<img src="https://ws.zoominfo.com/pixel/Nfk5wflCTIIE2iSoYxah" width="1" height="1" style="display: none;">

The Demand Creator Blog

Join Thousands of Committed Growth Executives & Subscribe To The Blog Here

5 Actions for Sales and Marketing to Succeed Through Scary Times

succeed-through-scary-timesThings change quickly. Just six weeks ago, the economic conversations focused on the record-high balances of Americans’ 401Ks. While there certainly has been speculation about the possible (inevitable) market downturn/recession, the dominant questions were about how mild such a recession would be and whether it would even meet the technical definition of a recession.

Then in the proverbial blink of an eye, everything we thought we knew changed…radically. In a 24-hour period, America began to get serious about the pandemic that dominates news coverage today. Oil prices plummeted. Gary Cohn, past Director of the National Economic Council, referred to it as, "Where we were last month has nothing to do with where we are now... We are now dealing with an economy where there has been massive demand destruction in the oil market." 

We all entered a new world on Friday, March 13th and it’s important that everyone accepts this. I do not believe for a moment we won’t get through this crisis. I am also confident (as I’ve always been) that better times lie ahead. 

stockdale-paradoxIn times like this, I’m reminded of The Stockdale Paradox. Admiral James Stockdale was a Vietnam War POW for seven years. During this horrific period, Stockdale was repeatedly tortured. He found a way to stay alive by embracing both the grim reality of his situation and healthy optimism.

Stockdale explained: "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

This paradox holds a great lesson on how to achieve success and overcome difficult obstacles. It also flies right in the face of the unbridled optimists and positivity peddlers whose advice pervades nearly every Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook stream today.

Stockdale discussed this paradox with author Jim Collins in the book Good to Great, where he spoke about how the optimists fared:

Collins: Who didn't make it out?

Stockdale: Oh, that's easy. The optimists.

C: The optimists? 

S: The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.

There is good news. Difficult times are your opportunity to stand out and be rewarded for taking strong action and making good decisions. It is in difficult times that good companies separate themselves from their peers and become great.

Difficult times, properly managed, are called defining moments in hindsight. Here are 5 actions to take on the go-to-market side of your business to make this a defining moment for you and your company. By the way, I’ll be sharing more details on this Wednesday in our upcoming webinar. (If you’re reading this after April 8th, you can watch the recording of the webinar.)

Read More

3 Ways Having A Take Can Change You As A Marketer

have-a-takeComing into the workforce, I was fresh out of college with a lot of knowledge, ready to make an impact wherever I landed. Yet, I was super nervous about not making a good first impression and failing. You see, I was the student that would know the answers to questions in class, but never felt like speaking up. I always had my opinions, but hardly ever shared them. I never wanted to feel like the “know it all” in class and I dreaded being “wrong,” so I stayed silent. I even had a professor in shock once when I took a final exam because I did well, yet never spoke in class. In his words, I was the “silent but smart” student. My point in bringing this up is that to this day, I wish I had spoken up and given out my answers/opinions because it would’ve made a huge difference to my job now.

What It Means To Have A Take

Having a take means sharing your opinion, standing up and speaking from your experience, your knowledge, and your mind. Having a take isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing with what someone else says, but making sure you’re not saying something just because it’s what everyone else wants to hear.

Putting your take out into the world means having the potential to be wrong (depending on what it is you’re having a take on). Many people don’t like the thought of being wrong or being in the wrong, but in order to be right, you have to put your take out there. You can’t be like my college self and sit silent. Change isn’t going to happen if you don’t speak up. 

How Having a Take Can Change You as a Marketer

Ever since I’ve changed my mindset and have started having a take, I’ve seen a few things happen/change with the way I do my job as the Marketing Manager of Imagine. Use these as an opportunity to influence your job, too.

1. I started providing deeper value. I’m not saying I wasn’t providing value before, but I’m now providing a more impactful value than before. This value stretches to the company (in my case, Imagine), my coworkers, and the world. If you switch your mindset and put your opinion out there, you give a whole new perspective for others to think about. I’m not saying that you have to disagree and give your perspective differently all the time, you just have to make sure you’re saying what you really feel. If all you say is what others want to hear, how much value is that truly providing? Is it getting you where you want to go with your work or your job? Probably not.

