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7 Ways to Improve Your Most Important Sales Growth Metric: Connect Rate

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Apr 5, 2018 5:00:00 PM

connect-rateThere are two schools of thought when it comes to prospecting effectiveness. One school focuses on quality and maximizing the yield of the process. "Let no good lead go unconverted" is their philosophy.

The other approach focuses on volume, thinking "What we lack in effectiveness we can make up in volume." As a result, they hire more reps, make more calls and send more emails, continuously ramping up velocity to hit their targets.

Unfortunately, both camps are wrong, and, well, they're kinda right.

Your connect rate (the rate of attempts a salesperson or sales development rep makes to “connect” with their intended target) is the most important metric to use when assessing the effectiveness of the customer acquisition process.

The connect rate focuses on the biggest bottleneck in the sales process, capacity. The limiting factor for salespeople is time, and if your connect rate is too low, it means too much time is wasted. Be careful though, because if it’s too high it may also mean that too much time is being spent here, as too much effort (and time) may be spent in an attempt to reach a lead that could be better spent elsewhere.

In the end, the use of connect rate should solve for maximizing the output of right-fit leads entering the next phase, based upon the limited-resource capacity you have, which is selling time. Note that this output is represented by a hard number, not a percentage. I’d rather have a connect rate of 17% that generates 125 right-fit leads than a 38% connect rate that yields 67.

Identifying your optimal connect rate range (balancing quantity with quality) should be of the utmost strategic imperatives for your sales leadership team. Once this range is determined you can turn your attention to testing ways to enhance it.

To get your started, here are the 7 most common areas that we’ve identified in our work that lead to material improvements in connect rates and right-lead throughput.

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What it Means to Be Inbound

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Mar 28, 2018 2:00:00 PM

be-inboundI was talking with Meghan Anderson, VP Marketing for HubSpot, about how much has changed (and how much hasn’t) over the last 10+ years since HubSpot brought us the Inbound Marketing Revolution (okay, a little blog hyperbole).

At a recent Inbound conference, Brian Halligan, HubSpot’s CEO, shared what led to the entire idea that became HubSpot. He shared that while their product was designed to enable marketers, the idea didn’t spring from focusing on the problems that marketers had.

Instead, they focused on the problems that the targets of marketers - people - had. In that exploration, they realized that things were fundamentally changing and the buyer was seizing control of their own buyer’s journey and experience. This discovery led to what Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Brian’s co-founder, called Inbound Marketing.

In the last decade, Inbound Marketing has completed a full lifecycle. Starting as novel curiosity that only a few on the vanguard even knew about (let alone implemented), to hype that everyone talked about. Which then lead to “The Next Big Thing” through must-have status, followed by line extensions (Inbound Sales anyone?), finishing off the cycle with claims like “inbound marketing doesn’t work anymore” and “no forms.”

This fond remembrance of the birth, growth and exploitation led us to talk about what Inbound Marketing means today. My response is what led to this blog post. I replied, “Meghan, you know, to me Inbound was always more to me than inbound marketing or inbound sales were. To me, Inbound was and still is a philosophy.”

Inbound represented - and still represents - a mindset, beliefs and principles far more than any series of tactics or processes. Being Inbound is to acknowledge that the customer controls the game today and businesses need to rise to meet the demands and expectations. While the tactics (and technology) are changing at an increasingly rapid pace, Inbound, The Philosophy is as relevant today as it ever was.

Meghan then challenged me. She asked, “Doug, I love where you’re going with this. But (have you ever noticed there’s always a “but”), if it’s a philosophy how do you define it? How does it have permanence, rather than merely becoming a trite idea like create value?”

This is my answer.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing

5 Keys to The Effective Use of Technology

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Mar 13, 2018 10:00:00 AM

hire-technologyLast week I was talking with Jess, our Director of Operations, about the inordinate impact that technology has had on the sales and marketing function. I told her about my first “CRM.” As a new hire with Alamo Rent-A-Car, I was assigned 624 travel agencies in my territory. A couple days after I started, I got a thick envelope with 104 pages of cards (there were 6 cards per page) printed on a dot matrix printer. I separated my cards, placed them into a file box and went to work.

