f t i +

How to Keep Selling in a Crisis According to HubSpot’s Sales Director

Tony Eades

This week Salted Stone’s Chief Strategy Officer, Tony Eades caught up with HubSpot’s Sales Director, Dan Tyre – one of the founding fathers of Inbound who brought us the term ‘Smarketing’, the alignment of sales and marketing. Together they talk about the current state of business and the importance of embracing technology to help your customers in a human way. So get comfy on your couch and read on to find out how you can keep selling despite the COVID crisis.


Tony: Welcome back to episode three of The Couch. We’re super excited because we have the amazing Dan Tyre, Sales Director of HubSpot with us today. Welcome Dan. 


Dan: Thank you very much, Tony. I'm all in to help you and customers understand the new normal.


Tony: So to kick off, we want to focus this particular episode on sales — on how we can keep selling, how we can keep front of mind with our customers. Can you tell us how some of the businesses you’ve been working with have successfully approached the changes that COVID-19 brought about? 


Dan: Yeah, it's a great question and it is definitely different. I think the folks who practise inbound have a huge advantage. You've been involved in the inbound ecosystem for how long?


Tony: Six years, I think.


Dan: Yeah before [HubSpot] had an office in Sydney, you were practising inbound in Australia. And so it's always second nature for you to lead with treating people like human beings. It's always second nature for you to help first and then talk about business. And what the world is discovering is that's a better way to do it. When we're all at home, we're all going through some level of difficulty now, right? You have to treat everybody like a human being. You always have to ask number one, how are you doing? And really listen to the answer and then, are you safe or are you healthy? And what we find is different industries and different companies are in different situations.


So the good news is, and you'll laugh at this, 40% of people are picking up the phone now. It's extraordinary. In a typical business setting between four and 17% of people pick up their phone and 80% don't pick up their voicemail or their phone. Over the last few months that has skyrocketed. Now that you’re quarantined with your wife or two kids, you'll talk to the tax service. You'll talk to anybody. And so there's a lot more conversation going on and we always ask, how are you doing? Number one, are you safe? Are you healthy? Right? Because that's a very human approach. 


Then sometimes when I'm talking to business people I'll ask them, are you in survival mode? Are you in adapt mode? Are you in growth mode? It's very interesting. There's certain businesses that are just in survival mode. If you run a restaurant, if you run on a cruise ship, you run a casino, if you're in the gig economy, you are just worrying about how you keep your business afloat and there's still ways you can help. You can still send them free education, you can give them a website grader, you can give them a review... There are still things you can do, and it's not likely that they're going to be a potentially great client, but you can still help. And the people who start relationships in [Autumn] of 2020, people remember that forever.


Then there's a subset of people who are in adapt mode. For people like you and I who have been in the tech industry for decades, using Zoom is easy for us, but lots of people are like, “I don't know if my sales team is going to get this. I don't know if they'll be able to connect with their customers and they don't really understand the pitfalls.” So those businesses who can actually adapt are awesome. And there's lots of value that you can add. You need a CRM that you can work from anywhere. You need to be able to connect with your customers, you need to be able to use SMS text, you need to make sure that you understand what they need, then adapt. It's very important.


And then there's another subset of businesses that are in huge growth mode. If you're doing e-commerce, online learning, health supplements, health care, or if you're doing delivery services, logistics, supply chain—those companies are exploding. I was talking to a few of those [companies] and they're guilty. They're feeling guilty that the world is different and business is doing great and I think to myself, that is tremendous, how are we going to take advantage of it? So when you let people self-assess where they are, what segment they're in, now all of a sudden it's not pushy at all. If they're in survival mode, you're like, got it, we're going to help you survive. If they're in adapt mode, you're like, how are you adapting? And it doesn't matter what industry they're in.


Tony: Yeah. I think that's awesome. What I like as well as you said at the beginning about asking people how they are going. Just because we're in a virtual world, even in real life we need to do it, but certainly, in a virtual world, we need to take time to really understand the context of the person on the other end. 


Dan: So, the inbound philosophy. Now, you've always said this, Tony. You've always said in inbound philosophy, treating people like human beings, helping first. So this is not a lot different than what you normally do, it's just easier for you to identify how you can help because people are more open to it. We're starting these conversations and actually listening to where people are and we're migrating the ones that want to adapt and grow. I don't know if you've seen the HubSpot statistics from week to week?


Tony: Yes, what I found really interesting was that although it said deals decreased by about 17%, web traffic, for example, was up by 13%. So people are more receptive like you were saying before that they'll talk to anybody on the phone, they're also more receptive online.


