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Ramona Sukhraj

By Ramona Sukhraj

May 25, 2016


Inbound Sales
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Inbound Sales

How to Create a Predictable, Scalable, (& Lovable) Client Acquisition Machine

Ramona Sukhraj

By Ramona Sukhraj

May 25, 2016

How to Create a Predictable, Scalable, (& Lovable) Client Acquisition Machine

Sales hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.

Unfortunately, buyers have -- dramatically.

In the fourth episode of the IMPACT Expert Insight Series below, HubSpot’s VP of Sales, Pete Caputa, unravels this idea and shares some bold advice on what modern salespeople are doing wrong.


Pete will get deeper into his talk live at our event, Brewing Marketing & Sales Success NEXT WEEK on June 3rd! To learn more about the event, Pete’s session, and get your tickets, click here. (You might even get to split a beer with Pete and his in-laws.)


BR: Alright. Welcome everyone to the fourth edition of our five-part Expert Insight Series. I'm Bob Ruffolo, founder and CEO of IMPACT, and I'm honored to be here with our fourth guest. He's the Godfather of the HubSpot Partner Channel. He's the one that made it all happen and now, he's the vice president of sales, Pete Caputa. Welcome.

PC: Thank you, Bob. Thanks for having me. I'm looking forward to the event very much.

BR: Well, Pete. For everyone inside here who doesn't know who you are, and I'm sure it could be very few people that don't know who you are. But for those that don't know, take a moment and tell us about yourself.

PC: Sure. So, yeah, as you mentioned, I'm VP of Sales at HubSpot. I joined here really early on as employee 15 as a rep and did well. I started our partner program here, which is a program that works with marketing agencies like IMPACT as you know because we've been working together I think for the better part of five years now.

BR: Five years.

PC: So we have thousands of marketing agencies around the world now that use the HubSpot software to deliver a set of services that enable them to deliver a much stronger ROI to their clients. So I built that program out and that's been responsible for a big portion of HubSpot's revenue. We estimate that our partners do about a half a billion dollars of services revenue. So we've helped a lot of agencies, and those agencies have helped a lot of clients. You can say that's probably my biggest career accomplishment so far.

BR: The HubSpot Partner Channel has completely transformed my life, you know that. As we got started, we were a very small web design company, get the phone call, and then the value proposition was not, "Oh, you can use our software and use it for your clients." But it's really, "We can help you grow your industry. We can help you have a more predictable revenue model, and give you all the resources for what you need." Completely changed my life, and Pete, I don't know if there's anybody in this industry that's more hardworking than you are.

PC: Well, I've been taking it easy lately. But yeah, I work fairly hard I guess. Even when I'm taking the easiest probably pretty hard.

BR: It's very hard. They all know this.

PC: Yes.

BR: Before we get started, just share how the partner channel gets started. I think it's such a phenomenal story as well.

PC: Sure. So I was a rep at HubSpot, and I was the fourth rep. And that was in 2007 I joined. Around 2009 is when we officially launched the program. And in between that time, I started working with a handful of marketing agencies. In fact, I had run a very small agency before I joined HubSpot. So I kind of understood that marketing services world, specifically the digital marketing stuff. And so I started working with agencies at HubSpot and I realized that, you know, agencies had a serious challenge with getting recurring revenue work. Same challenge I had when I had my agency.

Most agencies do websites and it's a project. They might do SEO and it's six-month project. I might do some PR and that might be ongoing, but only if it works.

So back then, you know, social is pretty new but there are even social people and they'd go and then do a project which is pretty much the stupidest idea ever. Social media is not a project as most people know now.

So we figured out that using our product, agencies could deliver an ROI, and they could do it through a set of services. And the only way to deliver that ROI is if they provided ongoing services. So it allowed us to go out to agencies and say, "Hey, these are the services you could sell. You should package them up this way. It should enable you to not only secure a client more easily but also retain them for the long-term."

