Top 3 Mistakes in Selling to Inbound Leads

Today I’m droppin’ a guest post from my boy and Chief Sales Office over at Hubspot, Mark Roberge. Mark has written a new book and it drops today; The Sales Acceleration Formula. Mark has done some killer stuff over at Hubspot, growing them from 0-100M in revenue. I say that qualifies him on teaching the rest of us how to grow revenue.

But, if 0 – 100M isn’t enough, Anthony Robbins reviewed his book and said this;

A new breed of disciplined, data-driven leaders are re-shaping the field of sales. The Sales Acceleration Formula explains why.

I love this post ’cause we make too many assumptions with inbound leads. Inbound leads are new and as Mark says, too many of us are screwing up in the transitions.

This post does a great job of breakin’ it down.


Top 3 Mistakes in Selling to Inbound Leads

Every day, more and more sales calls are being made to inbound leads rather than cold prospects.  It is a great trend.  These inbound leads are further along in their buying journey.  They close faster and at a higher rate.

Unfortunately, traditionally trained salespeople often struggle with the transition from calling a cold prospect to an inbound lead.  Here are 3 common mistakes salespeople make when calling inbound leads.

Mistake #1: Assuming a non-decision maker is a bad lead

Outbound salespeople are trained to “call high”.  Why deal with someone that does not have the authority to buy?

Unfortunately, the contact on an inbound lead is not always the C-level executive holding the purse strings.  Instead, the contact may be a front-line worker or even an intern.  Traditionally trained salespeople throw up their arms stating, “these leads suck”.

Actually, the leads do not suck.  I admit, the contact on the lead is not a buyer.  The contact has no budget authority.  However, who do you think told the contact to do the research, conduct the Google search, and download the eBook?  It was likely an executive driving the decision… and the budget.

When deciphering the quality of the lead, focus less on the contact’s role and more on the company’s fit with your product.  The fact that someone started the research process indicates a trigger at the company aligned with your product’s value proposition.  A potentially easy deal is on the line.  Don’t let it pass you by.

Mistake #2: Leading with the vanilla elevator pitch

In a cold calling environment, salespeople are throwing darts in the dark.  They have no idea whether the value proposition they are pitching will resonate with the companies they are calling.  With fingers crossed, cold callers deliver a well crafter elevator pitch and hope it resonates with the recipient on the other end of the line before they hang up.

This approach of leading with the vanilla elevator pitch is the kiss of death in an inbound environment.  Your company enticed the prospect with a thought provoking tweet, engaged them with a well written blog article, and convinced them to exchange their contact information for a valuable eBook, written about a problem they have been researching.  Then, you, the salesperson, ignore these breadcrumbs of contextual interest and simply deliver the vanilla elevator pitch?

Inbound leads have much more context associated with them than a cold prospect.  These leads have read blog articles, viewed webpages, downloaded specific eBooks, and even conducted precise Google searches to find your company.  Leverage this context when you first engage an inbound prospect.

“John, I noticed you downloaded our eBook on XYZ.  What specific questions did you have?”

Break the ice with that opener.  Lead with their interests, not the vanilla elevator pitch.

Mistake #3: ABC: Always be closing

Traditional salespeople are trained to “Always Be Closing”.  Connect.  Pitch.  Close hard.

However, today’s buyer is far more empowered than a decade ago.  All the information they need to evaluate a purchase is at their fingertips, whenever they want it.  Modern buyers are not going to put up with these archaic tactics.

Instead of ABC, salespeople need to ABH – “Always Be Helping”.  Once you break the ice with the prospect’s interests, answer their questions.  Do not withhold information. Answer as many questions as the prospect wants to ask. With every question, you are building trust.

Eventually, you can leverage the trust to evaluate whether you can help the prospect’s organization and whether you should both invest more time together.  Ask them questions like:

  • Who asked you to download the eBook?
  • What does your boss expect of you this quarter?
  • What were the CEO’s priorities at the last company meeting?

Now you are in a position to engage the decision maker with deep context that will surely impress.

Inbound leads are gold.  However, traditional sales methods may turn off the buyer… and the sale.  Align your sales tactics with the context of an inbound lead to create a more efficient process for you and the buyer.

2013 Roberge 2


Go check out Mark Roberge’s new book that launched this week, “The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to Go from $0 to $100M”, about his experience in building the HubSpot sales team. It’ll make you happy and all giggly inside.