Dan: Yeah, you’re in isolation so what else are you going to do? You're sitting on your couch, you're going to surf the web and all those emails that you had in your review folder, the 40,000 emails you put over the side so if you ever have to do it, guess what? You have a little bit of time, so you can cycle back in and do it. So you see email sends, email opens incredibly higher and continuing to move up. Now, as the eternal optimist, when I saw deal opens were down 20% I thought, “Yay, that means 80% of business is still going on which is awesome.” Because we sometimes think it's like no business are being adaptable and that's not the truth. Lots of people are in that adapt and grow mode and they're very interested. In fact, they're compelled that they are going to make something great about it.


My wife's a yoga instructor and she asks me, "What's this Zoom thing? And I'm like, "Well, you can see people." She's gone, "I need to get on Zoom." And she moved all her yoga classes online. She's doubled the size of yoga class. She does chair yoga with these older people who sit in a chair. Maybe some of them sit on the couch, I'm not quite sure. But then they move around like this and this and this and they have limited mobility. They love setting up the Zoom because they can do it in their living room. And so that’s a perfect example of somebody who's adapted and now they're never going back.


And virtually every segment of the industry, there are people who are like, this is my opportunity to scale. Just like you said, they're seeing the statistics of more people online. 


Tony: I think HubSpot was saying you've found there's definitely been an uptick in visits to your educational resources like your blogs, the Academy classes. For people that are traditionally used to the transaction, if we turn it back to sales for a second, how should they start to think about giving some of that knowledge, that expertise in an educational way away from transactional?


Dan: Yeah. So, first of all, HubSpot Academy is great and there's a subset of people who are at home who are going to use this time for self-improvement. There are 84 hours, there are 16 certifications and there's something for everybody. If you're a salesperson, get inbound sales certified. If you are a marketer, get inbound marketing certified. If you want to get social media certified, emails certified, developers certified, CNS hubs survey, all of those, they're all free and it will all increase your marketability and your skills, and now's a good time to do that.


In addition, there are always ways that you can help. You run tonnes of webinars, there are lots of recorded podcasts. People are listening to you about how they can improve, how they can lean into their skills, how they can get better for the new normal, right? You can always generate ideas, work together in a brainstorming session, just one-on-one or in a small group to understand how you can relate better to your customer. To add some level of value sometimes it doesn't even cost you anything. Making them more educated consumers usually helps you generate more business. And today I'm not too concerned about who buys and who doesn't.


In February I was walking through the Houston airport and this lady says, "Oh, you're Mr HubSpot? I saw you in a video." So I was like, "Yeah, I do a lot of videos." She goes, "You've been in there a long time?" And I, "Yeah, I've been there for 13 years." She goes, "I feel bad." I'm like, "Why do you feel bad?" She goes, "I've used HubSpot for five years, but I never paid you a dime." I'm like, "Don't feel bad." And she's like, "I've never given you any money." I'm like, "Have you ever recommended HubSpot?" She's like, "A million times." I go, "Have you ever suggested that to somebody else to use our technology?" She goes, " A million times." "Have you ever bought a T-shirt from HubSpot?" She goes like, "Yeah, I got more T-shirts than you do." I'm like, "Lady, we're even." Because that's part of the new normal, right? And if that lady never buys a free product, I don't care.


Number one, I feel good that we're helping them out. Number two, when she's ready to go, when she needs a little more functionality, she'll get it. She'll upgrade and then she'll feel great that she's sending us $50 and it's quite possible she needs the $50 now, today more than we needed. So we're happy to provide the free software to anyone, at a certain point, if our software is good enough and it has the right segmentation people are going to say, I need a little bit more functionality. They're going to ping the sales team or get a product qualified lead, and they're going to say, if I add a few more contacts or if I add this workflow or if I add sequences, I could be a little bit more efficient. But the free stuff is going to be great for a lot of people and if they're in the right fit then they're going to upgrade when they're damn well ready. And that's the way the world works in 2020.


Tony: And that's a good segue down to the next point I wanted to talk about. My question now is if we're giving away these free services, in some cases in HubSpot's free software, but in a lot of cases it's free advice, it's blogs, it's educational, whatever... how do you suggest people go from free to fee, to be able to start charting something without sounding too salesy?


Dan: Yeah. I do a lot of work with a company called Studies Weekly. They have a curriculum for kindergarten through sixth grade on history in diversity. And when all the teachers and all the schools closed, they had to teach from home and they gave it away for free. In 24 hours, there's not a lot of people who have the curriculum that they need to train over Zoom so they offered it for free. That's how they make their money. And it was a bold thing and engagement went up by 100%.


