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Lead Activation Syndrome (LAS): The Ailment that is Costing You Millions $$$

Posted by Doug Davidoff

May 9, 2018 4:00:00 PM

lead-activation-losing-moneyLast week, I was going through some older files when I came across a standard presentation deck from six years ago. Two things struck me as I reviewed that deck. The first was just how much of what we were talking about five years ago still applies today.

The second was the amount of time we spent in that presentation on the need to develop a formal lead generation process for businesses desiring growth. While the strategies shared are still applicable, what I found interesting was that, just five years ago, we spent a considerable amount of high-value sales time getting business executives to understand the importance of simply generating leads.

Certainly, there are companies that haven’t adjusted, but even those companies acknowledge the importance and value in designing top-of-funnel strategies to drive higher lead volume. (They’re just still working through their list of excuses.) Today, we rarely spend time talking about the importance of lead generation.

Instead we find, with increasing frequency, that companies committed to serious growth are suffering from a very different problem. They’ve generated the leads, and continue to generate them. Often, they’re generating more leads then they can handle.

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Topics: Sales Development, Sales Cycle, Sales Enablement

Conversations Don’t Happen by Accident: The 6 Strategies to Creating a Strong Chat Experience

Posted by Doug Davidoff

May 2, 2018 10:00:00 AM

CAPBot ChatYesterday, Drift announced the latest enhancement to their conversational marketing platform, called Leadbot 2.0. Leadbot 2.0 increases the power available to marketers and salespeople utilizing chat while also drastically improving the user interface and ease in building out strong chat experiences.

This news, combined with the leaps HubSpot has made with their soon-to-be-released update to their chat product, Messenger (I’ve had beta access to the product for the last month), means that the momentum behind Chat and Conversational Marketing isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.

And for good reason. I’ve always believed that the mantra of the modern demand generation executive is “Solve for the customer!” Done properly, chat is a powerful tool to empower both the seller and the buyer, enabling them to have meaningful conversations in the most effective and efficient way possible. I’ve made no secret that I don’t believe Chat means the end of other demand generation tactics, but the compelling use cases for Chat continues to increase every day.

However, Chat is by no means an easy or “quick fix” solution. It’s not as simple as throwing some code onto your site, assigning sales reps to manage it, and then waiting for the people to ask you if you will let them buy your product/service. Make no mistake, there are far more bad chat experiences than there are good ones.

Implementing chat requires a commitment of time, money, and a solid effort to develop the strategies, plumbing, and training to make it work. There’s no question it’s a great opportunity to create leverage and lower costs, if - IF - you do it right.

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales, Technology Stack

Why I Don’t Give My Head of Sales A Revenue/Sales Quota

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Apr 27, 2018 1:00:00 PM

No-Sales-QuotaMake the number! It’s probably the three words that dominate the thinking of salespeople and executives everywhere. I’ll admit that over my career I’ve literally had dreams--and nightmares--where making the number was the central theme. (Of course, whenever this happened, I knew it was probably time to take a week off).

Sales quotas (or revenue quotas) are a foundational element of the sales. For most, the only question to ask about quotas is “Where should the target revenue or new customer acquisition quota be set?” Questioning the need, appropriateness, or effectiveness of even setting quotas is sacrilegious in business circles.

But the time has come for those leading businesses into the future to admit that quotas aren’t working. Recent research from CSO shows that barely 50% of salespeople are meeting quota, a trend that has been steadily deteriorating. Anecdotally, many senior sales executives responsible for setting quotas adjust to this reality by setting artificially high quotas and putting more pressure on salespeople.

Earlier this week, I presented a webinar where I revealed some research that we just completed, along with ways to implement strategies that can double your pipeline in 90 days. In this session, I shared that the nature of sales continues to undergo rapid change. If selling is going to remain a viable strategy, leaders must rethink their fundamental assumptions about sales, how they allocate talent and resources towards the sales process, and how they assess and compensate performance.

At the beginning of this year, I determined it was time to take a lead in designing the sales model of the future. As a part of our 2018 sales plan, I eliminated the sales quota as a key metric for our VP Sales. Here's why.

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Topics: Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Cycle, Sales, Sales Enablement

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

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Apr 10, 2018 3:00:00 PM

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.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching, Playbooks, Sales Enablement

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

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 27, 2018 11:00:00 AM

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?

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Topics: Sales Development, Playbooks, Sales Enablement

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

To Build an Effective Playbook You Must Know What Game You're Playing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 2, 2018 12:30:00 PM

To Build an Effective Playbook You Must Know What Game You're PlayingI admit that I spend far too much time on social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn. I can’t help it. There’s just so much great information and content available!

On the one hand, the access to insights, knowledge and even detailed process is extraordinarily valuable...but it’s also exceptionally dangerous. The reason is that the majority of organizations sharing valuable information have this in common:

  • They’re sharing what works for them.
  • They’ve got an interest in influencing you to see the world the way they do.

Now, neither of these things are bad, but they should put up a caution light to marketers, sales reps and executives committed to improvement and growth (personal and business). A quick review of my just my Twitter stream right now highlights the conflicting approaches being advocated. Here’s some of what I’m seeing:

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Topics: Sales Development, Demand Generation

HubSpot Sales Pro Sales Enablement Tool Review

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 25, 2018 2:00:00 PM

hubspotsalesad

Over the last three years, HubSpot has continued their commitment to the sales stack, while reinforcing their core marketing product. For those considering building out and enhancing your sales tech stack, here is my review of HubSpot’s new Sales Professional tool.

[NOTE: To future readers, this review was created nearly three months after its late 2017 rollout, so things will certainly change going forward.]

The role of technology continues to grow its importance in the daily lives of salespeople and executives. Gartner CEB recently shared that companies are spending almost $5,000 more per sales rep, per year on sales enablement technology. The strong use of technology is increasingly becoming a “ticket to play,” for sales organizations.

The launch of an enhanced version of HubSpot’s sales enablement app Sales Professional was among the big product announcements at Inbound17. As HubSpot’s headline indicates, the promise is big.

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Topics: Sales Development, Technology Stack

7 Reasons Hiring Salespeople is the Wrong First Step for Faster Growth

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 23, 2018 3:30:00 PM

7 Reasons Hiring Salespeople is the Wrong First Step for Faster GrowthI see it time and time again. A company, seeking to accelerate revenue growth and customer acquisition, makes the obvious decision to hire more salespeople. Every time (for purposes of accuracy, 95% of the time) I have the same reaction (as I bring my hands to my head in dismay):

NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There’s a simple acid test that virtually any small or mid-market organization can use to determine if the time has come to hire salespeople. The acid test is “Do we have more high quality, right-fit leads than our existing sales team can manage?”

If the answer isn’t a definitive “YES!!,” then DON’T. HIRE. SALESPEOPLE. (YET).

I realize this advice is counter-intuitive. I understand that your board, your investors, hell, even your CEO (if she’s not the one reading this) are not going to like this take. I get that your VP of Sales quantifies his importance and domain by headcount (if some is good, more must be better). Your peers will look at you like you’re crazy, but I challenge you to think about this:

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Topics: Sales Development, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation, Sales Cycle

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