This week on Inbound After Hours we have a special guest, Diarmuid Walsh, from HubSpot, and a special two-part episode.

In this two part episode, we discussed why and how sales and marketing must be aligned for the best results.

Let us know what the successes (and challanges) you have had in aligning sales and marketing in the comments below.

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In this episode we will discuss:

  • Why sales and marketing must be aligned for maximum success
  • How much of the buyer experience marketing should control
  • Tips for marketers approaching sales teams
  • The power of the sales process

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Show notes and resources mentioned in this episode:


Thanks so much for joining us this week.

Have some feedback you’d like to share, do it in the comments below!

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Full transcript:

- Hi everyone, welcome to Inbound After Hours, episode four. Today we have a special guest with us, we're gonna be talking inbound sales and marketing. We have Diarmuid Walsh from all the way from Dublin, from Ireland. Thanks for joining us.

- Thanks for having me.

- No problem, how's things?

- Things are good, apart from nearly getting killed on the motorway.

- I know, sorry about that.

- Ah it's okay. We managed to survive and tell the tale.

- Got here on the podcast safely.

- Out of respect we've all got the Guinness. We've literally just put it on the table and Diarmuid's nearly finished his.

- Very warm outside.

- We're gonna have to get another round in, but yeah, thanks for joining us. I appreciate that so let's fire some questions at you Diarmuid, see if you can help. Tell us your story, how you ended up at HubSpot and what you do there.

- Yeah cool, so I've been with HubSpot now for three and a half years. I joined the European Headquarters which are located in Dublin and I joined actually, lucky in one way because I was in Vancouver before that and I worked for SAP for almost four years in enterprise software sales and before that I worked in financial services in sales as well in Dublin, so my background is very sales focused. And when I came back from Vancouver the first week I was back I actually had in my inbox in LinkedIn a message from HubSpot seeing if I would be interested to relocate from Vancouver back to Dublin.

- So you're one step ahead.

- It was a very serendipitous moment,

- Location tracking.

- Yeah, yeah, probably yeah. And I go back to Dagnus in Dagnan I'm actually in the markets, I just literally arrived back in Dublin looking for a job so one thing led the other and I started there at November 2013 as a channel account executive. So my role for the first year was predominantly bringing on board new agencies like yourselves, I think Rikki you joined about three and a half years ago.

- I think about that yeah. You once told me I was very easy to close. I don't know if I'm offended or not.

- Is that true?

- I can't really remember. Must've been if I said it. So the first year predominantly is bringing on board new agencies and making sure that we're bringing on board the right type of agencies and what I mean by the right type of agencies, agencies who ultimately want to build a retainer service model for their own business. We were solving the problem that a lot of agencies faced whereby their revenue model is predominantly project based, they struggle with cash flow management, and they struggle with growing, I suppose, an existing client because they come in, they do the project and then they don't hear from them maybe for another two or three years. And also, HubSpot as a company, they have designed and developed an inbound marketing platform around the inbound marketing methodology. So that has been always known as four key pillars and agencies like, Rikki came on board with a view of making sure that they could deliver this methodology back to their clients, and bring clients on board in the retainer for the simple reason being it takes time to prove that value and it's something that's continuous as opposed to project based. So that was the first year and then after the first year you begin to manage agencies. So I now manage about, probably between 45 to 50 agencies, predominantly based in the UK. Agencies will have two points of contact typically in HubSpot. It would be myself where I will help agencies sell inbound marketing, retainers to their clients, help advise business consultants on sales methodologies and implement sales processes for their business and then agencies will also have a channel consultant who will ultimately help them utilise the technology for your own business and also for your client's business. So my job at the moment really is going out, meeting you guys, building the relationship, meeting clients, talking to clients, understanding their needs and really kind of helping agencies scale and hopefully agencies grow their business and bring up more retainers. - I mean that's interesting. From your last company, was that more project based. So you had to learn the entire inbound sales methodology when you moved to HubSpot or was you familiar with that already?

- No no, because HubSpot is a company only around, they're actually celebrating their 11th birthday this June, so next month. So they're in their 10th. They're in their 10th year and when I joined three and a half years ago, I never even heard the word inbound then I heard of HubSpot. So during the interview process, I essentially did a crash course myself, learning all about the company. Not so much about the technology, but just more about the methodology. Really understanding this whole inside concept. Inbound concept, and it just seemed to resonate, make a lot of sense. - It's the first thing I tell a lot of people about why we do inbound is because when you read it for the first time and when you learn about it it makes sense doesn't it. And all good things do. It's like why have we not done it like that before. Nothing else seems really sincere.