So I petitioned to start the program internally at HubSpot. And at that time, I think we are just about raising our series B or series C. It was really all about execution. It always is at HubSpot. But it was really all about execution. And we had a good direct model going. Brian likes to say we have three eyes that enable us to go to market -- One is inbound marketing that attracts lots of leads, regenerate tens of thousands of leads a month through our own marketing efforts online. There's the insight sales model. It allows us to sell in an affordable or cost-effective way to small and mid-size businesses. And now, he says indirect. But back in the day, indirect was not something that he or the board or really anyone thought would be a good idea. So I pitched it a few times. I got a no a few times. Finally, on the third try, put together a presentation, presented it to the management team, and Brian very reluctantly said, "Okay. Just don't distract anyone and hit your number." So I basically had, I still have my sales quota. I launched the program and, you know, did the marketing side, the service side, with not a whole lot of help in the beginning.

Of course, now there're hundreds of people dedicated to our partners, helping our partners grow, and helping their clients, and all that, but that was the beginning. It was a little bit of--I faced a little bit of resistance and worked through that. But at this point, you know, Brian gives me a lot of credit and he's extremely passionate about our partners. He mentions it. You probably heard it on every earnings call at this point.

BR: Yeah.

PC: Very good story. I get lucky in the right place at the right time and a little bit of hard work and made a few smart decisions.

BR: And what most people feel accomplished at that point that the partner channel you never slowed down and you just kept building it and building and building it….And we're still honored, Pete, to have you as a speaker at Brewing Marketing and Sales Success.

PC: As you know, my wife grew up in Branford, so I'm very excited to go there. I'm staying at my mother-in-law's, and I've been to the brewery where you're hosting the event and a beautiful place. But not just for beer but for the conference as well. And beautiful sight along the river there. Mystic River, right?

BR:  It’s a cool place, I’ve been there a couple of times./

PC: So it'd be nice. Yeah, it would be fun. I think they even have like a little man-made beach out front with a corn hole and volleyball. So hopefully we can--

BR: We got our fingers crossed that we have a nice day.

PC: Exactly.

BR: So for those who do not know Brewing Marketing and Sales Success is, as Pete said, it's an all-day marketing conference hosted by IMPACT in Branford, Connecticut, at the Stony Creek Brewery. So if you are thinking of what you can do for your professional development in marketing and sales, you should...You're in the area, you should come on by. You should hear Pete speak. And Pete, what will you be talking about?

PC: Well, as you know, I'm really passionate about how the Internet has changed sales and marketing, and then how companies can accelerate their growth using the web. Been working on this as we've talked about since the first dot-com boom when I had my agency. I kind of had a front row seat, had been a host for nine years. We've certainly leveraged the Internet to grow our business. And what we do is help people use the web to grow their business. So not only seen it but had a hand in, you know, figuring a lot of that stuff out along the way. So what I'll be talking about is like how companies can do that. I'll walk them through a step-by-step process that they can use to generate more leads and then turn those leads into customers at a higher rate. So that's what I'll be talking about.

BR: So you mentioned how the Internet's changed it. Walk me through a little bit more. Why do people need to change the way they sell?

PC: Quite a few reasons. But I'll preface this with ironically, I don't think sales best practices have changed much.

Now, the percentage of salespeople may be doing best practices. Maybe that's changed, but the sales as a profession kind of was created in the early 1900s. It's like in zeros or the teens or the 1910s. And I've read a bunch of books that were published then and kind of have that history. And a lot of the stuff that those books have in it are very similar to the books that you might read now. And so I don't think sales best practices changed a lot.

Now, what has changed significantly is the way buyers buy. If you just think back ten years ago, before the web, buyers actually used to willingly meet with salespeople. It sounds silly to someone that wasn't around then or even like it's just been so long since buyers thought that way, but that's the way it was.

