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The Demand Creator Blog

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5 Actions for Sales and Marketing to Succeed Through Scary Times

succeed-through-scary-timesThings change quickly. Just six weeks ago, the economic conversations focused on the record-high balances of Americans’ 401Ks. While there certainly has been speculation about the possible (inevitable) market downturn/recession, the dominant questions were about how mild such a recession would be and whether it would even meet the technical definition of a recession.

Then in the proverbial blink of an eye, everything we thought we knew changed…radically. In a 24-hour period, America began to get serious about the pandemic that dominates news coverage today. Oil prices plummeted. Gary Cohn, past Director of the National Economic Council, referred to it as, "Where we were last month has nothing to do with where we are now... We are now dealing with an economy where there has been massive demand destruction in the oil market." 

We all entered a new world on Friday, March 13th and it’s important that everyone accepts this. I do not believe for a moment we won’t get through this crisis. I am also confident (as I’ve always been) that better times lie ahead. 

stockdale-paradoxIn times like this, I’m reminded of The Stockdale Paradox. Admiral James Stockdale was a Vietnam War POW for seven years. During this horrific period, Stockdale was repeatedly tortured. He found a way to stay alive by embracing both the grim reality of his situation and healthy optimism.

Stockdale explained: "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

This paradox holds a great lesson on how to achieve success and overcome difficult obstacles. It also flies right in the face of the unbridled optimists and positivity peddlers whose advice pervades nearly every Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook stream today.

Stockdale discussed this paradox with author Jim Collins in the book Good to Great, where he spoke about how the optimists fared:

Collins: Who didn't make it out?

Stockdale: Oh, that's easy. The optimists.

C: The optimists? 

S: The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.

There is good news. Difficult times are your opportunity to stand out and be rewarded for taking strong action and making good decisions. It is in difficult times that good companies separate themselves from their peers and become great.

Difficult times, properly managed, are called defining moments in hindsight. Here are 5 actions to take on the go-to-market side of your business to make this a defining moment for you and your company. By the way, I’ll be sharing more details on this Wednesday in our upcoming webinar. (If you’re reading this after April 8th, you can watch the recording of the webinar.)

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3 Ways Having A Take Can Change You As A Marketer

have-a-takeComing into the workforce, I was fresh out of college with a lot of knowledge, ready to make an impact wherever I landed. Yet, I was super nervous about not making a good first impression and failing. You see, I was the student that would know the answers to questions in class, but never felt like speaking up. I always had my opinions, but hardly ever shared them. I never wanted to feel like the “know it all” in class and I dreaded being “wrong,” so I stayed silent. I even had a professor in shock once when I took a final exam because I did well, yet never spoke in class. In his words, I was the “silent but smart” student. My point in bringing this up is that to this day, I wish I had spoken up and given out my answers/opinions because it would’ve made a huge difference to my job now.

What It Means To Have A Take

Having a take means sharing your opinion, standing up and speaking from your experience, your knowledge, and your mind. Having a take isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing with what someone else says, but making sure you’re not saying something just because it’s what everyone else wants to hear.

Putting your take out into the world means having the potential to be wrong (depending on what it is you’re having a take on). Many people don’t like the thought of being wrong or being in the wrong, but in order to be right, you have to put your take out there. You can’t be like my college self and sit silent. Change isn’t going to happen if you don’t speak up. 

How Having a Take Can Change You as a Marketer

Ever since I’ve changed my mindset and have started having a take, I’ve seen a few things happen/change with the way I do my job as the Marketing Manager of Imagine. Use these as an opportunity to influence your job, too.

1. I started providing deeper value. I’m not saying I wasn’t providing value before, but I’m now providing a more impactful value than before. This value stretches to the company (in my case, Imagine), my coworkers, and the world. If you switch your mindset and put your opinion out there, you give a whole new perspective for others to think about. I’m not saying that you have to disagree and give your perspective differently all the time, you just have to make sure you’re saying what you really feel. If all you say is what others want to hear, how much value is that truly providing? Is it getting you where you want to go with your work or your job? Probably not.

