Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Outbound Marketing, Social Selling Overrated

December 3, 2015

I was surprised by some of the findings uncovered by Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2015.

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It’s funny. When you’re deeply entrenched in something – a type of technology tool, a TV series, or a political affiliation (who knew that that person you really like was a member of a different party?) – it seems inconceivable that everyone isn’t on board with you.

That’s kind of the way I felt when I read Hubspot’s recently-released State of Inbound 2015. Most of the nearly 4,000 participants, representing more than 150 countries, were, “…marketers who work for B2B SMBs, half of which generated less than a million dollars annually in revenue.”

Dedicated Sales Technology Use Low

Several things struck me in this report. Since I am involved in sales for a leading CRM application developer, I was especially interested in CRM solution adoption rates.

Well, according to Hubspot’s survey, 46 percent of the salespeople who responded were not using dedicated technology to store lead and customer data.
That means that nearly half are relying on physical files, Google Docs, and other “informal means” in place of or addition to dedicated systems.

That’s stunning. I can’t imagine not using a CRM application any more than I can envision going back to my typewriter for correspondence. This reticence to use dedicated state-of-the-art sales solutions, the survey revealed, results in less successful sales teams, which were, “…more than twice as likely to use Excel, Outlook, and/or physical files to store lead and customer data than their successful counterparts.”

Data Entry the Big Bottleneck

What’s not surprising, though, is the number one reason sales professionals gave for their CRM challenges: manual data entry.

What this means to me is that the survey respondents were not aware of how leading-edge CRM applications operate. The best of them let you pull in existing contact information, schedule information, social streams, etc.

This lack of knowledge was also evident in the second most common CRM challenge named: lack of integration with other tools. CRM solution developers usually have numerous partners that have created ways to exchange data.

Inbound Marketing Good for Many Business Types

Much has been made of the pros and cons of inbound vs. outbound marketing. The fact is, though, that outbound marketing, which involves vehicles like flashy ads with stellar placement, requires a bigger budget.

Not surprisingly, the sales professionals that Hubspot talked to said that increasing revenue by closing deals was their top priority. This was the case regardless of the company’s size, region, etc. Which method did they find more effective?

“Even outbound marketers say outbound marketing is overrated,” Hubspot’s survey revealed. Inbound was said to work in B2B, B2C, and nonprofit sectors.

Social Selling Not the Answer

One of the things that Hubspot’s findings should say to you is that the quality, depth, and visibility of your content (inbound) marketing are critical, and may even move you closer to finding leads and closing deals than the approaches that big companies with a lot of money use.

I’ve talked about the concept of “social selling” more than once in this blog. Hubspot’s findings confirmed what I already believed to be true: Social selling is more hype than reality, Hubspot learned from its respondents. In fact, the results of this year’s annual report indicated that social selling does not live up to the hype surrounding the term.

So I guess the message for us who keep plugging away at creating the best marketing emails, blogs, websites, and other sales content we can, as well as faithfully using our CRM applications, is that these are the kinds of efforts that can pay off.

Stock image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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