Just really like 10-15 years ago. And the reason they did that is because, without salespeople, there was really no way to know what they were missing out on. They didn't have a way to figure out or diagnose their own problems. They didn't have a way to design their own solutions. They didn't have a way to identify offerings that could help them, products and services that could help them with those problems. And so that's what's changed drastically now. They do all of that on the web, and they pretty much do it in that order. They're like, "Hey, I have a problem. I diagnosed it from reading or learning about this." "Oh, there's a potential solution for it. Oh, and there's companies that can help me with that solution." And identifying the company is the third part. And then once they identify a handful of companies, the last thing they do once again is talk to the salesperson.

First, they go to the website of the companies. They read a bunch of stuff there. Next, they go to review sites, right? Everyone's familiar with Yelp in the consumer space. But there're just as many review sites for lawyers, for software companies. For every space, there's now review sites out there. And then lastly, they can ask a question of their peers. They connect with their peers in social media and ask questions there.

So the last thing they do now is talk to that salesperson. And so most salespeople have not adopted or adapted to this new reality. In fact, some of them have adapted in the wrong way. They've gotten more aggressive, more pushy. They send spam out like crazy to try to book that one meeting. And ironically, they're alienating buyers instead of engaging them, but there is a playbook. There is a playbook for adapting you know, adapting to this new very empowered buyer.

BR: So without giving away the full playbooks. I think you're going to be going through that at Brewing Marketing and Sales Success. But what's like the one thing that maybe if sales reps are listening to this can do differently to make an impact on their sales almost immediately?

PC: Got it. So there're some simple things that they can do. I'm not going to give you any of those off, you have to come to the event for that. And salespeople tend to look for simple solutions. I'm going to give you the one thing that most salespeople look at me funny when I say. But if they were to do it and the ones that do it, it has the biggest impact. Give them the biggest impact on here.

BR: Great.

PC: And the way I position is like everybody knows the salesperson you see be an expert. You need to be an expert at their products, their business, what their market, you know, what their buyer's life looks like. That hasn't changed like I said before for a hundred years.

What has changed is it's not just good enough to be an expert anymore. You actually have to be a known expert. You can't be invisible.

They must make their expertise known by as many people as possible. Lots of people have to know that they're experts, right? And the way to do this, the very simple way, basically free way to do this, is publish original content that establishes their expertise. Whether that's articles, videos, audio, whatever, tweets, Google Hangout recordings. Whatever it is. They just can't leave this to marketing anymore. At least, not alone to marketing. In fact, the way I look at it, it is like there's really little reason these days for your CMO to be known as an expert. Because the CMO never has to pick up the phone, get through to someone and not just get them to talk to them, but get them to take their advice, right? Not just take the call but take the advice. And so the best thing that a sales rep can do is make themselves known as an expert.

Another thing I'd like to say is that social media is like the new Rolodex. But it's not so much about having the card in your Rolodex, it's about having your card in other people's Rolodex.

You know, that was true in analog world but it's really true in the digital world. You want people to have your card. You want people to be following you, listening to what you're saying or people to be connected to you so that they can pay attention to what you're doing. Salespeople that do that have no problem building the top of their funnel.

BR: Love it. Now, we've talked about one thing they can do right. And you managed hundreds and thousands of sales reps in your experience at HubSpot.

PC: Yeah.

BR: What's the most common thing that you see even the best sales reps are doing wrong?

PC: Well, I don't think the best ones do. But I think the majority of sales reps do this wrong.

So like I said before, I think the most important thing a sales rep can do is build the top of their funnel. In fact, most salespeople don't do that. They spend too much time with prospects that are not likely to buy and they don't spend enough time building the top of their funnel. And as a result, they always get desperate to get that deal in.

If salespeople just basically shifted more of their time towards developing demand, they'd be in a much better position to exceed their target. So that's the one thing I think they can do right. It's kind of not saying anything different, though. I just said it a few minutes ago.

