In this blog post Rowley Cubitt, Head of New Business at Huble Digital, reveals his best practice advice for sales teams looking to sell smarter. Learn from his step-by-step approach to handling leads, as soon as they submit a form, and turning these into customers.
In a recent conversation I had with a Marketing Director I was asked what my best practice advice would be for their sales teams. By this, he specifically meant, what would be my advice on how companies should handle or respond to a lead in those first few hours – perhaps they downloaded an eBook, submitted a form or signed up to a webinar on your website.
Now we use HubSpot at Huble Digital, so I’m going to be using HubSpot as my software of reference in this example. But as I said to him, and I am happy to share with you again today, there are a number of steps I follow rigidly every time a lead comes in which has proven successful again and again regardless of software usage.
I hope this gives you some guidance and ideas for how you can adjust your Inbound Sales Strategy to react to Inbound leads in those crucial first few minutes … so let’s dive in.
1. Set-up automatic notifications
HubSpot has a lot of automation that you can set up. Best practice is to set up notifications which trigger to either your sales manager or the whole sales team (depending on what you’ve set up) informing you that a lead has come in. This internal notification should happen instantly when a lead submits a form.
2. Qualify them in or out
As soon as you receive a notification, your first job as a sales-rep is to qualify them in or out. Now, someone's going to go through the qualification process at that point. This means going into HubSpot via the notification CTA that will say ‘view contact in HubSpot’. Go to the contact record and straight away determine whether the lead is a firstname.lastname@example.org lead (not worth your attention) or is it a legitimate contact you can reach out to or potentially sell into in the future.
The qualification criteria you should be looking at is:
Is a real person?
Is it at a location we could service or sell into?
Are they a decision maker or are they an influencer or an intern?
This will enable you to get a bigger and better picture of the lead and prioritise that contact in your outreach.
If the lead doesn’t match your criteria (i.e., someone you would sell into), remember to qualify them out so they don’t stay in and clog up your CRM - a healthy CRM database is key to both marketing and sales success.
3. Understand the five-minute rule
As these are live notifications (as soon as someone submits a form, the email is triggered), it is now best practice to do that initial outreach within a five-minute window of them submitting the form.
This may sound mad, but this is bible for sales teams and there’s a strong reason why.
A paper published in the Harvard Business Review in 2011 looked at over 2,000 B2B companies and concluded sales teams who left that initial outreach any longer than five minutes, risked losing the prospect forever.
So, make sure you’re on the ball with your first outreach as timeliness is crucial to good response rates.
4. First outreach – Connect Call
Now when we think about sales outreach, we're talking about a sequenced process that usually starts with a telephone call. This is whether it's that contact’s first or fourth form submission.
At this point, you may just have a first name, last name and email address so you’ll need to do a fair amount of research on the contact before you pick up the phone. Alternatively, it might be their fourth download and you already have 20 fields covering size of company, phone number, website URL etc., so you have a pretty good picture of that person already – remember the more information you have, the better your connect call will be.
Another thing you want to be looking at before you pick up the phone is how that person came to your inbox. Best practice is to look at their contact record on HubSpot to understand:
What asset did they submit a form on?
What pages did they look at before submitting the form?
Are there any content pieces they’ve downloaded previously?
The main point of this is to understand common themes or pain points that you can reference on the call to turn a potentially cold outreach into a warm outreach. By referencing things that they've done and topics you know that are interesting to them, you automatically create a personal conversation tailored to their needs. This should be your lead into the call.
Example of how I would handle a connect call:
Hi, I’m Rowley from Huble Digital …
So, it looks like you’ve downloaded X, Y, Z from our website. Are these the types of challenges you guys are facing at the moment? …
… Usually when other people download this type of content they’re facing X, Y, Z challenges. Does this resonate with you?
This outreach takes the notorious “Hi I’m Rowley, I’m from [insert] Agency, we sell in these services, we work with X people…” (the me, me, me chat) to focusing the conversation on the prospect themself and their problems. That’s ultimately how you're going to understand what that person's about.
Now this should only be a very short connect call – no more than five to ten minutes.
The whole aim of that connect call is to reschedule to a longer discovery call, essentially, where you can deep dive into all the specific questions and information you need and really understand the company’s goals, challenges, budgets, timeline, plan. The discovery call is also the point at which you can invite any other decision makers onto the call so everyone is looped in from day one.
5. Connect call fails - They don’t answer, or you don’t have a number
Let's say they don't connect and you're not able to put in that first initial phone call. Obviously, the majority of people are working from home at the moment so it may be that they don’t yet have a mobile number.
If you can't get direct to that person and you leave a voicemail on their office phone instead, you still want to do look to do that personalised approach.
My advice = enroll them in a HubSpot sequence and send them a personalised video email.
This initial outreach should be a video - no longer than a minute - still referencing all their specific downloads, web pages and other information you would have discussed on the connect call in stage 4, highlighting some of the challenges that they could be facing.
To do this, I would recommend a free tool called Vidyard to record your video. This nifty app also allows you to create personalised thumbnails for your video (example below) which can sit in the body of your email to click through to the video. Creating a personalised thumbnail instantly makes your email personal and appealing to them and translates that you’ve gone out your way to do something unique for them. It also should take you just as long as writing out a long email once you get used to it!
I would keep the video short and sweet, using a similar flow to how your connect call would go. E.g.
Hi, I’m Rowley from Huble Digital. I just wanted to do you a quick little sales video email to follow up from your download of eBook X. One of the biggest challenges that people who download this type of eBook are facing are X, Y, and Z, just wanted to have a chat and see if they’re problems you’re facing right now and see how we could help?...
6. Enroll them in a sequence
If you haven’t yet managed to chat to the contact, you're going to enroll that person onto a sequence as soon as you send that initial email. This is going to be a six or seven stage sequence, with four emails spaced typically across about 10 days, with the ultimate goal being to get them onto a call with you.
As well as emails, you're going to have some additional tasks including follow up calls, connecting with them on LinkedIn, engaging with some of their posts, maybe even tweeting them.
Remember: they may ignore your first email but if you start reaching out on LinkedIn, then they also see a second email come through, a tweet, and more, then they should start to recognise your name and company. Become a name they can’t forget (without crossing over to annoying) and aim for a multi-channel approach. And, obviously each time you should be referencing their interests or what they've done on your website so that's hopefully going to spark some interest as they go through the sales sequence.
The big CTA on each of your emails and phone calls is to push them towards booking a meeting with you or jumping on that initial connect call we aimed for in stage four.
With the HubSpot meeting links tool, HubSpot take a lot of the heavy lifting out of organising a meeting. Simply point them towards your meetings link and they can book a call for a time that works for you both (HubSpot syncs with your Office365 or Gmail calendar and automatically blocks out times you’re busy). Additionally, if your zoom account is connected to HubSpot it will automatically generate a zoom link for you both to join and send you both confirmation and reminder emails of the meeting.
7. Manage the no-responders
Now, what do you do if you have none or a lack of response?
If your lead has gone through the entire sales sequence and you don't get a response, the last thing you want to do is become a pest.
Typically, at this point we refrain from any further sales outreach and push them back to marketing to nurture over their much longer nurture workflows (e.g., six months). At this point, they'll be sent further pieces of content sporadically and not targeted by sales.
It's worth noting that the sales-rep at this point would remain the lead owner in HubSpot. This means if the lead comes back and downloads more content assets from your website at a later date (e.g. another eBook or signs up to an event), you're going to get a re-visit notification as their lead owner. At this point, it's a really wise choice to actually do some outreach again as we practiced in stage four - as soon as you get that notification, pick up the phone or drop them an email, because at that point they are actively looking at content that your company has produced and they are potentially in the mind frame to talk about your solution to their problems.
Whether you're in sales or marketing, the above steps lay out some best practice advice for how you should act as soon as a lead comes through. These are the types of processes every company should have in place to maximise sales.
It's an inbound sales process that very much piggybacks off the Inbound Marketing process using HubSpot for sales enablement. HubSpot is the perfect tool to support that goal.