How to Launch a Virtual Conference for Lead Generation and Customer Acquisition: A Step-by-Step Guide


When we say “virtual conference,” we don’t just mean webinars. We mean interactive, live panels and microsites dedicated to the single purpose of promoting one event with various sessions a person can “attend.”

Virtual conferences have become a more popular medium to develop and reach large audiences. From marketing to recruiting and sales to education, businesses in various industries have realized hosting online events are far cheaper than an in-person event — making it cheaper to build awareness around a brand.

We’re going to get into a lot, but by the end of this post, you’ll see the value in hosting a virtual conference and know how to organize and host your own event. You’ll have another medium to accelerate brand awareness, generate more leads, and develop authority as an industry leader.

I helped launch Inbound Sales Day here at HubSpot, and I’m here to teach you how it’s done. Continue reading to download my project management templates and emails I used to book speakers — all available for free.

How to Plan a Virtual Event

What is a virtual conference?

Imagine a conference. There are dozens of rooms, booths with vendors trying to sell you their product, and a lot of people walking around. You might run into some very influential leaders in your industry, and you expect to see people on stage sometime during the event. You’re excited to hear them share lessons and tips they’ve learned from their own experience and journey to success.

Now, imagine a similar experience — but without having to leave your desk.

You log into an “event” online, where you can meet and interact with people through messaging platforms. You go into “rooms” (aka web pages) where you can watch speakers present their knowledge in the form of a recorded video.

It’s a simple concept: Get the content you would receive at a conference on your own time, when it’s convenient for you. It aligns perfectly with the culture and popularity of on-demand services, such as:

Lyft: on-demand car rides


Drizly: on-demand alcohol


Soothe: on-demand massages


Virtual conferences: on-demand quality content and insights about the industry.

Virtual events began in 1993, presented by Alan Saperstein and Randy Selman. They started by videotaping trade show exhibitors booths and attaching the video to HTML floor maps. These events have become more popular among marketers for their lower cost and effort to produce.

Here’s an example of an HTML floor map:


Examples of virtual events include:

You might be thinking, “There’s no way these events were produced by a small team.”

That’s fair. But I can tell you that I coordinated and launched Inbound Sales Day, a full-day virtual event with over 10 hours of video that garnered over 15,000 registrations globally. And I did most of it by myself in only three months. For a comparison, the team that organizes HubSpot’s live INBOUND event has over 10 people involved in planning the event for the entire preceding year.

It’s possible to host and launch one of these things, even with a small team, but why should you host a virtual conference in the first place? Why not just host a physical event instead?

There are numerous benefits to hosting online events. Let’s dive in.

[Go back to top]

Why should you host a virtual event?

Consider some of the reasons you’d host a conference, either virtual or in-person:

  • To grow awareness for your business — Depending on your market, there may already be competitors or other companies targeting the same target audience as you. You can use an an online conference as a means of partnering with those other companies.
  • To generate leads
  • To acquire new customers
  • To create a revenue stream from sponsorships. People host these conferences strictly as a revenue stream. (Curious how? Sam Parr explains how he made a profit from hosting Hustle Con.)
  • To build relationships with influencers

Below are expenses to consider for a physical event (based on a 400-person hosted by Hustle Con):

  • Venue ($5,000)
  • Vendors, i.e., caterer, bartender, decorator, photographer, videographer, etc. ($10,000)
  • Equipment rental ($2,000)
  • Licenses and permits (dependent on venue)
  • Transportation and parking for attendees and speakers (dependent on venue)
  • Service fees and gratuities ($1,000)
  • Speakers’ fees ($0 – $10,000+ per speaker)
  • Signage ($500)
  • Registration materials ($300)
  • Security and staff ($2000)

Even for a smaller event, that totals at least $20,000. Soon, you’re underwater and either hiring contractors or using half your team’s day to get all the little details right. To top it off, there always seem to be attendees or speakers who are an absolute nightmare to deal with.

I’m getting stressed just thinking about it.

For an online conference, a few weeks of work and a small budget are all that’s needed. In fact, all of the software I used to organize everything was free:

  • Trello for project management (check out my free template below)
  • Google Sheets to manage the assets (you’ll get a template of this, too)
  • YouTube to host videos
  • Dropbox to host files
  • Canva to create images

Plus, when you create assets for your event online, you continue reaping the benefits of long-tail keyword SEO and organic traffic from evergreen content for months to come.

Depending on your resources, you may want to hire freelancers to help you with asset creation or to run Facebook ads to get more awareness about your event.

