The B2B Outreach Strategy That Helped Us Win Our First 10 Customers

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Early-stage companies often cast too wide a net when defining their target customer base. They believe the more prospects, the better — but pursuing the wrong types of prospects wastes precious time, cash, and sales resources. There’s a high opportunity cost to chasing someone who won’t buy (or buys and quickly churns).

All the while, your competitors are entering the market and getting to large and enterprise clients more quickly than you.

I’ve now helped three early-stage tech companies go from zero revenue to cash-flow positive. Honing in on the most valuable accounts and customer stakeholders has helped me accelerate B2B sales at each of these. In fact, the company I currently lead, Spotted Media, used this three-step plan to acquire our first set of customers before we even had a fully functioning web site.

Step 1: Create an Ideal Customer Profile

An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) should consist of five strict bullet points that you will not waver on. This means you can’t work any prospect who does not check all five boxes of your ICP.

An ICP might consist of the following:

  • Revenue size (e.g. more than $200 million in annual sales)
  • Employee count (e.g. no fewer than 1,000 verified LinkedIn employees)
  • Organization’s employee structure (e.g. the brand must have an in-house media team)
  • Type of product sold (e.g. a direct manufacturer)
  • A mutual goal (e.g. a manufacturer that cares about increasing brand awareness)

Once you’ve created your Ideal Customer Profile, the next step is thinking through the people who work for this ideal customer. Stop asking yourself surface-level questions like, “Are they in marketing?” and start asking yourself in-depth, meaningful questions about these professionals’ motivations.

That leads me to the next step.

Step 2: Create a Persona Map

Choose the three primary roles that you sell into (e.g. the VP of Advertising, the VP of Media, and the VP of Brand Marketing), then outline the following for each of these three roles:

  1. The buyer’s 2-3 primary daily responsibilities (projects they work on and think about every day)
  2. 2-3 ways your company can help make the buyer’s daily responsibilities easier
  3. The buyer’s 2-3 longer-term goals
  4. 2-3 ways in which your company can help further the buyer’s longer-term goals
  5. How your company can get this person promoted faster than their peers

This approach will save you and your team a great deal of time in the future when you’re at your laptop thinking, “What messaging and language should I use when reaching out to this person?” By filling in the five points above for each of your target roles, your outreach messaging will practically craft itself. Repurpose points #2 and #4 specifically for your email outreach.

These should appear within the first few sentences of your outreach emails to the target contact. Here is an example:

Ideas for [prospect’s company] re: [goal]

Dear [prospect’s name],

I am reaching out to you given your role in media at [prospect’s company]. [Vendor] can help [prospect’s company] improve [point #1] with its millennial customers by [point #2]. [Vendor] is helping [Client A] and [Client B] media teams achieve a [point #3] that is [X%] more efficient through [point #4].

Do you have 15 minutes to hear about the unique ideas we have for the [prospect’s company] media team on [date] or [date]?

Thanks in advance,
Janet

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You’ve mapped out the specifics of your ideal customer, the personal motivations of the stakeholders — now where do you go from here? To focus your outreach on the right people, you have to prioritize.

Step 3: Prioritize Your Personas

Prioritize your personas by ranking each buyer on a scale from one to five on the following:

  • Alignment with your solution
  • Size of their budget
  • Level of influence within the organization

Once you’ve calculated the scores for alignment, budget, and influence, lay out a strategic plan for your outreach starting with the buyers with the highest totals. (In this example, the VP of Media ranks the highest.)

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This exercise will drastically reduce wasted time and optimize your outreach while allowing you to get in front of the right people faster.

What’s the result of this upfront investment in strategy? Efficient outreach that specifically addresses the needs of your various buyers. Your messages will resonate more, and your prospects will respond more frequently.

Say goodbye to the typical results at early-stage companies, and say hello to more calls, meetings, and closed business.

HubSpot Free Sales Training


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

How You Can Avoid My Biggest Mistake as a Sales Manager

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When I started managing, I was focused on things such as …

  • Gaining trust from my team
  • Understanding what motivated each one of my team members to work with me and at the company
  • Ensuring I knew sales forecasting fundamentals
  • Finding scaleable training initiatives
  • Managing my time effectively
  • Building a team-wide vision and enabling team unity
  • Defining (and refining) the right way to onboard new team members

While all of those endeavors were absolutely worthwhile, I realized that all of these things could and would constantly change. People came and went. Processes came and went. Sales targets and forecasting methods came and went. The market and competitive landscape evolved. Even the products and services we were (and are) selling evolved. It was all about change.