As a marketer, your job is to make sure that your customers are getting the best experience and the most value/knowledge out of what you do. If you feel like something is off with the new web page design or the way someone has worded messaging, say something -- and give your take as to why. Your perspective now gives someone something to think about. That’s how you create change. By not having a take or by holding back your take, you give up on the opportunity to make an impact for your company and/or for your customers. Speaking up is how you create forward motion to put you and your company in a better position than before.

Read More

The Art of Letting Go: What Every Salesperson Should Do

Editor's Note: The world of business focuses on the success, the learnings, and the growth they've achieved. Yet, no one talks about the failures, the hardship, or the process that led to the success. Today's blog is written by one of our Sales Development Reps (SDRs), Carolyn Nangle. She shares her personal story of being in sales and what it took for her to turn her failure into success. She shares her perspective on growth, working and making her mark.

letting-goI want to tell you about my best day working at Imagine. My best day at Imagine was the day I almost got fired. It was also the day I was ready to quit. I was so fed up. I was fed up with the work, with my own performance, with my boss, Doug Davidoff. (Some readers may have heard of him.) I was ready to be done at Imagine, and Imagine was ready to be done with me. Doug and I had a heated call that morning, and no one pulled punches. I was told I’d have the night to think things over and we’d meet again at the end of the next day. It was a tense exchange, and didn’t bode well for my future at Imagine. I guess, to give some context, I should back up a little bit.

Before I came to Imagine, I worked in the service industry as a server and a bartender for a decade, so I come from a background of providing exemplary customer service. In that context, the more information you have, the easier it is to provide that high-level service. My favorite bar regular, Roy, used to come in for lunch on weekdays. He had an iced tea, no lemon, and a salad with no tomato. The first time I served Roy, of course, I didn’t know all of this. I simply took the order and brought it out. After a few weekday lunches, however, I realized that Roy was a creature of habit. Soon enough, armed with more information, I was able to have Roy’s tea waiting at the bar when he walked in the door. I was able to give him the best service possible, because I had enough relevant information to do so. 

Suffice to say, I came to Imagine with a lot of experience helping people and a lot of experience being really, really nice--even to the jerks. But I had absolutely zero experience selling anything. I never even tried to upsell people on appetizers. This fact didn’t need to handicap my ability to learn and to sell, but it did. I wore my fear like a cloak made of lead. The fear that everyone would see through me, that they would know immediately that I didn’t know what I was talking about weighed on me constantly. I dragged it into every call I made.

Read More

Overcoming Your Biggest Barrier to Generating New Business Opportunities: Prospect Problem Blindness

prospect-problem-blindnessWhen the invite from Toyota came in, Ford’s senior executive team was skeptical. 

We invite you to visit our newest manufacturing plant. Send your top engineers and bring all your questions. We’re anxious to share our methods.

When the engineers came back from their visit, they confirmed the skepticism. “It wasn’t a real auto manufacturing facility,” the plant engineers explained. “Sure they had chassis and tools, and people, but spare parts and components were virtually nonexistent. The warehouse was too small to support the level of schedule activity. It was staged, like a movie.”¹

With the benefit of history, we know that it was not staged. The “experts” from Ford saw the real thing before it displaced Detroit’s auto leadership position.

You’ve likely heard the story of Steve Jobs’ inspiration for what became the Mac. In exchange for a pre-IPO allocation for Apple stock, Xerox invited Job and some of his engineers to get an inside peek into their PARC facility. While there, the Xerox engineers shared some of the innovations they’d added to their Alto machine like the “what you see is what you get” graphic user interface, bitmapping and a mouse. 

One part of the story that is often told wrong is that Xerox didn’t know what they had and as a result they let Jobs “steal” it. This isn’t true. They knew the Alto was powerful. They introduced the Alto in a 1972 commercial as the first desktop computer with a graphic user interface, showed how it could revolutionize your office life by using things like email, word processing and reminders “all controlled by a cursor.” Why have most people never heard of the Alto, and today Apple is the most valuable company in history? Because Xerox thought that the Alto would simply be too expensive to put on sale commercially. The reality is that the failure of Xerox to capitalize on their invention was a technology or vision failure, it was really a product marketing failure.

Think about this for a moment. If the expert engineers from Ford couldn’t see the value of the just-in-time, LEAN manufacturing process and the product marketing experts at Xerox couldn’t see a path to viability with something as powerful as the Alto, what’s the likelihood that a great demo, or presentation will be enough for the companies in your target market to change their course/speed to embrace your solution? These are two powerful examples of a barrier that faces all humans and has a profound impact on your ability to position your products and services to generate new opportunities by highlighting the amazing outcomes you create and the problems you solve. The barrier is called “problem blindness.”

