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Understanding Your Customer: How They Define Value

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Mar 15, 2017 4:00:00 PM

Understanding Your Customer: How They Define ValueIn 2004, when I launched Imagine, I wrote an article that stimulated a lot of conversation. I would refer to the article often when helping companies design their sales strategy and approach to execution.

While it’s one of my favorite articles that I’ve ever written, I haven’t really thought about it over the last seven years. Then, almost out the blue, I’ve referred to and/or shared this article at least five times over the last three weeks. As the saying goes, “what’s old is new again.”

Given the frequency I’ve been referring to this, I thought it would be a good time to update it here on The Demand Creator Blog. The focus is on a crucial strategic distinction about how your target prospects, or personas, define and view value.

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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy

The Most Common Mistake that Stalls B2B Sales & Revenue Growth

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 16, 2017 3:00:00 PM

The Most Common Mistake that Stalls B2B Sales & Revenue GrowthI will admit that as a student in high school and college, I hated science classes. It really didn’t matter the discipline - chemistry, biology, physics - had no interest. The classes didn’t make sense to me, the labs were painful and frankly, I was just grateful that I was able to squeak by to graduate (to this day I still have an anxiety dream around chemistry class).

Now that I’m older (and wiser) I regret the lost opportunity that my distaste for science created. Today I find myself referring to scientific principles that I’ve learned since graduation. Even more so, I find myself talking about and modeling the process of science, and I’ve realized that the scientific model is a great model for any business desiring accelerated and sustained growth.

I’ve also learned that my distaste for these classes wasn’t really my (or science’s) fault. Instead it was the fault of how the classes were taught and the labs were run. The problem - and this is a HUGE problem that plagues small and mid-market businesses - was that the focus was on getting the right answer, rather than on discovery.

The scientific methodology is, or at least should be, all about the discovery of “the truth.” Experimentation is crucial to discovery. Effective experimentation requires that you eliminate the “judgment” of results. Testing out a hypothesis that turns out to be false is just as valuable (and in many cases more valuable) than testing one that turns out to be true.

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Topics: Performance, B2B Sales Strategy

How to Ensure Your Proposals Don’t Suck So You Win Business

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 3, 2017 12:00:00 PM

How to Ensure Your Proposals Don’t Suck So You Win BusinessAnyone involved in sales, marketing or demand generation should make it a point to get involved in buying processes from time-to-time to see how others manage the sales process. I’m lucky enough to see multiple processes on a regular basis.  

Between the prospects I’m discussing services with, working with our existing clients and in my role as CEO of Imagine (on the buying side) I easily participate in many processes every month.

There’s one thing that about 90% of them have in common with each other - they suck! I mean they’re really bad.mThey’re boring, self-centered, confusing and basically a waste. And the lynchpin of their suckiness (is that a word?) has got to be the proposal. That critical point where the seller is going to deliver the full proposition and demonstrate how their solution fills the needs of their prospect is so bad, so often that I’m surprised people actually buy.  

The reason it’s so bad isn’t because of a lack of time, attention or even money. I know many companies where the costs of developing a proposal are in the tens of thousands of dollars. You’d think with an investment like that, it would be the best part of the process. Unfortunately it’s not.

In my experience, there are four primary reasons that that proposals are as bad as they are. I share the fixes below. Before I get to the solution, let me be clear that when I talk about proposals I’m talking about formal and informal proposals. If you’re asking someone to buy something from you, you’re making a proposal. Following these rules is crucial to success.

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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy

The Executive's Guide to Effective Lead Nurturing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 27, 2017 10:00:00 AM

The Executive's Guide to Effective Lead NurturingThe following is an exerpt from our ebook The Executive's Guide to Effective Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing has become a critical part to business success in today’s technology-savvy marketplace. Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. (DemandGen) Gone are the days of cold calling and waiting for customers to break down the doors for your product or service. Social media sharing and access to unlimited information online has allowed for businesses to conduct research on a product or service, and make a purchase decision on their own. Much research supports that buyers are typically 60-90% through their decision-making process before they actually speak to a live person; and even when they engage with a salesperson earlier there is more competition for their attention than ever before. How can your business stand out in this clutter of information and position itself as “the” best option for customers?

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Topics: Lead Nurturing

How to Use Social Media Data to Have Better Sales Conversations

Posted by David Fletcher

Jan 18, 2017 11:00:00 AM

How to Use Social Media Data to Have Better Sales ConversationsI think it’s safe to say that most sales professionals know that it is imperative to be as prepared as possible during all stages of the sales process, in order to communicate in an intelligent fashion with prospects. Today we have so much data available that comes from a variety of sources and sales professionals are at a disadvantage if they do not utilize it. Data is playing an increasingly vital role in helping sales professionals know when and how to contact their targets, and ultimately become more successful at closing opportunities.

