A recent study conducted by one of the leading marketing software suppliers, HubSpot, reveals impressive findings that all sales teams, as well as senior management, seeking to improve their abilities to more effectively close sales should study closely. The “2015 State of Inbound” should be required reading for c-level and senior sales team-leads who want to make 2016 show solid returns.

Helping Sales Increase Revenue: Integrating Sales and Marketing

“Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. All of Marketing’s lead generation work goes to waste if salespeople aren’t following up on those contacts and converting them into customers. In order to be truly successful in business today, Sales and Marketing must work together as partners rather than adversaries.”

Many firms we speak with across the country have well-established sales teams that lead the way when prospecting and closing new business for their firms. Each day, teams of dedicated, hard-working salespeople log the calls, and put in the hours in the service of closing sales. And yet, we also hear stories of the increasing difficulty these teams face. Their efficiencies are dropping for a variety of reasons, to be certain, but the 2015 State of Inbound helps shed some additional light on why many traditionally-focused sales teams continue to struggle. Top among the findings:

  • Manual data entry of sales’ leads data, including call notes, and feedback is cumbersome and time-consuming and seen as unproductive
  • Sales people often engage in prospecting with little or no information about their leads

“Our research found that salespeople struggle with a lack of information about their leads AND manual data entry – two challenges that necessarily reduce their effectiveness at converting leads into customers.”

Customer Relationship Management tools are often hailed as the saving grace of sales teams, helping to improve a range of sales oriented tasks, and providing insights that can be shared across the enterprise…if they are used. Almost daily, however, we speak with clients whose sales teams struggle with software, and technology, often complaining that it is an impediment to deal closing because it reduces the time available to “make more calls.” The State of Inbound findings echo this anecdotal evidence. With “Closing more deals” being the single highest priority among respondents (in the US, over 80%), it is no wonder that being efficient with their time is so important. And yet, CRM is supposed to help with that process. It appears to be in the way, more often than not with almost a quarter of sales teams not even using any type of CRM system. Almost half found using disparate systems not integrated across their firm was preferable – spread sheets, notebooks and other physical filing systems. This, too, is consistent with our day-to-day discussions with clients. Many clients have spent many dollars implementing sales tools only to find sales teams adoption to be lack-luster. Resistance to software-based solutions is often strong. Business owners and top managers see spending more for uncertain software is not in the cards, and often discussion is met with negativity. AND YET…

Sales teams frequently complain that they have limited intelligence or data on leads they are tasked with reaching out to every day.

“Consider, too, that prospecting increases in difficulty the less information sales people have readily available to them. A lack of lead behavior data means sales reps must hunt for information on their own, or forgo it entirely, boosting the odds that their message will be poorly received.”

The double slam of cumbersome or lacking sales prospecting tools and limited prospect data combine for a truly frustrating scenario. But what if we could turn that story around? When sales people have more information “about their prospects going into prospecting, the more effective their efforts will be.” This makes sense, of course, but this years’ report finds rather stunning data as to the lack of data sales teams actually have when they engage with prospects.

In these days of massive data, “Social Media Selling,” and “Social Proof” supposedly driving top-line sales, only 31% of respondents cited having any kind of social media data on prospects available before engaging with a prospect. Less than 21% said that they could view a prospect’s interaction history on the company’s website. And worst of all, less than 43% have even the most basic of information – a prospect’s basic contact information. With the world literally drowning in data, how is this finding possible? Sales teams need the right data. To have a sales professional struggling with this fundamental data problem is truly frustrating, for sales of course, but for marketing teams, as well, since they, more than likely, have much of this data within their reach.

What does lead information and data have to do with Sales’ team success? 83% of survey respondents said sales teams, as they were toiling away on phones or in person, did not know what contact information they might have available to them about a prospect BEFORE they reached out to the prospective client. And yet, marketing software is readily available to make this struggle a non-issue. The value of marketing’s role in providing ROI-driven, sales-ready leads have never been more apparent. Sales teams no longer must slug it out alone.

It is not uncommon, when engaging with new clients for the first time, for us to hear their awe and enthusiasm for the data we can provide from even the most basic of marketing tools. That enthusiasm goes through the roof when we start showing them the reports available from within their new HubSpot suite. Sales teams we work with love the data, and are amazed they did not have access to it sooner.

When sales and marketing are working together, survey respondents reported remarkable improvements in sales’ team efficiencies.

  • Over 85% of respondents indicated that they had basic contact information prior to engaging prospects when sales and marketing teams were effectively sharing data through software-enabled processes.
  • 49% had valuable data about a prospect’s interaction on the firm’s website prior to engaging with the prospect. Website interaction history alone can help sales reps leap-frog painful discovery calls that more often than not annoy prospects already further along their “buyer-journey.”

Data-enabled sales reps can, through appropriate marketing software tools, review a prospect’s exploration of your firm’s website, prior to a sales engagement or call, increasing the likelihood of getting in step with a prospect’s journey faster and with far less friction. Nothing is more off-putting to a prospective client than a sales reps sticking to a script, forcing a prospect to revisit previously understood territory on their buyer’s journey unnecessarily. Marketing-prepared sales reps can start their dance with a prospective client “in-step” and already dancing to the same tune.

There Is So Much More

The State of Inbound, 2015 Edition, is packed with valuable findings and actionable data that helps you and your team craft winning strategies. A report like this is certainly worth paying for, but having access to this material for free, well that is almost too good to be true. And yet, for the 7th year in a row, that is precisely what HubSpot has done. Do not miss this chance to explore the marketing and sales landscape with insights from over 4000 respondents world-wide. Inbound is not only the most cost-effective approach to marketing, it also helps bridge the gaps and silos that often develop inside companies. Look closely at the findings inside this bundle. You’ll surely be inspired and amazed.