The Secret that Will Make You a Better Sales Leader

After going through an intense two-day training on coaching (ironic to have these two words so close together) with Keith Rosen, I learned one “secret” I wish I’d known far before becoming a sales manager. That secret? It’s all about how to be a great coach — which will enables you to be great leader.

How I Knew I Wasn’t a Good Sales Coach (Yet)

Having further reflected on my first two years as a sales manager and sales leader, I realized I had coaching all wrong. I realized that I viewed coaching as problem solving — which is actually more of a training, and sometimes motivation issue — when in fact I wasn’t actually solving problems. Instead, I was only perpetuating a pattern of behavior that made my team more dependent on me, not less.

Are you a sales consultant or CRM implementation company? Check out HubSpot’s brand new Sales Partner Program.

I “wrote off” the reality that people needed to hear something five or more times before it actually sunk in. I knew this problem existed because the same problems kept coming up over and over again — no matter how many group trainings, team meetings, or support resources I developed.

Why? The answer was simple — I had become the “Chief Problem Solver,” not a coach. I was not empowering my people to solve problems on their own and think critically. Instead, they were relying on me as their safety blanket.

Where Most Leaders and Managers Get Sales Coaching Wrong

I believe a great number of people struggle with this issue, which was validated when my 40-plus peers in the room during Keith’s training had this look on their face that said, “Oh no. What have I done? I’m a Chief Problem Solver too!” So if you feel this way, don’t have a meltdown.

I also believe most people get sales coaching wrong because they confuse the concepts of training and coaching. Let’s break the two apart.

First, training can be loosely defined as the base of knowledge that an individual needs to learn to do their job effectively.

Coaching, on the other hand, isn’t about learning facts, how systems work, what the rules are, and so on. Instead, coaching can be loosely defined as a communication method that connects and engages someone in an empowering manner.

As further defined by Keith Rosen, “[Good coaching is] achieved through a process of ongoing, consistent interaction, observation, and unconditional support in a safe and trusting environment that focuses on the unique and specific needs and talents of each individual in a way that facilitates long-term, positive change.”

What to Do Next to Become a Better Coach

First, ask yourself if your team members are repeatedly coming to you the same questions. If they are, you probably have a training or motivation issue. This will need to be resolved either through more structured organizational knowledge transfer or through a truthful conversation about why that team member wants to work at your company.

Second, if you jump to give your team members easy answers, you most likely have a coaching issue on your hands. This clicked for me when I realized that, as a sales rep, I rarely ever gave answers, and instead tried to empower prospects to answer their own questions. But as a manager, I threw that out the window almost immediately without thinking about it.

To get back into the right mindst, think through how you would have acted as a sales rep with a prospect (assuming you took an Inbound Sales approach).

Finally, don’t take this advice too literally. Use good judgment. In other words, there will be times your reps need a straightforward answer and coaching won’t be appropriate. For example, don’t take the opportunity to coach your team member when she’s in the middle of a call and presses “mute” to ask you a question.

Oh, and if you haven’t checked out Keith Rosen’s blog, you definitely should — he’s an amazing resource in this space.

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Source: How You Can Avoid My Biggest Mistake as a Sales Manager
blog.hubspot.com/sales

The 3 Traits Every Sales Manager Must Have to Be Good at Their Job

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I talk often about a new performance management culture taking hold in the today’s “B2All” marketplace.

To meet that challenge, leadership skills must evolve. Your sales manager’s number one job now is to teach and refine the skills of sellers to help them hit their peak and stay there.

So what’s the best way to make that happen: Simply turning your existing top sellers into leaders? Not so fast!

A great manager isn’t just a sales performer with enhanced decision making authority. There’s a crucial yet overlooked fact about these two roles in your sales organization: Their skills are not automatically transferrable. You don’t create a great leader just by promoting a top seller.

Want more insights from Colleen? Register now to hear her speak at Inbound Sales Day, a free event on June 6, 2017.

Unless you distinguish selling skills from leadership skills, you can put your entire sales team at risk of underperforming.

Prioritize Mindset Over Sales Performance

Selling is not a team sport — most top sellers do their best working solo. Managing people, on the other hand, is all about working with others.

When scouting for a sales leader, be on the lookout for a team-focused mindset ahead of their personal sales record. Why? Because a great leader is persuasive in winning hearts and minds. They’re selling to your team, not to your customers.