As a marketer, your job is to make sure that your customers are getting the best experience and the most value/knowledge out of what you do. If you feel like something is off with the new web page design or the way someone has worded messaging, say something -- and give your take as to why. Your perspective now gives someone something to think about. That’s how you create change. By not having a take or by holding back your take, you give up on the opportunity to make an impact for your company and/or for your customers. Speaking up is how you create forward motion to put you and your company in a better position than before.

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The Art of Letting Go: What Every Salesperson Should Do

Editor's Note: The world of business focuses on the success, the learnings, and the growth they've achieved. Yet, no one talks about the failures, the hardship, or the process that led to the success. Today's blog is written by one of our Sales Development Reps (SDRs), Carolyn Nangle. She shares her personal story of being in sales and what it took for her to turn her failure into success. She shares her perspective on growth, working and making her mark.

letting-goI want to tell you about my best day working at Imagine. My best day at Imagine was the day I almost got fired. It was also the day I was ready to quit. I was so fed up. I was fed up with the work, with my own performance, with my boss, Doug Davidoff. (Some readers may have heard of him.) I was ready to be done at Imagine, and Imagine was ready to be done with me. Doug and I had a heated call that morning, and no one pulled punches. I was told I’d have the night to think things over and we’d meet again at the end of the next day. It was a tense exchange, and didn’t bode well for my future at Imagine. I guess, to give some context, I should back up a little bit.

Before I came to Imagine, I worked in the service industry as a server and a bartender for a decade, so I come from a background of providing exemplary customer service. In that context, the more information you have, the easier it is to provide that high-level service. My favorite bar regular, Roy, used to come in for lunch on weekdays. He had an iced tea, no lemon, and a salad with no tomato. The first time I served Roy, of course, I didn’t know all of this. I simply took the order and brought it out. After a few weekday lunches, however, I realized that Roy was a creature of habit. Soon enough, armed with more information, I was able to have Roy’s tea waiting at the bar when he walked in the door. I was able to give him the best service possible, because I had enough relevant information to do so. 

Suffice to say, I came to Imagine with a lot of experience helping people and a lot of experience being really, really nice--even to the jerks. But I had absolutely zero experience selling anything. I never even tried to upsell people on appetizers. This fact didn’t need to handicap my ability to learn and to sell, but it did. I wore my fear like a cloak made of lead. The fear that everyone would see through me, that they would know immediately that I didn’t know what I was talking about weighed on me constantly. I dragged it into every call I made.

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Overcoming Your Biggest Barrier to Generating New Business Opportunities: Prospect Problem Blindness

prospect-problem-blindnessWhen the invite from Toyota came in, Ford’s senior executive team was skeptical. 

We invite you to visit our newest manufacturing plant. Send your top engineers and bring all your questions. We’re anxious to share our methods.

When the engineers came back from their visit, they confirmed the skepticism. “It wasn’t a real auto manufacturing facility,” the plant engineers explained. “Sure they had chassis and tools, and people, but spare parts and components were virtually nonexistent. The warehouse was too small to support the level of schedule activity. It was staged, like a movie.”¹

With the benefit of history, we know that it was not staged. The “experts” from Ford saw the real thing before it displaced Detroit’s auto leadership position.

You’ve likely heard the story of Steve Jobs’ inspiration for what became the Mac. In exchange for a pre-IPO allocation for Apple stock, Xerox invited Job and some of his engineers to get an inside peek into their PARC facility. While there, the Xerox engineers shared some of the innovations they’d added to their Alto machine like the “what you see is what you get” graphic user interface, bitmapping and a mouse. 

One part of the story that is often told wrong is that Xerox didn’t know what they had and as a result they let Jobs “steal” it. This isn’t true. They knew the Alto was powerful. They introduced the Alto in a 1972 commercial as the first desktop computer with a graphic user interface, showed how it could revolutionize your office life by using things like email, word processing and reminders “all controlled by a cursor.” Why have most people never heard of the Alto, and today Apple is the most valuable company in history? Because Xerox thought that the Alto would simply be too expensive to put on sale commercially. The reality is that the failure of Xerox to capitalize on their invention was a technology or vision failure, it was really a product marketing failure.

Think about this for a moment. If the expert engineers from Ford couldn’t see the value of the just-in-time, LEAN manufacturing process and the product marketing experts at Xerox couldn’t see a path to viability with something as powerful as the Alto, what’s the likelihood that a great demo, or presentation will be enough for the companies in your target market to change their course/speed to embrace your solution? These are two powerful examples of a barrier that faces all humans and has a profound impact on your ability to position your products and services to generate new opportunities by highlighting the amazing outcomes you create and the problems you solve. The barrier is called “problem blindness.”

What Is Problem Blindness

In his most recent book Upstream: The Quest To Solve Problems Before They Happen, Dan Heath shares this description: the belief that negative outcomes are natural, inevitable, or simply out of our control. When we’re blind to a problem, we treat it like the weather. We may know it’s bad, but ultimately, we just shrug our shoulders. “What am I supposed to do about it? It’s the weather.” Problem blindness creates passivity, even in the face of enormous harm. Problem blindness explains why extraordinarily smart people do extraordinarily dumb things or make bad decisions.

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The D.E.A.L.S. Framework: Unifying Customer Acquisition & Success for Acceleration

Deal-Framework-Header

Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen the proliferation of marketing and customer acquisition “methodologies” multiply, fragment and confuse. One of the reasons for this was the success that HubSpot had with their focus on Inbound Marketing and the methodology they created to define it.

Since that time, it’s become part of the standard SaaS/tech playbook to create a new methodology to frame the product a company is attempting to sell. I’ve even seen some very successful executives and advisors proclaim that if you want to launch a new SaaS product you must create a unique methodology to frame it. 

What’s more, with the promise of each “unique” methodology, the focus moves to what you call things instead of on the objectives and results that should be driving the entire process anyway.

Here are just a few of the loudest:

  • Inbound Marketing
  • Account-Based Marketing
  • Outbound Marketing
  • Conversational Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Legacy Marketing

What makes this so confusing and frustrating is that the proponents of each method describe them with near zealotry. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said to me, “We don’t want to do Inbound Marketing, we need to do Account-Based Marketing,” or vice versa. (You can substitute in for Conversational or any other option for either of those.)

Someone needs to hit the reset button. We need to stop talking about these approaches as though they are mutually exclusive. I, for one, am a fan of all of them, and while I would rarely use all of these methods within one company, I would also virtually never use only one. As an old manager of mine used to say, “Everything works and nothing works.”

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7 Tips to Having an Effective Remote Work Experience

Editor’s Note: As the world of business continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace, one often overlooked area for growth-focused companies is the changing nature of the workforce. Millenials are now entering their prime working years and are increasingly taking on executive positions. Generation Z is quickly becoming a force and the nature of work is changing. To help companies maintain alignment and reduce friction we’re adding to the focus of The Demand Creator Blog. Today’s blog is written by our Marketing Manager, Hannah Rose. She and others will be sharing their perspectives on growth, working and making their mark.

remote-workAbout a year ago, I was in the market for a full-time position right out of college. As exciting as that may sound, I was very stressed about it. You see, I was in a very different situation than most people; I didn’t have a lot of flexibility in terms of what I could do since my husband is in the military and I would be moving every few years. I wanted a marketing position, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be a fit for any job I applied for because I would have to tell them I’d be able to stick around for a little while and then have to pick up and move every couple of years. What good was I to any business with that logic? No one would want me. I had accepted my fate as not having a good job. Then I came across Imagine. Granted I’m not here with Imagine solely because of my need for flexibility; I’m here for a lot more than that. 

Remote work is up-and-coming as a highly searched term for job hunters, no doubt due to the benefits it offers. While I’m a huge fan of remote work, it isn’t easy. It takes a lot to make sure you’re excelling in your own space which is why it isn’t for everyone. It can be super-fun, flexible and exactly what you need, but it can also feel intimidating and lonely at times. It really comes down to what you decide to make out of it. 

Remote work is especially difficult for someone who is just entering the business world. The nature of college creates a structure and nudges (or forces) you into a flow. It’s rare that you don’t know what you need to do next, and when you’re in that position you just reach out to one of your classmates to find out.

If you’re currently in the market for a new job, you might want to consider working remotely. And for those of you who currently are remote workers, I’m sure you’ve struggled with getting adjusted at some point. 

