“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series.
We feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader with our own version of “How I Work” questions. You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.
This week I’m excited to feature Deidre Moore, director of demand generation for TimeTrade. Diedre is a demand gen veteran of many years at several well-known national B2B brands, and apparently has the best of both worlds as well – she’s a foodie married to a chef!
Here in her own words is how she gets stuff done.
Location: my home office in Newburyport, MA (north of Boston on the water)
Number of unread emails right now? A little over 80 at the moment, though that’s likely a bit deceiving as I often leave something as unread if I need to come back to it or there is a specific action item for me, even if I’ve technically read it one time through.
First app checked in the morning? Email, followed closely by Yahoo Weather (In fact, it’s probably a tie.)
First thing you do when you come into work? Re-check my calendar in case something has changed on my commute to work (which is about 50 minutes on a good day)
What is your email management strategy? It’s likely a stretch to call it a strategy, but I do try to file the important stuff in Inbox folders. It gets it out of my immediate view, but makes it easier to find the critical ones later.
Most essential app when traveling? Google Maps (especially subway and walking directions when I’m in NYC—genius!) Some favorite podcasts also made a summer of traveling to visit colleges with my son a little lighter, and started some great conversations as well.
How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? For me, calm and focused are really 2 different states as when I’m really focused, I tend to have a lot of energy. When I want to calm down, I usually look for the nearest dog. (I have 3 and one of them sticks to me like Velcro when I’m home so that’s pretty easy.) When I need to focus, I really need someplace quiet and without distractions. No people, no music, just the work. Multi-tasking is over-rated anyway.
What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? My natural tendencies definitely lean towards “control freak,” so this has always been a struggle for me. I think honest communication helps. If something is important to me in either realm of my life, and is going to be especially demanding of my time for a period, I try to be open about that and let the people around me know. (Forewarned is forearmed!) But generally speaking, over the years I’ve come to see it as a long game. Some weeks work wins, some weeks the rest of my life wins, but it all balances out in the end.
Are there any work rituals critical to your success? Ever since I can remember I’ve always carved out an hour or so each Sunday to go through my notes from the previous week, rebuild my to-do list for the new week, and prioritize tasks for both work and family. It makes facing Monday SO much easier.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Waze. And on the subject of my commute, podcasts have become pretty indispensable to me. I have a diverse library of favorites and like to switch it up from something work-related to something really just for fun. I recently finished a podcast called “Last Seen,” produced by WBUR, our local and wonderful NPR affiliate, and the Boston Globe. It’s about the still unsolved art theft from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum nearly 30 years ago. As a former art history student I really loved it, though it unfolded more like a great crime thriller. And the new season of Serial is out now, so looking forward to that as well.
What’s your workspace like? Messy. (Sigh.) Lots of stacks. I still like to read a lot of things on paper versus online, and I’m a huge list maker so I always have a notebook or 2 going. I also never met a sticky note I didn’t like.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Doing the big, important (even if painful) stuff first thing in the morning when I’m fresh and caffeinated. That and always writing stuff down when I think of them. My days of being able to remember all the little stuff are long gone. (See answer above re: sticky notes.)
What are you currently reading? The pile on my bedside table is embarrassingly large right now! I’m always reading several things at once, including my perennial quest to catch-up on weekly issues of The New Yorker, but currently its “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stephenson, a really compelling non-fiction account of a career in our criminal justice system, and “Imagine it Forward” by Beth Comstock. I highly recommend both!
Last thing you do before leaving work? Ha! I’m usually the last one in the family to leave the house in the am, so it’s always telling my dogs I love them, and that “I’ll be right back.” Thank goodness they don’t hold it against me!
Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? My former colleague and boss Betsy Zikakis taught me so much about marketing, and was a tremendous role model of what a woman in tech could achieve early in my career.
Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? My husband is definitely at the top of this list. Our life only works because we are truly partners – even in laundry.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “It’s not about the effort. It’s about the results.” And this is not advice that was given to me per se, but Scarlett O’Hara was right: Tomorrow is another day. Thankfully we all get another chance to do better.
Name a guilty pleasure TV show Game of Thrones for sure, but sadly we have to fill the multi-year gaps between seasons, right? Many years ago my British mother-in-law got me addicted to Masterpiece Theater and her favorite BBC shows. Those are still the ones I gleefully watch today, esp. Poldark, Victoria, and Call the Midwife.
Anything else you want to add? This was fun—thanks for the opportunity!
Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions. I’d love to see my friend and former marketing partner in crime Krista Thomas answer these questions.
We were thrilled this last time to talk to Matt Gorniak, Chief Revenue Office and Co-Founder at G2Crowd in an episode called, How to Optimize Reviews to Accelerate Sales for Your B2B Products. We talk about the power of reviews in B2B products. We use reviews either intentionally or subtly in so many decisions we make, whether we’re buying something on Amazon, buying an app on our iPhones. But reviews are just as important for complex B2B technology decisions. We talk a little bit about how reviews might be a little bit different for those complex decisions, but also what G2Crowd has learned about how important they are, and how directly linked they are to preference and decision making.
I want to give a huge shout out to today’s sponsor, MailTag.io.
MailTag.io is a Chrome browser extension for your Gmail that allows you to track and schedule your emails.
It’s a super helpful tool if you’re in sales because you can receive real-time alerts, right on your desktop, as soon as your prospects open your emails or click links within your emails.
Matt: Well thank you very much for joining us here on Sales Pipeline Radio. I appreciate everyone being here, we are almost at the end of 2018. I can’t believe this year is almost over. For those of you joining us on the Funnel Media Radio Network, thanks so much for joining us, really appreciate it. You’re listening live during your week as we wrap up 2018. For those of you on the podcast, thanks for subscribing. You can find us everywhere, find podcasts are sold on the iTunes store, google play, and elsewhere, and every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio past, present and future is available at salespipelineradio.com.
We are featuring every week, some of the best and brightest mind in the B2B sales and marketing world, today is absolutely no different. Very excited to have with us Matt Gorniak, he is the co-founder and CRO, Chief Revenue Officer, for G2 Crowd. Matt thanks so much for joining us today.
Matt Gorniak: Hey sure, hey man, good to talk to you again.
Matt: Yeah, likewise. Excited to have you here, and excited to talk a little bit about what you guys are doing. And really, I guess, in the power of reviews in B2B products, and I think, we’ve known or we use reviews either intentionally or subtly in so many decisions we make, whether we’re buying something on Amazon, buying an app on our iPhones. But reviews are just as important for complex B2B technology decisions. Talk a little bit about how reviews might be a little bit different for those complex decisions, but also what you guys have learned about how important they are, and how directly linked they are to preference and decision making.
Matt Gorniak: Absolutely. I think you’re right, it is different, but it’s not different, if that makes sense. So when we first met, I want to say 2011, I think that trade show, we just rolled out the first version of G2 Crowd years ago. And at that point the question was, obviously reviews are very much B2C just as you mentioned, and now it’s a given. Generations of buyers, I think ourselves included, our train of that motion right, but there was still that perception it wouldn’t work in B2B, this is different.
Now, my background, my co-founders background, we were selling B2B software, and we very much thought that process is needed, but has to be different. So the difference really is in the quality of the content, and to the degree, I’ll just talk about us, I won’t go into much detail, to make sure we have trust process in place, because the stakes are much higher. So the process of gathering content, making sure it is trusted, it is authentic, and everything goes with it is different, but the consumption is actually very similar.
And by the way, I think that will be actually be very interesting to a lot of B2B vendors, because I think they think it’s still different, and it’s not. So I hope that it answers the question a little bit, but it’s about the trust that’s different.
