Women in Sales Blog

Alison Powell

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Learn how to Get Your Employees on board with an Inbound Lead Gen Program

Posted by Alison Powell on Nov 2, 2013 11:18:00 AM

Inbound lead generation is something that can only be accomplished if you have a consistent content strategy. You cannot have a successful inbound lead gen program without a content engine. Everything always comes back to content. You cannot get inbound leads without the creation of content. You cannot have a good marketing automation system setup without content. Whatever way you look at it- content is the engine. If your company wants to do inbound lead gen they have to be creating content. You cannot have one without the other. online-content-creation

One of the first things that your organization will have to agree on is that you are going to put an internal initiative in place for content generation. Content generation takes time, thought, effort and consistency. Across the organization you must have buy in that your company wants to do inbound lead gen. Everyone needs to understand why inbound lead gen is important and how it is going to help your company to reach your growth goals. Inbound lead generation can only happen if everyone knows why it is important to your company.

So now you have to prove to people across the organization that content generation will help them in their roles as well. The end goal of content generation across the organization is that it will help your company to grow. If your employees are all working towards a certain goal - as a company this should already be something your organization understands. One quick way to gauge if your employees understand what your company is working towards is to ask them. Walk up to someone and quickly see if they understand the company goals. Assess what people are saying and then figure out if you should have a meeting to recap why everyone is doing what they are doing. Everyone has a role in the company with their own goals but everyone needs to understand the company goals. Once company goals are established and everyone is clear as to what type of growth you are trying to reach it will make it easier to explain how inbound marketing and inbound sales will  help your organization to get there. You can explain why each person has a role in that and if everyone agrees on those goals content generation will need to become part of their duties as contributor to the company's growth. 

GoalsSignThere are many ways that you can go about explaining to your teams why they need to start to generate content for your company. 

  • Everyone at your company is a thought leader. Everyone has different things that they are good at. If you can get certain people across different roles to write about what they learn and what they do day to day you will start to expose keyword sets that your marketing team probably is working on getting found for. 
  • People in different roles have things that they notice and see in the market that will help your company to reach those people. For example- a sales person regularly sees trends in the market from talking to prospects. It would therefore be smart to create content around those things they are seeing so that your marketing efforts are timely and relevant to the people you are targeting. 
  • A support rep sees problems and issues coming in from your customers daily. I would bet that some of those things are consistent and happen a lot. Imagine if you had a quick way of creating content around that topic so the sales reps can quickly give that customer the info they need. It will also benefit people in other roles when they see the same things happening. 
  • Your employees should care about their personal branding. Personal branding will help your employees do better at their job. Prospects and customers want to know that your company is legit and wants to know that the people they are working with are smart. If your employees have blog posts and content that they can point to this will create more respect for your organization. Building up content across many different topics will enable your organization to be seen as the industry thought leader and will also help your employees to improve their own credibility. 

Here are a few stats that will help you prove why inbound marketing and inbound lead gen is a good idea for your organization. These stats should help you to prove your points. 

  • 75% of all clicks go to organic results.
  • 89% of US internet users search online before they make a purchase.
  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links than those that don’t. Creating great content
    is the key to getting inbound links.
  • 60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic search results.
  • 75% of users never go further than the first page of search results.
  • 46% of daily searches are for research on products or services. The more pages you have, the
    better chance you have of ranking high.
  • Leads generated via inbound marketing tactics like blogging & social media cost 62% less than
    those generated by outbound marketing tactics like direct mail and print ads.
  • 78% of sales that start with a web inquiry get won by the company that responds first.
  • 75% of leads buy within 18-24 months. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

Once you prove your points as to why inbound marketing and content creation will help your organization to grow. You can start to figure out what type of content will help your company to get found for what you do. There are ways to figure out how much traffic, leads, customers you might be able to get through inbound marketing and content generation. The next step is to analyze your sales organization to see where inbound marketing can help them improve their results. 

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Topics: sales process, women in sales, aligning sales and marketing, inbound lead generation

The Best Sales Process Doesn't Feel Like a Sales Process

Posted by Alison Powell on Nov 1, 2013 9:49:00 AM

When I walk into a store there is one of two things that are likely to happen: 

1. I am a buyer who is ready to buy. I am on a mission to buy something specific that I know exists at that store and I know I want it. I am ready to buy it because I have done research before coming to the store, I am ready to purchase. 

