Great Inbound Marketing - The Silo Busting Imperative

Posted by Ed Marsh on Dec 10, 2012 7:30:00 AM

"Drop your business card in our fishbowl for a chance to win an iPad"

b2b marketingHave you seen one of those signs at a trade show recently? I can't think of any more explicit manifestation of what's so completely sideways in B2B Sales & Marketing. I mean seriously.

But let's back up. There once was a time when the T-Rex of the biz dev world was the rainmaker direct sales pro. Strutting his/her stuff with a massive rolodex and easy demeanor they knew that everyone else knew they were the force that sustained a business. And marketing....marketing was the red-headed kid brother that was tolerated, every once in a while got picked for a team of pickup ball, and was expected to offer quiet admiration most of the time. In other words marketing had the easy task of generating leads - leads which then the big dawgs would massage and either dismiss or convert to revenue.

And in that world, B2B buying processes relied on the direct sales folks. This reliance was so ingrained in the system that normally direct sales became involved in the buying process when it was less than 30% complete. So T-Rex had plenty of opportunity to thrash its tail and gnash its teeth - controlling much of the dynamic of the B2B purchase because ultimately they controlled the required information on solutions.

Meteor strike or the internet?

But along the way T-Rex became extinct. Everyone realizes that except for those direct sales folks who still think they are the T-Rexes of the business world...and some traditional business owners who haven't looked up from running their companies.

inbound marketingToday direct sales is an afterthought. The coveted information which they used to control is now available anytime, anywhere. Buyers no longer need them, and therefore (surprise here for anyone?) they'd rather not deal with them. The typical B2B purchasing process now doesn't involve direct sales until it is more than 70% complete. The folks at Square2Marketing have distilled this evolution down into a simple graphic.

The glory days of direct sales are over.

So how do we sell now?

Obviously this evolution begs this critical question. If you can't send your warriors forth to battle for sales (now they may be negotiating terms of transactions based on decisions made before they were even aware of the project) then you must sell using other methods.

The answer lies in how buyers buy...and it's all about the web. 92% of all B2B purchases begin with an internet search. It stands to reason, therefore, that the fundamental objective of your marketing must be to present as compelling a presence as possible when folks search for solutions which you can provide.

But more than that, you must replicate the direct sales engagement virtually. Your on-line presence must fulfill all the functions your direct sales T-Rex did in the past. Building credibility, forming bonds of trust, educating prospects on your solutions, distinguishing your offering from competitors', supporting justification analysis and preempting concerns and hesitation must all now be largely achieved through a virtual dialog with prospects.

There's an app for that!

The good news is that you someone's already thought through this for you. Inbound marketing is the solution that you haven't hear of but have been desperately seeking.

The premise of inbound marketing is simple. Market and sell to folks they way they want to buy. The execution (at least if you are interested in doing it right for maximum effect) is complex - not because of any particularly complex element but because success takes an artfully integrated effort across a multitude of tools, disciplines and channels.

The easy, hard and 'I'm not sure you're up for it' steps

Deciding to change is easy. And when your banker or accountant keeps banging on you about slowing growth you'll be thrilled to have an answer. 

Implementing the change is much harder. Again, not because any piece is terribly complicated, but because there are many moving pieces and lots of work to be done.

But the real impediment? The one I'm not sure you can overcome? Your departmental structure and mindset are so ossified into Sales and Marketing silos that I am not convinced you can change. But now that marketing must do most of the selling and controls 70% of the buying process, you don't have a choice.

Are you up to it?

Learn more about the evolving roles of Sales and Marketing.



About the Author: Ed Marsh is co-founder of Consilium Global Business Advisors, an international marketing consulting agency focused on developing strategic global business development and channel programs.
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Topics: small business marketing, thought leadership, small business internet marketing, b2b lead generation

Introducing HubSpot Owner: Integrated Online Marketing and Website Platform for Small Businesses

Posted by Pete Caputa on Sep 18, 2008 9:27:00 AM

Preface: These are my thoughts and things from my perspective and don't necessarily represent the views and experiences of others at HubSpot. I'm guessing that people, especially our founders and management, from HubSpot will add more perspective in the comments.

When I joined HubSpot in November '07, I was extremely excited. HubSpot was a perfect fit for my passions at the intersection of online marketing, small business marketing services and software as a service. I had a conversation with Auren Hoffman shortly afterwards telling him what HubSpot was doing. He remarked, you really are attracted to business models that help small business owners grow their business. I hadn't thought of it in that light. But, he was right. I love helping small business owners with what is usually their most pressing problem: lead generation.

Being in a fast growing business in a rapidly evolving industry, however, I quickly grew a bit concerned about some of the sentiment internally about selling our services to small business owners. Every decision HubSpot makes is based on analysis and numbers. And the first few months, while I was there, a larger % of small business owners had cancelled their subscriptions (even though it was only a small number and usually because they were going out of business or changing direction). Also, previous to joining HubSpot, the majority of the sales team had sold larger products to larger companies. So, they all pretty much preferred selling to marketing teams with established budgets, instead of small business owners that needed a lot more education and had to decide between buying HubSpot and taking their family out to dinner each month.  The marketing team was also making large strides at attracting marketing professionals to our site and converting them into sales ready leads. They recommended those leads get priority in our queues and most of the sales team happily obliged. Further, the development team was developing more advanced inbound marketing capabilities like closed loop marketing and lead scoring and focussing less on solving the problems of small business owners. We even starting requiring small businesses to start paying for a year long subscription in advance, to ensure that they were committed. 

In short, it seemed like we were raising hurdles that prevented us from helping small businesses, while shifting the company focus up stream towards larger small businesses. 

A few months into my time at HubSpot, though, things started to change.

I started selling our content management system to small business owners as a primary reason why they should start with us. I specifically remember some early clients like Dr. Edward Kwak, Darcy Cook and Dave Lima where HubSpot had an immediate and extremely positive impact on their lead generation and business growth because they now had control over their site. 

A few months later, we instituted an internal scoring system to determine our most successful, most engaged and most improved clients. In aggregate, my clients, many of them small businesses were getting the highest scores.  

Around this time, the numbers were crunched and it was determined that small businesses who use our Content Management System (CMS) were almost always successful.

Things started to turn around internally. Management realized that we could serve both small and mid sized businesses successfully. But, it was quickly becoming apparent that they had different needs. 

As a result, on September 1st, HubSpot Owner and HubSpot Marketer were launched. HubSpot owner is a complete system for small businesses to manage their website, blog, traffic acquisition and lead capture. It also includes our internet marketing training program which teaches internet marketing practices in SEO, PPC, blogging for business, social media marketing, etc.  It includes all of the SEO tools, social media marketing and blog analytics tools, marketing analytics, lead intelligence, etc. It sounds a bit complex to the average small business owner, but the brilliant thing is that this is all they need to make the web work for them. It actually makes the process simpler by putting everything into one package. 

Altogether, HubSpot Owner provides a complete low cost turn key lead generation system for small businesses, as long as they are willing to dedicate the time to making it work. It removes the need for a technical webmaster. It removes the need for external costly custom web development. It lessons the need for hiring external marketing resources that most small businesses and solopreneurs cannot afford and who rarely generate a measurable ROI.  It makes it possible for small businesses to be in control of their website, online marketing, their online lead generation and ultimately the growth of their company. 

As you can tell, I'm pretty excited. By the end of August, we signed on 155 new clients bringing us to 750+ clients in total. When I started in November '07, we had <100 clients altogether. It's been an absolutely amazing ride. We're helping so many small businesses generate leads. I'm very confident, with the new product streamlined for business owners, we'll help many many more in the future.

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Topics: small business marketing, small business websites, small business internet marketing

How to Hire a Web Designer

Posted by Pete Caputa on Aug 16, 2008 10:15:00 AM

I've been pondering this a lately. A lot of web designers suck at web design. Many suck at marketing. The majority of web designers suck at business. And pretty much all web designers suck at sales, where sales is a virtuous skill defined as the process of figuring out what's important to their clients and then recommending a solution that helps them solve their problems and achieve their goals.

If you run a small business or manage marketing for a mid sized or large business, especially B2B businesses, and you're talking to a website designer... the most important thing to you is usually figuring out how to improve lead generation for your sales team through your website.

Paul Roetzer has published a few questions you should ask any website designer you're planning on hiring:

Q1: What's your Website Grade, Mr Designer?
Q2: How will our Website be optimized for search engines?
Q3: What Website analytics will we have access to?
Q4: Will we have the ability to change our own content?
Q5: How will our website generate leads?

Paul has some good tips in his article. You should read it if you're doing a site redesign. I'd also recommend educating yourself about the website redesign process and developing an internet marketing strategy first. Way too many people relaunch their website and then expect to figure out how to generate business from it. It really needs to be done the other way around, unless you prefer to waste time and money redoing things.

You learned how to drive before you bought your own car, right?

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Topics: sales, web design, internet marketing, small business internet marketing

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