In many cases, you end up cutting expenses dramatically by hosting an online event instead of an in-person conference. Let’s dive into how we decided HubSpot should host an online conference about inbound sales.

[Go back to top]

A Virtual Conference by HubSpot

HubSpot revolutionized marketing in 2006 by introducing the concept of inbound marketing and telling the story of how marketing had changed. Since then, sales has also changed, and we’ve introduced the concept of inbound selling.

However, similar to when inbound marketing was a new concept in 2006, people needed to be educated about the concept of inbound selling.

We had various goals that overlapped with each other when thinking about hosting a virtual event:

  • Spread the message of inbound selling
  • Generate leads for our sales products
  • Develop authority in the sales industry
  • Promote the first sales-focused track at our INBOUND event

What better way to educate our audience and develop credibility around inbound selling than by hosting real experts to talk about it? Influencers already have an audience who will listen to them. They have their own methodologies and many of those ideas aligned perfectly with inbound selling.

By hosting a virtual conference, we were able to scale influencer marketing and associated the credibility of those influencers with the HubSpot brand.

Plus, with the changing landscape of content and more consumers preferring video content, this was an opportunity to develop high-quality video content we could continue to use.

Still interested in hosting your own online conference? I’m going to lay out all the steps I took to organize Inbound Sales Day that you can replicate for your own event. I’ll also give you the project management and email templates I created that kept me organized throughout the whole process.

[Go back to top]

How to Plan and Execute A Virtual Conference

Before we jump into the planning, decide how you’re going to manage the project. I used a combination of Trello and spreadsheets to manage my work.

I laid out all activities in my project management Trello board, which gave me a bird’s-eye view of the timeline, what needed to be done at the moment, and what was coming up. This allowed me to catch situations where I would need to delegate work or ask for help ahead of time.

All assets that were created (landing pages, emails sent, social posts, videos, etc.) were listed in the asset management spreadsheet. This way, I had access to every asset in one place without having to search for it.

The campaign was executed in six phases, which I’ll walk you through below:

  1. Set the vision
  2. Conduct speaker outreach
  3. Create assets
  4. Promote
  5. Launch
  6. Analyze

Phase 1: Set the vision

What do you want the event to look like? What topics do you want to cover? Who’s your audience? How many registrations do you expect? (Use this spreadsheet to help set those expectations.)

All of this will be important for your speaker outreach as those will be your selling points. If you can pinpoint your target audience (try the MakeMyPersona tool to help with that), you can find speakers who also want to reach that audience. If you have a set number of expected registrations, you can attract speakers with an idea of what their reach will be if they participate.

[Go back to top]

Phase 2: Conduct speaker outreach

The most important step to producing a viable virtual conference is to get speakers in your industry. This will benefit you in two ways:

  1. You can build relationships with these industry experts
  2. You can associate your brand with these experts, making yours more credible

I highly recommend getting experts within your company to speak on the subject matter and promote the event by giving a talk or interviewing another expert so that your employees will come to be seen as trusted industry thought leaders.

My goal was to get on a video call with the potential speakers I emailed. A video call allows you to sell them on the idea and show them how excited you are.

Here’s the email template I used:

Invitation to Participate in [NAME OF VIRTUAL CONFERENCE]

Hi [NAME]!

[YOUR COMPANY] is launching [NAME OF VIRTUAL CONFERENCE], a virtual event for [#] [TYPE OF PEOPLE YOU’RE TARGETING] on [DATE] and we would love to have you as a featured speaker.

We’re inviting top experts in [INDUSTRY] to help [PROFESSIONALS] become more successful by providing actionable information about [BROAD OVERVIEW OF TOPICS].

I watched your talk on [TOPIC] and think you’d be a great fit for our audience.

If you’re interested in speaking, we have many speaking options available that can be flexible with your schedule. I’d love to discuss them with you on a quick call.

Let me know if you’re interested and we can schedule time this week or next to talk through the details.

For your convenience, here’s a link to my calendar so we can schedule time right away: [MEETINGS LINK]



Pro tip: If you’re a HubSpot customer, I recommend using the HubSpot Sales Meetings and Templates tools to make scheduling meetings really, really easy.

Once I got the meeting scheduled, I made sure to hit the following points for each conversation:

  1. Explain the event and why you’re doing it.
  2. Emphasize what the speaker would get out of participating. (We emphasized that we were aiming to reach over 10,000 salespeople and they would get their own landing page with links to their website and social profiles.)
  3. Tell them about other speakers you’ve booked to develop credibility around your event and that it’s something worth being a part of.
  4. If they’re interested, explain what we need from them right then and there: I asked for a rough title and outline of their talk, and the format they preferred (live Q&A, recorded interview, or recorded lecture-style video).

After the call, I immediately sent a follow-up email which:

  • Recapped the call included topic and format of their talk
  • Attached a speaker agreement form
  • Asked for their availability to schedule introduction to interviewer, recordings, and dry-runs
  • Listed specific deadlines of when everything is due

Here’s a template I used:


Hi [NAME]!

I’m glad we got to connect today. We’re very excited that you’re going to join us for [CONFERENCE NAME]. Here’s a recap of what we discussed earlier — feel free to revise any of it.

  • Working session title: [SESSION TITLE]
  • Working session description: [DESCRIPTION]
  • Format: [FORMAT]
  • What I need from you by [DATE]:
    • Bio (max 200 words)
    • Preferred headshot
    • A page you want us to link to
    • A rough outline of your presentation

Again, it was great connecting today! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Hope you have a great week!



A week later, I followed up again for all those items. Speakers are really busy, and it’ll take a few emails and calls to get those details from them. This is why I suggest you begin the process at least two months before your launch date.

Some speakers will ask for a packet with more details. You can use this template to create your own speaker packets.

[Go back to top]

Phase 3: Create assets

On my Trello board, I laid out a timeline of when all assets were created and used the spreadsheet to keep track of them as they were created.

Landing Pages

Your landing page is going to be a selling point for your event to get speakers and attendees. Don’t expect to attract many of either if your page doesn’t look sharp.

Below you can see the homepage, agenda page, and session pages we created for Inbound Sales Day.

The homepage highlighted the benefits of attending and the various speakers we featured.

The agenda page shared more details about what topics will be discussed and the main takeaways of each talk. This gave viewers an opportunity to see who would be speaking and do their research or reach out to influencers before the event.

The session page is where the fun happened. Each video had its own landing page on the HubSpot domain so viewers wouldn’t have to leave our website to see the content. We had over two-dozen of these pages.

Landing Page Agenda Session Page


virtual-conference-how-to-host-agenda-example-preview.png virtual-conference-how-to-host-session-page-example-preview.png

Click the images to see the full versions

Video Hosting

I recommend using YouTube Live to broadcast live videos and to host all videos to take advantage of its video SEO. I then embedded all the videos on landing pages so people wouldn’t have to leave our website to watch the video.

Video Production

There were three different session formats which each required different preparatory measures. Here was my process for each format:

  • Live Q&A
    1. Speaker chose topic
    2. Researched their online material (blogs, videos, interviews) and created a Google Doc of canned questions
    3. Introduced the speaker to the employee who would host the session via email and set up a call to develop their rapport
    4. They reviewed the list of questions together and brainstorm more questions
    5. We prioritized top five canned questions to ask in case there were no live questions
    6. A week before the live session, get on a call with the speaker to do a final check-in (the meeting was hosted using a private YouTube Live session so they understood how to sign in)
    7. Live broadcast: Speaker was expected to sign into YouTube Live an hour ahead of time for audio and video check, review the talk points with HubSpot host, and build rapport for the session
  • Recorded Interview
    1. Speaker chose topic
    2. Researched their online material (blogs, videos, interviews) and created a Google Doc of canned questions
    3. Introduced the speaker to the employee who would host the session via email and set up a call to develop their rapport
    4. They would review the talk track outline and go back and forth about what topics the speaker would want to hit on
    5. We agreed on five questions that would be asked by the interviewer to guide the conversation
    6. Booked an hour with the speaker and interviewer which gave enough time for audio and video check, review talking points, and record at least twice (in case the first run was too rough
  • Recorded Lecture
    1. Speaker chose topic and provided outline of talk track
    2. Provided feedback on their outline based on what our sales audience is interested in (based on previous campaigns and blog performance)
    3. Two recording options:
      • Book an hour of their time to record the session via YouTube Live
      • They recorded on their own and sent the video

Question Submission Form

For live events, we created a Google Form for people to submit questions ahead of time. These questions were used to inform talking points for relevant sessions.

Social Media Images

The obvious goal for social media images is to make a person stop scrolling through their newsfeed and read what the event was about. We went with blinking GIFs that included photos of the speakers.




[Go back to top]

Phase 4: Promote

As with content distribution in general, this was the most difficult part of the process. We leaned into speakers a lot and asked them to promote the event to their email list and on their blogs and social profiles.

Speakers: Email, Blog & Social

We asked each speaker to send an email to their list, write a blog post, and post on social media about the upcoming event. We made it as easy as possible for speakers to promote the event by creating speaker promotion packets, which provided pre-written emails, blog posts, social media copy, and images. All they had to do was copy and paste the text and insert the image.

We also gave each speaker their own unique tracking URL (learn how to do it using HubSpot software) to use in promotional materials. This showed us how much interest each speaker drove and how many registrations they contributed.

Don’t start a packet from scratch, get the free speaker promotion packet template.

Blog Posts

Brainstorm blog post topics based on the topics your speakers will discuss, and come up with a publishing cadence for your promotional posts. If you already have an editorial calendar, I’d suggest you avoid making every post promotion and instead periodically insert promotional posts.

Social Posts

I met with HubSpot’s Social Media team two months before the event launch to discuss the campaign and come up with a promotional cadence that made sense for each channel.

I used this spreadsheet to organize all social media posts. I wrote most of the copy in bulk and scheduled the posts in batches as each date came up.

Get my asset management spreadsheet template here.

Your promotion strategy will vary depending on which channels you have access to. I sat with my team and brainstormed promotional tactics before deciding which were most viable. A few of those included:

  • Pop-up forms on highly trafficked site pages
  • Calls-to-action on the home page
  • Posts in relevant LinkedIn and Slack groups
  • Links to the event in sales reps’ email signatures

[Go back to top]

Phase 5: Launch

The night before your launch, make sure:

  • All recorded videos were hosted on YouTube
  • Landing pages that hosted videos were tested
  • Reminder email to registrants have been scheduled so they remember to watch the videos
  • Emails are pre-scheduled to notify speakers to log into YouTube Live an hour before the broadcast time

On the day of the event:

  • Monitor your social media hashtag if you have one
  • Keep an eye on your email if case people have trouble accessing the event

[Go back to top]

Phase 6: Analyze

To prove that the virtual conference was worth the time and effort, do an analysis of the traffic and registrations you received, how many video views you got, and send a survey to your registrants.

The best way to prove value is to tie it all back to revenue. How many qualified leads did you get, and what is the monetary value of a lead? How many new software signups did you get and what is the worth of each signup? How many new clients did you get and how much are they paying you?

[Go back to top]

Learning Lessons and Tips for Hosting A Virtual Conference

As always, no matter how successful the event, things can always be better. Here are a few things I wish I had done differently that you can learn from.

Align with your sales team.

This event would’ve been great for sales enablement. Sales reps could use the conference as a piece of content to share with prospects and be helpful. It’s also good to let reps know about the event and how to talk about it in case prospects bring it up on a call.

Get speakers with large audiences.

This may be more difficult for your first event as you start developing credibility for your event, but get speakers with large audiences if you can. It’s even better if you can get them to commit to driving a certain number of registrations.

Have a post-event plan.

Ideally, you’re going to get a lot of registrations for the event. What are you going to do with them after the event? Have a communication plan for your registrants, whether it’s sending them content, telling them about your products or services, or asking for feedback. Don’t leave them hanging.

Build anticipation before the event.

How can you get registrants to share the event before it happens? Maybe a contest or giveaway? How can you get registrants to engage with speakers before the event?

As more companies work to get a foothold in their industries and the marketing industry evolves to encompass more video content, virtual conferences will become more and more common. And as with any marketing tactic, as virtual conferences become more common the medium will become less effective.

Host your first virtual conference now before your competitors and gain first-mover advantage. Good luck.

Here are all the resources and templates I’ve shared throughout this post:

Want to have a one-on-one conversation diving deeper into how you can host a virtual conference? Get in touch with me to have a quick conversation.

Thanks to Kendrick Wang, Cambria Davies, and Scott Tousley for reviewing drafts of this post.



15 Bad Habits That Make Salespeople Seem Pushy (And How to Correct Them)


Salespeople get a bad rap. In HubSpot Research’s newest study, Buyers Speak Out: How Sales Needs to Evolve, respondents were asked to submit the word they most associated with salespeople.

The #1 response? “Pushy.”

Yikes.Persistence is part of being a salesperson. In fact, 80% of sales require five or more follow-ups. And there’s an obvious difference between consistently adding a bit of value with each check-in and doggedly pursuing prospects who have, in no uncertain terms, told you they’re not interested.

But the contrast between persistence and pushiness isn’t always so clear. If you’re doing any of the things on the list below, you might be coming off as pushy without even realizing it.

15 Reasons Buyers Think Salespeople Are Pushy

1) You call or email without new updates to share.

What you think: You’re keeping yourself top-of-mind and on your prospect’s radar.

Why it’s pushy: You’re keeping yourself top-of-mind, all right — as that annoying salesperson who won’t stop calling. Don’t reach out unless you have something new to share; otherwise you’re taking up your prospect’s time without providing any value.

2) You ask the same question multiple times.

What you think: You haven’t gotten the information you need, so it can’t hurt to ask again … right?

Why it’s pushy: Your prospect has already answered your question to the best of their ability, so why keep beating a dead horse? Try phrasing your question a different way or coming at it from a different angle to avoid exhausting your prospects.

3) You start talking about your product right away.

What you think: Your product is great! Why wouldn’t a prospect want to hear about it?

Why it’s pushy: Never lead by talking about your product. Unless your prospect is already quite familiar with your product’s value proposition, starting with the value it brings and how it will change your prospect’s business is a more effective way to get a conversation started.

4) You use a lot of declarative words and phrases (“should,” “have to,” “need to,” etc.)

What you think: You try to spend time during each sales call giving advice and sharing best practices with your prospects.

Why it’s pushy: Your intentions are noble, so keep doing what you’re doing. The problem here is a matter of semantics. Telling a prospect repeatedly what they “should” or “have to” or “need to” do comes off as bossy and condescending even if your only intent is to help. Instead, try phrases like, “Businesses like yours have seen success …” or “What we’ve found drives results is …”

5) You make statements instead of asking questions.

What you think: You’re an expert on the vertical you sell into, so there are a few safe assumptions you can make about your prospect’s business.

Why it’s pushy: While your prospect’s business might function like the hundreds you’ve seen before in their industry, you don’t necessarily know the specifics. Even if you have a pretty good sense of what the answer might be, asking questions such as, “So I’ve seen X problem a lot at companies like yours, are you experiencing something similar?” shows your prospect that you care about their unique perspective, while simultaneously showing off your expertise.

6) You start every objection answer with “But … “

What you think: You’re just trying to handle objections, and “but” is the first filler word that comes to mind.

Why it’s pushy: Constantly saying “but” comes off as argumentative and puts prospects on the defensive. Instead, try the Ransberger Pivot:

  1. Acknowledge your prospect’s objections.
  2. Understand their hesitation, or ask questions until you do.
  3. Find a common goal burned in your prospect’s objections, and build on it to convince them your offering is the best way to achieve that end.

7) You treat all objections equally.

What you think: You (understandably) want to make the sale, so sometimes you find yourself on autopilot when answering objections.

Why it’s pushy: There’s a significant difference between, “This problem is a priority for us, but let’s wait until next quarter to talk … “ and “We’ve had seven straight quarters of losses — we just can’t afford to implement anything right now.”

Not all objections are created equal. Some can be resolved simply by educating your prospect. Some are a result of inertia and can be mitigated by creating a sense of urgency. But there are always objections that stop a deal in its tracks, and treating those like minor concerns that can be talked away won’t endear you to your prospects. Learn to spot the difference between brush-offs, points of confusion, and true blockers.

8) You won’t let your prospect off the phone.

What you think: Your prospect actually picked up! You’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity and cover as much as possible.

Why it’s pushy: Your prospect is busy. Really busy. If they’re a good fit for your product, schedule a longer call when they have more time and follow up with helpful resources so you stay on their radar.

9) You keep bringing up new, seemingly unrelated, offerings.

What you think: You’re trying to pique your prospect’s interest by mentioning new product lines or services that could benefit them.

Why it’s pushy: Offering an add-on or trying to go for an upsell isn’t inherently bad. Just be sure you’re telling a coherent story that ties all your offerings together. Making it clear that you’re tailoring a specific set of products for your prospect avoids the impression that you’re throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

10) You don’t know when to say when.

What you think: If you just try a little harder, maybe your prospect will buy.

Why it’s pushy: It’s unfortunate, but let’s face it — you won’t win every deal. At some point in most closed-lost deals, it becomes apparent that there’s no more you can do, and continuing to pester a prospect will leave a bad taste in their mouths. So know when to throw in the towel. Your time is better spent on prospects who stand a good chance of closing.

11) You don’t try to get buy-in from your prospect.

What you think: You’ve gone through this sales process hundreds of times before, and you know what makes sense for your buyers.

Why it’s pushy: Besides the fact that it’s just not smart to try and run a sales process without confirming your prospect is okay with it, it’s also bad manners. At every step of the way, check to see whether your proposed next steps make sense. Not only will your prospect appreciate your solicitousness, getting their buy-in on small steps will psychologically make it easier for them to say “yes” to the big ask — would you like to buy?

12) You talk fast and interrupt.

What you think: You’re naturally a fast talker and an enthusiastic person.

Why it’s pushy: You’re understandably excited about your product and eager to share its value with prospects. But blazing through a conversation creates the impression that you’re just waiting until your prospect’s done speaking so you can talk again. Cutting prospects off is a no-no as well — in fact, the less you speak, the more useful information you’re likely to get.

13) Your calls-to-action don’t align with your prospect’s buying stage.

What you think: You can tell your buyer has the business pain your product solves, and you want to help them by jumping into a formal sales process.

Why it’s pushy: Just because you can tell a buyer suffers from X business pain doesn’t mean they’ve realized it yet. So even if a call-to-action will eventually be useful for them (like a product demo), offering it when they’re still in the education stage just makes it seem like you’re rushing them along because you want to close a deal. Instead, move the sales process forward by teaching your buyers about their problems and helping them devise a solution that includes your product if appropriate.

14) You won’t take no for an answer.

What you think: You know certain commitments make prospects far likelier to close, so if at first you don’t succeed in getting the buyer’s phone number, an introduction to the signing authority, or a meeting with Procurement, you keep trying.

Why it’s pushy: Your prospect has rejected your request for a reason. They don’t feel comfortable giving you the information or help you’ve requested, and asking again will only make them more uncomfortable.

The issue probably stems from how and when you asked. If you haven’t explained why your ask will benefit your prospect and timed it appropriately, of course they’ll say no. It’s fine to ask for their personal number on the first call (provided you give context, such as, “It’ll make it easier to answer questions and schedule future meetings if we have each other’s cells.”) However, it’s typically not a good idea to ask for an intro to the decision maker — you haven’t yet proven your value. 

15) You don’t vary your outreach.

What you think: You have the buyer’s email address, so when you’re trying to connect with them or engage them after they’ve gone dark, you keep sending emails.

Why it’s pushy: It’s the “boy who cried wolf” effect. After a while, your buyer will completely tune out your messages. The ssalesperson-seems-pushy-compressor-181681-edited.jpgame holds true no matter which channel you’re using — if you keep calling them or nudging them on social media, you’ll quickly become a nuisance.

To avoid this issue, spread your outreach across multiple mediums. Here’s a sample schedule:

  • Day 1: Email.
  • Day 3: Call (leave a voicemail.)
  • Day 4: Like their post on LinkedIn.
  • Day 6: Call (don’t leave a voicemail.)
  • Day 8: Email.
  • Day 10: Send a break-up email.

Simply mixing up your outreach decreases the chances you’ll seem stalkerish.

The behavior that comes off as pushy to buyers likely sparks from your excitement to share insights with your prospects and help as many as possible. This isn’t a bad attitude to have. But realize that you won’t get through to prospects who are frustrated with yet another “pushy” salesperson. Avoid these bad habits so you never lose a deal for the wrong reasons.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.



State of Inbound: Your Go-To Business Report for Marketing and Sales Research [New Data]

SOI 17 Blog Header Image.png

Generate more traffic, more leads, more customers. That’s always been the purpose of marketing and sales.

But while the goal remains the same, the audience — and their preferences and behaviors — has not. People don’t want to just read content anymore. They want immersive video experiences. When it’s time to research a purchase or service a product, they don’t want to wait to talk to a rep on the phone. Instead, they’ll turn to an artificial intelligence-powered bot.

The way your customer shops and buys is drastically changing.

And in the age of the buyer, it’s up to businesses to adapt. That’s why we produce the State of Inbound research report each year: to help you stay up-to-date on all the marketing and sales changes that matter for your business.


But for a moment, let’s dig deeper. While last year’s State of Inbound report introduced the growing disconnect between businesses and their customers, this year we look at what causes this divide in the first place.

There’s a corporate chasm forming between executives and their employees, and when misalignment forms inside the four walls of a business, that can impact everything from employee retention to customer satisfaction. Consider these discrepancies:

  • 69% of executives believe their organization’s marketing strategy is effective, but only 55% of individual contributors in marketing agree.
  • 31% of executives believe that there’s tight alignment between their marketing and sales teams, but only 17% of both managers and individual contributors agree.
  • This trend continues on the department level: 45% of sales reps say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry, yet only 21% of executives said this is so.

In the 2017 State of Inbound report, we’ll break down the divide, as well as uncover international marketing priorities, new content distribution trends, and buyer communication preferences. Download our most data-packed edition of the State of Inbound today.


