Building Better Customer Relationships: INBOUND Takeaways Part 2



Last week we reported some of our findings from Hubspot’s INBOUND 2016 conference, including how to succeed using today’s sales model and how to overcome common inbound marketing challenges. This week we dive deeper into our favorite presentations and explore ways to improve email marketing, social selling, and conversations for a better customer experience.


1. Human behavior affects email marketing.

In “10 Human Behavior Hacks That Will Change the Way You Create Email,” Nancy Harhut explains practical ways to adjust your sales emails to attract people to open them. Understanding basic human behavior is essential to creating effective email communications.

  • The ripple effect: Human behavior experts tell us that if someone has done something for you before, they are more likely to continue doing things for you. For example, a prospect who downloaded a piece of content or subscribed to your blog might be willing to sign up for a webinar in the future. But it’s the salesperson’s job to remind them of that earlier “yes.”
  • Negatives deliver positive results: We as humans are 2x as motivated when we want to avoid pain. By asking questions about or referring to your prospects’ pain points, you appeal to their emotions, which can help you build trust.
  • Subject lines matter: We know what your inbox looks like, and let’s face it: you have way more unopened emails than opened. What does it take for people to open today? There are a few eye-magnet words that undeniably grab our attention such as “alert,” “secrets,” the contact’s own name, “free,” and “new.”


2. “Less is more” can actually work.

Tesla Motors is known for their almost non-existent marketing and advertising budget. Tesla’s President of Global Sales & Service, Jon McNeil, shared that the company’s 2015 ad spend per vehicle was only $6. This was compared to other motor vehicle companies like Toyota (Toyota Motor Corp) at $248, Cadillac (General Motors) at $1,163, and Jaguar (Tata Motors) with the most spend at $3,325.

McNeil credits the eco-friendly brand’s adoption to their inbound marketing strategy, which involves a few key elements:

  • Building organic traffic: SEO efforts hold a lot of weight in Tesla’s sales and marketing plan. The company has been able to organically grow the brand based on digital channel traffic. This includes website structure, content optimization, keyword strategy, and analyzing topics relevant to the market.
  • Experiential marketing: Besides cars, there’s something else Tesla is exceptional at: generating buzz. Tesla’s test driving services allow people to touch, see, smell, hear, and fully experience a self-driving car. This not only builds a great word-of-mouth system, but it creates excitement around both the product and their mission to sustain a healthier planet.
  • Referral program: For those that like to do their research online and read feedback from other customers, a referral program can be quite useful in the buyer’s journey and decision making process. The program provides users with a monetary incentive to share content and bring in referrals, and it is a great form of lead generation for Tesla.


3. Social selling is great, but we are using it wrong.

Jeff Hoffman, a renowned sales executive and entrepreneur, explained that while social selling greatly impacts the bottom line, we aren't taking full advantage of it. With LinkedIn specifically, we are taking the wrong approach to social selling or, in some cases, not even planning our approach.

Hoffman provided examples from his own experiences of how we should be selling on social media:


Rethink the social paradigm.

Businesses often approach sales situations with the goal of establishing a buyer/seller relationship. This idea actually kills a lot of social selling opportunities. LinkedIn and other social channels give us access to prospects’ information before actually making contact, which allows us to cheat our way through creating relationships.

Instead of using the buyer/seller paradigm, we should be taking a teacher/student approach. Our goal should be to learn from and understand our connections and prospects. "Sellers" should allow their connections to take the teacher role. Listening will help you get a better sense of your prospects’ needs, and they will be far more engaged.


Follow the rules of networking, both in person and online.

How do you get the most out of networking events?

  • Set a quantity goal – know the ideal number of people you aim to speak with.
  • Limit the conversation time – this helps you achieve your quantity goal and avoid those drawn-out, forced conversations. Jeff even suggested starting the conversation by saying, "I promise I won't keep you for more than 3 minutes."
  • Focus on the other person – be in that conversation; don't start thinking about what you're going to say next or start looking for the next person to approach.
  • Offer something – this doesn't mean sell them on something. Maybe there is a connection in your network that would be beneficial to them; offer to make an introduction.
  • Embrace the awkwardness – no one is 100% comfortable in these situations, so you don't have to act like you are. Most of the time, if you say how awkward networking can be people will automatically relate to you on that alone. 

When using social networking, consider some similar rules:

  • Limit your daily involvement – you want to stay in front of people, but you don't want to be an overwhelming presence.
  • Keep it short & sweet – social media should be your platform for brief, concise posts. Getting straight to the point and being specific is better received by your connections.
  • Focus on the content – remind yourself it's not a buyer/seller paradigm; offer content that you know will provide value.
  • Keep the conversation running – nurture and encourage engagement by keeping conversations going and adding a meaningful voice to different topics.

4. The art of conversation has been lost. How do we bring it back?

Sales and marketing are professions that have been built on human interaction, but with the growth of the digital age the element of human contact has been nearly eliminated. Digital Ocean's Vice President of Sales & Customer Success, Emanuelle Skala, provided a deeper look at how the lack of actual conversation taking place in day-to-day life is impacting sales and marketing.

In a given week, 31% of cell phones will not be used for a single phone call. A large portion of the younger workforce has what Skala referred to as "phone fear" – foregoing actual conversation in favor of texting, messaging apps, email, and social media interactions. Today, 93% of communication is nonverbal.

Because young sales and marketing professionals lack exposure to in-person communication, a concern is that they will not know how to handle conversations with prospects and customers and won’t be able to articulate the company’s value. Marketing automation platforms like HubSpot can help educate and engage customers, but they are not a cure-all. 

In recent years, $56 billion has been spent on sales and marketing automation, yet only 54% of those professionals have hit company quotas. While email nurture programs and other automation tools certainly have their place in sales and marketing programs, it's also important to not undervalue the use of good conversation.


4 Tips for Bringing Conversation Back

  1. Pick up the phone – eliminate "phone fear" by giving employees the tools and training they need to be confident in those conversations.
  2. Focus on the quality of the conversation – communicate with employees what the goal of their conversations should be and how they can achieve it.
  3. Focus on the quality of the words – the meaning of the words should be tied to the value customers are being offered.
  4. Emphasize customer advocacy – encourage employees to build relationships and trust with customers.


Written by Mandy Bly and Aimee Schenck

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