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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

[Video] The 7 Reasons You Need a Playbook & 5 Reasons Why they Fail

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 23, 2018 3:00:00 PM

sales-playbook-webinarEarlier this week we held a webinar highlighting both the importance of playbooks in generating predictable, sustainable and scalable results and the seven components that must be present in a sales playbook if it is going to be effective.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen more companies paying attention to the idea of playbooks, for good reason. Companies with effective playbooks see:
(source: Sales Enablement Study Conducted by The Aberdeen Group)

  • Higher velocity and quality of lead generation
  • Greater team and rep attainment of sales quotas
  • Higher win rates
  • Shorter shorter sales cycle times

Yet, despite their importance and the time (and money) companies invest in developing playbooks, most of them never lead to stronger results. In this excerpt from the webinar, we share the problems a sales playbook solves and the five reasons they fail.

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Topics: Performance, Playbooks

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 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