buyer persona they fit and plan your conversation accordingly. The more you know, the more you can converse with them on a personal level to develop a rapport that will make getting their business that much easier. Just don’t make it creepy!
3. Always be helpful.
When you visit a potential client, you have to remember it’s not all about you, or all about the agency you represent. It’s really all about them. What do they need? How can you help them? What products and services do you think they need, based on research that they may not have even thought of? And even if there’s a service they need that’s outside your agency’s realm of services, suggest another business or freelancer who can help them with that. In the end, it will work in your favor to be genuinely helpful, and leave the selling until after you’ve established a need.
4. Cold calls are out, warm calls are in.
Nobody likes to be cold-called, as every single one of us can attest. So what’s a sales guy like me to do? Well, because of all the research you’ve done to ensure your communication is personalized, you now know more about this person than you would if you were going in blind through your automatic dialer, regurgitating a pitch to someone you know nothing about. Your first call can be a real human interaction, even if you both understand there’s the specter of sales hanging over it. Say you saw on their LinkedIn they enjoy hang gliding. Boom, there’s your opening line. “Hello Mr. Prospect. I saw on your LinkedIn you’re into hang gliding? Before we get into why I’m calling, I’d really like you to tell me more about that.” The call is already warmed up because of your pre-call research, and because you’re actually engaging with a topic they’re interested in. Remember, people LOVE talking about themselves.
Try to initiate some interest by doing some lead generation through your website. Reach out to people who have downloaded one of your whitepapers, subscribed to your blog, filled out the contact form. Clearly, there is some sort of interest there, so getting a follow-up call from a company they are already familiar with will be no surprise. In fact, they might even welcome it.
5. The best opening is making them laugh
There’s a 1949 film starring Milton Berle called Always Leave Them Laughing. It’s about a guy who figures out making it as a comic is tough and as his career fizzles, he searches desperately for that edge that will make him great. Finally, he stops going out for his comic material and concentrates on his own stuff, gambling on his ability to not only act out the laughs but to think them up, too.
Where am I going with this? As a salesman, it’s important to Always Start Them Laughing. And don’t come in there with corny jokes, a memorized script, or a fake laugh that is obvious to anyone who knows they’re mildly funny at best. Just like Milton Berle, be original. If humor isn’t really your thing, find a few phrases and try them out with friends and see what they think. You don’t need to go for the big belly laugh, just making them chuckle will go a long way toward breaking the ice and keeping the conversation going.
6. Never make a call without standing up and smiling.
It may sound silly, but it works. If you’re standing and smiling, you’re more energetic and upbeat, so when you make that call, it will come across on the other side. In fact, it’s likely to put them in a more upbeat mood, too. If you want to take it a step further, put the phone on speaker and stand there with your hands on your hips like a superhero. Feel powerful? Great! Feel stupid? OK, then don’t do that last bit.
7. Video emails are taking over.
We’ve learned video emails are the next best thing in making a sale if you can’t be live on a call or in person. It allows the person you’re reaching out to see the person speaking with them, listen to their voice, and see them as a human, rather than an annoyance. However, you might want to just sit at your desk and smile for this and forget the superhero pose from number six. That might be creepy.
To summarize, taking this course really helped me become more aware of what really matters when approaching a potential client. I’m looking forward to putting these skills to work in the coming weeks and months. Wish me luck, and be sure to reach out to the Raka team if you’re looking for guidance on inbound sales and using the HubSpot Sales platform!