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Why 40% Of London’s Sales Reps Are Failing (And What To Do About It)

Ed Barrett is the VP of Sales, EMEA Partner at HubSpot. He is an MBA graduate with 20 years of experience in commercial and people management across many different products and markets.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Ed and Will dive into the recent HubSpot 2021 Sales Enablement Report and look forward to how sales professionals can have success after COVID.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Ed Barrett
VP of Sales, EMEA Partner at HubSpot

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Ed Barrett:

We can’t compare 2020 with, say, the recession of 2008, because a recession typically will bring down the whole economy and every segment of the economy, and that impacts sales, of course, and purchasing. This is different because we’ve seen some industries, some verticals actually explode. A lot of the way people think about this is themselves, and I’m working remotely, therefore how do I engage? But as salespeople, we’ve got to first think, “What’s the customer doing?” And if a third or a half of the customer… people were talking with them, engaging, are not going to be physically in the office, then face to face goes away, and you’re not going to be rocking up to their home and saying, “Hey, it’s me.” That’s not going to happen, so I think that’s a significant change.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation. My name is Will Barron, and I’m the host of the Salesman Podcast. The world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. On today’s episode, we have the legend that is Ed Barrett. He is the senior director over at HubSpot for EMEA partner sales. And on today’s episode, we’re getting into the HubSpot Sales Enablement Survey, which showed that 40% of London sales reps are failing. And Ed joins me on today’s episode to share what we can do about it and how we can turn this around. Everything that we talk about is available in the show notes of this episode, over at salesman.org. And with that said, let’s jump right into it.

 

58% of Sales Reps From The HubSpot Sales Enablement Survey Are Finding it Difficult or Predicting That They’re Going to Struggle Hitting Targets in 2020. Why Is This The Case? · [01:40] 

 

Will Barron:

On today’s show, we’re going to dive deeper into, and we’ve touched on it in other shows and in other episodes, the HubSpot Sales Enablement Survey. And we’re hopefully trying to answer the question and add a bit of value to the audience by answering the question, “Why is 40% of London’s sales reps failing?” And we’ll touch on what they should do about it, but let’s start with one data point and then we’ll see where we go from there. So, if 58% of sales reps from this HubSpot Sales Enablement Survey are finding it difficult or announcing that they’re going to find it difficult to hit target this year, how much of this is down to we’re just in an economic downturn, and how much of this is perhaps COVID laid on top of that, and how much of it is just sales is changing as well?

 

“We can’t compare 2020 with, say, the recession of 2008, because a recession typically will bring down the whole economy and every segment of the economy and that impacts sales and purchasing. This is different because we’ve seen some industries actually explode. We’ve seen others have to shut down and then industries that were trundling along for years, who are now seeing a massive uptake in business because of change in behaviour.” – Ed Barrett · [02:04] 

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah, and it’s a bit of all of those, but I think we can’t compare 2020 with, say, the recession of 2008, because a recession typically will bring down the whole economy and every segment of the economy and that impact sales, of course, and purchasing. This is different because we’ve seen some industries, some verticals actually explode. We’ve seen others have to shut down. And then with sort of industries that were trundling along for years, who are now seeing a massive uptake in business because of change in behaviour. So the obvious one there is technology, but because I’ve worked from home and we’ve seen this, but if you look at things like bicycles, you can’t buy a bicycle anymore, because they’re out of stock.

 

Ed Barrett:

It’s been amazing to see that sort of business explode, so anyone who’s supplying bicycle manufacturers, they’re seeing an explosion. So it’s a really mixed bag of some industries doing well, some people are buying, some people are not buying. And in the mix of all of that, you’ve got an economy that’s… In Q2 in the UK, it was up 9.8% in GDP. In Q3 it’s down for a record lowest in 300 years, so it’s a real mixed bag. I don’t think we can compare 2020 with really anything we’ve seen before.

 

Online Selling is The New Normal and Its Here to Stay · [03:23] 

 

Will Barron:

Well, let me… I know you don’t know the answer to this, so we’re only given anecdotes there, I guess, but how much of this is perhaps then a call of old businesses that were just barely hanging on and a shift to new technologies and new things like working from home, and how much of it is artificial? I guess that’s what I’m trying to ask here.

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah. And is it temporary? You know, post-COVID, does it all go back to normal? And I don’t think the research, not just the HubSpot research here, but I think the broader research we’re seeing about working from home, I don’t think anything’s going to go back to normal, whatever that was in Q1 of 2020. If we take the work from home trend, there’s tonnes of research out there asking people, how are they going to work in the future? And you have a third of people saying, “Look, I’d like…” At least a third in many cases saying, “I’d like a hybrid role. I’d like to be in the office maybe a couple of days a week. And I’d like to be working from home in other times.” How does that impact sales?

 

“Part of the research was telling us that a huge chunk, 48% of companies have not really adapted. They’re in their sort of let’s wait and see, let’s ride it out, it’ll be fine, we’ll go back to normal. When in reality, I think it’s highly unlikely we’ll go back to whatever normal was in 2019” – Ed Berrett · [04:35] 

 

Ed Barrett:

Because if a salesman think, “Hey, I’m going to go back to normal face-to-face selling,” and you rock up to a company, and the person you’re supposed to meet is working from home, what happens? So I don’t think COVID is going to be full-stop, we have the vaccine, everything’s sorted by March next year, April next year, and let’s get back to normal. I don’t think that will ever be the same. So I think part of the research was telling us that a huge chunk, 48% of companies, have not really adapted. They’re in their sort of let’s wait and see, let’s ride it out, it’ll be fine, we’ll go back to normal. When in reality, I think it’s highly unlikely we’ll go back to whatever normal was in 2019, 2020.

 

Ed Shares His Thoughts on Data That 48% Of Companies Have Not Fully Adopted Working From Home Practices · [04:53]

 

Will Barron:

That 48% of companies was a shocker to me. I touched on this, on this week in sales, which had a little bit before this interview, as we record it now, Ed. That blew my mind. Was that a surprise to you as well?

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah, it was a big surprise. I delved a little bit deeper on that one and a large chunk, say, it was above 70% for some very small businesses, but even in large corporates above 250 employees, it was a third. A third of them have not adapted. It’s like go home, work from home. A lot of companies have said, “Take everything you do. And here, you have Zoom.” Just business as usual. And that’s not really what remote working for sales is. It’s way more. You’ve got to think of your process. What is your sales process? If you think through every stage of sales process, so you’ve got to discovery, you’ve then got your… so or your sourcing leads. How do you build a pipeline? Well, you’ve lost the face-to-face opportunity. You’ve lost that personal connection opportunity.

 

Ed Barrett:

Can you use video a lot more, for example? Then when you’re doing the education phase or the demo stage or whatever that is in your industry, and you’re trying to bring a customer along the sales journey, where, how do you engage them? When you rethink at samples, I’ve heard you’re in the medical devices industry, I think, before you started-

 

Will Barron:

Correct.

 

“We’ve got to think through the sales process and reimagine it in a remote world. And it’s not just remote for the salesperson, it’s remote for the customer or the prospect. If they’re remote, how do you deal with them, no matter how much face-to-face you do.” – Ed Berrett · [06:34] 

 

Ed Barrett:

Started in where you are now. And what’s the challenge there? You’ve got to bring sample devices. You’ve got to go into the operating theatre. Okay. We can’t replace the operating theatre. But is there a new process for samples? Is there a new process for engaging customers in the early stages of the sales cycle? And it’s not going to be just over Zoom all the time. You’ve got to think about the processes. And I think that’s the failure of a lot of the leave-it-as-it-is brigade. We’ve got to think through the sales process and reimagine it in a remote world. And it’s not just remote for the salesperson, it’s remote for the customer or the prospect. If they’re remote, how do you deal with them, no matter how much face-to-face you do?

 

How Salespeople Can Provide Value To The Online Buyer Now That Most People Are Working From Home · [06:50] 

 

Will Barron:

I guess that’s a good way to frame upright of what’s changed with the customer and how do we better serve them with their needs. Is that the first place or the first step to look at this, if we’re going to get practical about given the audience, perhaps some advice on what they should be doing?

 

“We as salespeople have got to first think of what the customer is doing? And if a third or a half of the people we’re talking with and engaging are not going to be physically in the office, then face-to-face goes away. And you’re not going to be rocking up to their home and saying, “Hey, it’s me.” That’s not going to happen.” – Ed Barrett · [07:07] 

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah, I think so, because a lot of the way people would think about this is themselves, and I’m working remotely therefore how do I engage? But we as salespeople, we got to first think of what’s the customer doing? And if a third or a half of the customer… people were talking with them and engaging, are not going to be physically in the office, then face-to-face goes away, and you’re not going to be rocking up to their home and saying, “Hey, it’s me.” That’s not going to happen. So I think that’s a significant change. But what’s exciting, I think, is the dash to digital has been very significant and we’ve been stunned, frankly. And to your original question around the mix of people who have not gone digital, and who have not really progressed to stay at home or working from home for sales.