And now they're saying, but how do we get people to actually buy it for the school year? And I'm like, no, it'll be an easy conversation. Number one, you pick up the phone and you say, how are you doing? Are you safe? Are you healthy? Number two, do you expect to go back to school in the fall time or do you think you'll still do shelter at home? And number three, do you know we have paid products? And lots of people didn't know they had paid products. And so they're like, yeah, we'll get this approved. This is easy. And they're happy to pay. It's not a question of, no, I want to be a weasel and I don't want you to pay. They're like, you helped us out on a day when we didn't know what was going on, we owe you and just tell us how much it is. And as long as it's not outrageous, they're in debt because they provided the free stuff.


I think in most cases, none of your B2B business customers are going to use HubSpot free because they need to get the results quickly and to do that you need a paid product. When you sit down with somebody and say, you're using that free stuff but would you like to get a little faster results? And they're like, sure. And you're like, well, if you got 10 new customers that would generate $500,000 worth of revenue, is that a worthwhile move into a paid product? They're like, yeah, that's worthwhile, how do I do that? 


So the conversation isn't so much being pushy. I think people that fall into your segmentation would be better off not going with the free stuff, but be going with HubSpot Professional. People using Professional want the results and are willing to pay a little bit more money to get those results as opposed to just using the free. It actually becomes a very helpful and supportive conversation.


Tony: Yeah, that's a very good point. I think naturally most people live in a world where if you do something for me, I want to do something for you.


Dan: That is human nature. I got a famous blog article called, Always Be Closing Is Dead: How to Always Be Helping. Because in 2014, I took a territory job for HubSpot running Arizona and I realised that I used to be a little bit pushy. I'd cycle in and say, "Tony, I think it's ready for you to start in May of 2020. You've been using the free stuff for a while." And that didn't work in 2014. People were like, okay Tyre, and then never returned my call, never accepted my LinkedIn request and I wised up. All I want to do is help. And some people were sceptical. They're like, why are you helping me, Tyre? Why have you given me 14 sessions and you haven't asked me to buy anything? And I'm like, that's just the way we do. You asked for help, I'm going to give it to you.


Sooner or later you're going to need a paid product and hopefully, you'll think we have to buy that because you've given us so much out. That inbound sales process, that's the philosophy. That's what we started in 2007 and now the world is catching up.


Tony: Yeah. It's such a shame, isn't it? That when you're genuinely trying to help people, they're thinking what's the catch? When is the sale going to come in? What are you going to charge me for this?


Dan: I know they'll catch on. And believe me, I'm just like, no, this is the way we do it. I'm going to give you as much as help as I can, I'm going to put you with other folks. I'm going to do it in a group fashion. And if you want one-on-one and if you want to grow better, grow quicker, grow faster, they’re the customers that buy the paid product. And by definition because they have a little bit more power, they have a little bit more professional service, a little bit more guidance, they're typically performing a little bit better. And guess what? It's 2020, so you get to decide.


Tony: Dan, let's move on to businesses that have been completely shocked by the uncertain times of COVID that hit everybody around the world, and have perhaps completely shut down, reversed, not doing anything. As we look towards, as I like to call it, beyond COVID, what are your tips for businesses that really need to start thinking about beyond COVID?


Dan: Okay. First of all, don't wait because people are adapting now. There are people like my wife who were, like, no, this is the greatest thing ever happened to me. I'm not getting in the car and driving around to yoga studios anymore. I'm going to do it from my own home. I'm going to get twice as many people. I'm going to make as much money or more and I have less hustle, right?


So number one, be a realist and size up how you think this is going to impact your business. For all of our portfolio companies, I'm an angel investor. I advise 35 companies. I'm on five boards of directors. Witness hint, the first thing we did is make everybody form a contingency plan. What happens if you lose 25% of your business? What happens if you lose 50%? What happens if you lose 75%? And then some people like Incorporate Massage lost 99% of their risk but they had a plan. They knew what they needed to do. They needed to understand who they furloughed, how they got their bank loans, where they got all that information and it was critical for them to have that. Then they decided that they're going to adapt. They pivoted. They pivoted 30 days ago and now they're way out in front. So don't wait until it's over because there's no reason to.


Right now you plan and whether we go back to the new normal sometime in May, sometime in June, wherever, you're going to be positioned now to understand that, first of all, it's not going to be the same. All those people at direct sales teams that went belly to belly every week, they're not going to do that anymore. 


