This blog is special. It’s a comprehensive review of the Agency Account Management Essentials training offered by HubSpot. Although this course is catering to Account Managers when it comes to Inbound, I believe we’re all strategists for marketing and sales enablement.
These best practices for client satisfaction (i.e. client success) can benefit anyone working with the HubSpot tool stack, regardless of your job role. There is a lot that goes into Inbound on-boarding, strategy, and execution. Sometimes a beautiful website can be nothing more than a digital castle built upon sand. Yet, we all know that some online companies have that little bit of pixie dust that helps their digital assets perform like magic.
This is where the Agency Account Management Essentials training can help. I had the distinct privilege of attending the 2019 training in Boston from the friendly professionals at HubSpot. This article could never capture all of the knowledge transferred during those two days. However, I will go into sharp detail about the main agenda topics and the ideas that stood out to me.
Pour yourself a coffee. Let’s begin.
Inbound Strategy Planning
The first day of the Agency Account Management Essentials training opened with a discussion of how to build an effective Inbound Marketing strategy for every size and type of business. The message that I brought home is that all ideas matter. Trust your team and listen when they identify areas of improvement, (they may have greater visibility into new tools and trends that may be useful). Better still, trust yourself. If you see something that others have missed, point it out. Your account manager will thank you for it. This helps you to stay proactive in your strategy rather than reacting late to a hurdle you didn’t see coming.
It All Comes Back to the Pipeline
The sales pipeline is where the marketing strategy can become a forecasted dollar value for a pending deal. The Deal pipeline is the last step of the Inbound Sales process. But it always needs to be part of the strategy to measure the success of your efforts. This detailed article outlines how to organize Deal stages in HubSpot.
There is the potential to lose leads and revenue from not following-up if the Sales Qualified Leads are not being converted into “Deals” (either in the HubSpot CRM or others). Remember, everything we do in Inbound comes back to the sales pipeline. Always be thinking of this when designing your marketing assets and ask lead-profiling questions (with help from the sales team).
Customer Value Lifecycle
The clients that work with your agency have their own means of measuring the performance of your agency. It should go without saying that as the Account Manager, you need to understand how your clients measure the value from their marketing spend. A good metric to be measured on is the number of Marketing Qualified Leads being supplied to the sales team and the quality of those leads. Are you already meeting your SLA (service level agreement) obligations? Then dig deeper and find other ways to help your client’s business succeed. Never stop giving value.
Things fall apart when they are not well-built or well-maintained
Before you can improve upon what you’ve built, you need to ensure that it was built well in the first place. The on-boarding process matters. Inbound success stories are built on a strong foundation and rigorously maintained over time. Use the On-boarding Checklist Project to get new client portals set-up properly and efficiently. Being consistent with on-boarding will ensure that every client portal is fully set-up with the best practices suggested by HubSpot. Then, follow the Growth-Driven Design framework for continuous improvement.
There are ways to keep your team honest and avoid the client ever experiencing a sense of ‘decreasing value'. The red flags to watch out for include incomplete technical setup, (i.e. not following the On-boarding Project checklist). No customers in the HubSpot dashboard may be either a really bad sign or an indication that the client isn’t updating the contact lifecycle stages.
If you need your client to be more hands-on with HubSpot lead validation, then add it to your agency SLA that the client will make ‘x’ number of lead follow-up attempts. Another good SLA to include would be to have the client agree to update the contact ‘lifecycle stage’ to SQL (sales qualified lead) and to Customer as required.
Think How Dave (in Sales) Feels
Dave is counting on us to get results. He’s staked his reputation on it. Inbound takes time; however, there are some simple steps that we can take to help Dave (in sales) get the results he needs.
Try to diagnose the main friction during the sales process. The problem may be lead quantity (i.e. not enough in the funnel). Or, the problem may be lead quality (i.e. these leads they are getting are not qualified and Dave is unable to close the deal).
Know the facts by establishing a baseline of their marketing and sales performance before your agency started your Inbound program, (i.e. traffic, contact conversion rate, and close rate).
Always communicate and deliver. Tell Dave, (i.e. your client/sales team) where your marketing team is at with your activities vs. their goals. Inbound activities can help with sales enablement starting on day one by starting at the bottom of the sales funnel for faster results. Think of what can you do to help cross-sell/up-sell to existing customers, (possibly an email campaign for referrals or new products)?
Focusing on the deal pipeline is beneficial to your client’s bottom line ROI. Better yet, sales enablement activities increase the value-added stickiness of your agency after the marketing flywheel is spinning furiously. HubSpot allows for a wide array of custom dashboard reporting to prove your value over time. Learn more about building custom reports here.
Influencing Client Marketing & Sales Alignment
The course did an effective job of communicating how to align your agency’s Services team with your client’s Sales team. Here are some basics to keep in mind when having the sales alignment conversation.
Defining contact lifecycle stages comes down to two main categories: MQL and SQL.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) = Thumbs up received from Marketing Team
Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) = Thumbs up confirmed from Sales Team
Once the sales team has reviewed the lead, that feedback (good or bad) needs to come back to the marketing team. This can be as simple as two custom properties provided in the default view on the contact record:
Marketing to Sales Feedback Loop
- Is this lead good? (Yes/No)
- If not? Record the reason for rejection (multi-line text or dropdown select).
Quick Wins Approach
Success starts at the bottom. As the Account Manager, you can use quick wins to explore strategies for delivering results to your client faster without sacrificing foundational work.
If you haven’t already mapped this out, be sure to define the sales hand-off during the on-boarding phase. Where do leads go after they exit the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)? An audit here may help improve conversion or prevent any lost leads. The best quick strategies will have a direct impact on either traffic or conversions.
Pillar Content Strategy
Learn how to craft a content marketing strategy that both humans and search engines will love and put it to practice for your client. The internet is really big, and website pages need to work together now to get found in the search engine results (SERP). Use the HubSpot Content Strategy tool to organize and harness your digitals assets into meaningful topic clusters.
Pillar pages are a good use case for lead profiling without forms. In HubSpot, we just need an email (and a cookie) to start tracking and assigning a lead score based on a contact’s behaviour on the client’s website.
Portal Review Best Practices
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the Agency Account Management Essentials course was the insights into developing a metrics-driven approach for conducting portal reviews. The trainers at HubSpot offer ways to identify quick wins and recognize opportunities for improvement by reviewing specific HubSpot reporting dashboards. Anything that can be measured can be improved, (and in HubSpot, almost everything can be measured). Naturally, the key metrics to focus on are traffic, bounce rate, time spent on-page, and landing page conversion rates. Isolate and A/B test anything you are unsure about.
Client Project Workshop
The culmination of the two-day workshop was to identify, position, and present a prescriptive client value plan for a target client account using lessons learned throughout the bootcamp. The presenters received immediate feedback from the trainers in Boston, and a detailed breakdown of the presenter’s feedback was sent out following the training course. These are tangible action plans that can be put into effect with real results to follow. The HubSpot channel consultants are also looped in to provide any additional support to ensure the proposed strategy for the client is successful.
The requirements to apply for this training are that the agency has at least a HubSpot Marketing Subscription and that they are a HubSpot Certified Partner. If you’re unable to send your team to Boston, any Agency partners can connect to share ideas on the HubSpot Agency Partners Facebook Group.
I hope you found value in these insights and best practices for client success. If you want to learn more, I encourage your team to attend the follow-up sessions offered by HubSpot.
If your business uses HubSpot and needs an agency that knows how to get things done efficiently, we can help.