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Inbound 2019 - The Insights That We're Still Talking About

Inbound2019This past year at HubSpot’s Inbound 2019 conference, we were fortunate enough to fly the whole team in to Boston for the week. We were ecstatic to attend and be there for Doug’s session - The Ultimate Sales Manager: Coaching Reps to Coach Themselves. The week went by quickly, the sessions everyone attended either reinforced what we were already doing or inspired us to try something new, and we all (the Imagine team) left Inbound with some key takeaways. No two people had the same impact which meant everyone could bring something different to the table when we got back.

The Imagine Team’s Takeaways


Fiona - Head of Content

I thought one of the most interesting (and obvious in retrospect, as these things often are) tips from Inbound was from Kelsey Raymond. She recommended that content creators should sit in on a sales call at least once a month to hear first-hand what’s keeping potential clients up at night. That way, you’ll be able to keep these concerns in mind when creating content. 

I also found Daniel Waas’ session helpful because he talked a lot about his ideal framework for a webinar. As someone who writes fiction in my spare time, it struck me how much it was like a VERY simplified structure for a novel. This just reinforced that all successful content, no matter the format, has some type of story structure.

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What Hansel & Gretel Can Teach Sales & Marketing Executives About Content Strategy

breadcrumbsIn 2010, we made a critical decision at Imagine. We decided that we needed to move beyond our focus on sales and support the entire customer acquisition & success process. This led to the creation of lead generation services, which led to becoming a HubSpot partner, enabling our clients to successfully implement inbound and content marketing.

I don’t often share the (real) reason that we made this shift. I remember the culminating event as if it were yesterday. I was debriefing with one of my sales coaches about the progress with a customer, and let’s just say that the progress wasn’t very good. 

The sales team we were working with wasn’t embracing the approaches we were hired to implement and was struggling overall. In the debrief, I was being informed of the obstacles and objections the sales team were confronting, and further, why those objections meant our approach wouldn’t work.

I have to admit that was one of the most frustrating days of my career. I thought to myself, “Why is this so damn hard for them? I’ve been selling for decades and I’ve never had these problems, and while - yeah, sure I’m good - I’m not so good that I’m immune from common obstacles and objections.

It was in that moment I was struck with a BFO - blinding flash of the obvious. I realized the one element that I’ve always had everywhere I’ve ever sold (or led sales teams) that this team did not have. That element was content. I’d always had content to support my efforts because I’d always created content if the content I wanted wasn’t already there.

I realize this observation from today’s perspective isn’t so enlightening. Today, content is a given. The problem is that as content has proliferated, its impact has decreased (which has further fueled the proliferation of content). A lot of people claim that the reason for this is that quality decreased. While I can’t argue with that observation, I’m certain that’s not the cause.

The cause is that people are doing content wrong.

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The Biggest Difference Between Companies That Sustain Smart Growth & Those That Don't

successful-business-growth-strategyEarlier this week I hosted our latest Sales Genius Network webinar. The webinar focused on how companies can increase sales without increasing the size of the sales team. We’ve been researching the critical few inflection points that lead to successful customer acquisition and success processes and we’ve discovered that the vast majority of salespeople could produce 33% (or more) impact for their organizations, if their organization transformed their go-to-market strategy.

As part of the webinar I focused on what I’ve learned is the crucial difference between companies that succeed consistently and those companies who are just as good, but don’t experience the same level of success. Here's what I shared:

 

 

Video Transcript

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5 Popular Sales Metrics That Destroy Sales Performance

Sales MetricsEditor's Note: This post originally appeared on the HubSpot Sales Blog

In 1997, Billy Beane became the General Manager of the Oakland A’s. The A’s had the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball and in the four full seasons before Beane became GM, the A’s averaged less than 70 wins a season. Beane knew if he was going to build a contending team, he would not be able to do it the traditional way.Beane’s strategy -- as depicted in the 2011 film, “Moneyball” -- has traversed beyond the world of baseball to nearly all sectors of business and has become synonymous with making data-driven decisions.The tenet Beane and the A’s followed enabling them to average more than 93 wins per year for the following eight years had two components:

  • Discard highly valued “vanity” metrics that did not have a significant impact on winning baseball games.

  • Identify different metrics -- preferably those no one else was paying attention to but which had a significant impact on winning baseball games.