Sales and marketing technology (or, the growth stack) has moved from being a complement to the work that needs to be done, to being at the core of virtually everything that happens.

The Role of Technology in Sales & Marketing

Consider the following:

  • The average company is spending almost $5,000/sales rep/year on sales technology. (source: Gartner CEB)
  • The Marketing Technology Ecosystem had just 120 names when it started in 2011. Today, there are more than 5,000 technology alternatives (and growing). (source: ChiefMarTec)
  • Investment in sales technology over the last two years tops $10 billion. (source: VentureBeat)

What’s clear is the mushrooming growth and impact of technology in demand generation and sales. Equally clear is that despite all of these investments, users are not seeing the returns they expected.

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Topics: Marketing, Sales, Technology Stack

3 Processes You Must Absolutely Master Now to Grow Revenue

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Mar 9, 2018 12:00:00 PM

While I’ve never been a principal in a manufacturing business, I’ve always envied the predictability, control and ability optimize that’s inherent in modern manufacturing processes. For years I’ve only been able to leave it at envy because conventional wisdom dictates that marketing, lead generation and sales can never operate with such precision.

I’m sure if we went back to the days when some caveman was carving widgets from stone many "thought-leaders" exclaimed that widget making was an art as well, but today we know better.

Today I find myself (and our teams) using modern manufacturing as the metaphor to design customer & revenue acquisition processes. When you view sales and marketing through the lens of manufacturing and supply chains, you’ll quickly see that the best way of looking at it isn’t as one manufacturing process, but instead, multiple processes that take raw materials through numerous assembly lines; with each line creating value and enhancing output.

customer-revenue-acquisition-process

There are significant benefits when sales and marketing organizations view their approaches through this same lens. If you’re focused on accelerating your organization’s growth here are the three “manufacturing,” or acquisition processes you must master:

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Is the Sales Development Process Still a Strong Strategy for Sales Growth?

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 27, 2018 11:00:00 AM

imagine-blog-sales-strategyOver the last decade, the hottest trend for fast-growth sales organizations is the birth and dominant role of sales development teams to accelerate lead generation and the creation of qualified opportunities. Even as recently as five-years ago, sales development was still being adopted by only the most forward-leaning companies. Today, sales development is de rigueur. If you're a company that's committed to serious growth, a sales development function is pretty much table stakes.

In our own way, we've contributed to this reality. In 2015, I spoke at Inbound sharing how sales development was not only a complement to Inbound Marketing, it was necessary to successful execution. Back then (if two and a half years ago can be considered "back then") my topic was controversial with many people arguing against it. Today if I were to present such a topic I'd be lucky if anyone other than a member of my team was present for the session. 

I talk with executives every day about growth. I see how the strategy how gets implemented today. While there is a tremendous amount of content available on sales development (with more coming every day), one question doesn't seem to be asked: is it still a viable strategy?

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Topics: Sales Development, Playbooks, Sales Enablement

[Video] The 7 Reasons You Need a Playbook & 5 Reasons Why they Fail

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 23, 2018 3:00:00 PM

sales-playbook-webinarEarlier this week we held a webinar highlighting both the importance of playbooks in generating predictable, sustainable and scalable results and the seven components that must be present in a sales playbook if it is going to be effective.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen more companies paying attention to the idea of playbooks, for good reason. Companies with effective playbooks see:
(source: Sales Enablement Study Conducted by The Aberdeen Group)

  • Higher velocity and quality of lead generation
  • Greater team and rep attainment of sales quotas
  • Higher win rates
  • Shorter shorter sales cycle times

Yet, despite their importance and the time (and money) companies invest in developing playbooks, most of them never lead to stronger results. In this excerpt from the webinar, we share the problems a sales playbook solves and the five reasons they fail.

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Topics: Performance, Playbooks

Has the Time Come to Ungate Your Best Content?

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 15, 2018 2:00:00 PM

GateorUngateLPAs the the great marketing strategist, William Shakespeare, said, “To gate or ungate your best content; that is the question?”

