Prospecting is not always everyone's favorite activity but it's critical to identifying the right targets for your company.
We are strong advocates of the Inbound Sales approach and the concept of sales and marketing integration.
To do a great job of prospecting, you need the right tools. It's no secret that we love HubSpot. While some think of HubSpot as primarily a marketing tool, the platform has gotten a lot more mature and has also become our sales CRM of choice. HubSpot's sales tools and inbound sales methodology make prospecting a lot less painful and can actually be a pleasant process.
In this article, we will outline our process for sales prospecting with HubSpot and how to connect this process with the marketing side of the equation.
1. Generate Leads
Your first step is to actually generate leads. No snark intended... but seriously, you need to have an inbound marketing program in place that is creating leads for your company. If this is not happening then grab our guide called "Inbound Marketing: The Executive Summary" and then call us to discuss how it may apply to your business.
Assuming you are generating leads, these leads are generally segmented into two categories: active leads and passive leads. Active leads are people who have filled out your main contact form or called in and have expressed interest in working with you. These are already in the sales process and we won't discuss those leads today.
Passive leads are people who have done something on your website but are not currently in your sales process. They may have attended a webinar or downloaded a guide or subscribed to your blog. They have not raised their hand yet to talk to sales but they are "hanging around" your company online. These are the leads we will discuss today.
2. Define Your Ideal Client Profile
If you haven't already, you'll next want to define your ideal client profile. Why? Because you don't want a sales system that spends time on prospects that are not ideal for your company. Your sales people have limited time and you want them focused on the best possible prospects.
When defining your ideal client profile, you want to look for common attributes that surface in the clients that are the best fit for your company. Who do you love working with? What is their budget? What industries are they in? What is their culture like?
I'm going to straight up tell you you SpinWeb's ideal client profile. Or rather, I'll show you, with this infographic we designed for our team:
The plain-English narrative of this infographic is basically that we are looking for people who:
- Are in one of our target industries (conservative, regulated, security-conscious)
- Are a CMO, marketing director, or similar position
- May have a small marketing team (1-2 additional people)
- Have an annual digital marketing budget of at least $75,000
- Have a company culture of respect and see us as a partner
- Are empowered to make decisions.
- Are not expecting overnight results
- Have clear goals or are open to setting goals
This doesn't mean we always say no to prospects who don't precisely fit this profile, but it does mean that we set up our prospecting system to focus on this ideal profile.
So how does this apply to you? Go through the same exercise. Work with your team to define what an ideal prospect looks like for you and then consider documenting it in a formal way so everyone is on board.
3. Automatically Filter Passive Leads
Once you've defined your ideal client profile, your next step is to automate as much as possible. What are the attributes you already have and how can you sort your list accordingly? Based on forms they have filled out, do you already know their industry, job title, location and contact information? Great! Then set up smart lists in HubSpot to group these leads accordingly.
You'll have some leads with none of this information and some with all of it and some in between. Define your smart list so that any lead that meets certain criteria gets placed in this list and call the list "Marketing Qualified Leads".
Now the real fun starts...
4. Prospect Your Passive Leads
At this point you'll have some passive leads that fit your ideal client profile and they will be happily sitting in your Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) list. However, the majority of your passive leads are probably missing key information that tell you where they belong. This means you will need another list (maybe called "Prospecting") that automatically includes everyone not in the MQL list.
Your task is now to continuously analyze this list and "enrich" the leads. Enriching a lead means adding as much relevant data as possible to it. Let's say someone downloaded a resource from your website but they only enters their first name, last name, email and company name. Not much to go on yet. So let's enrich the lead.
You can get the prospect's website address by Googling the company name and/or getting the domain name from the email address (easy). Once you're on the website you can get other things like phone number, location and industry. HubSpot Sales will also give you annual revenue which is generally an important data point as you build a profile.
One thing I love about HubSpot sales is the annual revenue feature as well as the one-click "add to CRM" option. As you view a company's website, you can click on the HubSpot icon overlaying the upper right corner and get some very useful information.
If you like what you see, you can add the company to HubSpot CRM with one click. Then you can tie the lead (person record) to the company record in HubSpot CRM.
You'll also want to hit up LinkedIn as you enrich the lead. You can look for job title pretty easily here which gives you more data.
At this point, you have some pretty good data on this lead. As you save the information, HubSpot will move it to the correct list automatically based on the information you provide.
These are all things your sales assistant might do.
5. Evaluate Your Marketing Qualified Leads
Next you'll want to add a human element to your vetting process. In a different session, you will go through your marketing qualified leads and evaluate them based on your experience and subjective opinion. For example, you might have MQLs in this list that meet all your criteria (revenue, job title, industry, etc.) but there is something you notice that causes you to disqualified them. Maybe you do a little research and discover that they just fired the CEO and are in the middle of turmoil. Maybe they appear to be poised for an acquisition. There may be all sorts of red flags that give you a gut feeling of "no" on some leads.
The ones that you do like (and most leads will probably fit this category) you will move to a smart list called "Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)" by changing their lifecycle stage in HubSpot. This list contains leads that have made it through both the automated filtering process and the subjective filtering process and appear to be strong leads worthy of contact.
This is something your sales assistant might do.
6. Reach Out and Build a Relationship
At this point you're doing better than 90% of your competitors who are just "winging it" when it comes to prospecting. You have a really strong list of inbound leads who have interacted with your company and who meet all your criteria for an ideal prospect. Now it's time to actually make contact.
You will now work this list and connect with the SQLs on your radar. Some you might call and be direct ("can I help you with anything?"). Others you might take a more subtle approach by inviting them to an event, asking some basic questions or just keeping an eye on them for a while.
The nice thing about this stage is that HubSpot Sales gives you real-time intelligence into what they are doing. As soon as a prospect opens your email a notification will alert you. As soon as a prospect visits your website a notification will tell you what pages they are viewing.
7. Create Deals When a Prospect Expresses Interest
Now that you have a systematic process for prospecting, your final step is to encourage as many of those SQLs as possible to engage in the sales process with you. And of course you have a well-defined sales process, right?
Now that you have a system for prospecting and right tools in place, you've taken a lot of the guesswork out of the equation. While most of your competitors are in "cowboy mode" and winging it with random lists and cold calling, you are tightly focused and process-driven in your approach. This results in an efficient and effective prospecting program that wil put your company light years ahead of the legacy methods used by other sales teams.