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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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HubSpot Sales Pro Sales Enablement Tool Review

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 25, 2018 2:00:00 PM

hubspotsalesad

Over the last three years, HubSpot has continued their commitment to the sales stack, while reinforcing their core marketing product. For those considering building out and enhancing your sales tech stack, here is my review of HubSpot’s new Sales Professional tool.

[NOTE: To future readers, this review was created nearly three months after its late 2017 rollout, so things will certainly change going forward.]

The role of technology continues to grow its importance in the daily lives of salespeople and executives. Gartner CEB recently shared that companies are spending almost $5,000 more per sales rep, per year on sales enablement technology. The strong use of technology is increasingly becoming a “ticket to play,” for sales organizations.

The launch of an enhanced version of HubSpot’s sales enablement app Sales Professional was among the big product announcements at Inbound17. As HubSpot’s headline indicates, the promise is big.

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Topics: Sales Development, Technology Stack

7 Reasons Hiring Salespeople is the Wrong First Step for Faster Growth

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 23, 2018 3:30:00 PM

7 Reasons Hiring Salespeople is the Wrong First Step for Faster GrowthI see it time and time again. A company, seeking to accelerate revenue growth and customer acquisition, makes the obvious decision to hire more salespeople. Every time (for purposes of accuracy, 95% of the time) I have the same reaction (as I bring my hands to my head in dismay):

NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There’s a simple acid test that virtually any small or mid-market organization can use to determine if the time has come to hire salespeople. The acid test is “Do we have more high quality, right-fit leads than our existing sales team can manage?”

If the answer isn’t a definitive “YES!!,” then DON’T. HIRE. SALESPEOPLE. (YET).

I realize this advice is counter-intuitive. I understand that your board, your investors, hell, even your CEO (if she’s not the one reading this) are not going to like this take. I get that your VP of Sales quantifies his importance and domain by headcount (if some is good, more must be better). Your peers will look at you like you’re crazy, but I challenge you to think about this:

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Topics: Sales Development, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation, Sales Cycle

5 Ways Salespeople Can Put People into the Top of the Marketing Funnel

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 12, 2018 10:00:00 AM

salespeople-1.pngI share a lot on the topic of sales and marketing alignment, but I’m convinced that the successful organizations of tomorrow will move beyond merely aligning sales and marketing, a topic I’ll be highlighting in The 3 Places Where Exceptional Marketing Is The Difference Between Making The Sale...or Not webinar later this month.

To succeed in today’s noisy world, the terms “marketing and “sales are losing the valuable meaning behind their distinctions. These thoughts have led to a lot of work on our part focused on the increasing sales role that marketing must pick up in even the most complex B2B sales situations.

Earlier this week, I had a brief Twitter conversation with Pete Caputa, CEO of Databox. Pete provoked my thinking (as he always does) when he shared a question he’d been pondering for some time, which was “What can salespeople do to get people into the top of the marketing funnel?” I thought it was a great question, and a valuable consideration that I have not written about...until now.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Demand Generation, Sales

7 Reasons Your Sales & Marketing Organization Doesn't Need A Playbook

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 4, 2018 11:00:00 AM

7-reasons-dont-need-playbook.jpgThe Imagine team has invested quite a bit of time and energy into mastering the design, development and implementation of playbooks that guide all facets of the customer and revenue acquisition, and retention process. However, we understand that not every company (or executive) feels the "juice is worth the squeeze.” You and your company might be one of the few who don’t need to spend time developing and using a playbook. Do any of these qualities describe you?

Rehiring Salespeople (and Marketers) is Fun for You

The mis-hire rate for salespeople is astronomical and the mis-hire rate for marketers is growing. Playbooks bring help you define the qualities of the talent needed, create a repeatable hiring process, and build a “genius in the system.” This means you get:

  • an increased talent pool capable of doing the job
  • higher likelihood of employee success
  • shortened ramp-up time

But, hiring new sales and marketing people means you have an endless stream of new people to meet. We know some people who use the salespeople churn process to get dates. We don’t judge.

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy