It’s a bummer, but also fitting, that for the second straight year, HubSpot’s INBOUND will go all-virtual due to COVID-19.
While HubSpot’s annual inbound marketing and sales conference won’t attract thousands of people (and tens of amazing food trucks) to downtown Boston, it still promises to be as impactful as ever. Why? It’s the perfect opportunity to refine our virtual selling and relationship-building skills.
protocol 80’s own Josh Curcio (aka ... me) will be a guest speaker at HubSpot INBOUND 2021. My presentation is the antidote for anyone worried about their sales team slipping into pre-COVID overreliance on outdated practices.
Here’s what you’ll get out of my session, “Sales Will Return To Normal -- Don't Let Your Reps Revert to Old, Bad Habits”:
Brief Intro to HubSpot INBOUND 2021 (& Me)
INBOUND is HubSpot’s annual sales and digital marketing conference. Its focus is education, networking, and evolving for a better way of doing business.
I’m COO/Partner at protocol 80, an inbound marketing agency for manufacturers and B2Bs. While I’m no Oprah, I’m also a:
- HubSpot Certified Trainer
- HubSpot User Group Leader (Rochester, N.Y.)
- HubSpot Community Champion
- Lover of tacos
‘Sales Will Return to Normal -- Don't Let Your Reps Revert to Old, Bad Habits’
To assess the landscape of virtual and in-person selling in 2021 and beyond, you need to look at three areas:
- Pandemic reactions
- Analyzing how habits were (and are) broken
- Assessing which pre-pandemic and pandemic-era habits should stay and go
1. Pandemic Reaction Mode (What Changed, & Why?)
Imagine being a 30-year veteran in a B2B sales department. Trade shows and on-site sales visits were your bread-and-butter.
In early 2020, your career changed forever. (Or is it forever?)
Sellers’ and their buyers’ companies laid off and furloughed workers left and right. The supply chain melted like ice cream on pavement in August. Suddenly you had to sell a $2 million piece of capital equipment over Zoom.
In the early days of the pandemic, sales teams were forced to adapt, literally almost overnight, via:
- Virtual selling techniques
- CRM sales activity logging
- Streamlining and automation of remote touchpoints
At first, this jarring change in routine felt like an earthquake for old-school sellers. Many had relied on Outlook or Excel as their CRM, or ignored the more-robust CRM their company invested in years ago. Sellers couldn’t lean into the next cubicle and ask a quick question about a contact. They had to improve their data-management skills, and quickly.
Turns out this mandatory crash-course in remote prospecting was the shakeup they needed to grow as digital sellers. The teams who swallowed their trepidation and bought in improved both efficiency and transparency in their B2B sales processes.
That’s the surface-level explanation. My presentation will get to the core of how and why some teams survived better than others.
2. What Causes Habits to Change (For Good or Bad)
Like any other patterned behavior, the habits that a sales team or individual develops tend to stick around for years -- for better or worse. But they can change, even if they’re years-old.
My presentation will discuss methods of breaking bad seller habits:
- Tiny habits -- starting small rather than trying to change everything at once
- Context/environment -- having a toolset and work setup that facilitate success (comfy WFH setup, automation tools, etc.)
- Behavior habits -- understanding the motivation (reward/reprimand) behind tasks and habits
- Making habits stick -- thinking what makes something easier, and doing it
- Carryover from personal to professional -- and vice versa
But which new and old habits should stay, and which should go?
3. Learn How Reps Can Maintain Positive Habits & Avoid Negative Ones
At INBOUND I’ll discuss the remote selling tactics all B2B sellers should keep using, pandemic or no pandemic:
- Virtual selling -- unless meeting in person is a must
- Using a real CRM -- for more consistent communication with and assessment of contacts
- Prospecting, prospecting, prospecting -- emailing, warm calling, cold calling
- Social media engagement -- LinkedIn groups and 1:1 messaging
- Continuous improvement -- think of all the educational webinars we squeezed in during the pandemic … Why should the education stop?
- Exercise/meditation -- or anything helpful to you or your team’s focus and productivity
Whenever your sales process returns to “normal,” you’ll also have to avoid slipping back into these inefficient and customer-unfriendly habits:
- Travel for the sake of travel -- it’s fun, but takes away from your day-to-day
- Delayed follow-up -- even if you’re on the road, at least acknowledge you received the message
- Lazy/rushed email responses -- lack of personalization, overly sales-y tone, etc.
I’ll cover each in greater detail at INBOUND.
Joining the HubSpot Inbound 2021 Conference?
Whether or not you've thrived or struggled over the last 18 months, it's time to define which habits you want to keep and which you want to avoid returning to. INBOUND will help you better understand:
- Which remote sales activities worked
- Which remote sales activities failed
- How to implement ongoing sales training and support to continue the good habits
We hope to see you online at 7 a.m. EST on Oct. 14 for Josh’s session. What you just read above only scratched the surface of how selling has changed in the past 18 months -- and will continue to change in 2022.