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The Demand Creator Blog

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Introducing the Most Important Metric in Sales: Sales Velocity

sales-velocityOn February 1, 2015, in Super Bowl 49, Seattle Seahawks head coach Peter Carroll made a fateful decision that has been recorded by just about everyone (who’s not a Patriots fan) who has a comment on it as not only a bad decision, but possibly the worst decision in the history of sport, or even in the history of decisions. But, was it actually a bad decision.

The Seahawks were trailing the New England Patriots 28-24 with 24 seconds left in the game. The Seahawks had the ball on the Patriots one-yard line on second down, with one of the league’s top rushers, Marshawn Lynch, in the backfield. 

Carroll called a pass, and the rest is history. Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted the pass, and the Patriots won the Super Bowl, preventing the Seahawks from repeating as champions. Carroll has been lambasted for the decision, often referred to as the worst decision ever made in the history of sports. Yet, the reality is the decision was quite good given the context of the situation and the probability of outcomes. (Don’t argue, it was a good decision and if you still believe it’s bad, read Annie Duke’s book Thinking In Bets to understand why it's not.) 

The reaction to Carroll’s decision is a perfect example of a common term used among professional poker players - resulting. Resulting refers to the action when a poker player creates too tight a relationship between the quality of the outcome of decisions or actions that are taken vs. the quality of the decision, at the time the decision is made. In essence, resulting is the act of judging every decision by looking in a rearview mirror.

The world of sales has a big resulting problem that it must address to address a number of vulnerabilities that are dragging on business performance.

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HubSpot Utilization Research Uncovers Important Areas to Focus On

Thumbnail-HS-Research-FindingsCompanies are spending more money than ever before on technology applications (and that doesn’t even account for the “free” software that’s been installed). Our Martech Advisory Services group has had a front-row seat from multiple perspectives:

  • Designing, building and maintaining our tech stack
  • Advising companies on the design of their tech stack
  • Deep implementation with a variety of companies to help them drive greater sales velocity

Over the last three years, we’ve seen an explosion in both the choices and active demand for Martech. Three years ago we had to “push” the tech utilization conversation to our clients. We had to demonstrate the business for considering the use of new technology before we could talk about anything specific. Today, we’re getting “pulled” into the conversation.

On one hand, this is good news (at least for us). Businesses, more than ever, understand the need to optimize and accelerate their processes and they understand that new technology is often required to do so.

On the other hand, we started to see that there was some bad news about this as well. Increasingly, organizations viewed technology as “the” solution to a problem. What’s more, in the tech stack analysis we did, we often saw that companies had bigger stacks than ever and were often not utilizing the existing apps they had appropriately and/or were considering new apps to solve problems that their existing tools could solve if they were using them better.

These observations led to a growing hypothesis we wanted to test. The hypothesis is that while there is growing (exploding) demand for new technology, most companies would be better served by improving how they’re implementing their existing tech stacks and processes before adding new tech.

To test this hypothesis we decided to look at how mid-market companies are utilizing a core part of any growth tech stack - their marketing automation platform. So, over the last two months we conducted a fairly in-depth research project. 

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Using Quizzes to Generate Leads and Increase Engagement

Quiz TimeEveryone creates content. If I had to guess, I’d say you’ve most likely created at least one piece of content today. Why? Because you want to create engagement. In fact, a primary objective of content is to create engagement. Yet, most content is either unidirectional (blogs, web pages, podcasts, videos, etc.) or very high effort/high cost (social media). This kind of content gets looked at once, maybe twice and then never seen again. You don’t want to bore your audience with the same kind of content over and over. Engagement is better when you can make it participative rather than passive. 

Quizzes are a great way to switch how people engage with your product. They’re often a relatively low-effort way to build participation and enhance engagement (and generate new leads). This form of content is less about reading and watching and more about impact and connection. It means more when people can do things and interact. Quizzes engage more. Your audience is able to engage more of their brain. Sometimes that means it’s more enjoyable, sometimes more memorable, and sometimes it just plants a better seed that will influence your audience at a later time.

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Just Say No To Shitty Lead Nurturing

Just_Say_No_To_Shitty_Lead_NurturingWelcome to this edition of Just Say No to Shitty Sales & Marketing; today I’m focused on lead nurturing. No tactic that is more consistently used and important through the entire customer acquisition and success process than email. 

