I’ve been an official HubSpot user since 2012. Since the moment I started learning about the inbound methodology, it just made sense to me and I wanted to learn more. The concept of delivering value, nurturing leads with relevant information and delighting leads all the way through the buying process was something I couldn’t wait to implement. After all, why wouldn’t we want to attract people to our brands by delivering so much value that people want to do business with us?
A few years and a couple of HubSpot and Inbound Certifications later and I’m still a huge fan of inbound marketing, but I have to admit, I’ve experienced a disconnect from the new ways I have been able to design and implement effective marketing strategies and the more traditional outbound sales strategies I often work alongside. Don’t get me wrong – the sales people and leadership I have worked with have been exceptional. But with the traditional approach to sales doesn’t really jive with inbound marketing.
This is why I was SO excited to learn about a slew of products and tools now available from HubSpot to help companies build an inbound sales strategy to partner with its inbound marketing strategy.
See? I even tweeted about it!
So how is HubSpot helping Sales join the inbound movement? They’re showing their commitment not only to marketing but to sales, too, with a wide range of new products that will not only make sales teams better and “inboundy”, but also help to unify Sales and Marketing once and for all.
Launched just one year ago at INBOUND14, HubSpot CRM has become popular – FAST. In fact, more than 60,000 individuals are currently using HubSpot CRM. While there has been some grumbling about it, specifically about the lack of “how-to” documentation and advanced support, it really is a great tool for those that commit to finding the best ways to make it work for their companies.
I was happy to see that HubSpot made some updates to improve the functionality of its CRM, specifically the following features:
- Introduction of @ mentions: Just like many of today’s social platforms and instant communication tools, mention a coworker from any note in the CRM and that individual will be notified directly.
- Gmail Integration: HubSpot CRM users can automatically pull a full history of interactions – including all sent and received messages – from Gmail into HubSpot CRM.
- Multiple Deal Pipelines: Sales teams can now create separate pipelines inside HubSpot CRM that are specific to divisions, teams and products.
Opportunity for Sales & Marketing Alignment
As even more companies adopt HubSpot CRM, I hope to see more support for users – both those in Sales and those in Marketing. Quite often, those of us in Marketing are left to “figure things out” and manage implementation of the CRM for Sales because, after all, we’re already using HubSpot so we must understand the CRM, right? Notsomuch. Any marketer who has been in this position can tell you that, while the two platforms work together beautifully and are quite powerful, they are also very different.
HubSpot CRM provides an exceptional opportunity to bring Sales and Marketing together. Once implemented, there is no longer a need for syncing contacts between HubSpot (Marketing) and an outside CRM or other database (Sales). Information is passed seamlessly and completely effortlessly between the two departments. And Sales and Marketing can function together like a well-oiled machine. Be prepared, though; making it all happen requires the (hard) work of both parties, but the end result is well worth it.
Prospects – A Fresh Way to Get Connected
The new Prospects tool allows salespeople to enter criteria that make up the companies most likely to become customers – their ideal prospects. Once this is set up, sales reps can subscribe to receive a daily digest of targeted companies to reach out to.
The newly redesigned Prospects email from HubSpot reveals companies that match the criteria, recent news stories about those companies, and connections – actual individuals – that the sales rep has at those companies, similar to the way LinkedIn shows members how they are connected. The program even allows users to request an introduction to prospects through a mutual connection.
Here’s an example of what the daily email notifications look like. They provide a great snapshot of new prospects that meet the defined criteria, along with all the background information a sales rep would need to determine whether or not to reach out to them, as well as connections to help make that outreach happen.
Opportunity for Sales & Marketing Alignment
Marketers, this is not just a sales tool! It’s an opportunity for you to collaborate with your sales team to better understand TOGETHER who your brand’s best prospects are. Work with each other to set up the criteria for these prospect definitions. Subscribe to the notifications along with your sales reps. Look for ways you can help reach out to these companies with customized content and personalized campaigns. Open up the communication channels between Sales and Marketing with data that matters to both teams.
When there is clarity between Sales and Marketing about WHO you’re trying to target, your collective efforts will work together and they will be far more effective.
Launched alongside HubSpot CRM at INBOUND14, Sidekick has earned the favor of the open-minded sales professionals who have been willing to give it a try over the last year. Not everyone “gets it” just yet or understands what to do with the information Sidekick provides, but it can be a mighty tool when placed in the hands of a savvy sales rep.
While the product started as a simple way to gain insights on what happens to communication that sales reps send once it leaves their hands, Sidekick now has some fun new features to give it more impact:
Connections: A new way for sales reps to uncover warm connections that already exist with the people and businesses they want to reach. It’s based on a hidden engagement graph within the inboxes of everyone inside your company. When anyone in your company views a company inside the Prospects tool, Connections uses email history to uncover anyone at your company who knows someone at that prospect company. If and when a connection exists, you will see who that person is and how recently they’ve engaged with the prospect.
It should be noted that Sidekick Connections is part of the paid version of Sidekick, while Sidekick for Business offers a limited free access level available to HubSpot users.
Sequences: Sales reps can now use Sidekick to conduct simple, yet highly targeted prospect nurturing. They can enroll a prospect in a process where they will receive a sequence of templated emails. HubSpot sequences can be sent from any contact record in HubSpot CRM, or right from inside Gmail via Sidekick.
For those of you who are existing HubSpot marketing users, doesn’t this sound a lot like workflows? I, for one, am very happy to see sales reps equipped with similar tools that we use to be effective as marketers!
Opportunity for Sales & Marketing Alignment
As I see it, Sidekick is really aiming to equip Sales with a bag of inbound tricks similar to what we marketers have. With Connections and the CRM, they have more transparency about leads and prospects, including their background information, company data, brand engagement and behaviors related to the sales process. Sales people can go into a sales call with far more data now than ever before, making them more confident and effective.
Additionally, Sidekick is making it possible for sales reps to, in the words of HubSpot CEO & Founder, Brian Halligan, “get inboundy”. With Prospects, your sales team can take a more personal and effective sales approach similar to what marketers do with personas. And with Sequences, they can set up more automated, yet still personal, communications that allow them to be more efficient while still maintaining effectiveness.
Pretty darn cool.
Caution: Possible Roadblocks Ahead
While I’m a big fan of these new products and what they have the ability to do for Sales and its alignment with Marketing, I’m also a realist. One might call me cautiously optimistic about it all. As I mentioned earlier, I have seen many marketers face the challenge of in becoming responsible for implementation of HubSpot CRM for their sales teams …without the necessary technical support from HubSpot or the intimate knowledge of the sales team’s internal processes and preferences.
I worry that many companies will face the same issues with trying to implement an inbound sales process. But I’m sure there will be some pioneers that make it happen! And I can’t wait to see how they make it happen.
So how do you feel about these new products from HubSpot? Do you see a shift toward inbound sales in your company’s future?
This post originally appeared on the Inbound Marketing Agents blog. Read it and all kinds of other great marketing information. Also, get a FREE worksheet to help you align your Sales and Marketing teams: Collaborative Prospect & Persona Creation. Download it now!