- Fundamentally buyers today you know we've got way more power in terms of checking out review websites and checking out a company's web page. Checking out their pricing. We don't necessarily need to engage the sales executive until we're very near making a, I suppose a decision on the purchase. You know typically they say 60%, marketeers and I are responsible for the first 60% of that buyer's journey. Never before have marketeers had such power in enabling the success for the business. So it just made a lot of sense and the great thing about the role is that you know Rikki you command with Perry, there was just the two of you. And in the last three years you've doubled your business every year. - Yeah. - So you now have what 16, 17 employees.

- 16 of us here now yeah so it's been a good journey for us and it's great selling.

- A lot of that knowledge, you mentioned this week, it's like the sales of five or 10 years ago. You're going to a car show and you rely on the car sales man to pick you a car. But now a day you do your research online. You know what car, what colour, you know the spec, you come in and you straight to the guy.

- I want to buy that one, what's the best price, not going to establish.

- Just the old thing they're doing now isn't it. An informed purchase like that where you do research. I just feel like oh they didn't cut to the case and oh just give me an actual best pass. Their actual best pass.

- Car, even car sales men probably got the worst rep in sales. Changing to that because when I, when I bought the last car, a guy at Volkwagen was telling me they don't actually get commission anymore on sales. They get commissioned on client satisfaction.

- Retention as well yeah.

- And retention, so after you buy a Volkswagen, they send you a survey. If you rate at that service they go to get a bonus. But if he sold you a car and you didn't rate the service as good they wouldn't get anything.

- Which it still has.

- Which is yeah, and it is, it's interesting even in the most extreme cases of like car sales, I'm sure it's not like your second hand garage. In those cases they're even noticing how buyers have changed and people are just walking through the door knowing exactly what they want.

- And then their billionaire on the show.

- Oh my god it's the same as now.

- Video's off, this one's just come in. I thought you might be interested in Give me a ring if you want to come in and view it. I'll keep hold of it here til next week.

- Subscribe to us.

- But they all will say as well like yeah definitely go to so and so and can't look at the price.

- Yeah.

- It's great being harangued isn't it.

-Absolutely. Oh that's great Diarmuid, so we, most of our listeners, 90% are marketing professionals. We know your persona is those guys which are agencies and will help marketing professionals. So we want to sort of try and help these guys more today. So can you just give us a bit more insight and description on the sales methodology or inbound sales as a whole. Just trying to educate the listeners.

- Yeah I think the big shift at the moment like we have an internal meeting calling Smarketing. And essentially--

- I love that word by the way.

- So essentially what it is, it's sales and marketing together. And HubSpot is a platform. We have our marketing platform. We now have our CRN platform and we have or sales product platform. So the marketing platform is designed to help marketeers. The CRN is only designed to help sales people keep track of those leads. And then the sales platform is actually designed to help or really enable sales people to be more effective at their job on closing days. So what is key and what we're seeing more and more of, you need for marketing to work and for sales to work, you need to have a very close alignment of both departments. They both need to understand and very key, they both need to respect one another. Too many times within an organisation, sales people don't believe that marketing's really doing anything because they feel that they're sourcing their own leads, or their leads to generate from the marketing team aren't good leads and they're getting mad about that and they just decide to rubbish everything that marketing do. And similarly marketing people feel that they're not getting any I suppose kudos from the sales team, sales people, for the business that they're actually closing.

- And I think a lot of marketism, you're quite intimidated by going in and talking to sales. I think if you think, could have been office Donna told me like well philosophy in that, there's going to be people on the phone and is jumping on the desk. I think that's the vision marketers have of sales is it's quite, it's quite intimidating, it's quite cold, it's quite hard where as us marketers are quite soft and introverted characters on yourself. Actually bringing two completely different personalities together is often quite hard.

- What was the sales directive for a company in chi?

- It's not like both of us. - Before I got a job here, before I worked in marketing and like wanted to, she was like it's all hairy fattery. You don't really want to do that.

- I think the process is so different as well that marketers take, especially if they about to take all this time creating this content, planning it out, doing the research, and building it and design it. Sales people just want...

- The immediate result.