Matt: Yeah. I think when you think about the fact that there’s what, like 6000 marketing technology tools out there today, just in the Martech space, knowing which of a variety of competitors people should be paying attention to is important. Knowing where people have had a good experience is important, and knowing you have a place where you can go and find sort of trustful reviews is important. G2 Crowd’s been around, what, about six or seven years now, has emerged in what has become a bit of a competitive space. What was the opportunity that you guys saw? Because I mean, reviews are not new to G2 Crowd, not new B2B, but the way you guys are approaching it is new. What was the problem that you saw in the industry, and why did this model make most sense?
Matt Gorniak: Yeah, no, I’m glad you asked. It was definitely an itch we had ourselves, and there was two, and I think this is really interesting to say, but two itches. One was, we were selling software. Software that had a pretty high average sales price. In the process of conveying our value prop, you just run out of assets. How do you convey you went the extra mile to care of customers, which we did? How do you convey all these product features to deliver ROI? At some point case studies are interesting, a nice logo on your website is cool, but there is more. And we realized there’s an asset which is called, taking care of your customer, the customer voice, that’s not captured anywhere.
We also realized that the traditional analysts don’t capture it either, because they’re not really talking to the customers, they’re talking to the vendors. So that was kind of the opportunity we saw is, what if there was a platform that was unbiased, it had no voice, but had a trust process around gathering the customer voice, and from a vendor perspective, make that available to the buyers. Wouldn’t that be nice?
At the same time you brought up something else that the Martech 6000 vendors, we started buying a lot of software ourselves as a company. And we realized they were super confused about what to buy, because a lot of disrupted technologies were not covered, there was nothing on them. So there was nothing to read, there was no opinions, there was no quadrants on them, so basically you’re just kind of guessing. So we felt that connection sparked the idea behind G2 Crowd, and turns out that transforming in software in the world is very real, as obviously you know yourself, and there’s thousands of apps being added to G2 Crowd monthly. And so that’s what we’re trying to solve, but it came from those two problems we experienced ourselves personally.
Matt: Well, it’s not just reviews, because I think review is a function of as a means of providing advice. And I think purchase advice has come from a variety of people in the past. I think a lot of companies still will look at the Gartner’s and Forrester’s of the world to provide some sort of expertise and advice. But as opposed to having sort of one person whose looking to cross every sort of consolidate that advice, now you’ve created an open playing field for anyone to provide that kind of advice. Talk about the pro’s and cons of opening up that opportunity. Obviously you’ve got a lot more people that are able to provide, and crowdsource ideas, and advice, and expertise for a potential buyer. You’ve also got the opportunity to corrupt some of that advice for a variety of emotional and sort of devious reasons. How do you balance that to give your audience, the people that are increasingly coming to G2 Crowd to learn about software advice? How do you balance that?
Matt Gorniak: Right. Let me start with first one. So I would say, I mean yes a review, and it’s actually more than a review, because what we’re doing is, we’re not only, I’ll talk about us, but it’s not about just the content, but how do you have a standardized way of asking these questions, and compare and contrast them. Have a standardized way of looking at data, right, which is really cool. Because one is to read a review, and others is to have 10,000 reviews of a product, thousands across other products, and now you can start comparing them. So that’s kind of powerful there.
But I think what’s really interesting is, one of the crucial questions in the decision process is, “Does this stuff even work?” So if you think back how a lot of vendors communicate with E-mails, inbound campaigns, whatever, a lot of it is based on value props that is really hard to back up, the customer voice is missing. So that’s the problem number one. The other problem is then, “Hey, how am I faring versus others?” But I think a lot of folks mistake that it’s all about comparisons. It’s just about, “Hey, I actually, this stuff does work. It generates value.” So that’s coming from, you’re right, there’s more to it than just a review.
