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[Video] Demand Creator Minute: Assess a Sales Opportunity

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 4, 2017 1:00:00 PM

b2b-sales-review.jpgFor me, one of the toughest judgments I have to make as a salesperson, manager or growth executive is determining when a sales opportunity is ready to close.  

Push it too early and the likelihood of a sale is not only significantly lower, but the time you spend after the proposal is multiplied...taking valuable time from other pursuits. Wait too long, and you not only waste time, but you may lose the opportunity altogether.

Over the years, I've developed seven go-to questions that when answered clearly, concisely and confidently indicate the opportunity is ripe. The great thing about sales (for some) is that you’re never dealing with a perfect situation and you never have access to all of the knowledge you need.  

Successful sales is a lot like playing poker. A strong process and keen insights, mixed with experience enables you to find the opportune point to take action on the information you do have to maximize your probability of success. The seven questions I share in this video have helped me shorten the time to sale, while ensuring I spend the right amount of time and energy on the right opportunities. Just as importantly, it’s provided me the indication to know when to fold and walk away from the opportunity.

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching

The Biggest (& Common) Mistakes Made with Account Based Marketing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 7, 2017 4:30:00 PM

The Biggest (& Common) Mistakes Made with Account Based MarketingAs the chart below (where I compare interest in the term "account based marketing" with "demand generation") shows, interest in Account Based Marketing has exploded over the last five years. For me at least, I can't remember the last I haven't heard or read someone talking about ABM having the solution to all ills.

As with most hot topics (see Sales Enablement) I take a very cynical, conservative approach to them. Far too often these hot topics are just ways to take old ideas and present them as new so that if you're a consultant, you can charge bigger fees for your services, and if you're an executive, you can promise that next panacea to get your boss or CEO off your back.

account-based-marketing-trend.png 

Account Based Marketing is not new. As I often say to people who claim it is: if you're involved in a B2B business and what you were doing before wasn't account based, then you were doing something wrong.

That said, ABM (as it's practiced by the those who are doing it right) is different in an important way. It formalizes and orchestrates a variety of actions, personalized and targeted in a fashion that enables selling organizations to penetrate accounts they wouldn't otherwise penetrate and expand business faster.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Performance, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation

7 Attributes of an Effective Sales/Marketing Playbook

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 27, 2017 2:00:00 PM

SalesAndMarketingPlaybook.pngPlaybooks are back! When I first got into professional sales (in the ancient days of DOS), playbooks were a hot topic. Back then, the keys to organization and sales success were in the ability to create better approaches that enabled sales reps to perform at their highest levels. The focus was on training and process, embodied in a playbook.

Somewhere in the mid-late 1990s the focus turned from optimizing and building organizational capabilities, to volume and velocity. As the economy heated up and demand skyrocketed, the focus on playbooks virtually disappeared. At the beginning of this year I was talking with a senior sales executive about our sales enablement services and the focus turned to marketing and sales playbooks. He kind of laughed and commented, "Are playbooks coming back? Really?...Yeah, I don't think we really need a playbook; we have mainly senior reps and they don't need one."

I quickly responded, "The question is not, 'Do we need a playbook?' The fact is that you have one. The real question is do you want a purposeful playbook that guides actions and innovation, or a haphazard one that hides and confuses things?" He quickly got my point.

Today, more than ever, playbooks are crucially important. Both sales and marketing processes have multiplied in complexity, and the successful orchestration of complex interactions, involving all parties involved in the customer acquisition process, is continually increasing in importance for successful outcomes.

There are a variety of playbooks every growth-focused company should have:

  • Lead Generation Playbook
  • Marketing/Inbound Marketing Playbook
  • Lead Management Playbook
  • Sales Development Playbook
  • New Sales Playbook
  • Account Management/Customer Success Playbook

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Doug! Stop the insanity...this is O-V-E-R-K-I-L-L!" I used to think that way too, and I remind you: you already have a playbook for each one of those areas. The question is: do you want it to be purposeful or haphazard?

I'll cover the components of each of those playbooks in a future post. Today, I want to focus on the six commonalities that all effective playbooks possess.

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Topics: Sales Development, Performance, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation

5 Tips to Deliver Effective Coaching to Your Sales & Marketing Teams

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 1, 2017 4:00:00 PM

5 Tips to Deliver Effective Coaching to Your Sales & Marketing TeamLast week a friend and fellow business owner sent me an interesting article from Harvard Business Review, that highlighted the impact and importance of coaching in business. Reading the article got me thinking about the role of coaching today.

It's funny, because 13 years ago I started Imagine; and with our focus on sales coaching, I regularly encountered questions and objections about the whole idea around coaching in business. Coaching was still considered a soft skill, and it wasn't unusual that a business owner would say to me, "Doug, we need our salespeople to be managed better; I've got no idea what coaching would do."