So, if it isn’t as easy as it seems, why would you choose to work remotely?  

Why Choose Remote Work?

For Employees

There are a lot of reasons why you would choose to work remotely. It’s way more flexible because, in most cases, you can set up whatever hours work for you. You can also leave and come back when you need to. The biggest thing is as long as you’re getting your work done, you’re able to have that flexibility to go in early, leave late, etc. This helps if you have kids and need to be on a different schedule, and it helps with traveling because you can take it with you. That’s exactly what I did when I went on trips with my family. I just worked from wherever I was for a few days. So it’s great if you’re a traveler at heart but also want to work. And as a disclaimer, I am by no means saying solely take a remote position for these reasons, but it’s a good option if that’s your lifestyle. 

The other reason you might choose to work remotely is if that’s just how you function best. I’ve had in-office positions where people would go seclude themselves because they couldn’t get anything done if they were around others. Sometimes that environment just doesn’t work for some people and they need to have their own zen place to sit down and crank shit out. And that’s okay!

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3 Tips to Create More Compelling Content

compelling-contentContent has an attention problem. What does that mean? Simply, that there’s so much content coming at all of us that it’s harder and harder to actually engage with anything meaningful. We’re barraged on all sides by snappy soundbites, quick takes, hashtags, memes, gifs -- you know the drill. That means it’s more important than ever to add value through your content. 

Unfortunately, the term “add value” is so overused it can seem almost meaningless. However, you truly do need to add value if you want a potential customer to give you their precious time and attention. One of the best ways to do that is to show how to solve a problem. 

Cool, you might be saying. We show readers/viewers/content consumers how to solve problems all the time. 

Here’s the thing: most companies have decided which problem they solve and subsequently, tailor any messaging to fit that solution. They believe that, if they can just perfectly state the great things the company can do, they will be able to create a perfect piece of content that will magically “sell” their solution. (FYI - there’s no piece of content that will make someone come to a blog, read one piece of content and buy a big, expensive solution, but that’s a blog post for another day.) 

The most common mistake I see is that companies tend to make their content about themselves, not about their customer's issues. The problem with that? Content that’s focused on selling your company and its solutions isn’t really focused on understanding and solving the customer’s problem. 

This blog will help you understand how to create empathetic content that will make the reader feel like you understand them. This will place you in the position of a guide, and over time, will allow them to see how you can help them achieve their goals. 

It’s not just about regurgitating your marketing message over and over again. You can tell a customer how great you are, but the more self-interested and self-promotional you seem, the less trustworthy you’re perceived to be. See the catch?

So, what should you be doing?

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Decoding The Secret to Winning More Enterprise Sales, With Less Effort

If you’re looking to attract and win enterprise customers, you must understand that they behave very differently in their purchasing journey than non-enterprise. The attributes that separate enterprise customers from non-enterprise are more than the fact that enterprise customers are bigger and tend to make bigger purchases. Their priorities are different and so is the manner in which they assess and assign value.

When you break down the path from Epiphany to Purchase, you'll see that enterprise customers go through what I call “The 3 Engagements Path.” Before I get into the details, let me first share a couple of notes and a disclaimer to understand why they follow this path. 

  • While enterprise companies certainly want to pursue the best solution/option, it’s what’s perceived as the safest choice that most often wins out. While this is true for non-enterprise customers, it is far more acute and more difficult to overcome at the enterprise level. The reason for this is the variety and complexity of larger organizations.
  • Enterprise customers are slower at making decisions. The reasons for this are that there are many issues competing for time, attention and money from key people. The complexity associated with every aspect of the business is far greater. (For example, we work with a sales team today that is larger than 95% of companies in the US - the sales team alone is nearly an “enterprise customer.”) With so much competing for attention, it takes longer for areas to get the necessary attention and support. 

Urgency also carries far less weight in decision-making at the enterprise level. Most senior executives at these companies realize that even if they bought the “greatest solution ever” today, it’s going to take months/years for it to fully embed throughout the organization; if a change is involved, the disruption that is a natural part of such change must be managed.

Engagement-3

See the enterprise path to the sale here

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5 Mistakes Made When Implementing HubSpot

imlementationHave you ever tried to help someone with directions who has a hard time speaking your own language? Or maybe you’ve been in a situation where you’ve tried to explain a concept to someone and they just aren’t getting it no matter how hard you try to explain it in different ways. It’s frustrating, right? Well, the same thing can happen when it comes to HubSpot implementation. 

The implementation process with HubSpot is never a simple process; there’s a million pieces going on simultaneously. It’s like having a giant, 1,000 piece puzzle with lots of individual pieces connected in groups, but not all groups connecting to each other.

With tons of technical moving pieces, things can become overwhelming very quickly. It can become overwhelming if you don’t have an understanding of how the business process should flow or if you start running into mistakes. Something that started off as a simple process with a few steps can quickly become a jumbled mess if you aren’t careful. It will take time, effort, skill and avoiding these mistakes to make sure that everything is in line.    

What is Implementation? 

Implementation is about getting the plumbing pieces in place before turning things on. It’s understanding what the job is that needs to be done. It’s understanding what it is that the client is hiring HubSpot for, getting them onto HubSpot, and making sure that HubSpot is doing what the client needs the platform to do. It’s about getting the back end or “behind the scenes” set up (whether it’s for a tool, CRM, etc.).

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Sisyphus vs. The Flywheel: 5 Tips to Eliminate Friction

sisyphusLast week I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with a client’s sales leadership team, discussing the transformation they need to embark upon to become the business they want to be. One of the things that made it such a pleasure is that this group is already doing a great job. They’re hitting their numbers and growing in an industry that isn’t, but they also know that what they’re doing today (and more importantly, how they’re doing it) isn’t enough to get them where they need to go.

One of the things I noticed about my client, which is very common across growth-focused mid-market organizations, wasn’t how committed and passionate everybody was. (Don’t get me wrong, they were those things!) It was how tired they were. They were busting their backends doing everything they could to make things happen. Meeting in early January served as a bit of symbolism. It was the beginning of the year, so they were all “hitting the reset button” to bust at it again.

I see a lot of top performers who are tired these days. Some of my best sales friends, while winning club and hitting new performance records, often spend more time sharing how exhausted they are and how they are striving to spend more time with family rather than sharing the stories of success and the challenges they overcome (which dominated our conversations just a few years ago).

Certainly growing a business requires hard work, often very hard work. But, I’ve learned that there’s only so hard you can work, and at some point working harder not only doesn't contribute to success, it gets in the way of it. The story of Sisyphus is supposed to be a parable of warning, but increasingly it’s becoming a descriptor for leading a growth team.

As I thought about this, I was reminded of the Predictable Success model (and book) that was created by Les McKeown--specifically, the transition from Fun into Whitewater and then Predictable Success

Here’s how Les describes the fun stage: You’ve broken through the Early Struggle—you have cash (at least enough to take the pressure off) and an established market. It’s time to have Fun! Now you’re free to concentrate on getting your product or service into the market, so the key focus now moves from cash to sales. This is the time when the organization’s myths and legends are built, and the “Big Dogs” emerge—those loyal high producers who build the business exponentially in this time of rapid, first-stage growth.

Fun is followed by Whitewater: The very success that you reaped in the Fun stage brings with it the seeds of Whitewater: Your organization becomes complex, and the key emphasis shifts once more, from sales to profitability. Achieving sustained, profitable growth requires you to put in place consistent processes, policies, and systems. Unfortunately, putting those systems in place proves harder than you expected. Making the right decisions seems easy, but implementing decisions and making them stick is incredibly difficult. The organization seems to be going through an identity crisis, and you may even be doubting your leadership and management skills.

The Third Law of Thermodynamics is that entropy is always increasing. Entropy represents disorder and randomness. In simpler terms it means that a natural organizational dynamic is that disorder and randomness is always increasing. In your business this disorder mean more friction. As a business grows (or simply survives), it picks up more complexity. That complexity creates friction, and before long, what seemed easy becomes difficult or impossible.

Friction is a part of growth. It should not be ignored. Frankly, whether you recognize friction or not, it will yield its sharp edge. The key to sustaining growth, and making growth manageable, predictable, and, yes even enjoyable, is to manage the friction. These tips are for those who are committed to managing friction to accelerate the momentum of their growth flywheel.

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