2. I don't know that I need something and I think I am not on the market to buy something. I have no clue what I am looking for but I am hoping something catches my eye. I am wandering into a store just because I like fashion and looking at clothes. I want to see what is out there.  If I see something I like I might buy it or I might need a bit more time and education to get me to buy. s-deal-people-buyer-seller-handshake-23999195

Both of these scenarios happen in a B2B sales process. These 2 types of buyers need to be approached by a sales rep in two different ways. 

Let's take the first type of buyer and put it into context of a sales person who is selling software to someone who already knows they need software to fix their problem. They are in the market for a solution and they want to buy something that will help solve their problems. 

  • The person who is your lead knows what they want.
  • They are aware of a problem internally that needs to be fixed. 
  • They have done research ahead of time and have educated themselves before they want to talk to the sales rep.
  • They know what their problems are and they are fairly confident that they know what will help fix their problem. Your software is one of the options on her list. 
  • This type of buyer has preconceptions from what they have learned or heard from people who use your software as to what you do. You should be ready for this. 

Your job as the sales rep should be to:

  • Understand why the potential buyer thinks they need what they need. LISTEN. 
  • Figure out what their problems within the current context of what they are currently doing and why. 
  • Let the prospect explain to you what they want out of the sales process with you and what it will take to get them to buy something. Learn what you need to know about how they go through a buying process.
  • Ask them what they know about your software already and what they think that you do. 
  • Regardless of what your solution does, ask them if there was an ideal solution out there what would it be and what would it do for you. 

Now you know enough about their needs and wants. The sales rep needs to process this information and take next steps: 

  • Take the information that was given to your in the discovery process to formulate your own opinions as to whether or not you think you can help them.
  • Taking everything that they have told you about their needs, wants, challenges, plans, time line, goals, etc you need to put your thinking cap on to extract reasons why you can or cannot help them. Then put together a plan for the company as to why your solution can solve their problems and help them to reach their goals.
  • Recognize their assumptions of what they think you do and address those up front. You should get assumptions of what you do that are not true before you go into the process. Tell them the truth as to what you really do and what maybe the market thinks you do. Always be truthful and up front from the beginning as to what your product can and cannot do. 
  • Remember to give your own opinions in the process. This type of buyer probably wants to be educated. They are someone who is smart enough to do their own research so they will most likely want to learn from you. Offer your own advice and your own opinions on why you you are offering them certain things. They will appreciate your expertise and your knowledge from past experiences. Be helpful. 

Once everything is out there. Both sides have gone through a discovery process. You as the sales person know about the potential buyer's problems, the buyer knows how you might be able to help. Now you both should agree on what you have spoken about and to what steps you will or won't take from here. Both parties need to agree that they are in the same spot. You are both ready to move forward and look into this solution or service more, OR you are both not ready. You have the right as a sales person and as a buyer to say no. Maybe you aren't ready to keep going on either side for one reason or the other. That is okay. 

whats_the_planTake the information from the exploratory process and put it into a format that the buyer can disseminate. This should be in a format of a plan and how your solution will help solve their pain points. If you sell software an easy way to do this is through a customized demo of the software that focuses on the plan you have built together. 

A sales process is a fluid thing. Your sales organization has probably put together a sales process for your sales reps. As a sales rep you should realize that this process is a guide. It does not have to go step by step every single time. Think for yourself. Think like a human being and think about why you are doing something in the process or not doing something in the sales process. Figure out your own plan of attack that will help your prospect. I urge you to think outside of your scripts and to figure out the best path of helping your prospect by using your brain and by using gut feelings. Usually you will be right. 


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Topics: sales coaching, sales tips, Boston WomenPreneurs, sales prospecting, sales process, women in sales

Noticing a Trend...Why Sales Reps Should Change the Times they Prospect

Posted by Alison Powell on Oct 31, 2013 11:50:00 AM

Lately I have noticed a trend.


Topics: women in sales, smart prospecting, smart sales, times to prospect

How to Use Outbound Prospecting with Inbound Marketing

Posted by Alison Powell on Oct 31, 2013 9:47:00 AM

My days at HubSpot consist of me explaining how inbound marketing is going to help a business grow. People usually see the value of inbound marketing for lead generation. Inbound marketing for lead generation is a fairly simple concept. Inbound marketing over the past few years has evolved though and I think that the sales process has evolved with it. At HubSpot we used to have one team that sold just through inbound leads (majority of the sales reps) and we had one team that did outbound sales. I was part of the outbound team. 