Source: State of Inbound 2017: Your Go-To Business Report for Marketing and Sales Research [New Data]

Get the Sales Playbooks of 18+ Sales Professionals Who Have Grown Multimillion-Dollar Companies


As a sales professional hustling to grow sales and revenue, you’re always looking for new ways to work more effectively, but that can be difficult.

In How to Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer: The Five Qualities That Make Salespeople Great, Herbert Greenberg found that 55% of salespeople don’t have the skills to be successful. That’s because companies don’t provide reps like you with the resources to maximize your success.

Get 25+ sales experts' playbooks for free. Reserve your seat at Inbound Sales  Day today.

However, the American Society for Training and Development found that continuous training yields 50% higher net sales per employee. With more training and resources, you could be even more effective at work to maximize your success and the company would see more revenue. It’s a win-win.

But not all companies have million-dollar budgets to provide employees with extra resources. And they can’t expect you to pay for your own training out of pocket – those programs are expensive!

To help you with this, we’ve partnered up with 25+ successful sales experts to create Inbound Sales Day, a free online event to provide you with a day of valuable and actionable sales process lessons to help grow revenue. Here’s a sneak peek of some of our sessions:

How to Get a Meeting With Anyone

Keenan, A Sales Guy

Getting people to meet with you is one of the most difficult parts of sales. Why? We think we matter. But we don’t. How to get a meeting with anyone will break down what gets buyers to respond to you and how you can you peoples on sense of self and selfishness to give you time on their busy calendars. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

5 Ways to Avoid ‘I Want to Think It Over …’

Marc Wayshak, Game Plan Selling

In this highly tactical and actionable program, you’ll learn how to get your prospects to say “Yes” more often and avoid the dreaded, “Let me think this over … “ You”ll also learn strategies on how to stand out from your competitors, create massive value through specific and easy-to-ask questions, and the step-by-step approach to answering the difficult question, “Why should I work with you?”

How to Make Phone Prospecting Work in a Social Selling Era

Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing

Want higher response rates to your emails, and more prospects returning your calls and voicemails? In this session, Matt Heinz will walk through numerous proven best practices that can help you start generating more engagement and conversations immediately.

These speakers will be joined by over a dozen more sales experts including:

  • Jeffrey Gitomer, Gitomer Learning Academy
  • Chris Savage, Wistia
  • Jill Konrath, bestselling author
  • Warren Greshes, Speaking of Success

Take your sales process and team to the next level. Claim your seat for Inbound Sales Day and invite your team. Get the tips and strategies you need to generate more sales.


Source: Get the Sales Playbooks of 18+ Sales Professionals Who Have Grown Multimillion-Dollar Companies

How to Close Sales in the Age of “Always Be Helping”


A pushy salesperson isn’t good for anyone.

Sales today is about helping people solve problems like a doctor or a consultant — not slamming deals like a used car salesman.Social media didn’t exist decades ago, but today, 75% of all B2B buyers (including 84% of C-level and VP-level executives) use social media to research their buying decisions. If you’re consistently too aggressive while closing deals, you’re setting yourself up for bad press and damage to your reputation that can last a long time.

For more advice on closing, check out The GSD Show — tips for salespeople, by salespeople.

To excel at modern sales, reps have to juggle a multitude of activities — learning their product, listening actively, handling multiple stakeholders, and mitigating curveballs — all while remaining professional, helpful, accommodating, and staying in control of the process. Setting the right expectations and helping people are important parts of selling today and will likely grow in importance over the next 20 years.

But wait — isn’t sales harder this way?

Maybe, but we have no choice. The rules have changed and you have to change with them. The days of taking prospects golfing to close deals are over.

At the same time, you still have to hit your quota. So what happens if your prospects take their sweet time to make a decision or are spending a lot of time in education or exploration mode?

The key is to manage your deals and sales process in a way that helps prospects move along at a steady clip without being a jerk. The seven strategies below help me exceed my number month after month while still being a helpful, consultative sales professional.

1) Manage a broader pipeline with more deals.

Some of your deals will roll to next month, or next year, or not close at all. Accept that as part of the reality of being a salesperson. In an age where strongarming prospects into signing a deal this month is no longer a viable sales strategy, you have to manage a broader, longer-term pipeline so you have enough volume to hit your number.

Part of managing this pipeline is understanding how to manage your prospects. If your prospects need to delay their start date for a short period of time, that’s fine — but you can’t forecast based on hopes and dreams. Always be as specific as possible when a deal rolls to next month by establishing a specific date and time to follow up. There’s a huge difference between “We’ll start next month” and “We’ll execute the payment link on Thursday, December 17.”

2) Only spend time with prospects who have real business pain.

Good prospects have real business pain. Your job is to help them formulate a good problem definition. Both are necessary for a purchase, and so my priority is finding and defining business pain.

I’m not above saying, “That doesn’t sound like real business pain to me,” to a prospect. After all, it’s more productive for me to offer to stay in touch and periodically send resources to a prospect in education mode if it doesn’t sound like they have thought through what they need. It’s wasteful to spend calories bringing them through the entire sales process, only to have the whole thing go belly-up because their need isn’t acute enough to buy.

But just because your prospect doesn’t fully grasp the pain doesn’t mean there isn’t any. A top salesperson can dig deeper to see if a mere nuisance right now is caused by an underlying problem that will mushroom into something problematic down the road. You are doing your prospect a huge solid if you can help them anticipate future problems.

3) Identify your prospect’s stage in the buyer’s journey.

The modern buyer’s journey has three stages (awareness, consideration, and decision), and buyers have three corresponding modes: education mode, evaluation mode, and purchasing mode. If you treat all your prospects like they’re in purchasing mode and try to aggressively close them, you’ll lose deals and waste time.

Instead, learn to diagnose what stage your prospect is in. For example, if they tell you they need to achieve a certain goal by March 2016 and are speaking with reps at three different companies, they’re clearly in the buying stage. But if they’re still researching what could have caused below-average performance in their last fiscal year, it may be too early to present them with product options.

If the prospect isn’t ready to buy, let Marketing work them instead of Sales. Send them information and then drip them free resources through predefined workflows and have them reach out to you with questions. As they educate themselves on their problem, reach out every few weeks or months to stay connected and check on their progress.

4) Create a buying plan with the prospect’s needs in mind.

In my experience, prospects tend to forget that their journey doesn’t end the day they make the purchase. In fact, the hard work has just begun. To help them understand this, a good technique is to start with their business goals and work backwards to the date they’ll need to implement by to see their ideal results.

The most valuable way to approach this exercise is to have your prospects talk through the timeline themselves and supplement their plan with your knowledge. Having them draw conclusions on their own is far more powerful than telling them what you think, even if you’re right.

Remember to always focus on the implementation, not the purchase, and back up the plan with as much data as possible to create a sense of urgency.

5) Expect curveballs.

Some of your deals will inevitably get delayed or fall through altogether, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t get emotional — understand that at least 10% of people will be irrational or that life will get in the way. I’ve had deals delayed due to car accidents, last-minute vacations, and illness. Eventually, you’ll experience all these things too.

The key is to not get emotional. Many prospects are afraid to call you back when curveballs rear their heads because they don’t want to have a difficult conversation or be strongarmed into doing something they can’t or don’t want to do right now. So always react calmly, and mutually come to next steps with your prospect so they don’t feel attacked.

6) Be comfortable “firing the prospect.”

Know when to say “when.” I’m happy to offer help to any prospect, but it’s illogical to spend a lot of time on a deal that doesn’t exist or is going to be too hard. I’ve had prospects who have asked me for help over five distinct sales pursuits over several years and just can’t pull the trigger. After a certain point, I have to realize that prospects who aren’t ready to buy after multiple sales processes aren’t ever going to be ready, or I’m not the right person for them to work with.

You have to know your own limits for what makes sense — for me, it’s two sales processes that go nowhere. Whenever this happens, closely review the process to determine what you could have done differently. This way, you’ll learn to spot the signs of a prospect who will forever drag their feet and won’t repeat your own mistakes.

7) Ask happy customers for referrals.

Remember when I said earlier that bad actions can destroy your reputation? Your professionalism and excellent sales execution can do exactly the opposite. By leveraging your existing network of customers, you can make future sales easier.

Whether it’s asking your customers to write you LinkedIn recommendations, having them serve as references for prospects, or blogging about your product, your customer base can help you do your job. After all, there’s nothing more valuable to moving a sale along than having someone who’s gone through the exact same process explain how easy it was.

Ultimately, sales is like dating. Ideally, you’ll find a prospect whom you’re a mutual good fit with, and you can close the deal. But if you find a prospect who isn’t ready for you yet, you have a choice. You can force the relationship and have a hard breakup where you’re left with the person you care about bad-mouthing you. Or, you can let the deal go and accept that it’s just timing or other external factors that are off.

Sales is human, but buyer behavior isn’t personal. All too often it can feel that way, but the best sales professionals remember to keep their heads cool so they can be as productive as possible.

The GSD Show

Source: How to Close Sales in the Age of “Always Be Helping”