9 min read

Episode 24: Improving Lead Quality with Brent Claremont

Welcome to Episode 24 of HubShots!

Interview: Lead Quality with Brent Claremont (@brentc27) - HubSpot Channel Consultant

Recorded: Friday 12 February and Wednesday 24 February

In this episode we interview Brent Claremont, Channel Consultant for HubSpot Asia Pacific and discuss:

- the importance of having realistic expectations
- the benefits of setting SLAs with different departments, especially between marketing and sales
- having a shared understanding of what a good lead is
- the benefit of saying no to some prospects
- make sure you listen for the bell

Follow Brent on Twitter at @brentc27

Interview Transcript

Brent Claremont: So my name is Brent Claremont. I'm the first channel consultant in APAC [SP] for HubSpot, a title I'm pretty proud of. Fundamentally, my role is to work with agencies who resell HubSpot and that also use HubSpot for themselves. What I love about HubSpot I suppose is nearly an unknown quantity at this stage in Australia. You either know it or you've never heard of it compared to the States, so it's cutting edge of SaaS and loving every day of it.

Craig Bailey: Great, so you deal with agencies and you also deal with onboarding customers that are new to HubSpot. What kinds of challenges are you seeing those new to HubSpot facing, and what are the kinds of difficult solutions that successful companies are using?

Brent Claremont: That's a good question Craig, there's so many different ways to answer it. I think that on the agencies side the most successful marketing managers truly understand inbound, and that is a big point that I see a lot of success from. If you understand sections of it, you can do well but understanding the entire inbound marketing methodology is just...I'm almost learning from some of these marketing managers because they've had so much experience. Very similarly to when I help an agency onboard a client for the first time, expectation setting is the number one thing I push. If everybody's on the same page, you manage expectations, results, and progress. It's the easiest process.

Craig Bailey: Excellent. So you mentioned expectations. Give us an example of sometimes unrealistic expectations versus actually something that's probably realistic in these days of marketing.

Brent Claremont: Another great question. I think that when it comes to expectations, a lot of people have a look at HubSpot and the agency they're dealing with, and you see the big picture. You go, "I've seen all this amazing growth around ANZ, APAC, the States, even though that our market is somewhat three, four years behind the States. And you think big picture, and it's really easy to get inspired and carried away. But I'm sort of the devil's advocate, I suppose, with agencies and their clients and really getting an understanding of where they are right now in regards to traffic, visitors, conversions and how do you scale that? And one specific example comes to mind that I was doing with a client earlier this week. They say, "We want 100% increase in traffic." And the agency said, "What's your current traffic?" And like, "Oh, we think it's..." As soon as I hear that phrase, "We think," it's yeah, got to take a big step back and really understand the analytics.

Ian Jacob: So it's not a smart goal by any stretch of the imagination, is it?

Brent Claremont: Yeah, exactly.

Ian Jacob: Now Brent, what is one thing you've seen people doing really well with using HubSpot and inbound.

Brent Claremont: So things I'm seeing agencies and direct clients doing are I'd say two-fold. One is very much, again, the inbound marketing methodology. You understand that everything else falls into place. Getting a bit more granular, something I've seen over the past 10 months, the best performing marketing managers in agencies have excellent SLAs, so referring to Service Level Agreements with their clients. So we're getting a little bit of expectation setting, but for example, getting more granular, would be about content requirements. So if we are gonna be posting blogs on your behalf, our SLA will be in 72 hours. If we don't hear anything back from the client we'll take that as you saying, "We can now process this," saving time, giving real confidence to the agency to do so.

Ian Jacob: Yeah, that's great. And so what's one thing you would say that people can really improve on across the board? Something that's standing out to you.

What I've seen people do well would definitely be, again, back on the SLA points, but defining what a good fit customer is, and as strange as it sounds, turning away customers who don't fit that perfect mold which is very hard. It's easier said than done.

Craig Bailey: Right, can I pick up on that point? So let's say our listeners, say that a marketing manager is listening to this and they're not yet on HubSpot, but they're thinking, "Well, it's something we're considering." What is actually a good fit? Do you have kind of a definition or a general concept of a great fit for HubSpot?

Brent Claremont: Yes, Craig, with that I'd say it really depends on what your industry is. Over my lifetime of working with...and again, I'm in my late 20 so I've only had around six-year experience mark. But in my previous role I worked with big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Eli Lilly. I've worked with education facilities like universities. So I've got a nice spread and it's never a clear fit. It's having a look at your current customer base and saying, "You know, this client has just been perfect from beginning to end. Why is that?"

So it's actually about marketing managers and companies saying, "Okay, this is our perfect fit model for our client." Again, it doesn't have to be spot on because you don't wanna be turning away too much business, but again, you're setting yourself and the customer up for success. You only bring on a customer that you know that you can drive success for.

Craig Bailey: Do you have an example of a customer that may be wanted to onboard with HubSpot, but you actually thought, "Actually you're not ready for it," or, "You're not a good fit?" Is there any specific characteristics that come to mind?

Brent Claremont: I suppose, yeah, there's definitely a few. And again, one of the parts I love about sales with HubSpot is our salespeople will actually tell a partner that we don't think this is a good deal. I've never seen that on the sales floor. Again, that's just a personal experience. There's some excellent companies out there, but how much confidence does that build when a salesperson is telling you, "Don't sell at this stage." It's really refreshing. It really builds confidence, but at the end, we want to solve for the customer. And again, to your point, it's very much expectations of, "Hey, we wanna try HubSpot for three months." That's a bit of a red flag for me when a try is a short term. This is a business decision. It's a long-term decision. It's a marathon not a sprint with inbound.

