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What it Means to be Data-Driven, How It’s Different from Metrics & How to Apply it

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 29, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Data-Imagine-ImageMy daughter is entering her senior year in high school. I have to admit that there are times where I stop and think how I wish I were in high school today. Now, I don’t have this wish for the common reasons you may be thinking.

You see, when I was in high school it wasn’t cool to obsess about things like data. But today, data is about the coolest thing in the world (well, except for maybe AI). Everyone is talking about data. Big data. Little data. Metadata.

Today, it seems, marketing and sales advisors pronounce their coolness by claiming to be data-driven. Everywhere I look, I see people claiming to be data-driven, but when I look at how they manage process and make decisions, it’s no different than how they did things a decade ago.

Sure, they may throw some numbers or vanity metrics at you, but the way they do it reminds me of how I used to describe statistics. Today, data is like a lamp post to a drunk - it’s used more for support than illumination.

Make no mistake. If you want to successfully grow a business today, you’d better be data-driven. I’m fond of Netscape founder Jim Barksdale’s philosophy: If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.

So, the first step to be data-driven is to understand what being data-driven means.

The first confusion is that there’s a difference between being goals- or metric-driven and being data-driven. There is probably no clearer illustration of the difference than using my favorite example: baseball.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Demand Generation, Performance, Data

New Research from SiriusDecisions is Bad News for Sales Teams - Here’s What to Do About it

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 26, 2018 2:00:00 PM

bad-news-for-sales-teamsA new research report from SiriusDecisions presents a pretty damning view on the state of sales today. The 2018 Global Chief Sales Officer Study surveyed the heads of sales from 250 companies covering a broad array of business, from small business through large multinational businesses.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Fewer than 50% of sales reps are hitting quota
  • At 70% of companies, fewer than 70% of sales reps are hitting quota
  • Marketing is contributing less than (a paltry) 25% to revenue
  • Sales cycles are getting longer for 64% of companies, with 27% seeing an increase of more than 30% in just the last year.
  • For the typical company, sales reps spend just 27% of their time on direct activities involved in selling to customer or prospects. Higher-growth companies reported their reps spent 53% more time selling (though I'd point out that’s still only? 41% of their time spent actually selling).

I’ve got to tell you, I had to read the report twice before I believed what I was seeing. The last five years have seen greater investments in customer acquisition and sales than ever before, yet these numbers indicate that nothing has improved.

Of course, I really shouldn’t have been surprised to see these numbers as I’ve got front row seats to this whole thing. While I caution people to be wary in reading too much in surveys, this report is another piece in a growing plethora of evidence that shows that selling organizations have still not made the necessary adjustments in their approaches to sustain and succeed.

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Topics: Sales Enablement, Performance, Demand Generation, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Development, Lead Generation

Conversations Don’t Happen by Accident: The 6 Strategies to Creating a Strong Chat Experience

Posted by Doug Davidoff

May 2, 2018 10:00:00 AM

CAPBot ChatYesterday, Drift announced the latest enhancement to their conversational marketing platform, called Leadbot 2.0. Leadbot 2.0 increases the power available to marketers and salespeople utilizing chat while also drastically improving the user interface and ease in building out strong chat experiences.

This news, combined with the leaps HubSpot has made with their soon-to-be-released update to their chat product, Messenger (I’ve had beta access to the product for the last month), means that the momentum behind Chat and Conversational Marketing isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.

And for good reason. I’ve always believed that the mantra of the modern demand generation executive is “Solve for the customer!” Done properly, chat is a powerful tool to empower both the seller and the buyer, enabling them to have meaningful conversations in the most effective and efficient way possible. I’ve made no secret that I don’t believe Chat means the end of other demand generation tactics, but the compelling use cases for Chat continues to increase every day.

However, Chat is by no means an easy or “quick fix” solution. It’s not as simple as throwing some code onto your site, assigning sales reps to manage it, and then waiting for the people to ask you if you will let them buy your product/service. Make no mistake, there are far more bad chat experiences than there are good ones.

