It was Michele, Aimee and Mandy’s turn to attend HubSpot’s INBOUND conference this year in Boston. Each year we send part of our team while the rest hold down the fort at the office. While every member has been through HubSpot’s extensive training and certification, the conference offers the chance to interact with thousands of HubSpot agency partners and customers and to hear their experience with inbound marketing. Here’s what we learned:
The sales model has changed.
In “How to transform your sales ecosystem into an inbound sales powerhouse,” Adam Steinhardt compares today’s sales model to the disruption Uber has caused for the taxi cab industry. Today’s buyer wants to educate themselves, to be assisted in their search for a solution, not to be sold. Steinhardt suggests:
- Think like the customer. Producing educational content that meets their needs demands empathy and transparency.
- Build your brand from the inside out, inspiring employees to love and represent your company’s brand.
- Get personal and segment your customer list so you’re providing content that’s industry and application specific.
- Define your customers’ shopping lifecycle stages to ensure that you’re providing the right content at the right time.
- Treat marketing automation as a craft, not a sledgehammer. Automation is never a substitute for picking up the phone.
- Get the IT department out of the middle between sales and marketing. HubSpot’s CRM is a great first step in truly aligning sales and marketing.
See our recent presentation on effective sales today.
The challenges are real—and common.
At the HubSpot customer roundtable, we heard these concerns over and over from companies struggling to realize ROI on HubSpot inbound marketing:
- Database quality. From building an accurate, clean list to segmenting your database between customers vs. prospects, inbound vs. outbound or offline contacts, this remains a barrier to effective HubSpot implementation and use. One customer explained that “HubSpot smart lists make this pretty easy.”
- Qualifying leads. As their number of inbound leads grows, companies find they need to shift priority from quantity to quality. They are often forced to rethink how they define sales territories and lead follow-up. At least initially, we often have a single point person qualify and route the leads, then later split lists as we set up more forms by point of interest, industry or application.
- Producing quality content. That is, getting it all done. Many business leaders are surprised by the level of ongoing work required to achieve results from inbound marketing. Some assign a number of blogs to each subject matter expert on top of their regular responsibilities. Others, especially in highly technical industries, are disappointed by the inability of their marketing department or outsourced marketing team to “get” what they do. We’ve found that a quick interview technique typically works well for content development, as our team includes engineers who write.
Not all HubSpot partners are alike—but too many are.
In the partner track, speakers emphasized that too many HubSpot agency partners:
- Treat it like a franchise—sell HubSpot, get a site up, and let their customers figure it out. They don’t educate customers on the tactics and work required to achieve ROI, or stick with them long enough to achieve it.
- Think it’s a magic bullet. HubSpot is just one tool in the toolbox. The real cornerstone is marketing strategy.
- Produce “meh” content. Great content forces you to agree or disagree. It educates and engages the prospect.
The speakers encouraged prospects to look for HubSpot partners with real industry expertise, who can suggest strategies that will work best for your business.
If you’re interested in how inbound marketing may fit in your strategy, or want to improve your ROI from HubSpot, contact us. Or download our HubSpot ROI Checklist for some quick tips.
Watch for part 2 on marketing tactics learned at INBOUND 2016.