Ian Jacob: That's really good Brent. Now, coming back to the experience you've had, and understanding people out there really want quick results, what's one of the best things you've seen that people are doing that's actually delivering results quickly and getting people going quickly?

Brent Claremont: I get asked this, I think, on a daily basis. And again, it's coming out of the client but the quick win scheme, I think, the market, what Ian said, the first thing we go to is paid ads are gonna get us a quick win in regards to visits. I agree that a lot of people make no mistake are thinking that paid advertising or paid campaigns don't have a place in the inbound methodology. It definitely does. We have a tool that promotes you to book paid advertising with LinkedIn and Google AdWords later down the track this year, fingers crossed.

The biggest thing people lean into is, "That's gonna be my quick win," but the quality of leads that are coming through ultimately impacts that. So it's a really tough question I think. I'd have to get more context on exactly the client, exactly [inaudible 00:07:45].

Ian Jacob: But I think that goes back to what you were saying before. It's about setting the right expectation with people.

Brent Claremont: Spot on. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Craig Bailey: Okay, have you had any experience with US campaigns where you've seen the client take...they're a multi-national. They've had a US campaign and then they've tried it in Australia and it's been...just hasn't worked as effectively. Do you see any of those kinds of things in your job?

Brent Claremont: No, I definitely do. And again, I predominantly work with APAC and ANZ. More so ANZ these days as we just opened up our Singapore office. I love seeing what's happening in the States. I constantly connect with colleagues over in the States to get a feel of it as an example of just people knowing about HubSpot and inbound. For example, I have a partner I work with who ranks one for inbound marketing Australia. He ranks one. That is not yielding a lot of traffic right now purely for the insight that you know, I didn't know about HubSpot when I got approached.

So much to that point of, I was in Boston about 10 months ago for training. And I was wearing a HubSpot shirt as you know, I was loving HubSpot and training there. And somebody stopped me in an elevator and said, "Oh, do you work for HubSpot? Oh, I'd love to learn about it." A random person I'd never even seen was just in my hotel, whereas I struggle to explain inbound or HubSpot to friends and family here. So there's so many use cases of the States simply utilizing inbound, whereas here it's not a good fit. I wouldn't say not a good fit, but there's a lot more education we need to do. We need to be better here I think. Healthcare is a big example. There's so much potential here, but different legal requirements from the US to here and the way it's done. This is a bit of a hard point.

Ian Jacob: Now, that's really interesting because we're seeing a lot of...we're delivering leads, we're delivering quality to businesses, but then we have sales on the outside. And there's a lot around sales enablement and how sales fits in with this. And they’ve coined a term: smarketing, right? I think this is becoming a really key area where we will battle in, in 2016, 2017 and into the future. And I see Brian is really focusing on it at HubSpot. What are you seeing at a specific with sales, sales enablement and where that's going in 2016?

Brent Claremont: That's a really great question. We actually have a meeting today, a marketing meeting for our lunch in the HubSpot office. By no means are we there yet at HubSpot, but sales and services and marketing, we all need to be on the same page. And when we do that, the ability to best serve the customer, it just changes. I think it's gonna be a big part. By no means, it's not going to be like flicking a light switch. It's gonna be a long progress and like you have got everybody on the same page for it. The sales team, the marketing team, the service team all need to be on the same page. Easier said than done, though.

Ian Jacob: So I mean, hanging out with you guys at Inbound really made me realize that you guys probably already do that, and I could see the relationship between the teams. Now, I'm assuming that's because there's a lot of effort going into having lunches, having meetings, communicating with each other, sitting next to each other. Is that really the key to making streamline that process do you believe?

Brent Claremont: It definitely is. I've had a few different sales jobs, and they've been excellent at B2B publishers, digital mediums, but I've never been on a sales floor that has been so positive in my entire life. And the more that we're connected and on the same page when a sales rep signs a partner for example, for myself, if we're on an understanding what a good fit is for the partner, they're gonna have such greater success because of our alignment...and to the point, if it helps the customer or the partner, that's why we do it.

Craig Bailey: That's great. Can I just pick up on that whole sales-marketing alignment. I was reading Mike Lieberman. He runs an agency in the States. One of my heroes actually. But he was talking about this idea that marketing has historically been providing the leads and then sales closes them. And so marketing's function has all their KPIs have been around providing leads. But he's now saying actually marketing is much more, there is that alignment, they're working together with sales, and marketing is becoming more tasked with actually providing the sale as well, working with sales teams. I guess that's a kind of a sales and marketing alignment. Do you think that's correct first of all, or is it just kind of overreaching? And two, do you see that flowing into Australia this year, or are we still just behind where that kind of thinking is?

Brent Claremont: That's a really, really good question. It's something we speak about often here. It's as soon as I talk about smarketing, sales marketing alignment, this Venn diagram appears in my head. So there are three fundamental departments we have at HubSpot, here Syd Spot as we like to call it. There's services, which is myself, very post-sales. Then we have sales. Obviously, that's self-explanatory. Then we have the marketing team. We're all connected in this ever growing circle. So this is a great question for Ryan Bonnici who'll be able to give you such clarity because he's had a stellar year with the marketing team. We can hear the bell ringing right now on the sales floor.

Craig Bailey: Okay, what's that bell mean?

Brent Claremont: That means that another client has been signed.

Craig Bailey: Fantastic.

Brent Claremont: So it's very poignant actually hearing that noise because the quality of leads that we provide to sales have to be up to a certain standard. We don't have somebody reaching out too thinking, "Oh, they could be a good fit." The salesperson has all the tools available. Marketing gives them those tools.