By Sramana Mitra and guest author Sudhindra Chada
Sramana: The process of transactional selling, selling yellow pages memberships or club memberships is a very different kind of selling from the consultative selling you are talking about. It is much, much harder to find people who can do [consultative selling] on the phone. I have gone through this process myself in some of the companies that I have worked with, and that is why I asked you how you find people.
Mark: Exactly, that inspiration element is key, especially in our environment where we don’t find people who we call for the first time and they are like, “You know, I had budgeted for an inbound marketing software package this year and I was looking around.” No one has budgeted for this, no one is looking for this, and people don’t know it exists. They have heard of the context we are talking about, but we are basically convincing someone over the phone to transform the way they run their business, and that is hard to do. So that inspiration element is very important for us. Then the final piece [for the salesperson] is a level of technical aptitude. We can’t show prospects a 5-slide PowerPoint deck on how we great we are, and [expect] they will buy. We need to show them a demonstration of the product on their website, with their business. Sometimes, we even set it up a bit before they buy to show them exactly how it works. And if these salespeople are a little bit technical, they are more successful in helping folks contextualize how HubSpot will work in their business.
Sramana: In that process, you said your salespeople are asking for permission to do a 30-minute presentation on how to impact the inbound marketing process of the prospect, right? So your salespeople are investing a certain amount of money and time in preparing this additional level of personalized presentation, and that happens in step 5 of your sales process?
Mark: It’s actually step 4, the Qualify round. Step 3 was Connect. Some of it happens at the Connect level; there is preparation and research, there, too. I would have looked at some things that I would give you some tips on. Sometimes if we get a quote response in that Connect step, we might say, “Sramana, I know you are short on time, but I am looking at your website right now and I have some tips if you have a pen available.” We are making the investment from the get-go, but the larger, broader investment happens after Connect. I’ll tell people, “I am happy to spend some more time on your website and do a free assessment for you tomorrow.” At that point we are entering the Qualify round.
Sramana: That is exactly where I was going. My question is, Where are you starting in the top of the funnel, and how much of the lead list have you filtered down when you come to this much higher-touch part, step 4?
Mark: How much is filtered down?
Sramana: What percentage of the leads you started with at the top of the funnel reach step 4?
Mark: Let me think for a second. From the 25,000 at the top, 40% or so get into the first workable lead funnel. The challenge is that 40% of the 25,000 new leads are in the workable lead funnel, but you also have leads that you were working before that we didn’t connect with; they also get in. And you also have leads that were considered workable but because they were nurtured, they became unqualified because they requested a demo or entered a trial, and they are entered as well. So, it is a little difficult to measure it apples to apples. I would say that of the workable leads that entered at the top, roughly a quarter will get into the Qualify round.
Sramana: So by the time you start with this much higher-touch process, you have 25% of the leads already qualified. You apply this process to 25% of the leads.
Mark: Yes, but remember that is challenging to measure because those qualified opportunities are not coming just from the new leads that came into the funnel that month.
Sramana: I understand; let me rephrase the question: In any particular month, your 60 salespeople are working on how many step 4 leads?
Mark: An individual salesperson would be working on between 30 and 40 of the Qualify assessments.
Sramana: That is what I was trying to understand. Then what happens in step 5? What’s the next natural step?
Mark: Step 4, the Qualify round, is when we are presenting that assessment, and through that process we also obviously gather more information from the prospect that wasn’t publicly available so that we can further assist them. For example, the amount of traffic or lead conversions they are getting are not publicly available, but for us to do a proper diagnosis, they are more than happy to share this information with us, and we get a sense of how much we can actually help them.
So, that is step 4, the Qualify round. And after step 4, we can predict whether they are a qualified buyer. At step 5, Demo, we have set up HubSpot on their website. We can set up more than half of HubSpot without any assistance. I can set up more than half of your HubSpot on your blog right now, without any assistance from you.