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

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: Sales, Demand Generation, Lead Generation

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

The Most Important Sales Enablement Question for Your Business

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 6, 2017 4:30:00 PM

The Most Important Sales Enablement Question for Your BusinessThe 2001 Oakland A’s had a problem. They’d won their division in 2000, but they were losing the league’s most valuable player, Jason Giambi, to the hated New York Yankees. What’s more, the A’s did not have the money or resources that their competitors had.

The front office, led by Billy Beane, had to figure out how they would replace Giambi and maintain the A’s winning ways. This is where he famously turned to his assistant GM, Paul DePodesta to develop a plan of attack.

This, of course, is the story that led to the bestselling book and movie: Moneyball. While DePodesta and Beane have achieved near hero status and as a result, went on to set a record for most consecutive wins (broken by the Cleveland Indians this past season) and repeat as division winner; they also highlighted essential lessons for every business executive.

In 2016, I spoke at Inbound16 to introduce and define the key principles that have come together to become the growing discipline of Sales Enablement. In that session, I defined Sales Enablement as the ongoing effort of aligning and optimizing all facets of an organization’s revenue generation process. It is focused on increasing the efficiency and acceleration of revenue generation tactics.  

I also highlighted that sales enablement isn't anything new. The world of sports and particularly baseball, have been implementing their version of sales enablement for more than a decade. They called it Moneyball.

So, let’s take a step back and think about the critical question that DePodesta was seeking to answer that led to the breakthrough and in turn, led to the book:

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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy, Demand Generation, Lead Generation, Marketing, Sales Development

Designing a Better Demo Experience to Shorten the Sales Cycle

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Oct 31, 2017 11:30:00 AM

DougTwitter.pngI recently was a part of a debate on Twitter with Brian Moseley about the role of salespeople, especially in SaaS. As you can see, Brian was saying the sales rep is dying.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve heard about the “death of the salesmen” over the past twenty years, and I’ve come to learn that one should never underestimate the resilience and the relevance of salespeople.

Brian then made an interesting point. He tweeted in response to me, “In SaaS at least, prospects don’t want a “demo” anymore, they want a “free version” with all the features.”

That got me thinking, as I’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing a multitude of demo’s over the last two months as we’ve been spending more time helping our clients navigate the technology they need to support their sales and marketing objectives.

Shortly before I was going to agree with Brian, I realized a flaw in the thinking. Most (like 90%+) demos are bad, disjointed, boring and self-serving. While I would agree that no one wants a bad demo, I disagree that no one wants a demo.

A quick note for those readers not involved in SaaS or not involved in giving demos- you can substitute the word “presentation” for the word “demo” and this post will still play to you.

Demos are still an important, potentially valuable touchpoint and the time has come to revitalize the demo. Here are some keys to making that happen:

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Topics: Demand Generation, B2B Sales Strategy, Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing

Podcast: The Black Line Between Sales & Marketing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Oct 26, 2017 1:00:00 PM

Black-Line-Podcast.jpgThere are a lot of great things happening here at Imagine. Last week I shared the new approach we’re taking to supporting and driving faster growth for our clients. Today, I get to announce the official launch of our new podcast The Black Line Between Sales & Marketing. This time I’m hosting the podcast in conjunction with my friend, client, and vendor, Mike Donnelly, the CEO of Seventh Sense. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.

You may be thinking, “Do we really need another podcast? Afterall, I can’t keep up with all of the great podcasts I’m already subscribed to.” The answer, of course, is an emphatic “Yes!”

What makes The Black Line Podcast unique? If you look at the landscape of podcasts and content in the sales, marketing, demand generation and business growth arena you’ll see three types of programming:

  • Best practices & how-tos
  • Interviews focused on wisdom and thought leadership
  • Interviews focused on stories and experience 
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Topics: Demand Generation, Inbound Marketing, Sales

Why We're Changing Our Approach to Serving Clients

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Oct 19, 2017 12:27:02 PM

Why We're Changing Our Approach to Serving ClientsFor years I’ve come to this blog to write how customers and the world of sales and marketing are changing at rates never before seen. Today I'm excited to share some changes that we're making at Imagine in how we are working with clients.

I've been advising business owners on growth my entire adult life. Figuring out how to grow businesses isn't just my vocation, it's my avocation.

For the first nine years of running Imagine Business Development, friends and associates would tell me that I needed to find a hobby...something that would allow me to break away from the intensity of what I do on a daily basis. I took up brewing beer, coaching baseball, reading fiction books and bird watching (okay the last one is a lie, I never took up bird watching). Finally, I realized that this is my hobby.

I'm lucky. I've had a front-row seat - as a student, practitioner and advisor - to the most dynamic period in business in the past 100+ years. I've worked firsthand with more than 2,000 companies and I can say conclusively that growing a business today is more complicated and challenging than at any time I've seen or studied. On the one hand, organizations have access to more talent, technology and opportunity than ever before. It is these assets and strengths that are also making things as challenging as they are. As Brian Halligan, CEO at HubSpot, shared in his keynote at Inbound17, "It's never been so easy to start a business...and so hard to scale one."

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Topics: Demand Generation, B2B Sales Strategy, Inbound Marketing

[VIDEO] The 5 Levels of Demand Generation

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Oct 11, 2017 11:00:00 AM

[VIDEO] The 5 Levels of Demand GenerationIt’s an amazing time to be a salesperson or marketer. I was talking with a friend and fellow salesperson the other day, sharing with him some of the things we’re doing with clients. Almost drooling I said, “Steve, man, can you just imagine what we would have been able to do with just a quarter of what’s available today? I’d probably still be selling. We could have easily done 5x the volume we did back then in half the time!” Steve agreed with me and we spent a few more minutes reliving the “good old days.”

Yet despite our envy for today’s demand generation resources, reality seems to be painting a different picture. Sales reps are not producing five times the volume in half the time. Profits are not skyrocketing, and while business revenues are certainly up from the time I was a frontline salesperson, that has more to do with inflation than effectiveness.

Make no mistake, there are clearly businesses that are taking advantage of the world we live in. On one hand, it’s easier than ever to grow a billion dollar business; and on the other, it’s more difficult than ever to run a $50 million business maintaining 20-30% growth rates. As the Chinese curse goes, “May you live in interesting times.” While there’s more opportunity than ever before, it’s also more complex and challenging than ever.

As Inbound Marketing, Sales Development and modern sales strategies have increased in popularity and investment (together, it's what we call Demand Generation) we decided to see how companies were progressing. So we spent much of the last year digging deep to see what we could learn about success, the journey to get there and the potholes that prevent companies from thriving. The result is shared in this video The 5 Levels of Demand Generation.

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Topics: Demand Generation

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