They help each member understand his or her responsibility for overall results: The performance of one seller can either lift or sink everyone. They’re gifted in their flexibility — able to modify, reshape and rebuild a sales group to suit changing conditions or requirements.

Look for Collaborators, Not Competitors

Top leaders show up for others. Top sellers show up for themselves. That’s not a criticism of the latter: Self-interest is a powerful quality in sales. But it’s poison in the business of managing people. Leaders are invested in their team. They show up at sales meetings and training events, ready to contribute and share what they know. They sit in on coaching calls. And they prioritize that type of work ahead of all other activities.

Your top sellers, when left to their own devices, are likelier to keep their distance. They’re thinking about when they will make their next sale, rather than who they can help next. This tendency is valuable in a sales position but potentially lethal in a leadership role.

Find People Who Can Measure Success Differently

Your best leaders understand and accept it’s not their job to be the best seller on the team. They succeed in their job only when their staff are outperforming what they once achieved as sellers themselves.

They communicate generously: Sharing wins, giving credit to others, and ensuring everyone has the resources and support necessary to win. They don’t horde information. They lead by example where loyalty is concerned. That means they fully support each seller in their team — even the struggling ones. They take decisive action to cut and replace only when it’s clear every other avenue has been exhausted.
 
You can teach someone to harness that sense of presence, to adopt a team mindset, and to look at success differently than as a seller. It’s a mistake, however, to assume all this will just appear on its own once you put them in a leadership role. Far too many companies — even after they’ve made a great pick for a sales manager — don’t invest a dime in training them. That’s a surefire way to wind up with a frustrated manager and a demoralized sales team.

Distinguish people skills from selling skills. Be ready to train and refine both. All this will put your organization on the path to success.

HubSpot Free Sales Training

Source: The 3 Traits Every Sales Manager Must Have to Be Good at Their Job
blog.hubspot.com/sales

What Baseball Taught Me About Selling (And How I Apply It Every Day)

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Before you go to the next article, I know what you’re thinking: “Ugh, something about baseball. So boring.”

But this article isn’t really about baseball — it’s about a single lesson I learned through playing baseball over 20 years that I now apply to sales every day.

I’ll go ahead and take the rabbit out of the hat now. That lesson is, “Act like you’ve been here before.”

How Hitting a Triple Taught Me That Single Lesson

I was 14 years old and playing in a tryout for an AAU baseball team, The Seadogs. AAU stands for the Amateur Athletic Union, and at least as far as baseball goes, it has a history of producing some pretty top-notch talent. 

I was up to the plate in this game, and I hit a gapper to right center field. The ball carried all the way to the fence, and I was hustling around first base. Mind you, I wasn’t exactly what you would call “slender” (I stood 5’10” and weighed 180 lbs at this age). I kept hustling, trying to build up more and more momentum as I “sprinted” towards second base.

And then something happened that never happened before. I felt my feet still beneath me and they were carrying me past second base. It was as if my feet knew better than my mind, and they were carrying me straight for third. I couldn’t believe it! Normally at this point, I was sliding either feet-first or head-first into second base, gasping for air and wiping the dirt off my pants. This time was different.

So I chugged and I chugged, as fast as my feet would carry my man-boy frame. I could see the third baseman on the opposing team preparing to catch the throw coming in from right field to tag me out. I slid head-first, grabbed the bag, and heard the umpire exclaim, “SAFE!”

I couldn’t have been happier. I had done it — it was the first triple I had ever hit! I popped up with a big grin on my face, pumped my fist in celebration, and stood on the bag waiting for the game to continue.

What happened next made my stomach drop to my shoes with embarrassment. My third base coach grabbed me by the arm and whispered in my ear, “Sig, stop acting like an amateur. Act like you’ve been here before. It’ll intimidate them.”

My 14-year-old mind had been blown. How could I have been so stupid? Why was I acting like it was a complete miracle that I had hit a triple? I should have had more faith in myself, in my training, in all of my practice. The countless hours I spent trying to improve every aspect of my game.

And the coach was right — I should have acted like I had been there before. Because it wasn’t just about the intimidation and the professionalism. It was also about the power of positivity and what we are able to achieve when we keep ourselves in the right head space. Remaining in that positive frame of mind, I went on to hit four more triples throughout that season. 

How I Apply that Single Lesson to Sales Today

When I embarked on my HubSpot journey, I had no idea what I was doing. I remember getting to my desk the first day on the job and looking at our contact database. I wondered, “How do I turn this into sales?”

Are you a sales consultant or CRM implementation company? Check out HubSpot’s brand new Sales Partner Program.

So I diligently walked over to my manager’s desk and said, “Dannie, I’m ready to start selling. What do I do?” She smiled softly and said, “Well, I suggest you get on the phone. I’ll send you a list of 50 leads to start working now.” I figured that was fair enough.

I started calling, and miraculously, people were answering. And it wasn’t just the first person I called. It was the first four in a row. I couldn’t believe it. I figured, “Man, this is going to be so easy. Why didn’t I start working in sales sooner?”

It turns out that the little stroke of luck I had early on was just that: A stroke of luck. Of course, over the following months I realized how hard sales was and how hard I would have to work to be successful. I kept at it.

In my fifth month on the job (around October 2012), the wheels completely flew off. I had lost all of my confidence, I really didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing, and I wasn’t getting anyone to take my calls, or take follow-on calls in our exploratory process. I was defeated. And of course, the deals weren’t coming in.

In the third week of October, our VP of Sales, Pete Caputa, came over to my desk and said something to the effect of (and I’m paraphrasing), “Sig, what’s going on? Your numbers are way off this month and you sound awful on the phone. What’s worse is that you sound desperate, and you’re eroding the value of how we help our customers grow and scale their business. Why are you doing that?”

I scrambled for answers, but couldn’t find them. When Pete realized this, he looked me in the eye and said, “You have to always sell like you’re already at your number.”

And then the lightbulb went off again. I was taken straight back to that 14-year-old version of myself and was reminded that to be successful I had to believe I would be successful.

If I exhibited doubt, the people I were talking to would have zero reason to speak with me. If I didn’t believe in what I was doing, why should they? If they didn’t believe in my ability, why would they want to partner with me? And if I was acting desperately in the sales process — for example, doing “easy way out” selling, like offering discounts — wouldn’t they start to question whether or not the product I was selling was actually a smart investment? Of course!

Carrying That Single Lesson Forward into Leadership

From then on, in my next 20-plus months in the sales funnel, I only missed my number twice. Both times I missed I was still above 90%. I can’t say for sure whether or not it was this single moment that turned me around, but it’s a lesson I try to teach all of my team members to this day: “The second you start doubting yourself and throwing pity parties is the exact moment at which your ability to succeed is in great jeopardy.”

My advice for any individual contributor reading this: If you’re ever struggling, check the tone of your voice and your sales behavior. The fastest way to lose a deal is through desperation. And the fastest way to get back on track is to start “selling” like you’re already at or way above your number at all times.

My advice for any leader reading this: If you have team members struggling, figure out if your reps are in this negative headspace. Figure out if they actually believe crushing their numbers is possible. And if they don’t, maybe share my story with them. Or better yet, think back through your life and tell a story of your own.

Finally, for anyone reading this and thinking, “Man, this is really kumbaya. I don’t buy it,” I would encourage you to read this article. (Essentially, it has been scientifically proven that people with dispositional optimism are more successful and healthier than those who are not.)

Onward and upward.

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Source: What Baseball Taught Me About Selling (And How I Apply It Every Day)
blog.hubspot.com/sales

Steal the Secrets of 5 Ultra-Successful Sales Leaders

alignment-conference-compressor-410402-edited.jpgIn B2B, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a topic as widely-loathed as sales and marketing alignment.

For all the content dedicated to the subject, sales-marketing alignment remains a pie-in-the-sky industry concept to most B2B sales leaders.

That’s partly because you can’t find many success stories that drill down into the strategy and practices of successful campaigns.

Next week’s free virtual summit, Aligned 2017, sets forth to rectify that. Cohosted by Sales Hacker, Engagio, Ambition, HubSpot, and more, the five-day event gives registrants on-demand access to 50+ brand-new video sessions with experts, consultants, and operators talking all things B2B sales-marketing alignment.

5 Sales-Marketing Alignment Success Stories for B2B

What does a successful B2B sales-marketing alignment strategy look like? How are B2B sales leaders implementing those strategies? What tools and tactics are they using?

Aligned 2017 has the full answers. But as a special preview, I’m chronicling five of my favorite sessions from next week’s summit.

From $250K ARR to $11M

The most remarkable thing about Drew Woodcock — the first and only sales leader for online restaurant ordering platform ChowNow — is his prior sales management experience. Or lack thereof, we should say. Drew Woodcock joined ChowNow as an Account Executive in May 2013.

In November 2013, ChowNow’s leadership tapped him to become the first sales leader in company history. Sales team headcount at that time? 7 reps. Annual recurring revenue? $250K.

