As marketing and sales people, it’s so important to remember that we’re not pursuing “leads.” Or “contacts.” Or “resources.” We’re pursuing humans. And the more we’re aware of that, the less doors we get slammed in our faces and the happier our customers will be.
Not to gush, but Hubspot’s story is inspiring: in just five years, they’ve built an $8 million business and have grown their customer base from 3 to over 10,000. How? Because they’re selling something different than other marketing software companies. And it’s working. They’re selling the idea that as marketers, our job is not to interrupt—it’s to attract and inform, on a very human level. They’re selling the concept of inbound marketing—a relevant, helpful, and personalized way to reach the right people (the right humans!) with better messaging.
Here are some of the most impactful lessons from INBOUND14:
Pathological Empathy is more important than any metric.
Simon Simek (author of Leaders Eat Last) taught us about serotonin, the “leadership chemical” that produces a shared feeling of pride and recognition and reinforces relationships. He taught us that if we want to lead great teams and be thought leaders in the marketplace, we have to be willing to sacrifice self-interest to a certain degree.
This means a commitment to understanding the needs and wants of those we are leading—rather than just batching- and-blasting our messages or agendas out blindly to the masses. Creating meaningful experiences through empathy—whether it’s just thinking about things a little more deeply, or researching and writing with keywords your customers can understand and relate to—will make you a better marketer (and a better human).
Always Be Helping.
Traditional sales people live by the phrase “Always Be Closing” (ABC)—but that model is broken. Customers are demanding a free flow of information—and if it’s not coming from you, they’re getting it from somewhere else (Google, Yelp, Glassdoor, Facebook…you know the rest).
Here are the new rules: you shouldn’t be focused on making a sale. You should be focused on moving a human from awareness and understanding to eventually taking an action, all-the-while respecting where they are on their buyer’s journey. Closing is still important in the end, but it’s the “Always Be Helping” (ABH) mentality that’s most important now.
Brian Halligan, Hubspot’s CEO and co-founder, talked about this overhaul in buying patterns, and how it’s prompted a shift in the types of sales people he hires. He’s no longer looking for the cutthroat, back-slapping types that are often opaque with clients due to their own self-interests. He’s looking for reps that are ambiverted (balanced between their own needs and the customers needs), transparent, and most importantly—helpful. Call it “selping.”
Growth is hinged on great people.
Malcolm Gladwell spoke yesterday about the characteristics of great visionaries and what they can teach us about business transformation. He told the story of Malcolm McLean, who was open-minded enough to change the global shipping industry through containerization. He told us about David Sarnoff, who was conscientious enough to reframe the radio’s function (previously limited to newscasts alone) by broadcasting the first live sporting event in 1921. And he told the story of Steve Jobs, who possessed the urgency to bring personal computing to the masses once he saw that the technology was possible at Xerox Park.
Some companies are pros at attracting great visionaries to join their teams. Netflix. Apple. And, in my opinion, Hubspot (check out their Culture Code—it’s awesome). But what about the rest of us? Well, the good news is that this is about attitude and vision, not power. Does your company (and your team) have a vision that’s innovative and exciting? Do you have awesome goals, and aspire to do the impossible? Do you encourage trying new things and taking risks?
If your answer is no, it may be time to start empowering your humans.