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Inbound Sales: The LIONS Approach

Dustin Brackett
November 21, 2020

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We have been a HubSpot Partner Agency for about six years now, and it's been one heck of a whirlwind. When we started with HubSpot, we really didn't think that inbound was as intensive of an undertaking as it would prove to be. See, we were already performing and executing on all kinds of inbound marketing tactics - website design, search engine optimization, blogging, social media, email marketing, landing pages and diving deep into analytics. So, this inbound thing was just a nice way of wrapping it all up together, right? Eh...not exactly.

Over these past six years, we've learned that it's so much more than just putting a label on using all of these tactics, but maybe most importantly, we've learned that there is actually another step - inbound sales. 

Marketing agencies have always had one real goal - to prove their worth to their clients. As much as any marketing agency wants to tell you that their goal is sales, it's probably not. That isn't how the industry was formed. The goal of each marketing agency is to deliver on their tactics. If it's a traditional agency, they're likely focused on getting views on their client's TV ads, coupons turned in from a print ad, or getting people to notice that billboard just off the highway. For digital marketing agencies, their goal is to send traffic to your website from an SEO campaign, to build you a beautiful website, or to get you a bunch of likes on Facebook. While sales can absolutely result from these tactics and success from executing on these tactics, a second thought isn't given to the question, "what's next?".

That's the fundamental problem with the relationship between marketing and sales. Marketing and sales have always been at odds, but in today's consumer-driven world, we have to break out of that. And at HIVE, that's exactly what we're trying to do.

We've been given a very special opportunity to learn from two of the best inbound sales minds in the world - Dan Tyre and David Weinhaus - through two different coaching programs in an attempt to better understand, communicate, and close the gap between marketing and sales.

200w_d.gifFirst, we were invited to participate in a group called Project LION. We were part of the second group of LIONS ever and first in North America. Project LION was a group of five CEOs and one sales manager from inbound marketing agencies all across the United States that came together to not only help our agencies grow through refined inbound sales tactics, but to also help learn how we can help our clients bridge the gap between marketing and sales. Not only were we able to open up, learn from, and teach each other, but we got to learn from one of the most outrageous, eccentric, and fascinating members of the HubSpot team, Dan Tyre (@dantyre). Through this training, we worked on learning to identify and connect with high quality prospects.

After "graduation" from Project LION, we were invited to join a HubSpot Sales Bootcamp (an extension of Project LION) this time taught by the face of HubSpot training, David Weinhaus (@davidweinhaus).

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This training, with ten CEOs and sales executives at inbound agencies across the US, was focused on the WHY, WHAT, and HOW of inbound sales. It covered topics from developing a killer sales story and finding gaps in your prospects plans to goal setting and timing. In all industries, business owners and managers are failing to efficiently close business that is right in front of them, wasting time on poor fits for their business, and taking on clients and projects that actually cost the business money. Sound familiar? It probably does. The truth is, it sounded all too familiar to all of the CEOs and agency owners in this bootcamp! 

Unlike 99% of marketing agencies out there today (and 100% of agencies out there 5+ years ago), we wanted to make a shift. We wanted to understand the relationship between marketing and sales, and even position them to enable and enhance one another. See, the end goal for any business is not traffic to their website, Facebook likes, retweets, email opens, or billboard views. The end goal is SALES! So no matter how amazing your search engine optimization campaign (or any other campaign) is, if you don't have a clear conversion path, qualify your leads, nurture them, and have a plan to move your leads through your pipeline to eventually become customers, you might as well just play the Powerball - you've got about the same odds of hitting it big. ;)

So what information did we learn through these two trainings to help you? 

Climb the ladder

Whether it's through a phone conversation, or even built out in a lead nurturing workflow, you need to dive deeper with the important questions to your prospects. Instead of just learning the basics (ex. what are your goals for this upcoming year), dive deeper (ex. how much are you looking to grow over last year?), and then deeper again to find meaning (ex. why is it important for you to double your business this year?). If you can dive deeper and get to that third level of your question, no matter what the topic or what industry you're in, you'll much more easily identify good fits for your business and get a much better understanding of your prospect.

Be a 5 year old

Why? Why? Why? Why? But why?  If you've got children, or have spent five minutes with a preschooler you know this routine. At a very young age, we're all naturally curious and can easily get to that third level that we talked about a second ago just by asking why. Whether you sell car washes or legal services getting to that third level and uncovering the meaning of your prospects goals is best done by thinking like that five year old - just keep asking why!

Be OK with walking away

Our HubSpot CAM (channel account manager), Jacob (@jacobin617), recently said something that stuck with me, ""No" is the second best answer you can get in sales!". While it may be a very glass-half-full view of rejection, it also fit in really well with what we learned through Project LION and the Bootcamp. Not every customer is going to be a good fit for your business. They can't be. There are always going to be customers, businesses, or industries that are better fits for what your business does than others. Chasing bad fits, or prospects that just aren't interested but keep stringing you along is a great way to waste time, money, and lose out on better fits that you could have been working on. 

Qualify early and often

It's ALWAYS better to learn early that a customer is a bad fit, doesn't have budget, or doesn't have a real pain that needs to be fixed. Throughout the process of dealing with a lead, it's important to uncover budget, authority, need, timing, goals, plans, and challenges to help you determine if this lead could be more or if it's time to move on. Effectively exploring their situation will help you better use your time and close more deals.

So, while we are an inbound marketing agency, we are really focused on helping ourselves and our clients understand the alignment of marketing and sales enablement to not only deliver on the tactics that we employ, but to help it lead to what is actually important - sales!

Want to learn more or start developing your own strategy to not only gain visibility, but to start increasing your top and bottom lines? Chat with one of our Inbound Marketing Specialists today and learn about our GrowthPlan - a fully customized and executable strategy for your business.

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