It seems funny to think that an inbound marketing company would have an outbound team but it made sense and still does. The reason why it makes sense to do outbound prospecting at any company is because you know what makes a company a good fit for what your product does. The longer you sell for one company for the better you get at qualifying prospects. Overtime as you qualify hundreds of companies you start to realize that you could hand pick and cherry pick your leads to have a better chance at what you solve for being relevant. 

Outbound prospecting for me consists of the following: 

  • I scour news sources daily for companies that I know are trying to grow. 
  • I follow VCs on Twitter, I sign up for email newsletters from them, etc. I want to know when a company gets funded so I can read about their growth and what they are hoping to use the money on. Typically it has something to do with expanding sales and marketing and that is a good time to reach out. 
  • Trade show exhibitors lists are also good places for me to find leads. Companies who go to lots of trade shows tend to have a more traditional marketing program. They don't tend to know how to do inbound marketing and therefore I have an opportunity to teach them how to do it. Going to trade shows tells me that they need leads and want to grow but don't know how to think about marketing from an inbound perspective. Here I have the opportunity to teach them how to use inbound marketing in conjunction with their more traditional marketing.
  • When a company announces a new VP of Sales or Marketing or that they are adding sales reps. Those things typically mean that the company is trying to grow and lead gen is probably something they care about. They need leads to fill their sales pipeline and inbound marketing might be a good way to do that. 
  • Product releases or updates are a good time to reach out about how they are going to get the word out about their product. I have the opportunity to learn about their product and who they want to target. I can then teach them how to get found for what they do so they can arm their sales reps with qualified leads. 

Inbound prospecting on the other hand consists of:

  • When I go into SFDC everyday I have a tab that has all my new inbound leads from marketing. I get about 10 leads a day from inbound marketing efforts. They go directly into my SFDC and I go through them when I am not in meetings.
  • When I start to look at an inbound lead I try to use my outbound prospecting chops to understand whether or not I want to work the lead. First thing I do is look at the company and who the downloader is. Is the company a good potential fit for what we do? Did the person who downloaded the content have the right role? Are they the person who heads up marketing? 
  • From there I start to look around their site to understand if they have anything going on that will lead me to believe that online marketing and lead gen could be important to them. Just because they came to HubSpot and downloaded some content from us doesn't make them an easy target. I typically think about leads as leads. So an outbound lead vs. an inbound lead is really irrelevant to me. I care about if they are a good business fit and if they have the right things going on company wise that would lead me to believe that inbound marketing could be timely for them and relevant for them.

Lesson here is simple. Leads are leads....are leads. 

All leads are created equal before you do research. So whether you get a lead from marketing through inbound or you source it yourself you need to do research to see if the lead should be reached out to. 

For both types of leads you will start prospecting them and you need to incorporate inbound marketing into your approach. Some ways to do that include:

  • When you send emails make sure you are including links to landing pages where you are offering them relevant content for them to download. Especially if this is an outbound lead you need them to fill out some type of form on your website so you can start to track them. From there since they are now opted in marketing can also start to market to them. Right there you have made an outbound lead inbound.
  • You should send blog posts to your prospects that you think would resonate with them. Think about what they told you on the phone and find blog posts that are relevant to them.
  • Send them links to educational content on your site and links to subscribe to your blog. Once they start reading the content marketing is putting out you should see more conversions come through. 

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Topics: sales tips, sales prospecting, sales process

How to do Pre-Call Research before you Start to Prospect

Posted by Alison Powell on Oct 31, 2013 9:44:00 AM

Anyone can pick up the phone, dial a number and hope for the best. You have to have a little bit of guts and maybe a script but people do it everyday, all day. The thing that will differentiate you from all the other sales reps calling your prospect is how much research you have done. A sales person who does research before they pick up the phone is the type of sales person that your prospects would like to talk with. Research in the sales process is essential as more and more buyers are tuning out your messages. If you don't do research before you start prospecting a company, you will be less likely to get through to them.  If you can't even get through to your lead for a first conversation, you will most likely convert less leads into opportunities. That means that your opportunity to even try to sell to someone is cut from the start. You are not setting yourself up for a smart sales process if you don't do research. 


Topics: sales skills, sales tips, sales process, women in sales, precall research, research in the sales process

I Believe there is a New Kind of a "GREAT Sales Rep"

Posted by Alison Powell on Oct 29, 2013 7:22:00 PM

What does the ideal sales rep look like these days? When hiring a sales rep a  manager has to think about a lot of different things to see if they should hire them. I haven't interviewed for a job in about 3 years but from what I remember it seems like the questions the sales manager asks the potential rep needs to change.  I think these things have changed...or at least should change and so should the way people think about what makes a GREAT sales person. 