 

Ed Barrett:

We’ve seen industries, like I mentioned, the bicycle industry are on, we’ve seen industries like lumber or construction who have sort of leapfrogged. They were like 50 years behind. They’re now right up there in terms of leveraging technology, having proper CRM systems, having proper communication messaging systems, having everything at their fingertips. A lot of them move into cloud applications and collaboration that they hadn’t really done before in a technology environment. And they’re using that now. And we’re seeing those industries actually flip to being the progressive ones, which is quite interesting given where we were nine months ago.

 

How The Pandemic Has Forced The Traditional Pen and Paper Industries to Adopt Technology and Embrace Online Selling · [08:22] 

 

Will Barron:

Why do you think that is? Do you think that that is… I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but is it perhaps that they were so far behind that any leap forward now has to be modernising from where they were to where they are now is significant, versus someone who perhaps had software or wasn’t using the cloud, but had a CRM or whatever it was four, five years ago, just because they could probably hold on a little bit longer to the system that they have.

 

“For the older industries, the pen and paper industries, they’ve made the leapfrog and they’re fortunate in the sense they’ve been able to skip two or three generations of legacy software systems and move directly to cloud applications.” – Ed Barrett · [08:44] 

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah. I think very much for the older industries, the pen and paper industries, they’ve made the leapfrog and they’re fortunate in the sense they’ve been able to skip two or three generations of legacy software systems and move directly to cloud applications. I think what’s interesting, you probably recall Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft. He said, I think it was the end of Q1, maybe beginning of Q2. He said Microsoft were seeing a tonne of companies bring forward their technology investments by about two years. So he said, “We’re seeing two years worth the downstream demand come forward.”

 

“I think from a salesperson’s perspective, every salesperson has, “Hey, I’ve got a good fit. I know who my type of prospect is.” Well, that’s changed and that is changing, and it’s worth reassessing what a good fit is and who your ideal prospects are, because they’ve all changed their technologies and their go-to-market models.” – Ed Barrett · [09:31] 

 

Ed Barrett:

And I think that’s common across the technology industry. We’re all seeing a massive uptick in the dash to digital, as I call it, and this move online. And it’s not just your typical technology-related industries, it’s the traditional ones as well. So I think from a salesperson’s perspective, every salesperson has, “Hey, I’ve got a good fit. I know who my type of prospect is.” Well, that’s changed and that is changing, and it’s worth reassessing what a good fit is and who your ideal prospects are, because they’ve all changed their technologies and undergoing to-market models.

 

Tips and Best Practises For Salespeople Adopting To This New Work-From-Home Buying Environment · [09:47]

 

Will Barron:

Are there any shortcuts for the audience to practically take something away from this episode? Is there any shortcuts to redefine process or potential customers, messaging? Is there any best practises for this work from home environment and the shift to internet selling, if we want to call it that? Or is it just a case of just massive experimentation for the next few months to sus out what works and what doesn’t?

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah, I think there are some shortcuts in a sense. Look what works in similar industries. You know, if you take a traditional industry like car sales, you can now… you’ve got companies in the US, for example, that you can buy a car through a vending machine, basically, over the internet. And you can rock up and collect it. Who would’ve thought that’s possible two years ago, three years ago? That’s possible today.

 

“I think what COVID has done, and this whole crisis, has made everyone rethink their whole go-to-market process and say, “Well, why weren’t we online?” And turns out they never did it before, so why would we change? And now they have to do it.” – Ed Barrett · [10:55] 

 

Ed Barrett:

So I think it’s worthwhile looking at similar industries or just looking at those that are forward-thinking and saying, “How innovative do we need to be to go there?” And it’s not really as big a leap for many industries as it might be. I think a lot of people are just stuck in the past, frankly. I think what COVID has done, and this whole crisis, has made everyone rethink their whole go-to-market process and say, “Well, why weren’t we online?” And turns out they never did it before, so why would we change? And now they have to do it. So it’s quite interesting to see how that’s developing.

 

According to The HubSpot Sales Enablement Survey, 18 to 40-year-olds Salespeople Are More Optimistic About Hitting Their Quota. Ed Reveals The Contributing Factors To This Data and Why Salespeople Over 40 Years Will Struggle · [11:24] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. Okay. So being stuck in the past, that brings us onto the second part of this, well, the second part I pulled from this HubSpot Sales Enablement Survey that I thought was absolutely fascinating. And that was that the report showed that 18 to 40 year olds are more optimistic about hitting their quota. So I have some thoughts on this, Ed, I want to get your opinion. And I just turned 34, so I’m in the midst of this bracket, right? I won’t put words in your mouth. Why do you think 18 to 40 year olds are more optimistic about hitting their sales quota than 40 plus salespeople who are in the same boat as these individuals right now?