What Is Problem Blindness

In his most recent book Upstream: The Quest To Solve Problems Before They Happen, Dan Heath shares this description: the belief that negative outcomes are natural, inevitable, or simply out of our control. When we’re blind to a problem, we treat it like the weather. We may know it’s bad, but ultimately, we just shrug our shoulders. “What am I supposed to do about it? It’s the weather.” Problem blindness creates passivity, even in the face of enormous harm. Problem blindness explains why extraordinarily smart people do extraordinarily dumb things or make bad decisions.

Read More

5 Mistakes Made When Implementing HubSpot

imlementationHave you ever tried to help someone with directions who has a hard time speaking your own language? Or maybe you’ve been in a situation where you’ve tried to explain a concept to someone and they just aren’t getting it no matter how hard you try to explain it in different ways. It’s frustrating, right? Well, the same thing can happen when it comes to HubSpot implementation. 

The implementation process with HubSpot is never a simple process; there’s a million pieces going on simultaneously. It’s like having a giant, 1,000 piece puzzle with lots of individual pieces connected in groups, but not all groups connecting to each other.

With tons of technical moving pieces, things can become overwhelming very quickly. It can become overwhelming if you don’t have an understanding of how the business process should flow or if you start running into mistakes. Something that started off as a simple process with a few steps can quickly become a jumbled mess if you aren’t careful. It will take time, effort, skill and avoiding these mistakes to make sure that everything is in line.    

What is Implementation? 

Implementation is about getting the plumbing pieces in place before turning things on. It’s understanding what the job is that needs to be done. It’s understanding what it is that the client is hiring HubSpot for, getting them onto HubSpot, and making sure that HubSpot is doing what the client needs the platform to do. It’s about getting the back end or “behind the scenes” set up (whether it’s for a tool, CRM, etc.).

Read More

20 Tips to Crush 2020

crush-2020Over the holiday break, Mike Weinberg, author of New Sales. Simplified., Sales Management. Simplified., and Sales Truth, shared 20 tips for salespeople to crush 2020. (You should read his tips whether you’re in sales or not.)

Mike was his usual: blunt, humorous and completely on-point. His third tip that there are only three verbs in sales (create, advance and close) is more valuable than most sales training programs I’ve ever attended. (I’d expand this tip to demand generation and marketing as well.)

I was so inspired by Mike’s post that I found myself thinking about what 20 tips I would share, and this blog post is the result of Mike’s inspiration. (Thanks, Mike!)

1. Spend 20 - 50% of your time on early-stage market development (yes, prospecting)

When I present to sales teams, I often start off by talking about what I like to call “the sales and marketing treadmill.” The sales teams immediately nod their heads, understanding that dreadful feeling where you need to run faster and faster, just to stay in place.

One of the things I’ve always noticed about the best salespeople (and I mean those who are consistently at the top) is that they never look rushed. They regularly operate in a state of flow, seemingly never worrying about this week, this month or even this quarter. 

I used to wonder how they could always be so calm and relaxed; after all, I was busting my ass. What I realized was that they spent far more time than the typical rep on the early parts of the buyer’s journey. The “pre-funnel” is always stronger than their active funnel.

The single best thing you can do, as a salesperson or sales organization, is to spend at least 20% of your time on early stage, market development/prospecting. You’ll find that as you move towards 50%, the effort (and urgency) required to close sales decreases, and you’ll soon become one of those top salespeople I referred to.

Read More

2 Simple Things To Do To Dramatically Increase Your Sales Forecasting Accuracy

sales-forecasting-accuracyQuiz Time! Here are two outcomes:

  • An opportunity in the sales pipeline was at an 80% probability that it would be won, and it was lost.
  • Another opportunity in the sales pipeline (all other aspects including the value, the customer type, the timing, etc., are the same) was only at a 20% probability of winning and was won.

Which outcome is worse?

Most of the people I ask this question to quickly look at me with a quizzical frown and ask, “Is this a trick question?” I respond, “No, no tricks.” They then confidently say the first situation is worse. I understand why they give that answer, and I’d certainly have to agree that when it comes to revenue, profit, commissions and things like that, the first is definitely worse.

