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

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

Modern Lead Generation is Failing. 5 Critical Factors to Drive High-Velocity Customer Acquisition

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 8, 2018 1:00:00 PM

Imagine_Speed-Velocity Graph with TitleA couple of weeks ago, I introduced a chronic problem plaguing the growth efforts of companies, large and small alike. Lead Activation Syndrome occurs when the successful results of lead generation efforts aren’t translating to greater velocity of quality sales, opportunity creation, or new customer acquisition.

Companies can still drive growth--often at a very high rate--but the costs of such efforts grow at a faster rate than growth. As a result, the systems and people supporting growth must run at a faster, often non-sustainable, pace.

The cause of this problem is typically weak, or nonexistent, middles. The attention paid to lead generation and inbound marketing has greatly strengthened the top of the funnel, but little to no attention is paid to constructing a strong middle.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Performance, Technology Stack

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

Has the Time Come to Ungate Your Best Content?

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 15, 2018 2:00:00 PM

GateorUngateLPAs the the great marketing strategist, William Shakespeare, said, “To gate or ungate your best content; that is the question?”

Over the last three years, there's been a growing roar questioning the wisdom behind one of today’s central practices for lead generation. An ever-increasing group of marketing and lead generation leaders are recommending that companies stop putting valuable content behind registration gates.

Drift, a martech provider focused on chat applications, and founded by former HubSpot Chief Product Officer David Cancel, was the first to call out the wisdom surrounding forms with the launch of the “No Forms” marketing campaign and positioning. Over the last year, HubSpot itself has questioned the use of forms as they’ve started talking about the use of “pillar content” and the impact it has on reach and search engine optimization (SEO). Over the last several months, more and more companies have “jumped on the bandwagon.”

The debate around forms vs. no forms is reminiscent of the Mac vs. PC debates of a decade ago, whereby otherwise intelligent and reasonable people seem to lose all rationale balance to advocate their position. Over the last six months, the call to eliminate forms continues to move more into the mainstream, and I see more sales & marketing advisors capitulating on the topic with little to no data to back up their conclusions. One prospect summed up where we find ourselves today when he asked me, “Doug, I haven’t even started using gated content and now I feel like I need to change before I start.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an important and valid question; one that should be at the top of the decision tree for any company executing a lead generation, inbound or content marketing program.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Demand Generation

What Aviation Can Teach Any Growth Executive About Acquiring Customers

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 8, 2018 4:30:00 PM

lift-growthGrowing revenue is difficult, complex work. Fraught with uncertainties, lack of information and changing market dynamics means that those who are good at growing businesses are always managing trade-offs in the decisions they make.

Charting your roadmap is difficult as well. There’s no shortage of “thought leaders” making grand claims that “this is the way to do it.” Of course most of these claims are made by someone that has a vested interest in what you do.

Making sense of all of the conflicting information, insights and “best practices” is often the biggest challenge facing growth executives. This is why I’m a fan of science. Science, done properly, is always a pursuit for the truth. When you find a truth, you’ll see that the principles apply to a variety of scenarios - even sales and marketing.

This topic came up recently on a podcast episode where I talked about my recent post on why hiring salespeople is not a smart strategy to stimulate growth. Needles to say, the post is a bit controversial. Anyway, in the podcast I talk about the principle of lift, the physics that make air flight possible and how this lesson applies to growing your business. I thought you would enjoy the excerpt:

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Topics: Lead Generation, Sales Development, Performance, Demand Generation

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: Lead Generation, Demand Generation, Sales

5 Essential Components of a High Sales Growth Tech Stack

Posted by Ellen Welker

Dec 7, 2017 4:00:13 PM

tech-stack.jpgThe game is getting real folks. Every day it seems a new challenge is emerging that makes the traditional growth playbook ineffective. Several weeks ago I shared the results of a deep analysis we completed that focuses on how the very best growth companies build their demand generation program. In The Five Levels of Demand Generation, one of our central observations was the growing role of technology. While companies at all levels are using more technology, the difference between the best and the average was in how they used, integrated and aligned technology in their approach to growth.

Recent research from CEB highlights that companies are spending, on average, almost $5,000 per sales rep more on technology today than they did two years ago. Despite that investment, the results companies are seeing decreases in the results they're seeking. This frustrating conundrum is a great description of where growth-focused companies find themselves when managing the technology landscape.

Sales and marketing technology is no longer optional. Today, it's a ticket to play in the game. As we regularly advise our clients, technology will never be the reason your sales growth strategy succeeds, but it will increasingly be a reason that it fails. Three years ago I would regularly ask, "Is the issue we're trying to solve a people problem or a process problem?" Today, the dominant question is, "Is this a people, process or technology problem?"  

It is for this reason that you must pay attention to the technology you're using and how you're using it, and regularly consider how you can or should use technology in the future. "The Tech Stack" is a term and conversation that needs ongoing attention to ensure a strong competitive foundation.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Sales Development, Performance, Technology Stack

How We Revitalized Our Email Strategy & Turned It Into An Advantage

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 4, 2017 5:00:00 PM

How We Revitalized Our Email Strategy & Turned It Into An AdvantageEmail is (still) a critical linchpin for sellers and marketers alike. Even as social media, chat and private communication networks (like Slack) proliferate, email is still at the center of communication today.

Don’t believe me? Consider (sources, Content Marketing Institute & Optinmonster):

  • 77% of B2B marketers use email in the marketing mix  
  • 91% rate email as a key piece of content marketing success
  • 2.7 billion people use email
  • 91% of users use email at least daily
  • You're 7x more likely to originate a customer via email than other channels
  • 58% of users cite it as the first channel they go to every day

Successful Email Strategy is Harder than it Looks

When I talk with prospects about their sales, marketing and communication programs, there’s a lot of variance regarding the primary tools they use. The one thing they all have in common is the use of email.

Despite the ubiquity surrounding email communications, very little time is spent developing and executing a robust email strategy. I’m convinced that the reason this is true is because email feels easy and inexpensive. It’s just so easy to think that sending “one” bad/ineffective email is no big deal, we’ll just make it up on the next one. Then one becomes two; two becomes 12, and so on.

The reality is that email is one of the most expensive channels in the marketer's and salesperson’s communication toolkit. While sending an email doesn’t cause an immediate, direct cost, what happens after that is significant.

Six-months ago we sat down to completely re-imagine our entire approach to email. Recently, that method (and the results it’s gained) was featured as a case study by HubSpot. Since the case study was published, I’ve been asked several times how we did it. This post will highlight how we’ve lit our email strategy on fire and are expanding our competitive advantage because of it.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Performance