Top 10 Reasons Why Inbound Cannot Replace Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

INBOUND V SALESWell, it's really happened now.

I was following a discussion in the Hubspot VAR Group on LinkedIn, where the question posed to the group was whether or not the first sales hire should be a sales or a marketing person.

[Disclosure:  Hubspot is a client of both Kurlan and OMG; This blog is hosted on Hubspot's terrific blogging and lead-gen platform and I was one of their very first customers back in 2006.]  

Hubspot's VAR's are all marketing agencies specializing in inbound marketing.  There were some terrific comments, but one particular comment stopped me dead in my clicks and scrolls.  The comment was from a well-respected Hubspot executive who said, "Do not hire a salesperson."  It's a polarizing comment for a number of reasons:

  1. I'm speaking at their international INBOUND14 Conference next month (if you want to attend, you can use this discount code: GOINB14) and my topic is, "Interviewing for the Inbound Sales Role"!  Should I back out?  Do you think anyone will show up to hear me?
  2. This comment, as well as articles and comments like this, are the source of exactly the kind of confusion that I spoke about in this cover story for Top Sales World Magazine last week.
  3. And it's exactly the kind of confusion that I spoke about with Selling Power Publisher, Gerhard Gschwandtner, in the video below, recorded at last month's Sales 2.0 conference in Boston.

Once again, it's imperative for everyone to understand that there are many scenarios where salespeople cannot be replaced by inbound marketing!  If you or your company are involved in any of the following 10 scenarios, you absolutely must have salespeople:

  1. Complex Sale 
  2. Big Ticket Sale
  3. Long Sales Cycle
  4. You are the Underdog.
  5. You Have a New Technology.
  6. You are Not the Market Leader.
  7. You are Not the Low Price Leader.
  8. You are Not the Recognized Major Brand.
  9. It is Not an Existing Expense for Most Customers.
  10. Your Product or Service is Not an Easy-to-Sell, Affordable Subscription.

So, it should be quite obvious why an inbound marketer, following up on an inbound lead, cannot possibly run the sophisticated sales cycle that would be required to successfully sell and close a prospect or group of prospects in the 10 scenarios listed above.

How do you feel about this topic?  Please weigh in below, regardless of which side of the fence you are on.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, HubSpot, Gerhard Gschwandtner, jonathan farrington, Top Sales World, selling power

Social Selling - I'm a Proponent, Not a Detractor - Look at The Stats

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 @ 08:11 AM

The battle that I inadvertently started with this post moved here where it took on a life of its own.  As of this writing, there were 36 comments, some more pointed than others.  Gerhard Gschwandtner added this post to the ongoing discussion.  Earlier this week, I wrote this post to address most of the confusion that's out there.  Yesterday, this post appeared on the Sales Thought Leaders Blog to add fuel to the fire.

I think it's all quite funny that so many have so much difficulty letting go of their positions and take things so personally.

I'm actually a proponent of social selling, not a detractor.  I proactively and consistently use LinkedIn, ToutApp, Hubspot, YouTube, Wistia, Postwire, HootSuite, MeetMe, Eventbrite and more.  Both of my companies have Twitter accounts that tweet Blog posts, news and retweet many of the tweets from other sales thought leaders.  

Bob Thompson left several comments on the article at the CustomerThink site.  In his last comment, he asked what the stats would look like if we only reported on what the best salespeople did with social media.  I think that's a terrific idea, Bob, and while it's much more difficult to isolate those statistics, I did the research and report on it here.

One important thing to remember when making these comparisons is that the most successful reps don't make cold calls, so we need to compare their social media successes to the alternative which, for them, is referral/introduction selling.

I looked at 1,921 leads that were assigned to a group of top salespeople.

They closed 69% of the leads that were customer/client referrals/introductions.

On the other hand, they closed only 5% of the leads from social selling.  WOW!!

However, I looked more closely and found that we can identify something different altogether.

If we isolate the leads that were either call-ins or emails generated from Blog Posts or videos, the closing rate shot up to 29%.  It's not the 69% of referrals, but it sure beats the hell out of cold calls and the rest of the social selling leads.  How did the top salespeople fare on those?

They closed only 3% of the "leads" that were from White Paper downloads, Sample Requests, Webinar views, and the like.

In summary, top salespeople closed less than half as many quality social selling leads as they did with all referral/introduction leads.  That's not bad.  But the 3% suggests that the "leads" from other sources should never go to salespeople.  Those leads waste time and should remain with marketing.

One question this leaves me with is who would have been better at following up on the quality social selling leads?  The top salespeople (who never cold call and rarely get resistance) or the newer and/or less successful salespeople who regularly deal with such annoyances?

Are these findings more encouraging?

I believe they are.  They suggest that with the existance of two variables, social selling can be effective.  

We must be able to differentiate between quality and other leads.

We must have a method for getting only the best quality leads directly to the salespeople.

We must funnel those leads to the salespeople who are most capable of closing them.  That last statement is different from traditional lead distribution at most companies.  Aren't you sick and tired of giving leads to salespeople who don't follow up on a timely basis?  Who don't convert them?  Who don't close them?  I believe that leads should go only to the salespeople who prove they can be effective with them and follow up on a timely basis.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, Gerhard Gschwandtner, lead follow up, lead conversion, KPI, social selling, statistics

How to Make it Easier for Your Salespeople to Sell

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 @ 00:11 AM

The article that addresses the title is a little further down but I would appreciate it if you would please first read the paragraphs before the article.

I want to thank you for reading my Blog.  Whether you've been here for all 850 plus articles or just joined us this month, I hope you find it useful and original.  When I first started posting articles back in 2006 my original goal was to organize my thoughts in order to write my next book - a Sales Management Bible.  Instead, I realized that while I no longer had time to write another book, I did have 10-15 minutes, early each morning, to share my thoughts and experiences, usually based on data and science.

This Blog has been honored with many awards during the past few years, and was nominated for four more this week.  Understanding the Sales Force is nominated for Top Sales & Marketing Blog of 2011.  Winners will be announced in the 2011 Top Sales & Marketing Awards ceremony on December 16.  One of my articles, Money Motivated Salespeople a Dying Breed, was nominated for Top Sales & Marketing Blog post.  

The third nomination places me in the company of these experts, legends and thought leaders:  Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Neil Rackham, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, Dave Stein, Jill Konrath, Mike SchultzDr. Tony Allasandra, and I were all nominated for Top Sales & Marketing Thought Leader of the Year.  You could do a lot worse than reading the material that this group cranks out!

Finally, Objective Management Group was nominated for Top Sales Assessment tool.

Jonathan Farrington hosts the 2011 Top Sales & Marketing Award Event along with Gerhard Gschwandtner on December 16. I'll provide registration information as soon as it's available but in the mean time, I wouldn't mind at all if you wanted to take a moment and vote (for me if you want to).  When you vote, you'll have to register first - sorry - and choose a category for your vote.  If you want to vote in the other two - or more - categories after you've voted, click HOME and then select another category.  You can vote as often as you wish but only once per day from the same computer. 

Here are some links to three must read articles you might have missed:

The Difference Between Sales Commitment and Desire 

How Watching a Movie Again Improves Sales Effectiveness 

Sales Process is to Religion as Sales Methodology is to Prayer 

Today's article has been more about me than you and since that's never the intent here, let's change gears.  

How to Make it Easier for Your Salespeople to Sell

If your company is an underdog (what you sell is more expensive than the competition, you have a new company, new technology or new product, you have a story to tell, you are not the industry or market leader, it's 6 or 7 figures, etc.), your salespeople have much more resistance to overcome than those who aren't underdogs.  There are several strategies that can be used to minimize the effect of the resistance your salespeople face.  You can:

  • Train your salespeople to lower the resistance;
  • Train them to overcome the resistance;
  • Do remarkable things that cause you or the company to be recognized, opening the door for your salespeople;
  • Spend millions on advertising so that you become better known;
  • Acquire the better known competitors;
  • Out perform the better known competitors;
  • Lower your prices (you can but I don't recommend it)
  • Get acquired by one of the better known competitors;
  • Have happy clients make introductions for you to highly targeted prospects;

Making the job easier for your salespeople is your number one responsibility after coaching and accountability but most sales managers don't give this challenge much thought.  How about you?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Seth Godin, Neil Rackham, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Guy Kawasaki, Mike Schultz, Dr. Tony Allasandra, jill konrath

Prediction for Your Company's Sales Force in 2011

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 @ 06:12 AM

10 Sales Experts were inducted into the Top Sales Hall of Fame at yesterday's Top Sales Awards event.  They include legends, both living and deceased, like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracey and Earl Nightingale.  Current legends like Gerhard Gschwandter and Jeffrey Gitomer were honored.  Others who were inducted include Keith Rosen, Bill Brooks, Linda Richardson, Neil Rackham and Dr. Tony Allasandra.

When asked for her prediction for 2011, Linda Richardson said, "Clients won't be looking for sales training.  They want sales force transformation.  They want to know whether they have the right people in the right roles..."

Thank you Linda!  A Hall of Fame sales training company leader saying what I've been saying for 20 years! 

Linda's comments were not really a prediction though.  Jim Collins wrote about how great companies focused on having the right people in the right seats in his 2001 book, "Good to Great". Objective Management Group, founded in 1989, has been helping its partners provide sales force transformations via the insights and findings from its Sales Force Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments for at least 10 years. Years ago I urged all of our partners to provide sales force development instead of sales training so that we could transform sales forces. Perhaps Linda was simply suggesting that she expects to model her business after ours.

This sounds very similar to when mainstream MD's write breakthrough articles and basically say what alternative MD's have been saying for decades.  Three examples are, "Supplement with Omega 3's", "Those prescrtiption drugs will actually kill you", and "Supplement with CoQ10".

Time to take the supplements - I'm against the clock.

Topics: sales training, Sales Force, Neil Rackham, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracey, sales transformation, sales development

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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