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah, so it was interesting, the research. So it was, excuse me, a combination of the age, but also the profile of the role, so more junior sales people earlier in their career were more optimistic. And this was research coming into Q4. My expectation is that you’ve got a younger generation who may be slightly more biassed or a little bit more used to sort of online in selling and engaging in the more technology-related tools that they’ve got to use. But I think that’s more of an attitude, especially when you’re my age, you’ve got to say age is an attitude, and you’ve got to say that’s really down to individuals and their own preferences. I think the seniority of their role is interesting. I think there’s probably a bunch of salespeople who are seeing a good Q4 come in.

 

Ed Barrett:

You still have budgets out there. If companies have gotten through the worst and hopefully the worst of COVID now, they’re in a place where they’re now thinking of 2021. Q4 traditionally is a good selling quarter. So you’ve got the sales people on the ground who are looking at can they maximise sales. I think the worrying piece overall was if the sales management generally are more conservative, and if the sales operations people are more conservative, and those who are more experienced are more conservative. Is there a signal there? And I think what was interesting about the research is generally 58%, I think, of respondents were saying, “I’m a bit worried. My new business pipeline is going down and yet I have 2021 coming up and challenges around getting my number and so forth.” That’s a real worry.

 

Ed Barrett:

I’d add to that, we’ve got on hubspot.com/covid-data. It’s a really interesting website. What it is, it’s an aggregation of all of our customers globally, and it’s regionalized as well. So if you look at EMEA, we’re seeing since about the end of August, an optic, and we have a higher level of deal creation in EMEA than we had a year ago across that customer base. So that’s aggregated anonymous data, but what it’s telling us is generally in EMEA, things are going well. And if the UK has sales population saying, “Hey, it’s a little bit stickier for me, I’m a bit worried. My new business pipeline is going down and yet deal creation’s going up in the rest of Europe.” That’s a bit of a worry. And I think that’s where people need to start rethinking what’s actually happening in the marketplace, how they rethink their sales process and the people who are saying, “Look, I’ll wait till COVID is over,” may be in for a surprise next year, if they don’t really adapt their sales process.

 

Why Salespeople Are Often More Optimistic Than Sales Managers About Hitting Sales Targets · [14:25] 

 

Will Barron:

This could be a bit of a weird question. And I don’t know if anyone has ever looked at this, but I think this would be an interesting thing to look at. Is the survey results and data results from sales people more or less accurate than that of management from the perspective of sales people are directly talking to customers? But sales people are also famously willing to overemphasise deals in CRMs and there’s mechanisms to prevent this and to look at predictive analytics of things to counteract it.

 

Will Barron:

But salespeople are probably going to be more optimistic than what sales managers and more senior sales leadership are going to be. They’re going to be more concerned with the brass tax, the real numbers, and even playing down the numbers so that they can improve their chances of fit their own targets moving forward. So is there a discrepancy between survey results or data results from salespeople versus management, as to the accuracy of them?

 

Ed Barrett:

Well, I think in my experience over 20 years, well, I don’t know if anyone has fully cracked the code and doing a good forecast, and do the sales guys sandbag a bit sometimes to sales managers? Are they more pessimistic? Sometimes they are. So I agree with you there. I think what’s really different though, nowadays, and this is where industries are moving, is how do you get a single view of a customer in the journey that the customer has, from the first time they come to your website, the first time they contact you by phone or whatever it might be, through to being a customer? Do you have a system that actually gives you that customer view?

 

“Some of the researchers also said that the sales cycle is getting longer. So the sales cycles seems to extend by about 40%. So if you have a bunch of salespeople who are saying, “I’m feeling really good about Q4,” and yet the sales cycle is four months instead of three months, well, they’re going to miss and they’re going to hit it in January.” – Ed Barrett · [16:04] 

 

Ed Barrett:

I think what’s really interesting now is as so many people are moving to cloud-based applications and applications like HubSpot, where you’ve got that full contact life cycle view, I think the data accuracy is getting a lot better. But having said that, some of the researchers also said that the sales cycle is getting longer. So the sales cycles seem to extend by about 40%, was the feedback in the research. So if you have a bunch of salespeople who are saying, “I’m feeling really good about Q4,” and yet the sales cycle is four months instead of three months, well, they’re going to miss and they’re going to hit it in January. So I’m biassed here, but the systems, I think, the data should tell us the real story. The sales cycle is long and your pipeline is not being created. That does not all go well for Q4. And that’s what would worry me from a sales management perspective.