Email is a critical component and in many ways, it's the only channel that we truly, fully own to create a one-to-one communication mechanism. Your ability to master email in general and lead nurturing specifically has a tremendous impact on your ability to grow consistently and to grow smart. But why does so much lead nurturing suck? You know what I'm talking about. You get the same “nurturing” emails that I get and well, the nurturing is anything but, well, nurturing. 

What is the purpose of lead nurturing? Why is lead nurturing so important? The numbers are going to speak for themselves. Companies that do lead nurturing well enjoy significant enhancements in the results that they get. But, you need to understand that just because you do lead nurturing, or maybe what I should say is just because you call something lead nurturing, doesn't mean that it's gonna drive these types of results:

  • Leads who are effectively nurtured generate 20% more sales opportunities than those that aren't effective. 
  • Lead nurturing generates 50% more sales-ready leads.
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases. 
  • Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue acquisition than just broadcast emails. 
  • 82% of prospects say lead nurturing that was targeted and specific to them influenced their ability to make decisions. 

Effective lead nurturing drives better results. There’s no question about it. When you consider that 75% or more of the leads that we generate are not ready to buy it quickly becomes clear why lead nurturing is so important.

BUT. IT’S. NOT. WORKING. It's like we’ve taken “boiler room” come out of the boiler room. Our entire approach to customer acquisition has become so flash in the pan. It’s like if you're not ready to buy then sellers don't have time for you in their approaches. 

I know how hard it is to generate the engagement of a lead/prospect that fits your ideal client profile. I know how hard it is from the perspective of the seller or the marketer. I also know how it feels from the perspective of the buyer and I'll speak for myself. 

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What Hansel & Gretel Can Teach Sales & Marketing Executives About Content Strategy

breadcrumbsIn 2010, we made a critical decision at Imagine. We decided that we needed to move beyond our focus on sales and support the entire customer acquisition & success process. This led to the creation of lead generation services, which led to becoming a HubSpot partner, enabling our clients to successfully implement inbound and content marketing.

I don’t often share the (real) reason that we made this shift. I remember the culminating event as if it were yesterday. I was debriefing with one of my sales coaches about the progress with a customer, and let’s just say that the progress wasn’t very good. 

The sales team we were working with wasn’t embracing the approaches we were hired to implement and was struggling overall. In the debrief, I was being informed of the obstacles and objections the sales team were confronting, and further, why those objections meant our approach wouldn’t work.

I have to admit that was one of the most frustrating days of my career. I thought to myself, “Why is this so damn hard for them? I’ve been selling for decades and I’ve never had these problems, and while - yeah, sure I’m good - I’m not so good that I’m immune from common obstacles and objections.

It was in that moment I was struck with a BFO - blinding flash of the obvious. I realized the one element that I’ve always had everywhere I’ve ever sold (or led sales teams) that this team did not have. That element was content. I’d always had content to support my efforts because I’d always created content if the content I wanted wasn’t already there.

I realize this observation from today’s perspective isn’t so enlightening. Today, content is a given. The problem is that as content has proliferated, its impact has decreased (which has further fueled the proliferation of content). A lot of people claim that the reason for this is that quality decreased. While I can’t argue with that observation, I’m certain that’s not the cause.

The cause is that people are doing content wrong.

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The 3 Jobs Content Must Perform + Your Guide to Giving Your Content A Performance Review

Rain DelayI had the entire client services team together this week for two days. (Check out the awesome picture of the rain delay/postponement we all enjoyed Tuesday night.)

As we worked through the agenda for our get-together I posed a question to each person on the team. Here’s what I asked, “The CEO of one of our clients calls you up directly and asks you, ‘How are we doing with content?’ How do you answer their question?”

We then proceeded to have a conversation that I’m certain is remarkably similar to conversations that take place weekly at growth advisories and agencies like Imagine and within marketing and demand generation teams at most companies. Each person answered the question with a noticeable connection to their area of expertise. There were a lot of “it depends” and a variety of data points like traffic, growth, conversion, bounce rates, time on page, and more.

Like I said, the same conversation that takes place everywhere. The same conversation that has led to the exponential increase in content that has caused a precipitous increase in lead and customer acquisition costs, with little to no impact on outcomes. Many advisors argue, with some legitimacy, that content marketing in general and inbound marketing specifically is no longer worth the cost and effort.

