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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

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

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: Performance, B2B Sales Strategy, Demand Generation

Stop Closing & Start Selling

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 16, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Stop Closing & Start SellingI honestly can’t believe I’m writing about this topic again. There was a period (probably about 3 - 5 years) where I thought selling organizations had finally evolved and understood that closing is an overvalued, overfocused and overhyped part of the sales/buying process.

To be clear, if you think you have a closing problem, then I’m here to affirmatively and conclusively tell you that closing is never the problem (hell, it’s rarely even “a” problem). The problem just manifests itself at that stage of the process. The problem always - ALWAYS! - occurs earlier in the process.

I used to talk and write about this regularly. I shared the need for sales (and marketing) to educate, “peel the onion” to dig deeper and lead the way for prospects (and customers) to learn and understand more about their problems (including those they aren’t even aware of) and how to solve those problems and/or capture opportunities.  

I have to admit that I enjoyed that period where I was able to focus on the more meaningful components of demand generation and sales. It’s a lot more fun (and valuable) when the focus is on what organizations and people should be doing and how to execute successfully than it is to admonish on what shouldn’t be focused.

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

7 Ways Sales Managers Kill Sales

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 13, 2017 5:00:00 PM

7 Ways Sales Managers Kill Sales ProductivityI have tremendous respect and empathy for sales managers. Frankly, I can’t think of a job that is more difficult and complex than managing salespeople. Effective salespeople, by nature, are pretty stubborn in their ways and are always adjusting things based on the specific conversation they’re having at any given time.

I remember when I was in a sales manager’s role, I often felt like I could never win. I was responsible for implementing the strategy and approach that was devised by others (my bosses and their bosses) and required to achieve results through others (the salespeople that reported to me) that I had, at best, only a slight degree of control. Having been a top sales performer, I was always fighting against my natural inclination to just take care of everything myself.

Yet, despite the challenge, sales managers can have great impact. For most organizations, it’s the highest leverage, highest impact position in the organization. For the company, a strong sales manager yields growth and results across multiple performers. For the manager, success at this level opens the door for lucrative opportunities in the future.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there’s nothing quite so good as a strong sales manager and there’s nothing quite so bad as an average or weak one. In my experience, there are seven killer habits that sink managers who would otherwise be strong.

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

The 10 Worst Vanity Metrics Every Marketer Uses

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 31, 2017 5:00:00 PM

The 10 Worst Vanity Metrics Every Marketer UsesWhat you measure gets done...so be very careful about what you measure.

The story of Moneyball is a powerful one. Despite its popularity, its central thesis is often overlooked. While many people point to the new analytics that Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane identified that others ignored, the real power (and advantage) was in their ability to determine the metrics that everyone else valued that, in reality, did not lead to success.

The time has come (more accurately the time is long past due) for Moneyball to come to marketing and sales.  

Twenty-first-century marketing, led by the movement to inbound marketing, made a compelling promise: greater insights, fast & better decisions and the ability to separate the “signal from the noise.” Businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries would finally be able to stop debating opinions and feelings and would be able to rely on facts and data.

While it has fully delivered on the promise of more metrics (I would argue too many metrics), it has not delivered on the promise of insights and smarter decisions, backed by facts and data.

The reason? People measure the wrong things. The vast majority of metrics used by marketers and executives are what I call “vanity metrics”. What is a vanity metric? It’s a metric that can make you feel good but is not an indicator of success or advancement.  

If they’re ineffective, you may ask, why are vanity metrics so attractive? For two reasons:

  • They’re easy to measure.
  • They’re easier to control (and therefore they make bosses and clients feel better).

Identifying, tracking and utilizing metrics that actually contribute to success are hard to detect and uncover. I recently shared an example of a set of metrics we regularly use in guiding our business and advising our clients.

I love metrics, but it’s important to note that it’s better to have no metrics than to focus on the wrong metrics. Today I share 10 of the most popular metrics that are used by the vast majority of practitioners but do little or no good.  

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Performance

The 5 Factors that Must be Considered Before Strategy/Tactics are Determined

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 29, 2017 2:12:30 PM

The 5 Factors that Must be Considered Before Strategy/Tactics are DeterminedIt’s a dangerous time in the world of sales and marketing. There’s so much useful information, insights and data available to growth-oriented executives looking to find the elusive formula for consistent and fast growth.

What makes this time dangerous is the very reason that so much great information exists. More than $10 billion of venture and private equity investments have poured into technologies aimed at supporting growth (source:  VBProfiles). Every one of these companies has a vested interest (literally!) in convincing you that they’ve found the formula... that it’s simple and oh by the way, all you need to do is buy (subscribe?) to our product...and sales growth is yours!

Here is some of what I’m talking about:

  • Drift is telling the world that they should eliminate their forms (here’s my response to that).
  • HubSpot proclaims that no one answers their phones and outbound is dead.
  • SalesLoft teaches that outbound is still the answer.
  • Numerous sales consultants rail against “social selling kool aid purveyors” and remind everybody that cold calling and prospecting is the key to success.

I could go on (and on). It’s enough to drive anyone crazy.*

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Topics: Sales Development, Performance, B2B Sales Strategy

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