Using data in the sales process has become so important in leveling the sales and buyers playing field. Let's not forget, most buyers today are well informed before they even speak to a sales professional. To make data even more valuable, there are more decision-makers involved in a B2B purchase than ever before. Here are three ways your sales team should be using data to have better conversations, starting as early as the initial conversation conducted by the sales development reps.

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy

Five Reasons Good Sales & Marketing Messages Fail

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 12, 2017 3:00:00 PM

Five Reasons Good Sales & Marketing Messages FailMessaging gets a lot - A LOT - of attention from both marketers and sales executives. For good reason too. An effective message is like a large lever (give me a lever long enough and I can move the world). Conversely a poor message will thrust you into a thorny patch of commoditization and irrelevance.

As you’d expect with something as important as a company’s messaging, significant time and money is spent on the effort. But stop for a moment and do the following:

  • Look at your website
  • Review your sales and marketing collateral
  • Think about how sales conversations are started with prospects

Now, ask yourself, “what is the message we’re conveying?” Are you happy with it? Does it stand out and resonate with customers and prospects? Is it a competitive advantage?

I know the answer for most of you is, “no!” I know this because in workshops I conduct across the country when I ask executives, marketers or salespeople to share their message, almost all of them start off stuttering and blathering about themselves. I can also look at the results of marketing and sales efforts and see that the message isn’t working.

Having been directly involved with the assessment and development of hundreds of companies’ messages, I’ve learned five key reasons that good messages fail.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, B2B Sales Strategy

5 Priorities for Every Demand Generation Executive's List in 2017

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 3, 2017 3:00:00 PM

5 Priorities for Every Demand Generation Executive's List in 2017The fresh air of a new year. Anything is possible and confidence is running high. I’ve always found the New Year to be exhilarating. Days are getting longer, and there’s a “clean sheet” to build upon. There’s also something extremely powerful about the next five months, where holidays are minimal and people are focused.  

Unfortunately, by the time we get to May, most organizations and executives will be back to feeling overwhelmed, consumed by the daily news cycle, with worries about the future of the economy or any number of distractions that are outside anyone’s control.

Over the years (I like to think I’ve gotten wiser through the years) I’ve come to learn that while excitement and energy feel really good, the key to advancing one’s agenda is the focus on a limited number of priorities.  As our Operations Manager likes to (constantly) remind me, “If everything is important, then nothing is.”

If scaling revenue growth is at the top of your agenda, here are five priorities that need to be on your list:

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Cycle

2016's Top 5 Posts from The Demand Creator Blog

Posted by Stacy Bouchard

Dec 27, 2016 12:00:00 PM

2016-Review.jpg2017 is well, essentially, here. But before we say goodbye to 2016, we thought it would be fun to share the five most popular posts this year from The Demand Creator Blog. When we analyzed the data, we learned that more than two-thirds of our 25 most viewed posts of 2016 were actually published in previous years. That's proof of the power of blogging. Creating content for your blog on a consistent, regular basis is challenging but the rewards are huge. Blog posts never stop working for you!
 
The most popular posts covered a wide range of topics including HubSpot's CRM, motivational quotes, metrics and even zombies. If you haven't had a chance to read these yet - now's the time.
 
Happy New Year!
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A Visit from the Ghosts of Business Past, Present & Future

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 22, 2016 11:00:00 AM

jacob-marley.jpgWhen I was in elementary school, I was in the drama club. My 5th grade year, I was Jacob Marley in our “production” of A Christmas Carol. I’m sure that experience is one of the reasons that Marley has always been my favorite character.

For those that don’t know, Marley was Scrooge’s business partner in Charles Dickens’ famous Christmas story. More importantly, Marley was the “visitor” who alerted Scrooge that the three ghosts of Christmas - past, present and future - we’re coming and to be prepared for it.

I always find myself thinking of good old Jacob Marley this time of year, and not just because an infinite number of story variations are being broadcast constantly. I think of him, because as we begin to slow down for the break, it’s a wonderful time for reflection. So, while there’s no Tiny Tim in this story, now is a great time to find a quiet space and review three very important questions before the New Year kicks in.

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Topics: Performance, Sales Training/Coaching

3 Go-to Emails I Use to Advance B2B Sales Opportunities

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 21, 2016 12:00:00 PM

go-to-email.jpgDecember has always been a fascinating month for me.  Filled with the anticipation of what the next year will bring as well as contemplation of what the last year has been. It also includes the chaos of preparing for the holidays, seeing friends and relatives and working to finish things up so you have a clean start after the new year.

For me, the last month has been very intense as we’ve been working (hard) to close outstanding business, and to move opportunities along so they’re in a strong place post holidays. While the phone is still a very important tool for any salesperson, email communication has become more important than ever. In today's world there are times when email is more conducive than the phone to move things forward.

Over time, I've found three emails that I go to time and again to move opportunities along, and I'm going to share the approach of these emails with you today. It's important to note that there's no such thing as a "magic-bullet" email. Email works when it's personalized to the situation, and fits the context of everything else you are doing. I share these emails for inspiration.

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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching