My business is a HubSpot Certified Agency Partner. In addition to using HubSpot to help our customers grow, we have been using the software since 2012 to manage our own business development process. We've been very happy with HubSpot - it's helped us grow from a new business with a brand new website to a website that generated over 9,000 site visits and over 100 leads in January 2019. It shouldn't surprise you that we're huge proponents of sales and marketing technology.
I have found that many business owners don't understand the role technology should play in their business development process. I recently was demonstrating HubSpot to a business owner to show how technology could help make his business development process more efficient. We came to a point where we were discussing qualifying leads to justify including them in a measured sales pipeline.
The business owner asked me how to qualify leads. I responded by sharing that BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) was one framework that is used to determine if the lead is actually a sales opportunity. The business owner asked me, "How does the software qualify a lead based on this BANT process?" I was a bit surprised by the question, but responded that the software doesn't qualify leads for inclusion in a sales pipeline, that is the job of a sales person and her manager.
The question illustrated a common misconception about sales and marketing technology, that technology is a panacea that minimizes the need for human beings to have conversations with other human beings to create new business relationships. Unless you are selling a product on an online forum like Amazon, the ultimate role of technology is to create more and better human-to-human conversations.
Here are a few of the roles that technology can play in your business development process.
Technology can help with first-level lead qualification
If you look at the lead generation form at the bottom of this page, you will see that we ask 3 questions that can be answered by selecting from a drop-down list of options.
- Your Industry
- Your Role
- Are you a HubSpot customer?
The answers to these 3 questions help us to do an initial qualification to determine if the lead may be a potential business opportunity. If someone is in one of our targeted industries and plays a role in the purchasing process, we use HubSpot to classify them as a marketing qualified lead. We also use marketing automation to notify us that a potential business opportunity has been generated from our website.
But that's just the first part of the qualification process. We then research the lead using sources like LinkedIn and the company website to determine if the lead is something we want to pursue. This is something that can only be done by a human! For example, a lead could meet our initial qualification criteria but not pass muster upon further examination. For example, the annual revenue of the company can be either too large or too small to match our ideal customer profile. If someone from Google downloads an eBook, it's highly unlikely that Google will buy our services.
Technology can help with lead qualification, but it will never replace the judgement that needs to be applied by a human.
Technology can make your business development more efficient
We recently published a blog post titled, 3 Ways To Optimize Your Business Development Process With HubSpot Sales. I encourage you to read this post for a detailed explanation on how you can make your business development process more efficient. Here are some of the ways you can use technology to make it easier for your prospects to buy from you.
- Use calendar sharing tools to make it easy for a potential customer to schedule a meeting with you.
- Use templated emails and sequences to provide relevant information to potential customers. Templates are just that - templates. They should be used as a first step and contextualized to the specific circumstances of the person receiving your emails.
- Use chatbots and calls to action to make it easy for potential customers to talk with you as they are in a buying process. Different people prefer different modes of communication - if you don't have a chat function of your website, you're ignoring a large portion of your potential customer universe who likes chat as a first step in their buying process.
These are just a few of the ways you can use technology to implement a sales enablement process in your business. Sales enablement is the processes, content and technology that enable sales teams to sell more efficiently at a higher volume.
Technology can make sales conversation more relevant
One of the things that I really like about HubSpot is that it tracks how a potential buyer interacts with our business development process. We know which website pages our inbound leads have viewed, which blog posts they've read and which content offers they've accessed (among other things.)
If we eventually have a conversation with this person, we have some context into what their interests and issues may be. We never assume we know what they're interested in, but we can structure the conversation to be more relevant for them. These types of conversations are much better than ones that start from a blank slate with a question like, "How can I help you?"
Busy people expect that you've taken the time to research their companies and their LinkedIn profiles before you talk to them. Technology can take your lead intelligence preparation to the next level by showing you what information from your business development process they have accessed.
Technology can be used to measure and improve business development
One of the most useful aspects of sales and marketing technology is its ability to measure the effectiveness of your business development process. Just about everything can be measured, from website views to email performance. What's even more important is that technology can tie business development tactics to revenue generation.
By reviewing analytics on an ongoing basis, you can find out which tactics are working and which aren't. You can measure sales performance and manage your revenue pipeline. By managing with data, you can deploy limited business development time and resources to high-percentage business opportunities.
Yes, sales and marketing technology can make your business development process more effective. But it will never replace the role of an effective sales professional in generating revenue for your business. Remember, the role of technology is to generate more and more effective sales conversations with high-percentage opportunities. It's role is to enhance the performance of salespeople, not replace them.