- And that is that gang person at the inbound processes a bit more drawn out, a lot more drawn out than the traditional sales processes. That instant pick up the phone, get the result, or don't. And where they're going is take your time, we'll nurture them you know, we'll bring them and they'll eventually be like way out of speed to you and it's just an education. A gap of being in the middle with this marketing of let's do a bit of this and as marketers we can give sales so much context and information. Through HubSpot, through the stuff of Ryan and they will laugh or you know, it's new for certain people to know about stuff, about the people they're ringing up and know where they've been, what they've looked at, what they're interested in, why they should work with those before they've actually rung and asked them those questions they've already done that.

- I think the key thing is like where your job now is becoming more important as an agency is when you go into companies is to make both of these departments together. And a key thing that marketing, inbound marketing, form a medley at the start of it, it's about finding people in their searching so it's like finding an inbound lead. Someone who's actually searching for a particular product or service. And key questions that marketeers should be asking the sales people will be can they list me the top 10 questions you're typical answered at, you're typically asked in relation to the product or service and both the value. And then marketeers' roles should be how are we getting found for these top 10 questions. The reality is most companies if they just do that simple exercise, not only will they--

- Data.

- Well not only will they not be getting found, Finally he was going to the keywords, probably their competitors will be getting found for them either. So it shows, this is one of the big, big I suppose opportunities with inbound marketing. It shows you you know the blue ocean opportunity and therefore companies, and inbound marketing is a relatively new concept. For those companies that embrace it, now at the early stages this is where you'll start to really see the benefits and getting found for those particular long tailed keywords that will resonate with essentially a buyer.

- I think it's quite nice actually the way you put it through. Marketers anyway to sort of come up with all these ideas and they're really relying out to be generating this, the gold the sales team are going to be using down the line and that's a really quick win. Because the marketers are going to like that because it saves them a job because we've got it from the horses mouth so to speak, and then sales team are going to get what they want answered very quickly so it's helping us anyway to get stuff while we, you know get it done, and then the results are going to kind of follow.

- This is a long term thing because they'll be for every question in the sales team says that they get asked they'll be 10 long tail versions of that won't there?

- [Multiple] Yeah.

- So there's 10 times and there's other blogs.

- Yeah exactly.

- It helps you as a marketer--

- Exactly and if you type in those long tail keywords, you then go down to the bottom of the page, Google'll have similar suggestions. So then okay take those similar suggestions and then what you got to be doing is creating a lot of valuable and remarkable rather than content around all of those long tail keywords and that's where you can begin to get found. Essentially by the audience you want to get found for. They will be the hottest links you can potentially get.

- And so few people do it inbound or do an inbound well. And there's so fewer amount of people going and speaking to sales and taking the smarketing approach to inbound. That you can pretty much guarantee whatever vertical you're in you're not going to be competing with 20, 30, 40, 50 companies for those keywords are ya. Like you said, chances are you're probably going to be the only one writing content about that stuff. At the most it's going to be one or two of us and it's a really low hanging fruit for marketers isn't it.

- For sure, and then you know marketers, as I mentioned already, the sales process now typically and marketeers have the power to control the first 60% of the buyer's journey.

- 60 yeah.

- And so what that means is that never before has marketeers had such power to influence essentially your audience. But they also now have the opportunity to really oppress themselves upon the sales team because not only are they generating really good leads, but you guys are a HubSpot agency so you use HubSpot as the inbound technology to deliver your services to your clients and the big benefit from that stand point is that you then as an agency are holding yourself accountable because with HubSpot all of the tools are on one platform so you're able to prove a light to your clients. And three key metrics you report back to your clients will be traffic to the website, links generated as a result of that traffic, and thirdly and most importantly the number of customers. But you're also getting leads to your sales people. Aren't these leads, aren't just inbound leads but you're giving them a huge amount of data around each of these leads. So in the contact record, you know you can filter each contact you know, what page is it they'll ask you, what e-mails were opened, what e-mails weren't opened. There's probably a budget criteria there and like 30 that you can filter through. So now as a sales person I have an inbound lead, but not only is it an inbound lead, I know what information they viewed, when they were last on their website, what e-mails they've opened, what e-mails they haven't opened, what blogs they've read, what blogs they haven't read. So as a sales person I have a huge amount of power not only as an inbound lead but I can actually send an e-mail that's very contextualised in terms of what they have viewed. More importantly I can pick up the telephone and I can say Rikki, I see you're checking out this particular blog around lead generation. Do you have a particular problem around this? So the hardest part of a sales cycle probably is probably realistically it's probably the first 30 seconds. You know it's building that little bit of rapport, it's becoming that trusted advisor and the HubSpot technology, what you're ultimately doing is you're enabling sales people to have way more data around a particular lead and giving them a much better chance of converting that lead into a customer.

- That's really true because how annoying is it when someone brings cold calls and they're hey are you all right? How's your day going, you're like well I'm calling. I can see you viewed this, let's skip the bullshit. How can we help?

- I think as well people have given information across willingly they're sort of, especially if they give you the phone number and you ring them they're not going to ask you why you rang them. You think well you downloaded this you know guide and you read X Y and Z and I want to help you with that and you were already serving them something announced, something they might not have even asked you specifically. But question I've got for Diarmuid is with a lead, you know what us as marketers call a lead. Sometimes sales people say well that's not a lead. A lead we got this full spectrum of awareness, consideration in decision and people who are slightly further up and the typical, the bulk of the marketing that you do is very early stage research and the work flow does bring people down but sometimes they sort of sat in that middle stage and the sales rep is still, speak to those, so how do you bridge that gap between someone who's desperate to buy something, a traditional you know someone walking onto that car, or phone call, that's a lead isn't it because they want a car. - There's a generation of sales people used to being given decision based leads. People who would invite you to buy. And now sales people are oft to adapt to be given awareness based leads, consideration based leads, people who are really early in the buyers journey. I think the ability of the sales person to hold someones hand, be consultative, not realise I'm not going to close in this month but if I add value now I'll close in two three months.

- That's the sellers there.

- When it comes down to when you're actually sitting there between the marketing team and the sales team and you come to an agreement, when do you actually pass this lead over to sales. And it might vary between company to company, industry to industry, it might vary in between high confident. You know the sales director would be in the sales skills of their actually sales executives. But typically you don't really want to pass that lead over until it's essentially got marketing qualified or sales qualified. Most, they typically mean the same thing and that it's up to you to kind of white board that out in terms of what is a marketing qualified lead. Is it somebody who has been to your website three times? Is it somebody who has just come to your website and checked the pricing page? Is it somebody who's come straight to your website and maybe downloaded the trial if it's software that you're selling. So that might automatically even though it's their first time coming to your website it might automatically trigger that they become a marketing qualified lead which in fact flips directly over to a sales person. Somebody downloads a blog. For example HubSpot we sell inbound marketing software. If somebody downloads a blog around how do you write a press release, that more than likely will not be flipped to a sales person. It will be nurtured until they come back to the website again. And the second time they might download a blog around inbound marketing techniques. The third time they might download a blog around how can inbound marketing improve their generation. Now all of a sudden if they've been to our website three times, we see what they read, that can automatically be automated to be flipped to the sales person. We could begin that to implement a sales process in bringing hopefully that lead through the close.

- I think not enough people that have conversation do they about what a qualified lead is. From an agency view point it could create tension with the client but from an in house view point it can create friction between sales and marketing work. You think you're doing an awesome job as a marketer, firing leads. Then coming back to your sales, these are not the right people or they are the right people but they're not ready to buy yet. I don't think enough people have that conversation really.

- Yeah this is where your job again as an agency comes in. It's been in there in terms of the inbound methodology, stage one of the inbound methodology is attract. And part of the attract is who is your audience, who should you be driving to your website in the first place. Who are your target personas. And based on who your target personas are, what is the content strategy in dragging your audience to your website. Stage one is so important to get right. You need to really understand who your buyer personas are because if you get that wrong, everything else that follows through will be ruched because you have the wrong lead go through the system the whole way. So it's absolutely key to get the attract stage correct in the start of methodology.

- We've had that with client recently. Turns out it was their direction but they just went down completely the wrong move to get the leads.

- They might look at here.

- And then were just yeah you know used to, weren't any of the--

- We were getting them leads, they were going on pictures and they weren't winning the pictures and they positioned themselves wrongly in the market I believe. And that's weird you was an agency going in saying what's your ideal company and then having no answer. That's why we have to add a lot of value in how to guide agency and it happens a lot. Help them guide them through that and by the time we gone in and done that we identified quite a different market for them. It was like a 10 times lower average or the value but it was much more high volume, it was better geographically for them et cetera.

- But then the noggin effects different tone of voice.

