The Three Horizons: An Approach for SMB's to Transform Innovation Into A Competitive Advantage

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 12, 2018 3:07:10 PM


The following is an excerpt from The Secret to Strong Revenue Growth, Part 2

What grade would you give your company on your growth efforts? Think about it and give an honest answer.

Did you give yourself a B or higher? Most people I talk to do.

And in some cases, that grade is deserved--but most of the time, it’s not.

Why? Your business is probably doing pretty well right now. Most businesses are, for a number of reasons. After all:

  • We’re in an economy as strong as any in our lifetime.

  • Technology is enabling us to easily and inexpensively do things we could have only dreamed of less than a decade ago.

  • The primary theme of HubSpot’s annual gathering of the world’s best growth executives (Inbound) was #GrowBetter, which indicates most companies are booming.

But now grade yourself compared to your peer companies, which are likely also booming. You’ll find that most companies are not outperforming the average cohort. In short, it’s easy to think you’re doing better than average because you’re doing well.

So what steps can you take to make sure that you’re taking advantage of an economic boom by successfully innovating--but also minimize your risks?

There is a roadmap. Companies that successfully manifest the power of innovation tend to view the world through three time horizons--and you can do the same.

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Topics: Performance, Strategic Planning

The Real Buyer's Journey, Part 2: Manufacturing Revenue

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 19, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Manufacturing Revenue Blog-2Welcome to part two of our series on understanding the real buyer’s journey. In the first session, I shared the findings of our in-depth analysis of how buyers progress through their journey and take actions that lead to buying. In this session I'm focused on the other side of the equation, how sellers can align with buyers to increase the likelihood of generating engagement, entering conversations, and yes, successfully making sales.

The approach I share today is based on decades of direct experience combined with in-depth analysis, interviews, and studies. My promise is that if you take this approach, you'll gain the following five benefits:

  • You'll be able to design and execute strong customer acquisition programs much more easily.

  • You'll gain greater predictability and repeatability in your customer acquisition efforts, and therefore

  • You’ll gain greater scalability.

  • You'll dramatically increase the results from the marketing and sales efforts that you are taking.

  • You'll lower your overall costs for acquisition (CAC) and position yourself for an extraordinarily strong customer success program and your team will be happier and healthier.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Demand Generation, Marketing, Sales

Understanding The Real Buyer's Journey

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 6, 2018 2:00:00 PM


Today I want to talk to you about a topic that's crucially important to your customer acquisition, demand generation and sales and marketing strategies. That topic is the buyer's journey, the real buyer's journey.

Over the last 15 months, we’ve reviewed thousands of full cycle buy-sell interactions, advised, debriefed, discussed, and interviewed hundreds of sellers and buyers. We asked them what they expected would happen and we analyzed what actually happened. We reviewed reams of data, metrics, and analytics to identify what was happening, why it was happening (and to find out if what was happening even mattered). We also studied the latest research on the human brain, behavioral economics, and psychology.

We discovered, first and foremost, that just about everything that’s been/being taught about the buyer's journey, not to mention just about every description or visual of the buyer's journey, is wrong. This causes sellers and marketers to become increasingly out of alignment with buyers despite their efforts to do the right things.

In the past, this misalignment wasn’t as much of a problem because the seller could force the buyer into that journey, but as buyers have gained greater access to information and more power, that misalignment is big—and it's getting bigger every day.


Buying is the combination of two different human activities—learning and deciding. When we made that discovery, we realized that when you look at it through this lens, we already know a lot about how humans learn, including how they take that learning and apply it to make decisions and take actions. It's called the knowledge funnel.

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4 Rules to Succeed With Conversational Marketing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Oct 16, 2018 1:00:00 PM

conversational-marketingI often caution peers of mine to be careful about the echo chamber in which we often find ourselves. When they ask for examples, conversational marketing is the first thing that comes to mind.

About 1/3rd of the regular readers of this blog probably think of conversational marketing as the hottest trend in sales and marketing. Another 1/3rd have likely never heard of it and the middle third have some familiarity with it but aren’t entirely sure what it is or how it applies to them.

Regardless of which third you are, you must recognize that the changes in buyer behavior that accelerated more than a decade ago continue to evolve. Sellers who don’t adjust their tactics to stay ahead of (or at least aligned with) buyers will see decaying results.

There are a few definitions for conversational marketing. I’ve found that the most useful definition comes from combining two of the most popular (according to Google search) definitions. Conversational marketing or conversation marketing is a feedback-oriented, one-to-one approach to marketing that companies use to generate engagement, learn about their customers, and shorten their sales cycle by creating a more human engagement/buying experience. While the growth of live chat and chatbot tools has fueled the increased popularity of conversational tactics, conversational marketing is much more than chat and bots.

The goal of this post is not to teach you the specific tactics or approaches. There are already three great resources for this (and I recommend all of them). Drift has built their Conversational Marketing University, HubSpot has added a strong program on conversational marketing to their academy, and my friend and fellow agency owner Remington Begg provides the most comprehensive set of tutorials, training videos, and tactics on the real-world implementation of conversational marketing that I’ve seen.

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Topics: Demand Generation

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, Demand Generation, Sales Enablement

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 Training/Coaching, Sales

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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