 

Ed Explains How Sales Leaders Interpret Data and Sales Projections at an Organisational Level · [16:45] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. And just give us some context for the audience here. I think this would be interesting for them. So there’s plenty of sales management and leaders and directors who listen to the show, but the majority of the audience are individual B2B contributors. They see the CRM, they’ll probably see the territory, and we talk about HubSpot, that’s cool. I know we use HubSpot here over at salesman.org. So we can see territory, we can see individual reps, we can compare if you want to on a super low level, you versus other people within the team, and compare contrast. But what does a sales leader or director see when they are really crunching numbers, especially when we’re going more towards the enterprise market where there’s legitimate important stakeholders in on these conversations. It isn’t just the managing director and the sales director sat in a room, spitballing and trying to put some targets together. What does, again, at that higher level, what do they see when they look at a dashboard?

 

“As I mentioned, this time, the sales cycle’s getting longer. Is the close rate getting worse? Not necessarily. So deals are closing; it’s just taking a longer time.” – Ed Barrett · [18:09] 

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah. So the key data around the typical pipeline and how that’s progressing. So you’ve got, of course, the deal creation piece and how real is that. Then you’ve got the progression through the deal stages. So have you had that initial connection and discovery call? How quickly from the discovery through to that education sampling demo type stage of a sales cycle, whatever industry you’re in, and then how quickly is that to close? And they’re the real metrics that give you the dynamics of a bigger pipeline and help you identify what’s actually working and identify if the sales site’s getting longer, what’s the likelihood of deals closing and so forth. I think what’s different, as I mentioned it, is this time the sales cycle’s getting longer. Is the close rate getting worse? Not necessarily. So deals are closing, it’s just taking a longer time.

 

Ed Barrett:

So from a sales management perspective, you look at that progression through the pipeline. How is that pipeline funnel working, and mending your forecasting based on that. And it’s been strange in the industry out there. We’ve seen summer months off the charts, good. We’ve seen Q2 not so good. If you look at the aggregated data on that website, [inaudible [00:18:39]. So it is quite a dynamical change. And we’re seeing even at end of month and end of quarter, the same, the normal hockey stick effect, not necessarily coming through because people being more thoughtful and there’s longer sales cycles. So it is quite a dynamic that’s changing, but ultimately the data, if you’ve got the volume of deals and through the data will tell you what’s going on. I think there are other dynamics though. If we look at Q4 and you look at 2021, there’s light at the end of the tunnel now.

 

“We might even have vaccines in the UK being given to initial people in December, which would be amazing. If that’s happening, then you’ve got every business thinking of 2021. What have I got to do for 2021? And they will start buying now. So that’s, I think, the message to salespeople now. Start building your pipeline, whether it’s December or January Q1, but build your pipeline now and try and speed up that process.” – Ed Barrett · [19:05] 

 

Ed Barrett:

We have the vaccines, are now being produced. We might even have vaccines in the UK being given to initial people in December, which would be amazing. If that’s happening, then you’ve got every business thinking of 2021. What have you got to do for 2021? And they will start buying now. So that’s, I think, the message to sales people now. Start building your pipeline, whether it’s December or January Q1, but build your pipeline now and try and speed up that process because the research is telling us, and it was worrying to be honest with you, saying if Europe is looking at the equation going up and we’re getting research from the UK saying it’s not going up, that’s a worry. So we need to get out there and start building a pipeline.

 

If The Percentage of Deals Being Closed Isn’t Changing, Is It Fair to Say That There Is Money In The Market, It’s Just Being Dripped Out as Opposed To Coming Out in The Usual Speed and Quantity? · [19:50] 

 

Will Barron:

So that is almost positive, right, of if the percentage of deals being closed isn’t really changing, maybe there’s some fluctuation. Is it fair to say then, Ed, that there is cash, it’s just being dripped out as opposed to coming out in the usual speed and quantity that it would be in the marketplace?

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah. Budget cycles have definitely changed in the nine months. So we’ve seen, first of all, finance departments typically batten down the hatches, events were cancelled, money was pulled in. Unfortunately many people were furloughed. It was a real challenge from a financial perspective. I think, as we’re coming through this now, there’s a lot of companies who are really strong about planning for 2021 in the growth.

 

“And what was really encouraging about some of the research findings was we asked people what’s their top goals for next year. And the second most popular was, “We want to expand into new markets.” And I think it’s fantastic that the UK industry is out there looking at new markets and that’s the second most popular goal for next year.” – Ed Barrett · [20:30] 

 

Ed Barrett:

And what was really encouraging about some of the research findings was we asked people what’s their top goals for next year. And the second most popular was, “We want to expand into new markets.” And that’s really exciting for uk.com., put it that way. I think it’s fantastic that the UK industry is out there looking at new markets and that’s a second most popular goal for next year. So that’s very positive for sales people and for industry.