The reality is that both are equally bad because both forecasts were equally wrong. If you’re looking to scale growth sustainably, you must have the ability to create a meaningful degree of predictability for that growth; to do that well, your organization’s ability to forecast must be an area of strength.

In addition to the obvious reason that strong forecasting, in and of itself, creates a level of predictability, an individual sales rep’s ability to forecast individual opportunities makes them far more effective at utilizing their time and enhances their effectiveness.

I often compare selling to playing poker. In both situations, you’re forced to utilize imperfect information to make bets (forecasts) about future outcomes within dynamic situations, and you must put your money where your forecast is. In poker, that means staying in the game and putting more money at risk. In sales, it means investing more time and resources.

While we could literally write a book on how to forecast effectively, improving your forecasting ability and improving your tactical sales decision-making doesn’t have to be complex or hard. Implement two simple ideas, regardless of the level of your forecasting proficiency, and you’ll be sure to succeed. 

Read More

Why Your CRM Implementation Initiative Is Failing

iStock-518897996-1Last week, I was talking with a colleague and he was telling me about yet another bungled CRM implementation a client of his was dealing with. I have to admit I laughed a bit as he shared the story. 

I’ve been using CRM in one form or another since the early 1990s (ACT! for DOS for those who are wondering). I started using Salesforce.com in the early 2000s. I’ve personally used more than a dozen CRMs in my time, and that number easily goes above 20 if you count the companies that I’ve advised. 

I’ve been on the front-line of Salesforce automation for far, far longer than I care to think about, and the one thing that has remained constant has been the results:

  • 20-30% are outright, complete failures. More IT heads have probably lost jobs because of CRM implementation failures than anything else.
  • 50% stumble along, creating more confusion and friction than existed before a change was made. The investments made to increase productivity and acceleration, do the opposite, but they don’t quite “fail”.
  • 10-20% provide a moderate level of success. They don’t meet the expectations, but they do provide greater capabilities and incremental improvement.
  • 10% are truly successful.

A couple of years ago, CEB found that the average company was spending nearly $5,000/rep/year more on technology, and conversion rates have dropped by 12%. When I saw the study, I was actually surprised the numbers weren’t worse. 

ceb-tech-stack-research

Read More

The 3 Jobs Content Must Perform + Your Guide to Giving Your Content A Performance Review

Rain DelayI had the entire client services team together this week for two days. (Check out the awesome picture of the rain delay/postponement we all enjoyed Tuesday night.)

As we worked through the agenda for our get-together I posed a question to each person on the team. Here’s what I asked, “The CEO of one of our clients calls you up directly and asks you, ‘How are we doing with content?’ How do you answer their question?”

We then proceeded to have a conversation that I’m certain is remarkably similar to conversations that take place weekly at growth advisories and agencies like Imagine and within marketing and demand generation teams at most companies. Each person answered the question with a noticeable connection to their area of expertise. There were a lot of “it depends” and a variety of data points like traffic, growth, conversion, bounce rates, time on page, and more.

Like I said, the same conversation that takes place everywhere. The same conversation that has led to the exponential increase in content that has caused a precipitous increase in lead and customer acquisition costs, with little to no impact on outcomes. Many advisors argue, with some legitimacy, that content marketing in general and inbound marketing specifically is no longer worth the cost and effort.

I was not satisfied with these answers. They give no one insight and they end up creating a lot of noise. I’m a big fan of finding the signal and I believe that if you measure something, you best be able to identify that signal and create some scoring mechanism to guide you to where you want to go. So we proceeded with the conversation.

Read More

Creating A High-Impact Outbound Scoreboard

Scoreboard

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a very competitive person (some have said too competitive, and I can’t really argue with them). I love to win and I hate to lose.

One of the great lessons I’ve learned about myself, and found applies to the vast majority of people (even those not as competitive as me), is how important clarity is if you want people to be engaged and motivated. A BIG part of clarity is the ease with which an individual knows whether they’re winning or losing the “game” they’re playing. I’ve often said that a key to someone being happy and engaged in their work is the ability to go home each day knowing whether they won or lost the day, and whether they’re winning the week, the month, the year and so on.

A scoreboard is a necessary element to creating such clarity. If you doubt the importance of “knowing the score,” just watch how the intensity changes when a bunch of kids are playing a game and start keeping score.

A strong scoreboard has five required components to be truly effective: 

Read More