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Why Your Business Isn’t Growing Like You Think it Should

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 8, 2017 11:00:00 AM

I see it all of the time. You provide an excellent service, a great product, or who knows; maybe you’ve even created disruptive technology that is going to change the way people behave in a given market.  

west-wing-news.gifDespite your best efforts, growth never becomes easy or predictable. Sure, you experience enough success and your customers 💖 what you do, so you know that with just a little more effort, a bit more ingenuity, and a pinch of luck your growth curve is about to look like the good news signal from The West Wing.  

But alas, the objective always seems just out of reach. What’s more, the very actions you take to drive such growth only reinforces the barriers you’re working so hard to overcome.

No one is immune from this affliction. I see CEOs, sales executives, marketing executives, salespeople, and others, struggle to find the right growth formula. This situation is an outright epidemic in the private equity/venture world as more and more money is thrown at more opportunities, where the only predictable and sustainable result coming from their efforts are higher burn rates and founders losing their equity.

Why? Why are so many smart, hard working people failing to unlock the growth equation? More importantly, what can you do to fix it today?

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Topics: Demand Generation

How to Tell if Your CRM Database is Leveraging or Thwarting Your Investments in Sales Growth

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 18, 2017 12:30:00 PM

database-management.jpgWhen I first got into sales, a common refrain was that a salesperson is only as valuable as the names in their Rolodex (here's a picture of a Rolodex for those readers under age 40). As the world entered the information age, the conversation quickly transformed to the importance of a company's database.

Despite the number of people who talk about the importance of their database, I've learned (and have to admit that until a few years ago was guilty of this) that most of the conversation is merely lip service. Well, that may not be fair. It may not be lip service so much as it is a poor focus.

Too often people define the value of their database of the quantity of names they have. (Can I call this database envy?) While the size of your database is certainly important, it's nowhere near the most important.

In this edition of The Demand Creator Minute, I focus on the crucial role of your database, the most overlooked (and dangerous) aspects of database management and three keys to ensuring you're using your database effectively.

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Topics: Demand Generation

Good Content is a Commodity: The Keys to Making Content Marketing Work

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 14, 2017 2:00:00 PM

Good Content is A Commodity: The Keys to Making Content Marketing WorkAaah, I remember the good old days. You remember them, don't you? You know, the days when creating good content was the key to successful content marketing and inbound marketing?

Don't get me wrong, you still need good content, but today it's a commodity. Let's admit the truth; there's more than enough good content out there on just about every subject. And while there's more bad content than good, and the volume of bad content is growing faster than good content; good content is simply not enough to drive your results.

But, before you jump to the obvious conclusion that this blog post is about the need to create great content, that is not what I'm suggesting. Frankly, as I've been studying the keys to success, I'm increasingly convinced that for most companies, creating great content is not the answer. Simply put, the investment of time and energy (and as a result - money) to get from good content to great content isn't justified - the juice isn't worth the squeeze.

How can I say this? Isn't this content marketing heresay? Look, I'm not saying having great content is bad. Instead what I'm saying is that if you're not utilizing your content (super) effectively, your focus should be on optimizing your process before enhancing your content.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Demand Generation

The Biggest (& Common) Mistakes Made with Account Based Marketing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 7, 2017 4:30:00 PM

The Biggest (& Common) Mistakes Made with Account Based MarketingAs the chart below (where I compare interest in the term "account based marketing" with "demand generation") shows, interest in Account Based Marketing has exploded over the last five years. For me at least, I can't remember the last I haven't heard or read someone talking about ABM having the solution to all ills.

As with most hot topics (see Sales Enablement) I take a very cynical, conservative approach to them. Far too often these hot topics are just ways to take old ideas and present them as new so that if you're a consultant, you can charge bigger fees for your services, and if you're an executive, you can promise that next panacea to get your boss or CEO off your back.

account-based-marketing-trend.png 

Account Based Marketing is not new. As I often say to people who claim it is: if you're involved in a B2B business and what you were doing before wasn't account based, then you were doing something wrong.