Now, this is a great story. I'm talking to a lawyer. A 26-year-old lawyer, been a lawyer for three years and she was required to put on a suit and go to the office every single day. And she said the way we got promoted is you would work long hours and people would see you there for long hours. Very visual work habits. She goes, "It was a little crazy but that's the way it works. Until the new normal, now we all work from home." Right? She goes, "Buildings are up 19%," she said, "you know what's going to happen? No one's going to go to the office. The only thing that could keep us from going back to the office, putting on a suit every day is a 19% increase in buildings." She goes, "The partners aren't stupid. They're going to say do whatever you want. Work from home because you can make more money."


So there's going to be lots of that level of impact. There's going to be lots of people who are going to realise that it's not going to be the same. There's going to be a lot of industries that are going to have to modify and we have to take educated guesses of how that's going to work, what that means, how you are going to set up systems and processes and do an assessment to understand how it works today, how it's going to work in the future, how you can get that maximum productivity and still keep people engaged and they're not burning out.


Tony: Yeah, certainly there's going to be some changes when we get back to, as you call it, the new normal, whatever that's going to look like. I wanted to just cover off on how you coined that term ‘Smarketing’. Surely there's no much better time than right now for sales and marketing teams to align. So as we come out of this, let's talk about the importance of why there shouldn't be a divide between the marketing team that's getting the message out there and the sales team that are converting.


Dan: Yeah, it's ridiculous. You're 100% right. In the old days, marketing did a very defined thing and sales did a very defined thing and sales was King. Marketing was always in the dog house. If you were a marketer, you were largely female, young and you were always yelled at because you didn't purchase enough leads or you purchased too many leads and it was hard to figure out which ones were quality, so you built an excuse. And as a vice president of sales executives, I threw my marketing department under the bus all the time. You were a built-in excuse. If I was hitting my number, I was superman, I got raises, I got more budget. It was great. If I was missing the number, it was your fault, Tony. Marketing is not defeating me, right?


So that just doesn't work in 2020. Today, if salespeople write their own emails, forget about it. Just on this webinar I was doing, people are saying, no, I do my own emails. I'm like, why? Your marketing department can write so much better email and then they can study it and figure out what the ratios are. The top-performing email template, that's what you got to use. All it takes is understanding how to get there and push one button. And that's just using technology for a benefit.


Also, people will stop and start, stop and start, stop and start. People will swarm around starting a new product and service and then they'll stop for 18 months and then they'll come back and expect you to know where they were. Marketing does a little sales, sales does a little bit of marketing. So a new age company in the new normal is where sales and marketing are talking constantly. If salespeople don't know what the buyer personas are they're missing a huge opportunity. You have to understand the ideal customer profile, the personas, you have to understand the client journey, you have to understand how to provide the right step at each time.


“A new age company in the new normal is where sales and marketing are talking constantly. If salespeople don’t know what the buyer personas are they’re missing a huge opportunity. You have to understand the ideal customer profile.” 


Marketing needs to write the emails, they need to work on the sequences, the workload. Salespeople need to understand how marketing is assisting with them. Salespeople need to send all this information out for awareness, all the social media they need to author content to make sure that it's authentic. They need to provide the right information at the right time. 


So the sales and marketing thing, I would have thought it would have dominated. I would've thought everybody I talked to would have broken down those own silos and it's the exact opposite. People are still holding on. It's just the new generation people are growing up where they get inbound as an essential competitive advantage that they're really leaning into and not having those old false segmentations.


Tony: Yeah. I think certainly from our perspective, I know when I work with clients and we look at strategy, one of the best things is when you map out the whole buyer journey, the first touch point to the last touch point and there isn't really a last touch point. As we all know, there's the delight stage in the HubSpot process. But when you do the whole buyer journey, everybody is involved, like there's a seamless transition across. So why would you ever have sales handing over to marketing and the two will never meet. 


Dan: There better be because if you're practising inbound marketing and not practising inbound sales... This is what I found. I was working with a customer and one of our partners generated 425 leads. The SLA for the assignment was about 210 and he doubled that and he went on to raise the price of the retainer and the CEO said, "No, we're going to fire you." And he's like, "What?" He's like, "No, no, no. None of that turned into business." But I'm like, that is impossible. And when we looked at it, the salespeople were calling once or sending an email, not even calling, and I'm like, you're kidding me. You can't call somebody once and expect that they're going to have a response, you have to call four times over 12 days, use video email, send four emails. And if it's an MQL and SQL, sometimes you're going to push it up from there.


Tony: Yeah. That's so true. It's like going back to the original marketing 101 where we used to talk about, I think it was called the max seven, that everyone would have seven touchpoints generally with a brand before they engage with you. And people just drop out after two or three and think, well, that's never going to happen. And they've missed out on those last four points.