I was not satisfied with these answers. They give no one insight and they end up creating a lot of noise. I’m a big fan of finding the signal and I believe that if you measure something, you best be able to identify that signal and create some scoring mechanism to guide you to where you want to go. So we proceeded with the conversation.

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5 Elements of a Strong Conversion Page

Conversion Page Infographic-1-1-1We don’t have to tell you your ability to convert web traffic into qualified leads is a crucially important component of any demand generation effort. Yet, far too often we see that companies who have invested in marketing automation and in the creation of relevant content fail to pay proper attention to key conversion pages.

Conversion pages are those “critical few” pages whose primary purpose is to create a specific action. That action could be downloading a white paper, initiating a chat, requesting a demo, registering for a webinar, etc. The last thing you want is for your customer to land on your page and be confused and leave or take the wrong action. That wouldn’t only cause stress on them, but it would also cause stress on you. 

In the world of modern demand generation (and to be really, really trite) the only constant is change. However, despite the range and rate of change, there are still some things that are as true today as they were several years ago. People are still people, and if you want to capitalize on the hard work you’ve put into your content marketing, you’ll want to be sure you're following these five success factors of a conversion page. 

While there are dozens (or hundreds) of tips that can help you optimize performance, these five factors are the core attributes of performance. 

The Five Elements of a Strong Conversion Page

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The Biggest Difference Between Companies That Sustain Smart Growth & Those That Don't

successful-business-growth-strategyEarlier this week I hosted our latest Sales Genius Network webinar. The webinar focused on how companies can increase sales without increasing the size of the sales team. We’ve been researching the critical few inflection points that lead to successful customer acquisition and success processes and we’ve discovered that the vast majority of salespeople could produce 33% (or more) impact for their organizations, if their organization transformed their go-to-market strategy.

As part of the webinar I focused on what I’ve learned is the crucial difference between companies that succeed consistently and those companies who are just as good, but don’t experience the same level of success. Here's what I shared:



Video Transcript

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The Role of Content In An Account-Based Marketing Strategy

content-marketingFew things are as misunderstood as content. In many ways content, and by extension content marketing, experienced a rebirth with the creation and mainstreaming of Inbound Marketing and the growth of marketing automation. As an executive shared with me many years ago, “Don’t spend money on marketing automation if you don’t spend a multiple of that on the content to use with your automation.”

In an Inbound Marketing context, content is a critical linchpin for the dominant Inbound tactic - search engine optimization (SEO). Content, laced with keywords, enabled people to find you. The more (good) content you created the more traffic you gain and the more leads you’d generate (at least that’s what the theory says). In a world where SEO is important, identifying the most important role for content generation and utilization is pretty easy.

In our work with companies that work in more highly defined industries/verticals selling fairly large ACV solutions, we’ve noticed that their approach to content is still being driven by the same guideline and expectations. But, it’s not effective.
Here’s why:

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10 Elements of Effective Sales Emails

sales-emailsAs the old saying goes, “Emails...can’t live with them, can’t live without them.” (Okay, that’s not really a saying.) Despite the multiple, premature claims that “email is dead,” my experience and data from DMR show that the growth of email is not slowing down.

Email is, unquestionably, one of the most powerful tools in a salesperson or marketer’s toolkit. It is still a powerful 1:1 medium, giving the selling organization direct influence of what, where and when a message will be received.

It’s also one of the most challenging and dangerous tactics. The “inbox” is the most competitive place in the world. There’s a war between senders and recipients. As senders search for ways to get into the inbox, recipients are fighting to keep more email out (and the recipients are winning).

For more than 10 years I’ve been working with salespeople and marketers to improve the impact of their emails. I’ve also been studying those emails that work best and have the greatest impact.

Here are the 10 attributes that I’ve discovered have the greatest impact on the effectiveness of a sales email:  

1. Subject Line

A strong subject line is crucial to the likelihood of your sales email doing its job well. The "job" of the subject line is to stand out in the recipient's inbox and stimulate curiosity or relevance. Be sure your subject line answers the question "Why should I read this" in a strong, clear and concise manner. Strong subject lines are typically 7 - 12 words/35-70 characters.

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