My 2016: The Human Side of Inbound

Ranya Barakat

December 14, 2016

My journey with Inbound in 2016 has taught me a lot. In this blog post, I don't want to talk about methodology or metrics, or ROI, or tactics - none of that. Instead, I want to talk about the human side of Inbound.

I remember sitting in the audience at #Inbound16 and listening to Dharmesh mention how he preferred his computer over humans. I do too.  I much prefer spending time with a computer or upside down on my yoga mat.

The irony, though - I do Inbound, Inbound Marketing, and Inbound Sales, which is all about humans.

I learned that Inbound Marketing and Inbound Sales are all about the human because if you want to do them well, you have to be customer-focused and not product-focused. You have to come to terms that everything you do from now on, and how you do it, is about what your customer needs when they need it, why they need it, and how you help them bypass their challenges. With Inbound, you are not talking at people; you engage with them in a conversation, which is a very human thing.

👉  Related post: What is Buyer Personas and How to Build one

Buyer Personas

As a start to implementing your strategy, you make new friends - buyer personas - named in the industry. I like to refer to them as friends just because of the nature of the relationship.

Buyer Personas are our imaginary friends that we do all that we do to help them. To genuinely help them. If you don't do it this way and choose to stick to the not-so-human way - focusing on only demographics when developing your personas - you realize that you are basing your business goals on a set of facts that talk to no one in person.

Our world and our time are too diverse for that type of thinking. It doesn't work anymore. If you can't connect on a human level, that's a wasted opportunity. If someone doesn't trust you, chances are they won't do business with you—kind of like dating someone.


I keep hearing and reading about personalization repeatedly, and I find it quite peculiar that personalization was a trend. It makes me wonder how something so natural can be considered as a trend - something as basic as being addressed by my first name in an email. In my opinion, personalization is the norm. It's the human in us. This concept leaves me wondering why the human side has to be stripped? Why does communication turn into formality - to the point that personalization becomes a trend. Add to that, and we use automation to bring back personalization. Sounds strange!

Ummm.... ok. I am happy to see that Inbound forces the personalization back.

Making Sales Human

The other day I received a phone call from a number I don't know. 95% of the time, when that happens, Truecaller, one of my favorite apps of all time, alerts me with that big red notification; 2567 marked this number as spam. That day, it didn't. Well, actually, from now on, it will because I reported it as spam - with joy :-D  It was a sports club that I am a member of trying to sell me a membership. Ummmm.

Don't you hate that? 

1. Why try to sell me a membership when I am already a member? What does that say about the personal relationship between the club and its members? What does the member representative to the club? Part of a quota achieved? A space filler?

2. I actually asked him this - "..are you using a CRM?" Oddly enough, well and obviously, they weren't. So what does that say about the customer relationship with the club? How do they manage the communication between the thousands of members and themselves?  How do they keep it human? Did they even consider delighting their customers?

I could add more, but I am sure you know what I mean. When sales are that far away from being human, it doesn't work. Why? Because that person you are selling to - guess what - happens to be a human. If you treat that person like a dot in a system or a mobile number on an excel sheet, how do you expect to build trust? How do you make them feel that you genuinely care and want to help? How do you make each customer feel like they are your favorite customer?

👉  Related post: The Knowledge Behind Inbound Marketing

Letting Go

I am the kind of person that is very possessive over what I do. Well, I was until I started doing Inbound. It was very, very hard for me to let go of the way I want to do things, the way I saw things, my understanding, my assumption - because with Inbound throughout 2016, I learned that it's not about me - it's about the buyer persona - at every step of the methodology. From website design to web copy, to CTA color, to blog posts and topics, to title, to the number of fields on the forms, to the time of day that I post on social media - everything basically. I find that a very human thing. A nice thing. A very humbling experience. And with Inbound, in the analyze and rinse part of the job - it's exactly that.

The Stress Level

Let's be honest with one another - Inbound can get very stressful at times.

There are days when I log onto my dashboard, and my head spins rounds really fast, and if I hear the word prospect, one more time, or workflow, you might see smoke rings coming out of my ears - putting it politely. As hard as it is to admit that - yes, it can be like that. Occasionally. Sometimes.

Not always. Rarely. But it happens. That's another human side of Inbound - admitting that it's demanding. Humans are demanding. That's why I prefer hanging out with my dog.

The Addiction

I don't know if it's just me, but I find Inbound can be very addictive. In many ways. There is this buzz I get when the numbers on my dashboard are all green, or that feeling when I receive that email from, to completing certification at the Hubspot academy, or updating the CRM with the latest deal, or checking the reports, and it goes on an ad on and on.

I think that's because it reaches the human in me. It's the human instinct inside me that wants to make it better, and it feels good - perfect. 

When I say to my clients, "your success is my success.." I genuinely mean that - because it's the human in us at the end of the day. Doing something well, making a difference, doing it well, and always with a smile.

I would love to hear about how Inbound has touched, connected, spoken, dealt with the human side of you. So leave let's connect on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Ranya Barakat

Ranya is a serial entrepreneur with over 8 years of experience working on the HubSpot CRM. She loves pushing her sleeves up , and getting s*** done. When she is not running her HubSpot partner agency, you can find her upside down on her yoga mat.

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