As part of our HubSpot Power User series, we sat down with George Thomas, Inbound Strategist of the Sales Lion and owner of many, many HubSpot certifications, for his story on how he uses HubSpot and perspective on best practices.
Zak: Can you start by telling us about the Sales Lion.
George: We are an inbound agency but not a typical agency because we don’t do any work for our clients. We focus on content and HubSpot coaching.
Our typical customer engagement is a six months to one year retainer which we have weekly calls to train our customers on individual granular pieces of HubSpot.
I personally cover the side of HubSpot coaching, while my partner Kevin Phillips covers best practices around content creation – how to write certain articles, how to write great paragraphs, etc. – and SEO – like how to write meta descriptions.
Our goal is to work our way out of a job with a customer, meaning we are teaching them how to do everything so that they don’t need us after a year. We teach them how to fish.
Zak: And whom do you typically work with?
George: We typically work with small to medium sized businesses who have a team of three or less. These are folks who have so much work to do they don’t have time to educate themselves unless they have defined time for training. What they realize is buying HubSpot alone does not make you successful, you need a strategy and you need the training. If you could just buy a product and solve all your problems, then everyone would own a treadmill and elliptical, right?
We also find that when people buy HubSpot they think they are buying a tool; what they don’t realize is they are actually buying 30+ tools. There is a lot to consider.
Zak: How do you organize your training?
George: We break it down into five sections. We start with all of the reporting. Then we get into lead conversion, thank you pages and forms. Next, it’s lead nurturing and workflows, followed by contacts, lists segmentation and social media. And finally, we end with integrations – something I know you are familiar with at Bedrock Data, Zak.
Zak: Yes, definitely. So want to pick your brain on a bunch of HubSpot related topics, but before we do that can you tell us how you got so deep into the world of HubSpot and inbound marketing? What is your backstory?
George: Way back I got into graphic design and web development. I was a youth pastor and my church wanted a website, so I built one. That’s what first got me into it. I then worked at an agency for a couple years, and then ended up running the agency.
Well, back in 2012 HubSpot ran the world’s largest webinar, and they gave away tickets to INBOUND to the top 5% of Tweeters. Our social media guy was Tweeting like crazy, he had blisters on his fingers – and he won us those tickets.
Attending INBOUND was eye opening to me. I quickly realized I someday wanted to be on that stage. Creating Sales Lion has provided a great platform for me to become a member of the HubSpot Community. And this year at INBOUND I do have a session called “How to be World Class at HubSpot in 60 Days.”
Zak: One trend we’ve been noticing is broadening the definition of Inbound marketing, and the importance of complimenting inbound marketing with paid media? Where do you stand on that and what trends are you seeing?
George: I think there is significant opportunity with outbound marketing, when done the right way. Because content and inbound is now noisy, there may be opportunity with traditional media. We have some clients who are very vertical focused, and a nice way for them to reach their audience is through vertical print media, as they can now do it at a fraction of the cost. We also know tradeshows can work when done in an inbound way.
There’s nothing wrong with outbound marketing as long as you figure out ways to measure it.
Zak: How do you advise customers to leverage lead scoring as part of lead qualification?
George: We have a model whereby we setup tracking two criteria – is the prospect informationally qualified, and are they engagement qualified?
Informationally qualified looks at page views, and we tier that by have they viewed 10 web pages, 20 or 40. Some customers say to us, “No one is ever going to view 40 pages,”, but for every customer we absolutely see that is the case – people do it.
Engagement looks at how they interact with what we’ve done – clicking on emails, viewing content, filling out forms.
We then tier those into scores and we label them in three stages – Radar, as in we are on their Radar – Research, as in they are exhibiting an active research, and Revenue, which are the top qualified.
We then use smart lists for those top leads which are that golden lists of hot lists.
Zak: Given your exposure to the breadth of the tool, I’d love to hear your take on the must-haves to get a HubSpot driven marketing growth program to be successful. What are the must haves?
George: List segmentation is key, driven by asking the right questions on your forms. One of the keys is having the right conversation with the right person at the right time, so to that you need to ask the right questions.
I want to know if you like purple shoes or red shoes, and then put you on the right list based on that.
And then you want to have a conversation – what I mean by that, is don’t be afraid of putting people into multi-touch workflows. Some of our customers are afraid something will break if they rely on the automation, but that’s not the case. Send out that second and third and fourth communication – give your prospect the ability to engage, or contact a salesperson, or watch a video, or take a survey. We see many times where companies have their prospects on the brink of being ready and then they say “see you later”. You need to keep taking it forward.
Zak: Reporting is another area where there are lots of things you could be doing, but what do you find are the top reports you recommend customers focus on?
George: Organic and social results are important. We look at the 30-day, 90-day and 1-year reports on organic growth.
It’s also important to connect your reporting to the Customer stage, so you can track your success straight through to the revenue impact based on the Deal or Opportunity Stage and then winning that customer.
Zak: Alright George, this has been great, any final words of wisdom to share with other HubSpot users out there?
George: I’ll say this – whether you’re using HubSpot or Marketo or any other tool, there are three things you need to focus on in your marketing – be human, be helpful and be happy.
Zak: Thanks for sharing all this George, and we’ll see you at INBOUND. Bedrock Data will be there too.
George: Yes see you at INBOUND Zak. Looking forward to it.
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