Over the last three years, there's been a growing roar questioning the wisdom behind one of today’s central practices for lead generation. An ever-increasing group of marketing and lead generation leaders are recommending that companies stop putting valuable content behind registration gates.

Drift, a martech provider focused on chat applications, and founded by former HubSpot Chief Product Officer David Cancel, was the first to call out the wisdom surrounding forms with the launch of the “No Forms” marketing campaign and positioning. Over the last year, HubSpot itself has questioned the use of forms as they’ve started talking about the use of “pillar content” and the impact it has on reach and search engine optimization (SEO). Over the last several months, more and more companies have “jumped on the bandwagon.”

The debate around forms vs. no forms is reminiscent of the Mac vs. PC debates of a decade ago, whereby otherwise intelligent and reasonable people seem to lose all rationale balance to advocate their position. Over the last six months, the call to eliminate forms continues to move more into the mainstream, and I see more sales & marketing advisors capitulating on the topic with little to no data to back up their conclusions. One prospect summed up where we find ourselves today when he asked me, “Doug, I haven’t even started using gated content and now I feel like I need to change before I start.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an important and valid question; one that should be at the top of the decision tree for any company executing a lead generation, inbound or content marketing program.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Demand Generation

What Aviation Can Teach Any Growth Executive About Acquiring Customers

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 8, 2018 4:30:00 PM

lift-growthGrowing revenue is difficult, complex work. Fraught with uncertainties, lack of information and changing market dynamics means that those who are good at growing businesses are always managing trade-offs in the decisions they make.

Charting your roadmap is difficult as well. There’s no shortage of “thought leaders” making grand claims that “this is the way to do it.” Of course most of these claims are made by someone that has a vested interest in what you do.

Making sense of all of the conflicting information, insights and “best practices” is often the biggest challenge facing growth executives. This is why I’m a fan of science. Science, done properly, is always a pursuit for the truth. When you find a truth, you’ll see that the principles apply to a variety of scenarios - even sales and marketing.

This topic came up recently on a podcast episode where I talked about my recent post on why hiring salespeople is not a smart strategy to stimulate growth. Needles to say, the post is a bit controversial. Anyway, in the podcast I talk about the principle of lift, the physics that make air flight possible and how this lesson applies to growing your business. I thought you would enjoy the excerpt:

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Topics: Lead Generation, Sales Development, Performance, Demand Generation

To Build an Effective Playbook You Must Know What Game You're Playing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 2, 2018 12:30:00 PM

To Build an Effective Playbook You Must Know What Game You're PlayingI admit that I spend far too much time on social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn. I can’t help it. There’s just so much great information and content available!

On the one hand, the access to insights, knowledge and even detailed process is extraordinarily valuable...but it’s also exceptionally dangerous. The reason is that the majority of organizations sharing valuable information have this in common:

  • They’re sharing what works for them.
  • They’ve got an interest in influencing you to see the world the way they do.

Now, neither of these things are bad, but they should put up a caution light to marketers, sales reps and executives committed to improvement and growth (personal and business). A quick review of my just my Twitter stream right now highlights the conflicting approaches being advocated. Here’s some of what I’m seeing:

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Topics: Sales Development, Demand Generation

What is an Investment Mindset & Why it’s Crucial if You’re Serious About Revenue Growth

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 30, 2018 5:15:00 PM

What is an Investment Mindset & Why it’s Crucial if You’re Serious About Revenue GrowthEarly last year (2017) I had the privilege to participate in a series of interviews that HubSpot Academy professor Kyle Jepson was conducting to create what is now a certification course on Sales Enablement. If you haven’t seen the courses, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s probably HubSpot’s best program (and I’m not saying that just because I’m featured).

As with all interviews like this, some of the material gets used and a lot doesn’t. One of the conversations I had with Kyle that was used in the training was around a concept I call investment mindset vs. income mindset. I talk about this concept a lot with the clients we work with (it’s actually a key component of our ideal client profile). I haven’t had the opportunity to share these thoughts with the public and I thought this segment did a great job of highlighting what investment mindset is, and more importantly, why it matters.

Enjoy the video (you’ll see a transcription below).

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