I’ve just finished reading the book “Disrupted”, the true-life story of Dan Lyons, a 50-year-old journalist who loses his job at Newsweek and decides to take a job with a hot start-up Internet marketing company, HubSpot. It’s an engaging – and entertaining – insight into the world of Silicon Valley startups, and Lyons pulls no punches as he describes the dysfunctional world he finds himself in.
One of the most striking points he makes in the book is the difference between HubSpot’s marketing and sales operations.
HubSpot sells “marketing automation software”, which helps a business automatically “nurture” potential customers. You know the sort of thing: You sign up for a free e-book, then get a series of follow-up e-mails, then – depending on what you click on next – the software can send you a different series of e-mails, and so on. At some point, the software decides you’re a potential customer, and transfers control to the telemarketing team to make the sale.
That’s all good, and there’s really no problem with that. It might be annoying, but you always have the option to opt out if you’re not interested, and that should mean you won’t get bugged by them again.
But the problem is – according to Lyons – the sales team has a very different approach. They have quotas to fill, targets to meet, and somebody else waiting to take their low-paid job if they don’t come up to scratch. So, many of them are pushy, and very much into the “hard sell” that annoys and upsets potential customers.
Now, obviously, there are two sides to this story, and Lyons is only telling one side of it. In fact, you could argue that he’s just a disgruntled past employee with a clearly biased view.
But that’s not my point. This is a bigger issue than Dan Lyons, HubSpot, and what may or may not be happening there.
The real point I want to make is this:
You have to be good at marketing AND sales.
Many business owners put all their effort into marketing. And it’s not hard to see why, because it’s glamorous, glitzy, and exciting – especially with online marketing. There’s always a new Bright Shiny Object to drool over. Blab! Snapchat! Facebook Live!
Of course, marketing is important – very important. And there’s nothing wrong with using any of these marketing tools … unless you do it at the expense of sales.
Marketing is great for getting the best potential customers to your door, but you also need to be good enough at sales to convert them into actual customers.
And that’s where many businesses fall down.
The tricky thing about sales is it’s much more difficult to automate or do at scale.
You can easily send an automatic e-mail sequence, run a promotional webinar, or do a mass mail-out for your next event. Those are all marketing activities, and you can do them in bulk or easily outsource the work.
But it’s not so easy to automate the sales activities – such as sending a hand-crafted e-mail, meeting a prospective client, or sending a handwritten card. By their very nature, they tend to be personal and individual. So you can’t automate them, and you can’t easily outsource them to low-paid labour.
As a result, sales activities tend to be slower, more expensive, and require more dedicated effort.
And as a result of that, many businesses don’t do them well.
No business is immune!
I’ve seen this happen in businesses at all sizes …
- The solopreneur, who has to do everything herself, finds the sales activities time-consuming, so lets them slide.
- The small business owner, who invests in marketing automation software, but doesn’t invest in salespeople to manage the leads.
- Large organisations, who do the same, but at a bigger scale!
Of course, you might say this has always been a problem. But it’s more important now than ever before because technology is getting better and smarter. So all the focus is on things you can automate, because leaders believe this is where they can get the biggest productivity gains. It’s easier to do this with marketing, and make use of “artificial intelligence”, “big data”, and “predictive analytics”.
That’s correct – and good. But productivity alone isn’t enough. The best (most efficient) marketing system is completely useless unless you can also convert your best leads into customers and clients. And for that, you need sales as well.
Sold! Turn Online Leads Into Offline Sales – Free Webinar On Thursday
Everybody talks about online marketing, but very few people talk about how to turn those online marketing leads into actual customers. In this webinar, I’ll show you how to leverage your online marketing materials to generate more sales.
When: Thursday 23rd June, 9-9.30am WA time, 11-11.30am AEDT, 1-1.30pm NZ time
This webinar will be recorded, and the recording will be available to members of the eGurus Community.