<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

Sisyphus vs. The Flywheel: 5 Tips to Eliminate Friction

sisyphusLast week I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with a client’s sales leadership team, discussing the transformation they need to embark upon to become the business they want to be. One of the things that made it such a pleasure is that this group is already doing a great job. They’re hitting their numbers and growing in an industry that isn’t, but they also know that what they’re doing today (and more importantly, how they’re doing it) isn’t enough to get them where they need to go.

One of the things I noticed about my client, which is very common across growth-focused mid-market organizations, wasn’t how committed and passionate everybody was. (Don’t get me wrong, they were those things!) It was how tired they were. They were busting their backends doing everything they could to make things happen. Meeting in early January served as a bit of symbolism. It was the beginning of the year, so they were all “hitting the reset button” to bust at it again.

I see a lot of top performers who are tired these days. Some of my best sales friends, while winning club and hitting new performance records, often spend more time sharing how exhausted they are and how they are striving to spend more time with family rather than sharing the stories of success and the challenges they overcome (which dominated our conversations just a few years ago).

Certainly growing a business requires hard work, often very hard work. But, I’ve learned that there’s only so hard you can work, and at some point working harder not only doesn't contribute to success, it gets in the way of it. The story of Sisyphus is supposed to be a parable of warning, but increasingly it’s becoming a descriptor for leading a growth team.

As I thought about this, I was reminded of the Predictable Success model (and book) that was created by Les McKeown--specifically, the transition from Fun into Whitewater and then Predictable Success

Here’s how Les describes the fun stage: You’ve broken through the Early Struggle—you have cash (at least enough to take the pressure off) and an established market. It’s time to have Fun! Now you’re free to concentrate on getting your product or service into the market, so the key focus now moves from cash to sales. This is the time when the organization’s myths and legends are built, and the “Big Dogs” emerge—those loyal high producers who build the business exponentially in this time of rapid, first-stage growth.

Fun is followed by Whitewater: The very success that you reaped in the Fun stage brings with it the seeds of Whitewater: Your organization becomes complex, and the key emphasis shifts once more, from sales to profitability. Achieving sustained, profitable growth requires you to put in place consistent processes, policies, and systems. Unfortunately, putting those systems in place proves harder than you expected. Making the right decisions seems easy, but implementing decisions and making them stick is incredibly difficult. The organization seems to be going through an identity crisis, and you may even be doubting your leadership and management skills.

The Third Law of Thermodynamics is that entropy is always increasing. Entropy represents disorder and randomness. In simpler terms it means that a natural organizational dynamic is that disorder and randomness is always increasing. In your business this disorder mean more friction. As a business grows (or simply survives), it picks up more complexity. That complexity creates friction, and before long, what seemed easy becomes difficult or impossible.

Friction is a part of growth. It should not be ignored. Frankly, whether you recognize friction or not, it will yield its sharp edge. The key to sustaining growth, and making growth manageable, predictable, and, yes even enjoyable, is to manage the friction. These tips are for those who are committed to managing friction to accelerate the momentum of their growth flywheel.

Read More

5 Tips for Making a Strong First Connection with a Lead/Prospect

connect-calls-3More money than ever is spent on the technology, people and process to enable organizations to generate higher volumes of sales qualified leads at greater velocities. Research from Gartner CEB indicates that these investments aren’t working out too well. They found that, on average, companies are spending nearly $5,000 per rep more on technology alone, and they’re seeing their conversion rates drop almost 12 percent.

The growing tech stack, combined with maturing lead and demand generation tactics, have given sales reps an apparent playground. Gone are the days of not having enough people to talk with (or, at least, they should be). Despite all the investments being made to “reduce friction for buyers” and more activity, companies are still suffering from a dearth of qualified and engaged prospects willingly entering predictable sales processes.

Through our work over the last several years, I’ve identified two key causes for this problem.

  1. This first is likely not new to you, as it’s been highlighted, ad nauseam, over the last half-decade. Buyers have changed how they engage and sellers are not stepping up.
  2. The second doesn’t get anywhere near the attention, but may be just as big. The sales process has become, well, far too process stringent. This is not a slam on the relevancy and importance of defined and documented sales processes, but, rather, an indictment of how they’re being implemented and executed.

I’ve seen this from both sides of the table—advising and coaching sales reps and dealing with sales reps as a prospect and customer. The first call is painful. You would think that all of the attention and money that’s been spent on building sales development teams and designing prospecting processes, reps would have mastered the first call.

Read More

5 Steps to Design Your Pipeline to Shorten the Sales Cycle and Align Sales & Marketing

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.

Read More

Is the Sales Development Process Still a Strong Strategy for Sales Growth?

imagine-blog-sales-strategyOver the last decade, the hottest trend for fast-growth sales organizations is the birth and dominant role of sales development teams to accelerate lead generation and the creation of qualified opportunities. Even as recently as five-years ago, sales development was still being adopted by only the most forward-leaning companies. Today, sales development is de rigueur. If you're a company that's committed to serious growth, a sales development function is pretty much table stakes.

In our own way, we've contributed to this reality. In 2015, I spoke at Inbound sharing how sales development was not only a complement to Inbound Marketing, it was necessary to successful execution. Back then (if two and a half years ago can be considered "back then") my topic was controversial with many people arguing against it. Today if I were to present such a topic I'd be lucky if anyone other than a member of my team was present for the session. 

I talk with executives every day about growth. I see how the strategy how gets implemented today. While there is a tremendous amount of content available on sales development (with more coming every day), one question doesn't seem to be asked: is it still a viable strategy?

Read More

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

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.

Read More