Thoughts on @Dharmesh Shah and #Inbound13

I was one of the 5,000+ that crammed into the auditorium yesterday to listen to Dharmesh deliver his half of the keynote. I typically enjoy Dharmesh. I think it's because he appeals to my geeky introverted real self. I enjoyed the story that he told about humans and how their behaviors historically had been conditioned responses like when the telephone rings, we answer. He eventually wandered into the area of how B2B as well as B2C consumers shop and buy.

He made many points, and I'd like to comment on two of them.

Dharmesh said that buyers don't contact sales until they are over half way through their shopping and buying process. Combine that with an earlier comment that more people care about how you sell than what you sell. Then throw in a couple of other thoughts. Think about the way that we've traditionally been taught to sell. "Don't spill your candy in the lobby." and "Sell today. Educate tomorrow." The thinking was to withhold information from your prospect with the goal being that they would get the information after they bought.

That combination of thoughts got me thinking about all the Hubspotters (partners, customers and employees) that I've worked with since the beginning and the metamorphosis that we've gone through. The relationship started when I was at Kurlan and the very first clients were put through exactly the same Baseline Selling training that cold calling, manufacturing reps were going through. Honestly, at that point, Hubspot hadn't figured out that inbounders needed to sell differently, so, I don't feel too bad. Nonetheless, the combination of evaluation, basic sales training and 1:1 and group coaching did get results. However, the more 'inboundy' the leads got, the less effective was traditional training. Moreover, the trend toward sharing, transparency and free was the exact opposite of the 'hold back information until they buy' mentality. The reality is that our clients felt as though we were teaching them sales tricks and they seldom referred their clients for our help because they didn't want their clients to see that the playbook was full of tricks and that our clients had actually used the tricks to get their clients to buy! Seriously, would you want your clients to know everything that you know about how to sell? 101 ways to close a deal? How to handle any objection under the sun? 45 ways to qualify uncooperative prospects? That would be crazy!

Think about this. If you are 'inbounding' correctly, you are attracting people to travel along a particular path, using the language, words, logic, process, etc. that is comfortable to them. Now, when the communication moves from on line to 1:1 email or telephone, the process needs to remain sharing, transparent and free. (This last sentence just reminded me that one of our earliest directives to Hubspotters was get out of email and on the phone as quickly as possible because selling didn't happen in an email. However, yesterday, I coached a salesperson in a particular situation and in that specific situation, I suggested that he send 4 or 5 one sentence emails before he even asked for a phone number.)

So, lately, the process is helping salespeople and owners understand their prospects' processes and preferences. They need to learn to have a genuine curiosity about their prospects' dreams, struggles, successes and perceived obstacles. They need to learn to uncover their prospects' real questions, concerns and fears and they need to understand in such a way that the prospect knows that they understand without being told that they understand. They need to stop have buyer/seller conversations and just have people conversations.

My second point came late in Dharmesh's presentation. He had fastforwarded 7 years and told a story that made the point that companies that didn't sell properly would cease to exist because nobody would buy from them. That was fine, but the next point he made was curious. He said that inbound would be adopted and bad companies would cease to exist because he had many friends. Now, my curiosity is around the word "friends".

What is a "friend"?

  • Somebody you can call in the middle of the night?
  • Somebody who buys from you and pays you money?
  • A stalker on Twitter?
  • A friend on Facebook?
  • A connection on LinkedIn?
  • A person that does what you ask?
  • A person who asks and you do?
Does friendship have to be two ways? Can I consider Dharmesh a friend, but he consider me a hanger-on? Are all of the people that voted for any candidate in any election the candidate's friends?

I get the message, but worry about the way that Hubspotters will interpret the word.

OK, back to my first point... Want to have a people conversation?


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