Implementing chat requires a commitment of time, money, and a solid effort to develop the strategies, plumbing, and training to make it work. There’s no question it’s a great opportunity to create leverage and lower costs, if - IF - you do it right.

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Topics: Sales, Technology Stack, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Development

Why I Don’t Give My Head of Sales A Revenue/Sales Quota

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Apr 27, 2018 1:00:00 PM

No-Sales-QuotaMake the number! It’s probably the three words that dominate the thinking of salespeople and executives everywhere. I’ll admit that over my career I’ve literally had dreams--and nightmares--where making the number was the central theme. (Of course, whenever this happened, I knew it was probably time to take a week off).

Sales quotas (or revenue quotas) are a foundational element of the sales. For most, the only question to ask about quotas is “Where should the target revenue or new customer acquisition quota be set?” Questioning the need, appropriateness, or effectiveness of even setting quotas is sacrilegious in business circles.

But the time has come for those leading businesses into the future to admit that quotas aren’t working. Recent research from CSO shows that barely 50% of salespeople are meeting quota, a trend that has been steadily deteriorating. Anecdotally, many senior sales executives responsible for setting quotas adjust to this reality by setting artificially high quotas and putting more pressure on salespeople.

Earlier this week, I presented a webinar where I revealed some research that we just completed, along with ways to implement strategies that can double your pipeline in 90 days. In this session, I shared that the nature of sales continues to undergo rapid change. If selling is going to remain a viable strategy, leaders must rethink their fundamental assumptions about sales, how they allocate talent and resources towards the sales process, and how they assess and compensate performance.

At the beginning of this year, I determined it was time to take a lead in designing the sales model of the future. As a part of our 2018 sales plan, I eliminated the sales quota as a key metric for our VP Sales. Here's why.

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Topics: Sales Enablement, Sales, Sales Cycle, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Development

5 Steps to Design Your Pipeline to Shorten the Sales Cycle and Align Sales & Marketing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Apr 10, 2018 3:00:00 PM

Sales-PipelineIf any of these objectives are a high priority for you, read this post (if not, feel free to skip it):

  • Create predictability in your customer acquisition process
  • Shorten the ramp-up time for new salespeople to be successful
  • Transform marketing momentum into sales momentum
  • Shorten the sales cycle
  • Improve your ability to forecast

While strong strategy, insight and execution are certainly crucial to achieving these objectives, what is all too often overlooked are two especially important operational structures that are 100% necessary for consistent success:

  • A clearly defined funnel structure
  • A clearly defined sales pipeline structure

You may be thinking, “Doug, you’re crazy. I haven’t overlooked a pipeline, it’s central to our CRM!” And while the vast majority of companies that I see do have stated deal/opportunity stages that define their pipeline; more than 90% of them aren’t worth the paper (or bytes) they’re written on. Not only do they fail to create any real value or insight, they are central to the problems that sales and demand generation organizations are working so hard to overcome.

This post will walk you through the key elements of designing an effective sales pipeline structure, as well as enabling you to diagnose some of the fundamental flaws that likely exist in your existing process.

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Topics: Sales Enablement, Playbooks, Sales Training/Coaching, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Development, Lead Generation

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: B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Development

4 Resources to Get 2018 off to an Explosive Start

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 20, 2017 2:00:00 PM

explosive-start.jpgI simply cannot believe how fast 2017 has flown by. Here at Imagine, we’re in the final days of getting things wrapped up so we’re ready to take our annual “week of rejuivation”. We have big plans for 2018 and some exciting announcements we’ll be sharing as soon as we’re back at the beginning of the new year.

Of course, even while I’m off and spending time with family and friends, there will be a part of me thinking and reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned in 2017, my plans and objective for 2018 and figuring out how to get out of the gate fast. I’ve always found that if I can make January and February strong, the rest of the year typically takes care of itself.

Over the years, we’ve developed a number of resources focused on the idea of getting initiatives off to a strong and fast start. For those of you still looking for ideas, insights and inspirations to launch next year, here are some of the best ones we’ve created.