That said, ABM (as it's practiced by the those who are doing it right) is different in an important way. It formalizes and orchestrates a variety of actions, personalized and targeted in a fashion that enables selling organizations to penetrate accounts they wouldn't otherwise penetrate and expand business faster.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Performance, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation

7 Attributes of an Effective Sales/Marketing Playbook

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 27, 2017 2:00:00 PM

SalesAndMarketingPlaybook.pngPlaybooks are back! When I first got into professional sales (in the ancient days of DOS), playbooks were a hot topic. Back then, the keys to organization and sales success were in the ability to create better approaches that enabled sales reps to perform at their highest levels. The focus was on training and process, embodied in a playbook.

Somewhere in the mid-late 1990s the focus turned from optimizing and building organizational capabilities, to volume and velocity. As the economy heated up and demand skyrocketed, the focus on playbooks virtually disappeared. At the beginning of this year I was talking with a senior sales executive about our sales enablement services and the focus turned to marketing and sales playbooks. He kind of laughed and commented, "Are playbooks coming back? Really?...Yeah, I don't think we really need a playbook; we have mainly senior reps and they don't need one."

I quickly responded, "The question is not, 'Do we need a playbook?' The fact is that you have one. The real question is do you want a purposeful playbook that guides actions and innovation, or a haphazard one that hides and confuses things?" He quickly got my point.

Today, more than ever, playbooks are crucially important. Both sales and marketing processes have multiplied in complexity, and the successful orchestration of complex interactions, involving all parties involved in the customer acquisition process, is continually increasing in importance for successful outcomes.

There are a variety of playbooks every growth-focused company should have:

  • Lead Generation Playbook
  • Marketing/Inbound Marketing Playbook
  • Lead Management Playbook
  • Sales Development Playbook
  • New Sales Playbook
  • Account Management/Customer Success Playbook

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Doug! Stop the insanity...this is O-V-E-R-K-I-L-L!" I used to think that way too, and I remind you: you already have a playbook for each one of those areas. The question is: do you want it to be purposeful or haphazard?

I'll cover the components of each of those playbooks in a future post. Today, I want to focus on the six commonalities that all effective playbooks possess.

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Topics: Sales Development, Performance, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation

The 5 Tools I Use to Keep Me Productive on the Road

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 20, 2017 2:00:00 PM

business-travel.jpgI was recently having a conversation with a fellow business owner, friend and past client of mine. He doesn't travel much for business, but over the last few weeks, his travel schedule had been (for him) quite hectic. He shared with me just how disruptive he thought business travel was. In his words, "It's totally fine while I'm in the meetings that I'm in, but getting anything else done is virtually impossible." He commented to me that he didn't know how I stayed on top of things, while also traveling at a much high rate (and I'm by no means a true "road warrior").

I agreed with him that travel can be quite disruptive, and that in many ways regular business travel is almost better than low travel levels, as it's actually easier to get in a routine. And that's the key to successful business travel - developing, and sticking to, routines.

I've also found that having a few "cheats" is crucial to effective business travel. The great thing (from a productivity standpoint) about being in the office is that it's a controlled environment and you have access to your best "stuff." With a little strategy and some neat gadgets, you can find ways to match productivity on the road as well. With summer officially set to start this week, I thought I'd lighten up the blog, and share with you the tools I rely on when traveling.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Performance, Demand Generation

5 Tips to Deliver Effective Coaching to Your Sales & Marketing Teams

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 1, 2017 4:00:00 PM

5 Tips to Deliver Effective Coaching to Your Sales & Marketing TeamLast week a friend and fellow business owner sent me an interesting article from Harvard Business Review, that highlighted the impact and importance of coaching in business. Reading the article got me thinking about the role of coaching today.

It's funny, because 13 years ago I started Imagine; and with our focus on sales coaching, I regularly encountered questions and objections about the whole idea around coaching in business. Coaching was still considered a soft skill, and it wasn't unusual that a business owner would say to me, "Doug, we need our salespeople to be managed better; I've got no idea what coaching would do."