Dan: Mainly salespeople, right? Marketing people, they expect multiple touches. The thing is salespeople, by definition, they have a target on their back, they have to hit their quota. So they're naturally going to gravitate to where they think they're going to get the most business. But in 2020, you have to manage a much bigger flywheel. You have to have many more opportunities because you can't push somebody. That means a wider funnel or a wider number of opportunities. And then people will come out of the woodwork and you have to use sequences or dropping workflows where periodically you're like, oh, I was just thinking about you, oh this is something that came to my attention, oh we had a conversation at the first of the year, is that on your radar screen at all?


And if you're doing that in an automated fashion, if you're treating people like human beings, that means you're doing research on them. If I call you up and I treat you the same way as an Englishman or somebody in Belgium or something like that, you are going to be like, that's not personalised. If I know where you are, what you're doing, a little bit about you and I can showcase that, then all of a sudden we're off to a really human helping conversation. It will greatly accelerate the potential for us to do business.


Tony: Dan, let's wrap up with technology. 


We mentioned video and email which are super important. You touched on using sequencing which is a fantastic way of automating the sales process so you don't have to literally do the emails right the way through. Obviously, HubSpot has a lot of this infrastructure to support the flywheel from sales to marketing to service. Now people are getting more familiar with things like Zoom and doing webinars and sometimes being forced into even the legacy sales team and they're starting to have to use digital platforms, how should people be embracing technology more?


Dan: Yeah, it just makes you more human. Anything that makes you more human is good. So you got to have a chatbot on your website now because I don't want to wait. HubSpot has a free chatbot that you can use that's awesome. Anything that makes you more human. It's not necessarily the technology that's important, it's how can I be more efficient because I'm automating the low-value work.


The thing that changed my life is the subscribe meetings tool. And we use the meetings tool like 50 times a week because it's impossible to get on my calendar. Impossible. And in my meetings tool in the public domain, you can find it Dantyre.com. You can book a meeting with me, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. If you get on my schedule, I'm going to talk with you. And that is technology that's built into the HubSpot freemium product. It'll just change your life.


Right now I can be super-efficient. I'm booked from 6:30 in the morning all the way to 6:30 at night. And I asked people to provide the three things they want to talk about. I am automatically able to see their contact record of all the interactions they've had previously. I see lead intelligence that tells me what they purchased or what they haven't purchased, if they've been in a deal before. I have lead notification so I know when they're back on the website or they've opened my email. Now, I have a much better opportunity to utilise my skills to cycle in, to establish that relationship, to be human, to know where they are at.


Remember if I cycle in and you did an extensive evaluation of HubSpot at the beginning of the year, if I started the very beginning, you're secretly pissed. You're like, why are we starting here? I went through this in January. If I cycle in and say, I see that you spent a lot of time evaluating HubSpot in January, let's take it from where you want to take it. Now, all of a sudden I've gained additional credibility. So those types of technologies are very important.


Also, the technology has to be super easy. I use playbooks all the time in HubSpot Sales Enterprise because we're learning new products all the time. Sometimes I don't know all of the questions to ask and playbooks allow me to feed the right questions for the right person at the right time. Meetings tools are great, lead intelligence is great. I'm a huge believer in sequences and workflows. I'm a huge believer in letting my marketing department write all my correspondence so that I don't spend a lot of time and energy doing it. And HubSpot has such a great platform.


Tony: I think it's amazing as well, even back to the bare basics. A lot of clients in the past have said they don't even have a CRM. If you don't know the conversations you've had with your customers, the interactions they've had online, you don't really know me as a potential prospect when we do actually connect.


Dan: And even you Tony, you're the nicest guy in the world, you'll be pissed if you've looked at HubSpot twice and I don't know that. If in the meeting notes it says you worked with Emma Hogan three times and I'm like, oh my friend Emma, now we have this bond, right? Now that seems very simplistic, but that's the basis for us starting a relationship. Now I know more about you, now I know about what you've done, now I can be a little bit more strategic in the way we engage.

Tony: Fantastic. Dan Tyre, Sales Director at HubSpot, it’s always awesome to catch up with you. Thanks for joining us on The Couch.


Need help with strategy?
Chat with Salted Stone today to Springboard your Sales & Marketing Strategy.


New call-to-action

Definitely not spam

Sign up for our newsletter

Don't worry - we only average, like, two emojis per subject line.

Got a question for Tony Eades?

Message the author of this post and they'll get back to you.

Fire Away