 

Things Salespeople Should Do to Capitalise on The Turmoil Caused By The Pandemic · [21:05] 

 

Will Barron:

So I wanted to ask you how we can potentially take advantage of this turmoil. And you mentioned two things here. One, perhaps if we can align our product or services, if possible, with the goals of the organisations that we’re selling into that are perhaps new, that didn’t exist before of expanding into new markets, and you also mentioned building pipeline as well. Is there anything else that we should be doing very specifically to capitalise on some of the turmoil that we’ve all kind of suffered through at this point?

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah. I think it’s the time to reassess your sales pipeline and your sales process. One of those real stages. And there’s something certainly in my career experience we’ve done regularly, go back to basics and say, “Is the sales process we have and the way we do selling and how we engage with customers, is that the same as it was two years ago, what’s changed our industry, who are the challengers who are testing us.”

 

“There is going to be remote selling, but remote buying, and remote buying is different. And it’s really important that from a sales perspective, that we figure out how to sell to those remote buyers because we are not going back to 2019, in most industries. Certainly not exactly the same way.” – Will Barrett · [21:56] 

 

Ed Barrett:

And I think now is the time to reassess how people do sales. And certainly, they need to be really cognizant that there is going to be remote selling, but remote buying, and remote buying is different. And it’s really important that from a sales perspective, that we figure out how to sell to those remote buyers because we are not going back to 2019, in most industries. Certainly not exactly the same way. We’re going to have a lot of remote workers.

 

Ed Breaks Down Factors That Influence Buyers’ Online Buying Behaviour · [21:15] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. So let’s touch on this then. Other than the headlines, the obvious things of people don’t have their office phone next to them, you’re probably calling their mobile, and setting meetings maybe a little bit more awkward because they’ve got to walk the dog, look after the kids, pick this person up from nursery and do X, Y, and Z. And they’re probably doing the washing at lunchtime during the day, so they’re less likely to get on a business call. Other than things like that, which we can all cope and deal with. And we can have empathy for the individual, the buyer that we’re trying to sell to. And so we can appreciate some of those things. Is there anything else that I’ve missed, the changes when people are buying from home?

 

“I think the empathy piece, we all got the emails, which especially in the early months of the crisis saying, “I hope you and your family are well.” You don’t know my family. Do you really care? I think we have to be authentic in that empathy, and make sure that there’s a genuineness about it that is believable and honest.” – Ed Barrett · [22:57] 

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah. And let me just touch on the empathy piece just before I go on to some of the other technology and the process side. I think the empathy piece, we all got the emails, which especially in the early months of the crisis saying, “I hope you and your family are well.” You don’t know my family. Do you really care? I think we have to be authentic in that empathy, and make sure that there’s a genuineness about it that is believable and honest, to be honest with you. So I think that’s a critical element. I think, in the process itself or in selling, there’s lots of tools out there we should and could be using. So how do you message with customers? Is it still just email? What about other messaging applications? You know, because in some industries, WhatsApp is actually working and that’s becoming more prevalent.

 

“If you think people are working more flexibly working from home, so when’s the right time (to reach out to prospects)? It used to be your power hours. The power hours were late morning and then early afternoon, and that was it. Maybe the power hours are changing. Maybe the convenient time to engage with customers is actually later or earlier or lunchtime or whatever it might be, because that suits their new way of working.” – Ed Barrett · [23:41] 

 

Ed Barrett:

Can you believe it? So are there different ways of communicating? If you think people are working more flexibly working from home, when’s the right time? It used to be your power hours. And I looked at episodes you had on power hours, the power hours were late morning and then early afternoon, and that was it. Maybe the power hours are changing. Maybe the convenient time to engage with customers is actually later or earlier or lunchtime or whatever it might be, because that suits their new way of working. So I think we need go back to basics, I think, and reimagine how we might work with sales. But I think the most important thing is let’s talk to customers and ask them what actually works for them.

 

Sometimes The Best Way to Know The Right Time to Contact Buyers is to Ask Them · [24:14]

 

Will Barron:

You took the words out my mouth there. I was just about to ask, is the solution to a lot of this, just ask that your best buyers what they want and replicate it? Because it seems so simple, but it’s obviously that your first step of all this.

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah, totally. Look, if you think of how the decision making process happens, and if you’re in a midsize company where there’s two or three decision makers, how are they going to do it remotely? How are they going to make that decision? What information do they need from you as a salesperson to help them make that decision when they’re not sitting in a room together with other people.

