By Sramana Mitra and guest author Sudhindra Chada
Sramana: What happens after you have bucketed the leads and sorted them? What is the next step?
Mark: The sales process kicks in. We have a six-step sales methodology. The first step is research. I will tell you the six steps and then elaborate on what they are: Research, Prospect, Connect, Qualified, Demo, and Close.
Mark: In the Research step, because our leads are coming to us and filtered, when you compare us to a sales 1.0 environment, I feel like we are already three or four steps down a typical sales process. Our leads are relatively qualified; they have a reason why they came to us. We spent a decent amount of time researching our leads. Our reps will spend 15 minutes on average researching the lead before they place that first phone call. They will do tasks like review the lead intelligence that the HubSpot software captured, read through the website, and our software automatically captures whether the person has a LinkedIn or a Twitter profile and attaches that to the lead. So our sales team will go out on social media and learn about our prospects’ background, the school they went to, who they know, what they have been saying on Twitter, all these things that are extremely valuable during the sales process. They are just preparing for the sales process.
The second step of prospecting is the act of following up on voicemail or e-mail to connect. So, what do you say in that voice mail, what do you say in that e-mail, how frequently do you call them? What do you say in the second message and the third message? When do you give up? All of those types of things are really our process of prospecting. We have a lot of that down to a science; if a lead comes to us from this channel, here is the sequence of e-mails you want to send them and this is how frequently you want to send them.
Mark: The third step is Connect. What do you say in that first five or 10 seconds to get that one person not hang up the phone and to spend more time with you?
Sramana: Right, pain extraction questions.
Mark: Exactly. How do you get them to take that next meeting? We take all the education and value-added approach that we take to marketing, we apply to our sales process as well. Every single one of my salespeople spends the first month not on the phone, but building their own website, they build their own blog, and they have hundreds of subscribers to that blog, they are ranked on Google for hundreds of words, have active Twitter accounts.
They do all this before they sell it. My goal is to have every single one of my reps – we have 60 salespeople, every single one of them – I want our customers to be begging them to come and work for them as an Internet marketing director, right? And a lot of times we are able to pull that off. So, when they first get that connect, they are not going to say, “Hey, Sramana, this is Mark from HubSpot, would you like to schedule a meeting with us? We help companies like you.” They are going to say, “Hey, Sramana, you found us through our webinar on using social media to generate more leads, what specific questions did you have?” And most of the time, they ask the question and 99% of the time our salesperson answers it; for example, the salesperson knows the prospect was hired as a marketing consultant and the prospect is impressed. They realize that they are not dealing with a salesperson who has memorized a price book. They are dealing with someone who can actually help them with their business and their goals, and they start out asking more questions.
Sramana: You are doing consultative selling at the telemarketing or telesales level, basically.
Mark: Exactly, they are asking more questions, the salesperson is answering them, and eventually the sales person knows that Sramana it seems like what you are trying to do, we know a lot about and we have had a lot success helping companies like this achieve your goals. And we tell people, What I can do is spend some more time on your website tonight and prepare a 30-minute presentation tomorrow on how you can tweak your social media, your website, your SEO, and your blogging strategy in order to get more leads and more sales from your website, would you be interested in that assessment? And that puts us into the qualified stage.
Sramana: This begs the question, what is the profile of the 60 people who are doing this kind of consultative selling on the phone for you? What are you looking for in that profile? What have you learned of what do you need in this kind of people?
Mark: We took an MIT approach to that as well. I have probably interviewed a thousand reps over the four years; I’ve done a lot of interviews on that team. About halfway through that process we ran a similar regression analysis. We grade our candidates at every stage of the interview process on at least a dozen criteria, and it is more than in the past. We ran a regression analysis of those criteria against performance after the person was hire. I think there were four items we found to be highly correlated with success. The first one is pretty obvious I think, and you would find this in almost all environments – prior success. If you are talking to a salesperson, and, they ranked in the top 5% of their class or something like that, they are highly likely to come in and be successful here as well.
Number two was their intelligence and ability to learn complex concepts quickly. This space is changing all the time, and very few people know about this space coming into the job. So their ability to come in and learn this at a very deep level, so they can go back and explain it to folks who have varied levels of sophistication, is critical to success.