If Billy Beane were to take over a sales organization today, he would feel like he’d traveled back by about 20 years.Sales organizations today are dominated by metrics, but they’re rarely data-driven and even take actions counterproductive to the outcomes they desire. This results in higher costs, burnt out reps, high turnover, and frustrated customers.When noted economist Steven Levitt published the book “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything,” he shared the disproportionate impact structural incentives have on the behavior of individuals and their output.Structural incentives are those created by the structure of what’s being done. They are often referred to as the law of unexpected consequences and are generally more powerful than explicitly stated incentives.Structural incentives are also one of the primary causes of difficulty in change management. In sales, the most common structural incentives are the metrics used to assess performance -- whether tied to compensation or not.

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5 Necessary Elements for a Successful Account-Based Marketing Approach

5 Elements of Account Based MarketingOne of my favorite things from 2018 was the opportunity to join Ryan McInerney’s podcast to discuss the pros, cons, and myths surrounding Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Ryan also hosted Sangram Vajre, the founder and CEO of one of the very first ABM applications, Terminus. The conversation was so engaging that one episode quickly turned into two. (You can listen to episode one here and episode two here.)

There’s no question ABM is still hot. The good news is that, as account-based approaches have matured and technology has evolved, the opportunity to implement effective account-based programs is better than it has ever been.

But, realize that merely saying that you’re adopting such an approach does not change anything. If you’re changing your strategy, you must change your behaviors.

In our work with companies implementing or embarking with ABM, we’ve identified five overlooked or weak elements that are often the cause of failure. If you’re considering implementing such an approach, be sure you address these items.

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The Missing Persona That’s Damaging Your Sales & Crushing Your Margins

BuyerPersonaA client of ours, who provides a uniquely designed sales performance improvement program design for a unique niche, was involved in a large, complex sale with a major company in their market. Traditional sales theory would lead to a focus on one of two roles/personas at the company:

  • The executive in charge of sales revenue, or

  • The executive in charge of training.

My client won the sale, and in the debrief we confirmed something very few people would have expected. While the client did a yeoman’s job selling to the typical roles, it was the head of technology (CTO) who was the key player that led the company to not only buy from my company, but to do so without decreasing the scope or paying less than my client proposed. It was also the CTO that prevented the head of training from “checking with outside vendors” to see if they could do the “same thing for less.”

The CTO had no formal role regarding the sales approach or training programs that were implemented by this company. Yet, because of the insights and knowledge that my client developed regarding this company, the CTO was engaged from the beginning. Looking back, it’s likely the smartest decision that was made during the several months of the sales process.

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The Real Buyer's Journey, Part 2: Manufacturing Revenue

Manufacturing Revenue Blog-2Welcome to part two of our series on understanding the real buyer’s journey. In the first session, I shared the findings of our in-depth analysis of how buyers progress through their journey and take actions that lead to buying. In this session I'm focused on the other side of the equation, how sellers can align with buyers to increase the likelihood of generating engagement, entering conversations, and yes, successfully making sales.

The approach I share today is based on decades of direct experience combined with in-depth analysis, interviews, and studies. My promise is that if you take this approach, you'll gain the following five benefits:

  • You'll be able to design and execute strong customer acquisition programs much more easily.

  • You'll gain greater predictability and repeatability in your customer acquisition efforts, and therefore

  • You’ll gain greater scalability.

  • You'll dramatically increase the results from the marketing and sales efforts that you are taking.

  • You'll lower your overall costs for acquisition (CAC) and position yourself for an extraordinarily strong customer success program and your team will be happier and healthier.

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Sales Lessons From Better Call Saul

better-call-saulLast week as I was recovering from an amazing Inbound 2018 conference, I sat back on my couch, turned on the digital recorder and started the episode of Better Call Saul that I missed while traveling to Boston.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm about as big a fan of Breaking Bad as there is, so if I can't get me any new stories about Walter White, then the transformation of Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman (it's all good, man) is the next best thing.

So I sat back, ready to escape into Jimmy's world, forgetting (for an hour) all of the crazy sales and marketing strategies running through my head. Little did I know, that the creators of Saul were about to share one of the most important, and difficult to accept, sales lessons out there.

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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.

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The Critical Role of Intent in Demand Generation, Sales and Marketing

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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