The Lie That Digital & Inbound Marketing Keeps Telling

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Oct 11, 2018 8:00:00 PM

b2b-sales-myths-vs-factsI remember the datapoint that made me take notice of (at the time) this new thing called “inbound marketing.” Inbound Marketing generates 54% more lead volume at 61% lower cost than outbound marketing. When presented that data, who could argue that shifting your resources from outbound to inbound was the right thing to do?

While I am a (HUGE) proponent of inbound, there are two key fallacies lies with this data.

  1. The first and less damaging lie is based on how a lead is defined.(and it's contained in the very context of the claim that got my attention). An inbound lead is anyone who registers or fills out a form on a website, with no attention paid to the quality or propensity to buy associated with a lead. The definition of an outbound lead (though it varies depends on who you talk to) has a much higher threshold.

    This type of apples to tables comparison is akin to someone making the claim that they can generate a higher volume of leads at a lower cost than someone else can generate sales qualified leads. It's a meaningless claim.

  2. The bigger and more damaging lie (that is still commonly perpetrated by technology and service providers) is caused by treating the lead-to-revenue cycle as a linear equation (generate more leads and you’ll generate more sales in equal proportion) rather than as the more complicated equation that it is.

The rationale further infers that if you generate more leads from inbound methodologies, you’ll lower your cost of customer acquisition even as your growth rate increases and you hit scale. Anyone who has successfully executed high-growth inbound marketing at scale has the financial statements that will illustrate just how big a lie this is.

Let me explain, using one of the most common tools that inbound marketing agencies and advisors use to demonstrate the ROI of working with them.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Demand Generation

5 Strategies to Reverse Your Sales Productivity Problem

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Oct 5, 2018 10:00:00 AM

sales-productivityThis post originally appeared on HubSpot's Sales Blog.

For more than 30 years (yikes!), I’ve been directly involved in selling, managing, and leading salespeople, and providing advisory services to sales organizations. There are two trends that have persisted:

  • The increased prominence and investment in sales technology and sales force automation
  • The consistent decrease in sales rep productivity, or the time salespeople actually spend selling

Recent research from The Aberdeen Group and Docurated indicate good salespeople today spend less than a third of their time selling, while increasingly more time is spent managing various administrative tasks surrounding sales and demand generation.

Whether you’re a salesperson, sales executive or other investor or stakeholder in a growing organization, I’m certain I don’t need to tell you the direct and collateral damage done when salespeople aren’t selling.

Before sharing the key to increasing sales productivity, let’s look at the three root causes for the problem sales organizations have dealt with for decades:

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Topics: Sales Enablement

5 Rules to Effective Breakup Emails

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Sep 27, 2018 1:00:00 PM

breakup-emailsIf you’re in sales, there are two things you can count on:

  • You’re going to rely on email as a core communication tool
  • Prospects are going to go dark on you

It’s a particularly frustrating experience when prospects seemingly disappear. Part of the reason for this is that there’s a bit of a time warp from the perspective of a sales rep vs. a prospect/buyer. I advise people to realize that to a sales rep, every day feels like a week, but to a buyer, every week feels like a day.

Take a situation where a prospect who has promised to respond has “gone dark” for two weeks. To the rep, this feels like they’ve disappeared for almost ten weeks. To the buyer, they feel like they’ve missed their promised date by two days.

While that time warp certainly varies and there’s no science behind it, it illustrates the ambiguity that exists. If a salesperson acts too aggressively or desperately, they could create the very problem they’re worried about avoiding. Wait too long, and the prospect could easily forget about things or have their attention diverted to some new issue. (Time kills all deals.)

I sell as only a part of my overall responsibilities here at Imagine, and I deal with at least one of these situations every week. Full-time sales reps may deal with this every day.

This is where the breakup email comes in.

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Topics: Sales Development, Sales Enablement, Demand Generation

The Most Comprehensive Review of HubSpot Sales Enterprise

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Sep 24, 2018 7:00:00 PM

HubSpot-SalesThe biggest news among the product announcements made by HubSpot at Inbound 2018 was the addition of an Enterprise level product for the HubSpot Sales tool. Over the last four years, HubSpot has been invested more time, energy, focus and money to make their sales product the equivalent (for both revenue and capability) of their core marketing product.

Sales technology is gaining more and more momentum, as growth-focused companies are investing in their capabilities to enhance sales performance, and to do for sales much of what marketing automation has done for lead generation and marketing efforts.

There is no question that sales needs a transformation when you consider the following:

  • Customer acquisition costs continue to increase at faster rates than revenue growth rates do
  • The percentage of sales reps that consistently hit quotas continues its multi-decade trend of decline
  • The same is true for the percentage of time sales reps are spending actually selling (of course, this trend may be the cause of the first two)

HubSpot’s announcements about their sales products not only reiterates their continued commitment to addressing the sales side, it also is a clear indication that HubSpot is aiming to become indispensable for larger companies and larger sales teams.

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Topics: Technology Stack

Sales Lessons From Better Call Saul

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Sep 17, 2018 6:00:00 PM

better-call-saulLast week as I was recovering from an amazing Inbound 2018 conference, I sat back on my couch, turned on the digital recorder and started the episode of Better Call Saul that I missed while traveling to Boston.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm about as big a fan of Breaking Bad as there is, so if I can't get me any new stories about Walter White, then the transformation of Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman (it's all good, man) is the next best thing.

