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Good Content is a Commodity: The Keys to Making Content Marketing Work

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 14, 2017 2:00:00 PM

Good Content is A Commodity: The Keys to Making Content Marketing WorkAaah, I remember the good old days. You remember them, don't you? You know, the days when creating good content was the key to successful content marketing and inbound marketing?

Don't get me wrong, you still need good content, but today it's a commodity. Let's admit the truth; there's more than enough good content out there on just about every subject. And while there's more bad content than good, and the volume of bad content is growing faster than good content; good content is simply not enough to drive your results.

But, before you jump to the obvious conclusion that this blog post is about the need to create great content, that is not what I'm suggesting. Frankly, as I've been studying the keys to success, I'm increasingly convinced that for most companies, creating great content is not the answer. Simply put, the investment of time and energy (and as a result - money) to get from good content to great content isn't justified - the juice isn't worth the squeeze.

How can I say this? Isn't this content marketing heresay? Look, I'm not saying having great content is bad. Instead what I'm saying is that if you're not utilizing your content (super) effectively, your focus should be on optimizing your process before enhancing your content.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Demand Generation

[VIDEO] How to Successfully Manage the SQL Handoff

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 11, 2017 5:15:24 PM

successful-sql-handoff.pngOne of the biggest (if not the biggest) changes in sales over the last 5 - 7 years is the emergence of the sales development process. Businesses have come to realize the growth benefits of specialization in the sales process, and the impact that dedicated prospecting has on increasing the strength of the pipeline while also optimizing the overall process.

While sales development is certainly a powerful process, it is not without risk and it requires a well-thought out and disciplined approach. While effective sales development drives growth, when it's ineffective it increases costs, is disruptive to everyone on your sales team and frustrates you customers. This is why a strong playbook is crucial to the implementation of a dedicated prospecting strategy.

The linchpin in sales development lies at the handoff from the SDR to the sales executive. Orchestrating this play is crucial to gaining the results you desire. Having worked with many companies in building out prospecting and sales development programs, while also implementing programs for ourselves and our clients, we've seen firsthand the misunderstandings, myths and barriers that restrain success. In this video (no registration required) I share the strategy and tactics behind a successful handoff, as well as tips to making it work.

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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

[VIDEO] 5 Growth Strategies to Finish 2017 Strong

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 30, 2017 11:00:00 AM

finish-strong.jpgIt feels like just yesterday.  I was getting ready for the day and finalizing plans for how I was going to spend my New Year's Eve, and thinking about the next few days and getting Imagine off to a fast start in 2017. Suddenly, I go out for a walk in the morning, and I come back dripping in sweat from the heat and the humidity. Time sure does fly.
It amazes me how different June 30th and December 31st are. Here are some of the big ones:

  • It's a lot hotter in June than December.
  • The days are longer (unless you're reading this post in the southern hemisphere, in which case the nights are longer).
  • December is filled with passion, excitement, and commitments for the year ahead.
  • In June there's much angst about goals off track and the feeling that the year is almost over.

Today marks the end of the first half of the year. Whether you're winning or losing the year, the "game" is not over. Imagine if the New England Patriots went into the locker room in Super Bowl 51 with the attitude that so many people have halfway through the year. It's also important to remember that in business, the game never ends. I like to think of July 1st of the beginning of a new year as well.

Last year we presented a webinar focusing on five growth strategies to use to finish 2016 strong. The strategies in that session are every bit as relevant today as they were the day we recorded the session. So, as we prepare for "Half-Year's Eve" (can we make that a holiday?), I share with you Five Growth Strategies to Finish The Year Strong.

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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

[INFOGRAPHIC]  The 7 Levels of a Growth Organization

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 21, 2017 2:00:00 PM

7-levels-of-a-growth-organization-615777-thumbnail.pngEarlier this week I was talking with a fellow business owner about growth, and the difference between those companies that are able to consistently execute against plan to achieve objectives, and those that are always jumping for growth but never really seem to go anywhere.

In the conversation I started talking about a construct I had put together more than five years ago, called The 7 Levels of a Growth Organization.  I shared the model and some of the tools we created to support it, and he almost immediately replied, "Doug, why aren't you still talking about this and sharing it."

Realizing I had no real answer to his question, I decided to share it today.  I'll also be writing more about it in the future again as well.  The model highlights the path to what I call a Demand Creation Monopoly, where customers value you so much that competition becomes irrelevant.  It highlights the stages you have to pass through, give you some insights into the actions you need to take to drive greater results on your sales growth journey.

Click the read more link to see the full sized graphic.

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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy

The 5 Tools I Use to Keep Me Productive on the Road

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 20, 2017 2:00:00 PM

business-travel.jpgI was recently having a conversation with a fellow business owner, friend and past client of mine. He doesn't travel much for business, but over the last few weeks, his travel schedule had been (for him) quite hectic. He shared with me just how disruptive he thought business travel was. In his words, "It's totally fine while I'm in the meetings that I'm in, but getting anything else done is virtually impossible." He commented to me that he didn't know how I stayed on top of things, while also traveling at a much high rate (and I'm by no means a true "road warrior").

I agreed with him that travel can be quite disruptive, and that in many ways regular business travel is almost better than low travel levels, as it's actually easier to get in a routine. And that's the key to successful business travel - developing, and sticking to, routines.

I've also found that having a few "cheats" is crucial to effective business travel. The great thing (from a productivity standpoint) about being in the office is that it's a controlled environment and you have access to your best "stuff." With a little strategy and some neat gadgets, you can find ways to match productivity on the road as well. With summer officially set to start this week, I thought I'd lighten up the blog, and share with you the tools I rely on when traveling.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Performance, Demand Generation

The Only Metric that Matters if You're Looking for Sales Growth

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 13, 2017 5:00:00 PM

The Only Metric that Matters if You're Looking for Sales GrowthAnyone who knows me, knows I love data and metrics. One of Imagine's core values is "In God We Trust, Everybody Else Better Bring Data." If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you are well aware that we often write about important metrics that you should be tracking.

As six of our most popular posts on the subject would indicate, we take metrics very, very seriously:

While I look at a lot of metrics when analyzing and tracking the effectiveness of sales and marketing efforts (some would rightfully claim that I look at too many), I've come to firmly believe that, over and above everything else, there is really only one number that matters. Or, to put it more accurately, if this one number isn't strong, no other metrics matter.

Pause for a moment and think about your business. If you could only focus on one metric to guide decisions on growing your business efficiently and effectively, what would it be? Go ahead, think about it...I'll wait.

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Topics: Performance, B2B Sales Strategy

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