As I wrote about in my last post, this past week I had the opportunity to attend HubSpot’s annual Inbound conference with more that 14,000 sales and marketing professionals from around the world. One thing that really did stand out was that, despite HubSpot’s recent focus on becoming more of a sales platform through the addition of an impressive CRM offering and several new tools that they announced during the event, Inbound is still very much a marketing conference for marketers with a touch of sales content trickled in for substance.
That being said, I was pretty excited to see Gartner Analyst Tiffani Bova presenting a breakout session titled “The Future of Sales: The Customer Now Leads the Sales Process.”
I saw Tiffani speak earlier this year at the Channel Visionaries Conference in Newport Beach and found so much of her content and thought leadership to be spot-on. So, it was no surprise that not even two minutes into her talk she posted what I consider to be THE MOST IMPORTANT SLIDE AT INBOUND15:
Here we are, at THE marketing technology event of the year, and a sales speaker is telling us that it’s not technology that matters — it’s the customer and the sales process. The nerve of this lady!
God bless her. Because you could be nurturing and inbounding and scoring and delivering the most qualified leads your sales reps have ever received in their careers, but if they’re not educated and prepared to deliver the right knowledge, tools and resources to move that lead through the final stages of the pipeline and turn them into a customer, then those marketing qualified leads are 100% worthless.
Forrester’s Laura Ramos has her own unique perspective on the same exact topic:
“Despite advances in marketing automation and an increased focus on accountability, the old sales-marketing divide is alive and well. Marketing technology and processes have yet to turn the sales and marketing boxing ring into a night of candlelit dinners.”
Listen, I’m a big fan of Inbound and HubSpot and of what really is a movement that they’ve created — if you don’t believe me, I strongly suggest you book your tickets for Inbound16. But with the buyer’s journey changing as it has, this is not an evolution where you simply need new technologies to modernize your old, siloed, sales and marketing model. It’s a revolution where you should be rethinking your model altogether, adding the technology and data layers to support it, and focusing on the customer first.
As Ms. Bova’s slide states, “‘smarter selling’ is needed.” And the place to start is by filling the gap between your buyers’ expectations what they’re actually experiencing when they meet with your sales reps. It won’t be all candlelit dinners for marketing and sales after that, but a nice glass of wine might be a good place to start.