So I sat back, ready to escape into Jimmy's world, forgetting (for an hour) all of the crazy sales and marketing strategies running through my head. Little did I know, that the creators of Saul were about to share one of the most important, and difficult to accept, sales lessons out there.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Training/Coaching

Salesforce CRM + HubSpot CRM: Two Great CRMs That (Could) Go Great Together

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Sep 14, 2018 12:00:00 PM

two-great-thingsIf you’re at all like me the mere thought of running two CRMs simultaneously makes about as much sense as running Windows on a Mac. I have to admit that there’s a part of me that’s a bit shocked at myself for writing this post.

The central reason against running two CRMs is that it requires maintaining (and synchronizing) two different databases, which inherently increases the complexity and friction associated with managing your operations. Yet today, if you’re running Salesforce, the likelihood is that you are also running at least a marketing automation system along with it. If that’s the case (and even if it’s Pardot, which is owned by Salesforce) that you’re running a two-database solution anyways.

When you realize this is the case, you begin looking at the “duplicate” CRM issue very differently.

Salesforce and HubSpot are great CRMs when they’re used for the primary purpose they were designed for. They’re average when you use them outside of their core design. What’s more, the strengths of Salesforce match up to HubSpot CRM’s weaknesses, and vice versa. When I advise clients on their tech stack, I often joke that the perfect CRM for them is one part Salesforce and one part HubSpot CRM.

Increasingly, as we’ve been building out more automation systems to address issues around sales rep productivity, I find myself pondering this solution seriously. Let’s take a look at why this combination may, in fact, solve the sales productivity riddle that has plagued sales teams for more than 30 years.

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7 Key Takeaways From Inbound 2018

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Sep 11, 2018 1:00:00 PM

inbound-2018Another year…another Inbound--the largest marketing conference in the world. As the conference was nearing its end, I came across HubSpot’s CEO, Brian Halligan. HubSpot hosts this “Woodstock for Marketers,” and as the host, he asked me what I thought of this year’s Inbound. I told him, “As always, it’s been great. The interesting thing is that each year I think I cover fewer square feet of the conference, while taking more steps.”

After 95,000 steps and dozens of deep conversations with martech & marketing agency executives, clients, prospects and general attendees, I came away with renewed energy. (Candidly, I came away exhausted, but after a weekend of recovery the renewal set in).

If you weren’t able to make it to Inbound this year, and even if you were, here are my seven biggest takeaways:

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Topics: Inbound Marketing

What Is Lead Activation

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 24, 2018 2:00:00 PM

activationAfter a decade of dominance, people are beginning to doubt—seriously doubt—the validity of demand generation. In the last three weeks alone, I’ve had more than eight conversations with prospects who flat-out proclaimed “We’re not interested in demand generation; that’s for low-price consumer commodity products. We sell high-priced, complex [fill in the blank] solutions. We need something more sophisticated.”

Despite the last five years, when lead generation has exploded, revenue and customer acquisition growth has actually declined per dollar invested/spent on growth initiatives, leading to a crisis of confidence for a core component of the modern revenue growth playbook.

What Is Lead Activation

Lead Activation is the process of generating active engagement from buyer personas at companies that meet your ideal client profile, before they’ve reached the point of buying intent. The Lead Activation Process purposefully advances engagement and increases their probability of becoming a high-quality sales opportunity.

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Topics: Lead Activation, Lead Nurturing, Lead Generation, Sales Enablement

5 Tips for Making a Strong First Connection with a Lead/Prospect

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 10, 2018 3:00:00 PM

connect-calls-3More money than ever is spent on the technology, people and process to enable organizations to generate higher volumes of sales qualified leads at greater velocities. Research from Gartner CEB indicates that these investments aren’t working out too well. They found that, on average, companies are spending nearly $5,000 per rep more on technology alone, and they’re seeing their conversion rates drop almost 12 percent.

The growing tech stack, combined with maturing lead and demand generation tactics, have given sales reps an apparent playground. Gone are the days of not having enough people to talk with (or, at least, they should be). Despite all the investments being made to “reduce friction for buyers” and more activity, companies are still suffering from a dearth of qualified and engaged prospects willingly entering predictable sales processes.

Through our work over the last several years, I’ve identified two key causes for this problem.

  1. This first is likely not new to you, as it’s been highlighted, ad nauseam, over the last half-decade. Buyers have changed how they engage and sellers are not stepping up.
  2. The second doesn’t get anywhere near the attention, but may be just as big. The sales process has become, well, far too process stringent. This is not a slam on the relevancy and importance of defined and documented sales processes, but, rather, an indictment of how they’re being implemented and executed.

I’ve seen this from both sides of the table—advising and coaching sales reps and dealing with sales reps as a prospect and customer. The first call is painful. You would think that all of the attention and money that’s been spent on building sales development teams and designing prospecting processes, reps would have mastered the first call.

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Topics: Sales, Playbooks, Sales Training/Coaching

The Critical Role of Intent in Demand Generation, Sales and Marketing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 12, 2018 1:30:00 PM

intent-video-splash-screenWe've been doing a lot of research over the last year into a critical part of the buying process that seems to get very little attention in the design and execution of demand generation: sales and marketing efforts. Anyone who has ever been involved in attracting or acquiring new customers knows that buyer intent is an important ingredient in the customer acquisition recipe.

Intent varies by person, by market and/or by what you're selling. There are any number of factors that are going to impact when and where intent occurs, but somewhere along the buyer’s journey, buyer intent hits a critical point. Intent, initially, does not necessarily relate directly to buying from any particular vendor. Buyer intent refers to the decision that some level of action needs to take place. If you think about the last major purchase or even decision that you made, you can quickly and easily identify that point that separates pre-intent actions from post-intent ones.

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Topics: Sales, Marketing, Demand Generation, Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Performance, Sales Enablement