- Everything we do is--

- Social tactics. And then you banging your head against the wall. They're all leads to that. And then well, they're no good. - One thing I've found quite interesting, we see on the marketers side of this table and we find that it's not marketing driving the change in sales, it very rarely happens so obviously sales is in this position now where marketing was 10 years ago. It's going through change, there's an inbound sales methodology, et cetera. But if we feel like if marketing wasn't going at the same rate the user experience doesn't end with marketing. The user experience carries on into sales. You need to be consultative, you need to provide personalised approach, et cetera et cetera. And I often feel like that's a marketing force in sales to change. In most companies is that the case or are there companies where sales are going to marketing that's changed, let's have a better user, customer experience. I don't know want to bias my opinion because I've only sat on the marketers side of the table really.

- Yeah I think you know if you can communicate and articulate to sales people this approach and then if you can prove that you can start generating good quality leads and at a consistent volume which you can through it. But it does take time but you can through it by marketing. Absolutely sales people will set up because most sales people, the better sales people will be intrinsically self motivated and ultimately are in sales because they make good money, and if they're making good money and if they feel the marketing team that helped deliver much better quality leads they will absolutely set up and begin to take on board marketing's advice of you mentioned the sales process of beginning to apply you know the inbound methodology when it comes to inbound sales so it's like identify, connect, explore, and advise. And the key thing I think about the inbound sales process which is different to the marketing process, but the key thing is that they're both I suppose, in fact it is a process. And it's a step by step and it's no case going from step one to step three because you want to miss things and the inbound sales process ultimately is a guide to make sure that the client that you're ultimately going to end up working with potentially they will become you know in your case if you're bringing on board for arguments sake if you're onboard a new client you want to make sure that you can partner with them that you can deliver value. That you don't leave any money on the table.

- Yeah for sure. And you want to make sure that this is going to be a good relationship for both parties and that's why I always say I would encourage you always to use the word partner. But you're never going to understand that without having a very diligent sales process and the sales process typically is you know the connect stage which is understanding a person's paying point; because you're never going to close in if there's not, if paying is not identified. And assuming paying is identified at the connect stage and you built a relationship and you've got a bit of rapport, it could be as quick as a 15, 20 minute conversation. You move to the next stage, always being transparent and open with the client about what the next stage would involve. So stage two will be the explore stage. Discovery stage, whatever you want to call it. And typically what that will be is you know you're going to go in depth in making sure that you understand exactly what they are trying to achieve as a business. What timeline they're trying to achieve that, and why they ultimately need to achieve it.

- And that's only the biggest step I've found people miss is that deep down if explore, discover...

- Go straight to proposal.

- They go from connect to pitch down there and I think that explore's so vital isn't it.

- Yeah it's, they say not at like HubSpot the discovery stage is going to be a close. You really shouldn't be moving past the explore stage in a sales cycle, not unless you've got a very good understanding of who you're talking to in terms of authority. Who are the stake holders, do they have budget counted for your services or your particular product. Do they have challenges that you know you can solve. And too many times, because this what we're trying to do in terms of if you have a really succinct, clear, sales process that allows you to qualify leads out in an early stage, because sales ultimately is a numbers games and the more successful you are, like for example the last thing you want to get to is go through five different stages in the sales process, get to proposal, and for every 10 proposals you're only closing one. That means you've worked an awful lot of leads just for a very low closing. What you want to get to is get to the final stage which is proposal where you're closing for every two you're closing one. Or potentially for every two proposals you're fielding two. In other words you don't move it through to where you spend an awful lot of time putting together the proposal without really feeling confident that this is definitely going to close.

- All it takes is driving, going face to face, picture, and it's a day off

- Time, money, investment spent. And like if you were to ask me what makes a really successful sales person, I would say sales people who are really good at qualifying out at an early stage. Absolutely key. - What I actually saved so much time when you're en route.

- Yeah because essentially they're the smart sales.

- It's a lot of confident thing to do, especially if you leads are not abundant early on is to say no to something is quite difficult.

- There's probably my, that's the thing I've struggled with most. I'm not a sales person I just happen to sell stuff because I own a business and I'm way too nice. Like someone's on the phone please help me. It costs a lot. And that solves it, and even then you get their for free, thing costs a lot. You've got a 10 in the pocket and you're okay, probably can't quite help you but that's been my biggest learn as a not a sale person but moving into the sales world is saying no, I think that's...

- Have you turned it?

- Please tune in next week for part two of the sales and marketing alignment podcast with Diarmuid Walsh.

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