 

“We’re talking about sales people changing because sales people are remote. We need to ask customers how their by-process is changing because they’re working remotely. And if we understand that buying process, then we can adapt our sales process to suit that.” – Ed Barrett · [24:54] 

 

Ed Barrett:

So certainly asking them what their by-process has changed. And maybe that’s probably the most fundamental. We’re talking about sales people changing because sales people are remote. We need to ask customers how their by-process is changing because they’re working remotely. And if we understand that buying process, then we can adapt our sales process to suit that.

 

What Should Salespeople Trying to Contact Influential People Like Ed Do Differently Now Versus 12 Months Ago to Get a Deal Done? · [25:20] 

 

Will Barron:

So I’ll put this carefully, but Ed, you’re a bit of a hotshot over a HubSpot. You’re an important person there, right? I’m sure you are humble enough not to kind of jump on that and agree too quickly, but let me pose you this. If some of our audience, perhaps, try to get in touch with you, and you can share whether you’re working from home or back and forth to the office and that in a second, but what would they have to do differently now versus 12 months ago to get a… perhaps a selling of software, something along the lines of that? What would they have to do differently to get a deal done with you now?

 

Ed Barrett:

Yeah, it’s interesting. I’m working from home. We closed our office in March and we haven’t been open since. And we were very fortunate. We flipped a switch basically, and everyone was working remotely and we have the tools, obviously, and the systems with HubSpot platform. I think for me, what’s really interesting is, and I get a lot of calls, I’m back to back on Zoom pretty much all day. So there’s not really a great time to talk.

 

Ed Barrett:

I think messaging, certainly, some of the traditional ways works, but I think what we’re going to see more of is these remote events. And some people have cracked the code and doing them well. And a lot of people haven’t, let’s be honest. But I think that the way is going to be some of this thought leadership at events, but also thought leadership in content. And ultimately, where do I find my content? It’s all online. So if you’re not online creating thought leading content, it’s unlikely that you are going to get access to somebody like me.

 

Why Thought Leadership is Crucial For Driving Attention and Inbound Leads In Today’s Online Selling Environment · [26:40] 

 

Will Barron:

So that opens a can of worms. And we won’t dive too far into it, because it’s another three hour conversation for another time [inaudible [00:26:45]. But how important for individual sales people is thought leadership, in a world where a lot of products are commoditized, in a world where cold-emailing, cold-calling is just… I don’t care what anyone says, it’s just less effective than it ever has been.

 

Will Barron:

And no one could cold-call me because nobody knows what my number is. There’s an ongoing challenge with the sales nation, the Salesman Podcast audience. I’ll give them a thousand dollars if they can cold call me. No one [inaudible [00:27:10] six years and no one’s managed to do it yet. So with all that said, how important is… Clearly HubSpot loves inbound as well, in inbound marketing, how important is thought leadership to drive attention and inbound inquiries for salespeople?

 

“I think it’s (thought leadership) even more important now because we are remote and we’re less accessible, that if you’re not attracting people by creating content and educating them through value, then why would they bother contacting you back?” – Ed Barrett · [27:30] 

 

Ed Barrett:

I think it’s even more important now because we are remote and we’re less accessible, that if you’re not attracting people by creating content and educating them through value, then why would they bother contacting you back? And they’re not going to. I got a call today in fact, from a data company. Didn’t know what they did. I was literally at lunch and I took the call mistakenly. And we had a very brief conversation. I still don’t know what they do. And all I’m going to do is get the email with, “Here’s a link or two,” but there’s going to be nothing thought leadership in it.

 

Ed Barrett:

And I think ultimately what we want to see is what’s happening in our industry and what’s happening in our business in the future, and how can, as a salesperson, how can you impact me and my business and my future revenues and my future effectiveness and efficiencies. And I think therefore it has to be content driven because everyone is online now, even the bike manufacturer is online, but even in the lumber company that I mentioned earlier on, they’re online now, selling logs online. We’ve got to lead through online content.

 

Salespeople Must Adapt to This New Way of Virtual Buying And Solving Customer Pain Points Online · [28:33] 

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. Besides, I’ve just bought a load of MDF and I couldn’t get it in my car. So I bought it online and I bought it from… it wasn’t from… I don’t know, over in Ireland and elsewhere in the UK, in England, B&Q, right? The biggest [crosstalk [00:28:47] DIY place, right. So I looked on there and they didn’t have the size I want. And so I went to a local lumber yard in Leeds here, and their website, and they just delivered it. And it was some guy called Jerry who came and dropped it off this morning. So if they can do it, right, as a small medium sized business, that is a relatively large business, but they’re usually dealing with trade, and they’ve adapted to deal with individuals like myself, then we can all do it, can’t we?

