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7 Reasons Your Sales & Marketing Organization Doesn't Need A Playbook

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 4, 2018 11:00:00 AM

7-reasons-dont-need-playbook.jpgThe Imagine team has invested quite a bit of time and energy into mastering the design, development and implementation of playbooks that guide all facets of the customer and revenue acquisition, and retention process. However, we understand that not every company (or executive) feels the "juice is worth the squeeze.” You and your company might be one of the few who don’t need to spend time developing and using a playbook. Do any of these qualities describe you?

Rehiring Salespeople (and Marketers) is Fun for You

The mis-hire rate for salespeople is astronomical and the mis-hire rate for marketers is growing. Playbooks bring help you define the qualities of the talent needed, create a repeatable hiring process, and build a “genius in the system.” This means you get:

  • an increased talent pool capable of doing the job
  • higher likelihood of employee success
  • shortened ramp-up time

But, hiring new sales and marketing people means you have an endless stream of new people to meet. We know some people who use the salespeople churn process to get dates. We don’t judge.

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy

4 Resources to Get 2018 off to an Explosive Start

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 20, 2017 2:00:00 PM

explosive-start.jpgI simply cannot believe how fast 2017 has flown by. Here at Imagine, we’re in the final days of getting things wrapped up so we’re ready to take our annual “week of rejuivation”. We have big plans for 2018 and some exciting announcements we’ll be sharing as soon as we’re back at the beginning of the new year.

Of course, even while I’m off and spending time with family and friends, there will be a part of me thinking and reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned in 2017, my plans and objective for 2018 and figuring out how to get out of the gate fast. I’ve always found that if I can make January and February strong, the rest of the year typically takes care of itself.

Over the years, we’ve developed a number of resources focused on the idea of getting initiatives off to a strong and fast start. For those of you still looking for ideas, insights and inspirations to launch next year, here are some of the best ones we’ve created.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching

3 Ways Salespeople Kill Sales at the End of the Month

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 13, 2017 10:30:00 AM

salespeople-kill-end-of-month-sales.jpgWhen I was a salesperson, I loved December. It was the perfect time to close business. While December is a very difficult month to get things started, it’s a great time to “clean the slate,” take advantage of unused budget and leverage a natural deadline.  

One of the toughest strategies to execute in the sales process is to create a sense of urgency when there’s not a natural and obvious one present. It’s an area that is one of the biggest contributors to sales, less than professional reputation. From the great car salesman’s “If I can put you in a car you like at a payment you’re comfortable with…,” to the “last car on the lot” techniques, salespeople have been manipulating creating urgency for a long time.

It’s no surprise that selling organizations use the end of the month, quarter or year as a means to create urgency. Frankly, I’m waiting for the next evolution in sales: “Hey Mrs. Prospect, you know it’s coming up to the end of the week, tomorrow is Friday after all. Wouldn’t you be happier going into the weekend knowing that you’ve addressed blah, blah, blah.”

End-of-month and quarter tactics are so bad they’ve become a running joke among sales executives, salespeople and buyers alike. Though some of the jokes may be funny, end-of-month actions are not a laughing matter. They’re sales (and margin) killers. Here are the three primary ways salespeople are killing sales with end-of-month actions:

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

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

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

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

The Most Important Sales Enablement Question for Your Business

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 6, 2017 4:30:00 PM

The Most Important Sales Enablement Question for Your BusinessThe 2001 Oakland A’s had a problem. They’d won their division in 2000, but they were losing the league’s most valuable player, Jason Giambi, to the hated New York Yankees. What’s more, the A’s did not have the money or resources that their competitors had.

The front office, led by Billy Beane, had to figure out how they would replace Giambi and maintain the A’s winning ways. This is where he famously turned to his assistant GM, Paul DePodesta to develop a plan of attack.

This, of course, is the story that led to the bestselling book and movie: Moneyball. While DePodesta and Beane have achieved near hero status and as a result, went on to set a record for most consecutive wins (broken by the Cleveland Indians this past season) and repeat as division winner; they also highlighted essential lessons for every business executive.

In 2016, I spoke at Inbound16 to introduce and define the key principles that have come together to become the growing discipline of Sales Enablement. In that session, I defined Sales Enablement as the ongoing effort of aligning and optimizing all facets of an organization’s revenue generation process. It is focused on increasing the efficiency and acceleration of revenue generation tactics.  

I also highlighted that sales enablement isn't anything new. The world of sports and particularly baseball, have been implementing their version of sales enablement for more than a decade. They called it Moneyball.

So, let’s take a step back and think about the critical question that DePodesta was seeking to answer that led to the breakthrough and in turn, led to the book:

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Topics: Lead Generation, Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Demand Generation, Marketing

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

[Video] Demand Creator Minute: Assess a Sales Opportunity

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 4, 2017 1:00:00 PM

b2b-sales-review.jpgFor me, one of the toughest judgments I have to make as a salesperson, manager or growth executive is determining when a sales opportunity is ready to close.  

Push it too early and the likelihood of a sale is not only significantly lower, but the time you spend after the proposal is multiplied...taking valuable time from other pursuits. Wait too long, and you not only waste time, but you may lose the opportunity altogether.

Over the years, I've developed seven go-to questions that when answered clearly, concisely and confidently indicate the opportunity is ripe. The great thing about sales (for some) is that you’re never dealing with a perfect situation and you never have access to all of the knowledge you need.  

Successful sales is a lot like playing poker. A strong process and keen insights, mixed with experience enables you to find the opportune point to take action on the information you do have to maximize your probability of success. The seven questions I share in this video have helped me shorten the time to sale, while ensuring I spend the right amount of time and energy on the right opportunities. Just as importantly, it’s provided me the indication to know when to fold and walk away from the opportunity.

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

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