Topics: sales skills, sales coaching, outbound sales, sales process, women in sales

Sales Prospecting with Video: How to Use Video in Your Sales Process

Posted by Alison Powell on Oct 24, 2013 6:01:00 PM

Prospects are getting better and better at blocking you and I out. We need to be creative and to the point. We need to catch their attention in our prospecting but also somehow show them that we are actual human beings. We are real people, we want them to feel that. 

Today my business development rep, Paul and I started to toy around with the idea of video in prospecting. At HubSpot we are all about doing smart prospecting. We reach out to people because we have a reason to reach out to them and we always do research. We have things we want to tell the prospect because we think we could help them. So we try many different ways including vmails, calls, emails, social media, etc. Why not add some videos into our prospecting mix? 

Ways you can use videos in the sales process:

  • Prospecting: Record a video of yourself and say hello to your prospect. Show them that you are a real person and that you are not automated. A lot of prospecting comes off as non-human. Prospects are getting automated emails from sales people everyday. Marketing is doing a great job at getting more human and targeted with outreach via email but we as sales people need to show that we are real. Show some creativity in your process and show your personality in a short video to your prospect introducing yourself and what you think you could help them with.
  • After your 1st attempt: Don't give up if someone doesn't respond to your vmail and email at first. That was just your first try. If you gave up the first time you did something you would never succeed. Video might be a good way to catch someone's attention. Take a little bit of extra time and record a short video taking them through the problem that you think you can help with. For example- I had talked to a prospect of mine on the phone a few month's ago and the timing was off because they were getting a website redesign. They mentioned that they would love to talk once that was done and get some advice on how to make it work after the redesign. I took a video of me walking them through some tips I saw on their website around inbound marketing and inbound lead gen and sent it over to them in an email.
  • Use lead intelligence to know what they care about: Companies who use marketing software and CRM have lots of data on their prospects and customers. You should use that intelligence to market and sell to people smarter. For example, if you know that someone filled out a form to get a guide from you on lead nurturing you should give them feedback on how you think they could improve their email marketing with lead nurturing. If you see pages they are looking at, forms they are filling out, things they are downloading, emails they are opening...use all that data and intelligence to know what type of information would catch their attention. Be helpful and record a short educational video on how what your product or services do could help them based on what you know about them and what you think their priorities are. 
  • When a prospect sends you an email or vmail with a question: Create short videos over time that you can leverage with other prospects in the sales process. In sales you tend to get the same questions over and over again. If you start to see a trend, that is a good indicator that other prospects are going to have the same question over time. Record a short educational video that will help you quickly answer their question. 

Everyone likes switching up process. Sales can sometimes feel repetitive since you are doing the same thing everyday. Switch your mentality from one of just going through the motions to hit your number to one of trying to help people by being human. Video can add an unexpected element of human interaction early in the sales process that your prospect will be surprised to see. Want Regular Sales Tips and  Resources? Sign Up Here.


Topics: sales coaching, sales tips, sales prospecting, women in sales, smart prospecting

Sales Prospecting 101: What is Smart Prospecting in the Sales Process?

Posted by Alison Powell on Sep 27, 2013 4:41:00 PM

Prospecting is an art. It takes smart working and a good amount of concentration and dedication to get good at it. Over the past three years I have learned a little bit about how to effectively prospect. Any work I do should be smart work. A lot of sales people think you get successful by working hard. I think you get successful at sales by working smart and hard. 


Topics: sales prospecting, sales process, women in sales, smart prospecting

Why Did SomeOne Go Dark in the Sales Process?

Posted by Alison Powell on Sep 24, 2013 9:50:00 AM

  • Why aren't they calling me back?
  • Why aren't they taking my calls when I call a trillion times in one day? In one week? In two weeks...?
  • How come they aren't answering my million emails?
  • Why won't they just tell me what is going on?

Topics: women in sales

How to Use Trigger Events When Prospecting in Sales

Posted by Alison Powell on Jul 14, 2013 3:27:00 PM

Not all leads are alike. There are leads that sales gets through marketing efforts, leads that are sourced by sales people themselves, leads from trade shows, referral leads, etc. I could go on and on and on about different types of leads. Personally, I don't care where the lead came from. I care about why this potential lead (company) would be a good fit for what I sell or what I help with. prospecting in salesOver time I have realized that most sales reps define their lead quality by a couple of things:


Topics: sales prospecting, sales process, trigger events, prospecting, women in sales, saleswomen, qualifying in sales

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