 

Ed Barrett:

Absolutely. And we’ve seen a tonne of that, across all sorts of industries. We’re all online buying stuff we never bought online and getting delivered by people we never heard of. And it’s fantastic, because it’s actually very good for business, but we’ve all got to adapt. And those that are not adapting are not realising this is the future, not a temporary hold. They’re going to suffer if they don’t change.

 

Ed Reveals Why The Type of Survey He Would Love to See Is One That Analyses The Cultural Impacts of Remote Working · [29:49] 

 

Will Barron:

Cool. Okay. So I’ve got one final question for you, Ed, and I’m going to pose it to you. So we’ve been covering the HubSpot Sales Enablement Survey. I’ll link to that in the show notes of this episode over at salesman org, if anyone who wants to check it out, but let me pose you this. If you could just click your fingers and instantly have another survey of the same… elk of the same design, just magically appear, what data would you like to learn about or what data would you like to see in this magical survey?

 

Ed Barrett:

It’s a great point. I think what we’re looking at and trying to understand is what is the shift that’s going on? Sales is changing and you could argue that sales been changing towards online for 20 years, but this has been the real catalyst that’s forced it to really, really happen. But I think in a sales environment where a lot of what we learn is from each other, and a lot of the motivation we get is from each other in sales teams, what are the cultural impacts of being remote and not being beside each other in the office every day?

 

Ed Barrett:

What are the impact on sales teams and sales success and so forth? And certainly that’s something we’re looking at. HubSpot has literally written the book on culture within organisations. But we’re specifically doing research in the UK now on culture in the UK sales industry, to understand how that is shifting and will it adapt to remote working and how will it adapt and what are going to be the gaps. So that to me, I’m really excited to see how that’s going to fare. And we have that very shortly, I think.

 

There’s a Difference in Culture Between Salespeople in the UK, Europe, the US, Asia, etc. Now That We’re Working from Home, Will COVID Essentially Destroy All These Different Selling Cultures? · [31:24] 

 

Will Barron:

As on a side note of this, and we’ll wrap up with this question. Clearly, there’s a difference in culture between the UK, Europe, the US, Asia, and probably everywhere else, right? Whether it be local cultures or just in gestures and the way we meet and greet people, there’s loads of layers to this. Do you feel like COVID, do you feel like working from home, do you feel like the fact that the whole world has been affected by one specific thing is going to drive culture to almost assimilate across… If you’re studying culture in the UK, if you did a comparison culture in the US, do you think it’d be…they’re hedging towards the same location? Or do you think that there’s always going to be these great boundaries between different sales cultures in different parts of the world?

 

Ed Barrett:

I think just by the nature of human culture, there’s going to remain differences between company countries. I do think certainly we’ve seen just anecdotally, if you look at Italy, which is very relationship driven, long decision making, very, very much to do with relationships. That country has been really impacted by COVID and has shifted significantly online. I think the flip side of that, is in the UK. UK selling and buying commerce is leading globally, period. And that’s as much to do with buying as it is to selling because buyers are faster decision makers. They’re very analytical, they’ll do their homework, they’ll make decisions. And there won’t be this big, long protracted decision making process that you get in other countries and cultures. And a lot of those differences will remain. Albeit be technology will certainly expedite some of the uniformity of culture. I think there will always remain differences.

 

Parting Thoughts: Ed’s One-Minute Pitch on HubSpot and How it Can Help Salespeople and Business Owners Through this Period of Turmoil · [32:45] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. That makes total sense. Well, with that Ed, let’s wrap up there mate, and give us a… We’re pitching it on the show already with different ads and stuff, but give us a quick one minute pitch on HubSpot and perhaps how it can help sales people and business owners through this period of turmoil.

 

Ed Barrett:

Sure. So HubSpot is a platform that basically manages the contact life-cycle of any engagement with your company as a salesperson. So it’s a marketing automation website tool. It’s also a CRM and a sales automation tool. It’s also a service, customer service and ticketing tool, all wrapped up on one single database. So you don’t have to log different systems together. One single database gives you a single view of every customer and every prospect, no matter where they are in that journey with you as a company and as a business.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. We’ll link to HubSpot, we’ll link to the Sales Enablement Survey that we’ve been touching on in this episode. You gave us a URL earlier on. I think its hubspot.com/covid/data or -data. We’ll include that in the show notes as well. And with that, I want to thank you for your time, your insights and all this. It’s been absolutely fascinating. I want to thank you for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Ed Barrett:

Great being with you, Will. Thanks very much. Appreciate it.

 

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