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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Development, Sales Training/Coaching, Inbound Marketing

3 Ways Salespeople Kill Sales at the End of the Month

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 13, 2017 10:30:00 AM

salespeople-kill-end-of-month-sales.jpgWhen I was a salesperson, I loved December. It was the perfect time to close business. While December is a very difficult month to get things started, it’s a great time to “clean the slate,” take advantage of unused budget and leverage a natural deadline.  

One of the toughest strategies to execute in the sales process is to create a sense of urgency when there’s not a natural and obvious one present. It’s an area that is one of the biggest contributors to sales, less than professional reputation. From the great car salesman’s “If I can put you in a car you like at a payment you’re comfortable with…,” to the “last car on the lot” techniques, salespeople have been manipulating creating urgency for a long time.

It’s no surprise that selling organizations use the end of the month, quarter or year as a means to create urgency. Frankly, I’m waiting for the next evolution in sales: “Hey Mrs. Prospect, you know it’s coming up to the end of the week, tomorrow is Friday after all. Wouldn’t you be happier going into the weekend knowing that you’ve addressed blah, blah, blah.”

End-of-month and quarter tactics are so bad they’ve become a running joke among sales executives, salespeople and buyers alike. Though some of the jokes may be funny, end-of-month actions are not a laughing matter. They’re sales (and margin) killers. Here are the three primary ways salespeople are killing sales with end-of-month actions:

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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching, Sales Development

5 Reasons Your Annual Sales Plans Fail

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 27, 2017 3:00:00 PM

5 Reasons Your Annual Sales Plans FailIt’s that time of year again. All across the land, sales and marketing executives, as well as salespeople themselves, are scurrying to put their 2018 sales plan together (for those who operate on a non-calendar year, I realize you’ve already done this).  

Plans are in development (with some even near completion) for the next 12 months.  Fueled by the euphoria of ending of a healthy year, the frustration from closing out a weak one or merely the optimism of what the new year and new plans can bring, companies are pulling everything together, with the goal of clarity, action and success.

I know this from being on more than a dozen calls with clients over the last three weeks helping them put these plans together. While the work is useful (as the saying goes, the value is in the planning - not the plan), I also get an empty feeling from all this work.  

Rarely are these plans actionable or useful. While the revenue targets outlined may be hit, when they are, they’re achieved in ways that are, how shall I say, less than predictable. As with so many traditional business disciplines, the effectiveness of most annual planning should be questioned and adjusted.

With more than two decades under my belt studying the difference between sales plans that drive better decisions and actions, than those that don’t, I’ve discovered five key reasons that annual sales plans fail.
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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Development, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation, Performance

5 Ways Your Website is Killing Sales

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 21, 2017 3:30:00 PM

5 Ways Your Website is Killing SalesThe biggest change over the last decade in B2B sales is the importance of your website and web presence. In 2007, your website supported and augmented your sales reps. In 2017, your sales reps augment your website. Make no mistake, your website is your number one, most important sales resource. An effective, sales-ready website positively impacts everybody - customers and salespeople alike.  

There are a number of advantages in this new world for growth-focused organizations. Your website works 24-hours/day, never calls in sick, doesn't complain and delivers the precise message you instruct it to, every time. Done correctly, your website also provides you with insights into what is on the buyer's mind, where they are in their buying journey and what key issues they're looking to address.

Unfortunately, it's still a very small minority of companies that are taking advantage of the power of their website. What's worse, the majority of business websites are sales killers. Despite your best efforts to enhance marketing and improve your sales efforts, what your website is, speaks so loudly no one can hear what you're saying (to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson). Believe it or not, your website is crucial to your success. By the way, don't compare your website to others in your industry. That's not who you're competing with. A phenomenon called liquid expectations means that the experience (and expectations) that your customers and prospects have developed in areas having nothing to do with your company or industry, impact their expectations as much as anything.

Here are five of the most common ways that we see websites kill sales...make sure none of these apply to you.

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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy, Demand Generation, Performance