Today the idea of coaching, or at least the thought of coaching, is far more accepted. More people are talking about it and more people claim they do it. Unfortunately, most of the coaching being done is ineffective. It either lacks the disciplined process needed to be effective, or it's really just management in disguise (or both).

When implementing coaching in your organization, it's important to clearly distinguish between the role of "managing" and the role of "coaching." Managing is about directing, instructing, overseeing and holding people accountable to specific results, typically short-term. Coaching is about exploring, facilitating, teaching and collaborating to build capabilities that allow one to produce at a higher level over the long-term.

Both roles are vital, and it's important that they not be confused or mixed together. There's nothing wrong, per se, with a manager also coaching, but when doing so, the manager must clearly separate the two functions. When they're combined, neither is effective.

When coaching, keep these five tips in mind to ensure that you get the results from your efforts:

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

5 Common CRM Mistakes Made by Sales (and Marketing) Organizations

Posted by Doug Davidoff

May 25, 2017 2:00:00 PM

5 Common CRM Mistakes Made by Sales (and Marketing) OrganizationsIt's a great time to be a sales organization. I often find myself wondering how different things would have been 10 - 15 years ago when I first started leading sales teams if I had access to the technology, tools and data that are readily available to companies of all shapes and sizes.

I can still remember reading the articles in magazines like Sales & Marketing Management, Selling Power and Selling as they debated the pros and cons of (what was then called) salesforce automation, and the challenges in getting adoption. Nothing got more attention or brought more angst to salespeople and executives alike than to topic of CRM.

Back then, the choice was to either spend millions of dollars on an enterprise CRM built out to your specifications, to buy clunky, suboptimal CRMs like ACT!, Maximizer, GoldMine, etc., or to go without a formal CRM. So, if you were a small or mid-market company (SME) you either went with a clunky CRM or no CRM at all.

The turn of the century brought us Salesforce.com who began what I like to call the democratization of CRM, bringing the costs down to where SMEs could afford it, with the capabilities of enterprise alternatives. While Salesforce.com was a great improvement, it was still expensive and unless you could afford to have it built out and customized to you, still clunky. Using it as a salesperson was difficult and frankly, annoying.

Today there are a host of CRM alternatives that literally take any excuse for not using a CRM right away. In 2005 I would kill for the CRM choices that exist today that are free. The good news is that more companies and salespeople are using CRM than ever before. Unfortunately they're still not realizing its true promise.

In our work as part of our Sales Enablement Services, we often analyze and advise on a companies growth stack, including their CRM. Having reviewed hundreds of implementations, I still see 5 very common - and very damaging - mistakes made when using CRM.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation

6 Ways B2B Demand Generation Teams Can Start 2017 Strong

Posted by Stacy Bouchard

Dec 20, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Start-2017-strong.jpgWOW! We are less than two weeks away from 2017. It’s hard to believe that another full year has passed. I feel like it was just a few months ago when we were planning for 2016.

At Imagine, as we reflect on 2016, we can pat ourselves on the back for a few things but like many of you, we’re also painfully aware of the things that didn’t go quite right or even surprised us.

In 2017, we’re anxious to get started on the right foot. We spent Q4 doing things to help position us for success but there’s still a lot of work to be done in the first quarter if 2017 is going to start strong.

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Topics: Demand Generation

5 Key Takeaways from Inbound 2016

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 23, 2016 2:30:00 PM

Inbound2016-cropped.jpgAnother year, another Inbound conference. This year’s gathering of inbound marketers and salespeople topped the 18,000- person mark, making it clearly the largest marketing conference in the world. Once again HubSpot did a great job of putting on a show, building the community and enabling great conversation to occur.

In an earlier post, I shared the product announcements HubSpot made. Today, now that I’ve had some time to ponder the event, I’d like to share my key takeaways from Inbound 2016. Overall, I was struck by the growing maturity of inbound marketing and how fresh and new it remains at the same time.

It is increasingly clear that inbound marketing and demand generation are becoming core disciplines to the modern growth playbook. While the importance is clear, the success formulas are still being created.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Demand Generation