Fast forward three and a half years, and ChowNow has more than 40 reps and $11M in ARR.

How did Drew get ChowNow where it is today — with zero foundation to build on and zero prior experience to draw from? Simple. He started aligning ChowNow’s sales organization by revamping incentives. As the company scaled, he kept teams accountable to goals by tracking, publicizing, and rewarding key activity and efficiency metrics. Most critically, he created a culture of camaraderie, teamwork, and professional development that transcends his sales, marketing, support and account management teams. At Aligned, Drew will cover the key tools and playbooks he leveraged to drive ChowNow’s success.

Register for Aligned 2017. Submit a question for Drew Woodcock.

From $0 to $10M in Revenue

Michael Pici led the sales team charged with launching HubSpot’s nascent sales platform back in 2014. After taking the product from $0 to $10M in revenue generated, Michael now leads a team of 80 salespeople and managers.

He attributes HubSpot’s revenue growth to internal alignment across its product, marketing, sales, and service teams. That includes deploying MSPOTs (Mission, Strategy, Playbook, Omissions, Tracking), running audits on failed initiatives, communicating with leadership across functions, and, perhaps most critically, committing to constant, company-wide client communication.

If that’s too high-level for you, start by stealing this strategy from the HubSpot leadership team. Bring together the heads of product, marketing, sales, and services for your organization. Jump on a conference call with a major existing client, allowing each member of the leadership team to ask questions and get insights specific to their function within your company.

Use that as a springboard for an internal discussion about improving alignment and coordination across each of your departments. Congratulations, you’re using a tried-and-true HubSpot alignment philosophy in your organization.

Register for Aligned 2017. Submit a question for Michael Pici.

From 3 Reps to 30

Ask Prezi sales operations lead Adam Harless, and he’ll assure you industry and company size don’t impact the core principles behind successful B2B sales and marketing operations. Adam should know — 18 months ago, he went from leading sales operations for enterprise 3PL Echo Global Logistics to the same role at Prezi, a high-growth SaaS startup.

Worlds apart? Not so much. Adam says the same alignment principles apply, whether you’re running sales operations for 700 brokers working in a high-volume call center or an agile, inbound-driven SaaS startup.

Adam’s principles:

  1. Streamline processes
  2. Adopt user-friendly technology
  3. Focus on key metrics

Following those principles has proven fruitful for both Adam and the B2B sales team at Prezi — which grew from three to 10 reps in 2016 and is expected to reach 30 reps this year.

Register for Aligned 2017. Submit a question for Adam Harless.

From Desegmentation to Hybridization

Outsourcing sales development to another organization — especially one with the specific characteristics of Inside Sales Team — is still a relatively novel concept for most B2B sales organizations. And yet, Inside Sales Team president and general manager Marijke Kemble has successfully grown both sales and support team headcount since taking over their internal business operations last June.

How did she do it? By going completely against the grain in how she structures IST’s sales organization. While most B2B sales organizations are segmenting their various sales functions into unique, hyper-specific roles, Kemble implemented the opposite strategy. Not only did she de-segment IST’s sales team, she hybridized various marketing, business development, closing, and account management functions into a single role.

The broader and deeper an Inside Sales Team member’s understanding of the entire B2B front office, the better they would understand and serve IST’s clients. It’s proof that there are a million unique ways to successfully align your B2B sales organization.

Register for Aligned 2017. Submit a question for Marijke Kemble.

600% Revenue Growth

Since Morgan Ingram joined Terminus in 2015, he’s implemented a truly hybrid strategy that has bridged the gap between marketing and sales: The SDR Chronicles YouTube channel.

This is a prime example of successful sales-marketing alignment. It speaks to the right audience and offers value rather than selling.

The channel has had an impact both for Morgan, who was promoted to sales development manager, and Terminus, which achieved 600% revenue growth and 300% client growth since May 2016.

 Register for Aligned 2017Submit a question for Morgan Ingram.

Register for Aligned 2017

These five success stories are just the beginning. Aligned 2017 offers a week’s worth of video content for modern B2B sales leaders, including keynotes from Gary Vaynerchuk, Jill Konrath, Tony Hughes, and more.

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Whether you’re adopting an account based approach, looking to ramp inbound lead generation, or trying to smooth the handoffs down the marketing and sales funnel, you need a playbook that matches the needs of your organization.

Register now to get free access to all 50 video sessions starting Monday, May 22.

Source: Steal the Secrets of 5 Ultra-Successful Sales Leaders
blog.hubspot.com/sales