Inbound marketing has become an indispensable element of a modern marketing plan. In fact, 84% of small businesses and 71% of mid-sized businesses identified inbound as their predominant marketing channnel in HubSpot's 2015 State of Inbound Marketing. But many businesses fail to close the loop between inbound marketing and sales.
The Corporate Executive Board found that the average buyer completes 57% of her sales process before ever contacting a salesperson. Inbound marketing tactics like blogging and content marketing help influence potential buyers as they begin buying cycles. However, many businesses drop the ball when an inbound lead enters the sales process.
So just how are businesses operating in the new selling environment? Here are 5 essential takeaways from HubSpot's 2015 State of Inbound Sales.
1. Shocker! Closing more deals is the #1 sales priority for businesses.
Not surprisingly, everyone identified closing more deals is the highest priority for sales organizations. This finding is so obvious that it's best to skip to #2 to understand what businesses are doing to close more deals. With that said, here's what's important for sales organizations:
- Improving the efficiency of the sales funnel (18%)
- Improving existing sales technology (11%)
- Reducing the length of the sales cycle (10%)
- Training the sales team (10%)
- Social selling (8%)
- Investing in sales enablement (7%)
- Investing in a CRM (6%)
One notable finding of the survey was the relative unimportance of social selling in the eyes of sales organizations. Despite all of the hype, only 8% of survey respondents identified social selling as a priority. Interestingly, the executive function placed the highest priority on social selling. Maybe this is because most sales reps think social selling consists of sending a LinkedIn invitation followed by a self-centered sales pitch as soon as the invitation is accepted.
2. An alarming number of sales organizations are not taking advantage of sales technology
Fully 24% of sales organizations are not using a CRM in their sales process. With free CRM software available like HubSpot and Zoho, this is truly astounding. What's more, 46% of sales reps surveyed are still using physical files and tools like Google docs to store customer and lead information.
What are the consequences for sales teams not taking advantage of sales technology? HubSpot found that "that unsuccessful teams were more than twice as likely to use Excel, Outlook, and/or physical files to store lead and customer data than their successful counterparts."
The lessons for SMB businesses is that implementing and taking advantage of sales technology should be a priority.
3. Sales technology users are predominantly passive or unsatisfied
Maybe the reason that sales technology usage is so low that is that users don't find technology particularly helpful in terms of closing deals. HubSpot surveyed users on several sales technologies and found the following.
This might explain why sales teams aren't taking advantage of sales technology - they don't think that it works. This also offers opportunities to sales organizations that use sales technology well to close deals that are falling through the cracks for their competition.
4. Prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process
When asked what the most challenging part of the sales process is, a plurality of sales organizations identifed prospecting as their biggest challenge.
HubSpot found that many sales teams struggle with prospecting because they lack the information necessary to customize a sales message based on the prospect's demographics and interests.
Only 21% of survey responents have access to a lead's activity history on their website - a crucial piece of information to deal with inbound leads. Only 31% had access to a lead's social media profiles! This is truly amazing when you consider that a LinkedIn search is incredibly easy to perform and can provide extremely pertinent information about a lead.
This explains the poor quality of the majority of sales outreaches I receive. How about you?
The biggest surprise for me in the 2015 HubSpot State of Inbound Sales is the small percentage of sales teams that use technology effectively. This is bad news for them and good news for you. If you put a little effort into implementing an effective sales technology platform, you have a great opportunity to outperform your competiton. Want to learn how you can effectively use sales technology? Schedule a free consultation with us.