Today the idea of coaching, or at least the thought of coaching, is far more accepted. More people are talking about it and more people claim they do it. Unfortunately, most of the coaching being done is ineffective. It either lacks the disciplined process needed to be effective, or it's really just management in disguise (or both).

When implementing coaching in your organization, it's important to clearly distinguish between the role of "managing" and the role of "coaching." Managing is about directing, instructing, overseeing and holding people accountable to specific results, typically short-term. Coaching is about exploring, facilitating, teaching and collaborating to build capabilities that allow one to produce at a higher level over the long-term.

Both roles are vital, and it's important that they not be confused or mixed together. There's nothing wrong, per se, with a manager also coaching, but when doing so, the manager must clearly separate the two functions. When they're combined, neither is effective.

When coaching, keep these five tips in mind to ensure that you get the results from your efforts:

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation

5 Common CRM Mistakes Made by Sales (and Marketing) Organizations

Posted by Doug Davidoff

May 25, 2017 2:00:00 PM

5 Common CRM Mistakes Made by Sales (and Marketing) OrganizationsIt's a great time to be a sales organization. I often find myself wondering how different things would have been 10 - 15 years ago when I first started leading sales teams if I had access to the technology, tools and data that are readily available to companies of all shapes and sizes.

I can still remember reading the articles in magazines like Sales & Marketing Management, Selling Power and Selling as they debated the pros and cons of (what was then called) salesforce automation, and the challenges in getting adoption. Nothing got more attention or brought more angst to salespeople and executives alike than to topic of CRM.

Back then, the choice was to either spend millions of dollars on an enterprise CRM built out to your specifications, to buy clunky, suboptimal CRMs like ACT!, Maximizer, GoldMine, etc., or to go without a formal CRM. So, if you were a small or mid-market company (SME) you either went with a clunky CRM or no CRM at all.

The turn of the century brought us Salesforce.com who began what I like to call the democratization of CRM, bringing the costs down to where SMEs could afford it, with the capabilities of enterprise alternatives. While Salesforce.com was a great improvement, it was still expensive and unless you could afford to have it built out and customized to you, still clunky. Using it as a salesperson was difficult and frankly, annoying.

Today there are a host of CRM alternatives that literally take any excuse for not using a CRM right away. In 2005 I would kill for the CRM choices that exist today that are free. The good news is that more companies and salespeople are using CRM than ever before. Unfortunately they're still not realizing its true promise.

In our work as part of our Sales Enablement Services, we often analyze and advise on a companies growth stack, including their CRM. Having reviewed hundreds of implementations, I still see 5 very common - and very damaging - mistakes made when using CRM.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation

A Visit from the Ghosts of Business Past, Present & Future

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 22, 2016 12:00:00 PM

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 1:00:00 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

3 Criteria to Assess the Effectiveness of Your Sales Process

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 6, 2016 3:00:00 PM

3 Criteria to Assess the Effectiveness of Your Sales ProcessI was talking with a prospect a few weeks ago about his (lack of) sales process. He took exception with my comment, saying that they did have a process and that it was defined by their pipeline stages.

Those stages won’t shock anyone who has been in sales anytime in the last three decades. Here’s how it was set up:

  • Initial Contact Made
  • Qualification
  • Demonstration
  • Proposal
  • Negotiation
  • Closed/Won
  • Closed/Lost

While those are certainly steps in the sales journey, they don’t meet Imagine’s definition of a sales process or sales methodology. As I explained that to my prospect, he asked a very insightful question, the answer to which I share here. His question: “Why Not?”

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching

[Video] What You Need To Know When Launching or Revising Your Growth Playbook

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 30, 2016 4:30:00 PM

successful-business-growth-strategy.jpgA few weeks ago I shared an article here on the Six Stages of a Successful Growth Strategy. The launch of such a strategy is an exciting time for everybody. You deal with possibilities, address limiting obstacles and emerge with a strategy that creates clarity and confidence...two necessary and powerful ingredients of success.

There's a downside to the excitement however. It's easy to underestimate what's involved in transforming that clarity and confidence into real prospects, sales opportunities and revenue. This often leads to a deadly mistake in execution.

In the video below I share this secret, and highlight the keys to successfully navigating it.

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching

How to Make Effective Connect Calls to Your B2B Inbound Leads

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Oct 26, 2016 4:00:00 PM

connect-calls.jpgYour prospect has downloaded one of your favorite pieces of content. You take a look in your marketing automation platform and see that they’ve been reading your blog and have spent quite a bit of time on your site. Clearly, this is a lead you’re excited to contact.

The imperative question at this point is how do you effectively make that first contact. Push too hard, too early and you’re likely to lose an opportunity before it starts. Proceed too softly or timidly and you lose the benefit of such a strong lead. It’s a challenge that even the best demand generation organizations struggle with every day.

To complicate things more, inbound leads come with their own set of considerations. Before any contact is made, you need to keep these things in mind:

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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching