Inbound Marketing and Sales Alignment: Lessons from HubSpot
HubSpot’s SVP of Sales and Services Mark Roberge discusses the importance of inbound marketing and sales alignment and how companies can make the customer’s buying process a more seamless experience.
Editor’s note: This article has been adapted from the OpenView Labcast “Sales and Marketing: The HubSpot Way”.
Today’s customers want their buying process to be as seamless as possible. Inbound marketing and sales alignment is no longer simply a competitive advantage — it’s something they expect.
As inbound marketing becomes a more relied-upon method of generating sales and revenues for businesses, it’s becoming more apparent that it’s a branch of operations that is anything but insular. The right marketing strategy in today’s online business environment can have a huge impact on — and require coordination with — many aspects of a company, from sales and lead generation to the overall customer experience and beyond. Inbound marketing and sales alignment is key.
As marketing has evolved, so has its relationship with sales, forcing representatives to find new means of maintaining their value as employees. In this Q&A, HubSpot SVP of Sales and Services Mark Roberge discusses the link between inbound marketing and sales, and how startup and expansion-stage businesses can improve coordination and the overall working relationship between these separate operations.
OpenView: The term inbound marketing seems to be everywhere these days, and that’s thanks in large part to HubSpot, a company that has become synonymous with it. Can you give us a quick breakdown of HubSpot and its role in the rise of inbound marketing?
Mark Roberge: About five or six years ago, we had done a thesis at MIT about the changing buying patterns of prospects and folks out there in the marketplace due to the advent of the Internet, and how it was misaligned with the way that sales and marketing teams were going to market. At the time, we coined the term inbound marketing. It all came from this thesis that we had done at the Institute.
The basis of it was the majority of folks were going to market by doing cold calls, or going to trade shows, or buying lists for direct mail or email marketing, and trying to pound down the walls of their potential prospects to get in the door. The effectiveness of those techniques was significantly decreasing.
OV: One of the big arguments for making strong inbound marketing materials available is that today’s customers are becoming more sophisticated in doing their own research ahead of buying decisions. Are your sales reps seeing more educated consumers at the point of first contact?
MR: We talk a lot here at HubSpot about the transition in marketing. We don’t talk as much about the transition in sales, but the same online trends have triggered a similar transition within the sales process. Go back 10 or 15 years ago, if you were evaluating security software vendors, you probably had to go to a show. You had to read CTO Magazine and see who was out there. You had to talk to a salesperson just to figure out the price and the features and how it compared to the other vendors out there.
Today, it’s a very different story. Today, you can get all that information online — just go to the website. You can do a Google search for security software firms and financial services, and pick off the first five that are listed. Google is pretty good at figuring out who the top players are. A lot of folks are using that as a first step in their vendor choices. Often, you go to their website and actually try their product for free. I mean, what value does the salesperson bring in that whole process? It has really caused sales folks to have to step up, to be much more consultative in their processes.
OV: How has HubSpot’s sales team embraced the change?
MR: As an example, when you join HubSpot as a salesperson you do no sales training for the first two weeks. You actually start your own blog. You start doing inbound marketing on the HubSpot platform. You get 100 people to subscribe to your blog. You start generating conversions and subscribers. You’re out there on Twitter getting followers. You live and breathe the feeling of an inbound marketer.
When our folks finally connect with their prospects, usually that person could have been following us for three or four months. They could have consumed over 100 pages on our website. They’re pretty educated. Now they’re looking for that deeper level of education. If our salesperson is able to get in there and answer their detailed questions about how to write a successful blog article and how to actually run a successful social media campaign, they’re going to be successful.
For more advice on how to stand out, compete, and connect in today’s competitive marketplace read OpenView’s report, “Above and B2B-eyond: A Look at the Creative Marketing Tactics Leading B2B Technology Companies Are Using Online.” The report highlights 10 successful, outside-the-box B2B marketing tactics used by such companies as Salesforce.com, Eloqua, and HubSpot that have helped separate these companies from the competition.