“You continue to be the only person I’ve ever heard of who sold 40% of the revenue in the history of a company with more than $100M in ARR.
That was the general counsel at Eloqua. We had a good relationship, and he was blown away by the success I was having selling marketing automation into a market that barely knew what to do with it yet.
Nearbound sales is about trust, influence, and value. It’s about surrounding the buyer with the people who influence them - partners, analysts, subject matter experts, people who have been where your buyers want to go.
I had a hard job
At the time, the majority of CMOs were brand marketers doing PR. I was selling marketing automation software into a market when few knew what it was. Demand Generation was nascent and Marketing Ops wasn’t yet a function.
A massive transformation was needed.
Here was this powerful technology that few knew how to implement, and had little incentive internally to do so. Marketing was measured on lead count; not quality.
I couldn’t do it alone
One of my early customers in 2004 was the SVP of Marketing at Ellie Mae, Dave Lewis. Dave got it. He fought all the internal battles to get marketing automation in place. His persistence led them on a journey of transformation from old school to new school and they built modern, data-driven, automated programs that turned into pipeline and revenue.
We helped Dave become wildly successful. He reached the promised land. Meanwhile, most marketing teams were still doing “batch and blast” emails. They didn't know how to do things like lead nurturing, lead scoring, or multi-touch campaigns, and had no Marketing Ops to support them.
Dave saw tremendous potential in the marketing automation industry. He wanted to help more companies get started and do it right. He asked if I would partner with him. With zero hesitation, I said I was all in. Dave organized and led our local user group, he booked the room, ran the sessions, and even bought the bagels. When his agency was just getting started in 2007, Dave brought all but one thing to the table: leads.
I had a pipeline. I had customers who needed help. This is counterintuitive to most salespeople, but I decided the best thing to do was to bring my leads to him.
Dave had credibility, experience, results, and trust. I knew he could help me because he spoke my buyer's language and had walked in their shoes. He'd been to their promised land.
Connecting customers to a partner like this not only helps pre-sale, it helps get customers to value faster post-sale. Salespeople don’t need to be altruists to care about customer success. Happy, successful customers are your best advocates.
Many of our most successful customers ended up working with Dave. And when it was time to land Salesforce as a customer (after a long history of partnering with them), guess who I brought in to co-sell with me?
Our data showed deals that included partners had higher conversion rates, higher velocity, higher win rates, better retention and expansion, and higher NPS.
How I won with Nearbound
I partnered with the right people at the right time. The buyer doesn't want to tell you about their business; they want you to know about their business. If you can get that insight and intel from someone who already has the trust, you’re coming in ready.
I studied customer stories to find patterns. One year, we had 176 submissions for our annual customer awards. I printed and organized them in binders. I read every single one. It helped me identify our most successful customers and partners and allowed me to be a better matchmaker. If a potential customer wanted to do lead scoring, I’d match them to a partner that specialized in lead scoring. If a potential customer wanted to do multichannel campaigns, I’d match them to a partner that specialized in multichannel.
My job wasn't to sell. It was to facilitate a buying process. Doing it with partners was how I won deals and made customers more successful.
What does this mean for you?
There are two insights from my story directly relevant to today.
First is the power of tapping into Nearbound Knowledge in the sales process. I looked at every winner of our highly coveted annual awards and asked which partners they worked with. I got to know those partners well. In fact, in addition to employee and customer awards, we even created partner awards. I built relationships with all those winners too.
I knew that I didn’t have everything my customers wanted. But if I could find who did and bring that to the table, I’d win more deals. It worked.
Second is the fact that the same pattern that happened in marketing then is happening with sales now. Most sales teams today are stuck in the past, just like most marketing teams were then. Few have any processes or technology in place to tap into the immense power of Nearbound data hiding right next door, in their ecosystem.
Nearbound Sales is a superpower
I always made Presidents Club, won employee of the year, was on the NASDAQ when Eloqua IPO’d, became a recognized leader in the industry all while being an individual quota ‘caring’ sales rep. I was doing Nearbound Sales.
You have an advantage I lacked. I was doing all of this identification and pattern matching manually. (Remember the 176 customer award submissions I mentioned?). Today, you’ve got powerful tools like Reveal at your disposal, to accelerate your ability to tap into crucial information and build a Nearbound Sales process at scale.
That’s why I’m so grateful this guide exists. It defines the what and how of Nearbound Sales. And it couldn’t be more timely.
Relying on outbound and inbound won’t get you to your promised land and it won’t get your customers to theirs.
In the era of Outbound, ABC meant Always Be Closing. In the era of Nearbound, ABC means Always Be Connecting.
Remember, your network is your net worth.
– Jill Rowley
This story is taken from the forward of The Ultimate Guide to Driving Revenue with Nearbound Sales. Get the free guide for 40+ pages of step-by-step tactical advice for sellers and partner pros.
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