The one thing that salespeople do wrong as an example here is some salespeople take--They do a lot of prospecting over email, which they should. Email's a great tool for prospecting. It's probably the best one these days. But they send the same damn message to every single prospect. They literally don't customize it other than Hi, Joe or Hi, Bob or Hi, Pete, right? It's like that's the extent of their customization. And prospects get a crap load of those every day. And so they're ignoring it, right?

So most salespeople who do that gets literally single digit percent response rate. So like 90+ percent of the people that they send that message they ignore it. It works for them because they still get that single digit and that's really efficient to send spam, right? But in the process, what they're doing is they're pissing off a lot of their prospects. Prospects from my conversations with like decision-makers and buyers, they're getting more and more pissed off about this.

They literally have to sort through their inboxes, spend 20 minutes getting rid of the damn email that is spam, right? From salespeople.

And I think smart salespeople, what I do, for example, is when I email someone, I get a response rate of like 90+ percent. And that's because I don't talk about me. I certainly don't talk about my product. And what I do is I spend a handful of minutes. Sometimes it can be seconds. I find something that they're interested in, something that they've published on and something their company is doing. And I reference that. I compliment them. I ask them a question to open a dialogue. I have no agenda or no clear agenda I should say. And I literally don't. I like to meet people, I like to talk to people. If I can't solve their problem, no big deal. I'll try to point them in the direction to someone that can. And that's just part of the job. And salespeople have lost their way and their part of the job is finding people that they can help. Actually, the most important part of the job is to do that.

BR: Love that. You know, that's exactly what we do at IMPACT as well. And Tom DiScipio is going to be following you. And he'll be actually presenting the inbound IMPACT case study. Exactly how...Everything you talked about--

PC: Yeah.

BR: How we do it at IMPACT.

PC: Sweet.

BR: So it's all be cool how the two sessions go together.

PC: Cool. Yeah, definitely. Yes. I look forward to that. Tom does an amazing job. You guys do an amazing job.

BR: Well, my next question for you--My last question is why should people make sure they're at Brewing Marketing and Sales Success to see your presentation?

PC: Why should they? Well, I'm going to give a step-by-step approach to creating demand that covers both marketing and sales. Tom will follow that like you said. It sounds like with a very hands-on, here's an example of it. But I'll walk people through the process of identifying their prospects, attracting them into their funnel, converting them so they can start to identify which ones are actually the most likely to buy, connecting with those prospects in an engaging meaningful way. And I'll leave the rest off.

But there're a few more steps to it to ultimately close and delight the clients. But I'll walk people through a step-by-step process exactly what they can do to do that. It's not easy but the companies that do it like IMPACT and many of your clients are rewarded. And so hopefully, they'll be interested in learning from me and from you and everybody else that's there.

BR: Will you be hanging around after if they want to have a beer with you?

PC: Yeah, like I said I'm staying at my mother-in-law's. So you know, hopefully, my mother and father-in-law, maybe they'll meet us for a beer too and can hang out. Sounds like it's going to be fun.

BR: Yes. Should be a great time.  Hopefully the weather's good.

PC: Yeah.

BR: And we'll have the whole outside. It'd be great.

PC: If not, there will still be beer and the place is huge. So there'd be plenty of space.

BR: Absolutely. So besides coming to the event and meeting you in person, how do you recommend the viewers get in touch with you if they want to connect after this?

PC: My preference is Twitter. I check my emails, but I have trouble keeping up with it.

Same thing with everything else, I guess. But Twitter is my preference. If they really want to get in touch with me, I have an inner circle. You're in it, as you know. The best way to get in touch with me is through a referral from one of you guys. You or your team. So that's my preference. But I'm pretty active on Twitter. I use it to learn and read and discover things. So if you're going to connect with me, hopefully, that's your frame of mind as well.

BR: Perfect. Well, Pete, I really appreciate you coming on. And we're going to see you in a few weeks.

PC: Yup. Look forward to it, Bob.

BR: Alright. Thanks, Pete.

PC: Yup. Take care.


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