As far as corruption. I think we took a lot of great care of making sure that the contributors of G2 Crowd are vetted. You have to have a LinkeIn profile to contribute, and there’s a host of processes, automatic and also human, that we do to ensure Q&A. So I’d say we have a lot of resources dedicated towards that. If you do that right, then the data becomes very powerful. Again, the question for you Matt is, “Who of my peers uses this? What results are they getting? How does it fare?” And at the end you’re right, it’s not the end all be all, there’s other sources they’ll consider, but if you look at it without platforms at G2 Crowd, you don’t get at the peers, right. That’s the missing link, “Does it work, and who else in my network uses it?”
So if you go G2, find your favorite marketing application, you can actually click on a button and it shows you your number one connections on LinkedIn that left a review. So that’s another indicator of like, “Wow, that’s pretty cool right?” For some applications I need to go to and just read a couple of reviews, it’s not a big investment, it works, “Hey, Matt what you do think?” You’re like, “Oh, it worked great for me.” I’m done, let’s go. So people also forget that for some it’s just accelerating of buying, they already have an idea, just want to confirm. For very big projects, it could be part of an RFP process. But again, “Who else uses it? What results are they getting?” That was before platforms like ours, a big missing link, anecdotal.
Matt: Well, an opportunity to go into a place where there’s existing data, and existing opportunity, and provide a little disruption that benefits the consumers. I mean this isn’t your first go around in this. With you and Goddard you guys were both instrumental in building, and successfully selling Steel Brick into Salesforce. One of the first real quote to crash platforms that existed in the market, and doing that now with G2 Crowd. We’ve got Matt Gorniak today, he’s the Co-founder and CRO at G2 Crowd, a company that’s raised another $55 million a couple of months ago to continue transferring the way businesses are buying software.
Matt, before we take a quick commercial break, I wanted to talk a little bit about, what is it like to go from six, seven years ago where you’re sort of a bootstrapping entrepreneur to now really having an awful lot of venture capital behind you. Does it change the way you think about product strategy, does it change the way you think about sort of trajectory and sales strategy, and where your focus there is from that stand point going into it now 2019?
Matt Gorniak: Yeah. I would say that we really didn’t need to raise the money quite kinderly, but we do feel like right now it’s gelling in a sense. And you kind of eluded to it with one of the comments with the 6000 Martech products, there is thousands and thousands of categories that are long pail, but very important to the buyer at that moment. So for us it’s just getting there faster, if that makes sense? People want insight like this, the vendors want to apply for what it can have truthfully, just focus on what they do well and express that without much overhead. And then at the end we’re kind of looking at this a little bit more like, “Have they buyer find their perfect software, whatever that may be.” But if you look at these categories, there’s literally thousands of them, and we’re adding hundreds of them per year. So it’s about getting there faster.
I mean like this funeral software, and it’s a very competitive market for people that sell funeral software. I can go on and on in all these categories, and the whole world, and by the way, the other thing is, we all think Martech’s over, I mean I don’t think that, but some people do, or CRM. What is your Martech provider in Australia for governments, how does that compare to the Singaporean government? So the world’s just getting user software anyway.
Matt: Yeah, we’re going take a quick break, pay some bills here. We’ll be right back with more Matt Gorniak. We may or may not talk about funeral software, we’re definitely going to address the question of whether Martech is over. But we’re going to go pay some bills, we’ll be right back. This is Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: Alright, we’re going to speak softly today here, so everybody turn up your volume. Are you tired of sending sales E-mails and wondering if they’re ever even opened? Well, so you may need Mailtag. Mailtag is a Chrome Browser extension for your G-mail that allows you to track your E-mails in real time. You receive alerts right in your desk top as soon as your E-mails are read. And as a special thank you for being a listener this show, you get, get this, you get to not only start a free 14 day trial with no credit card required, but if you decide to sign up, you get 50% off for life.
That’s right, just put in the promo code Heinz, H-E-I-N-Z, and you get half off for life. Such a deal. I wish I could be more enthusiastic today, but my voice is just gone, so you’ll have to trust your own eyesight when you go to mailtag.io. Check it out, find out more what they can do for you.
Matt: Paul that was next level commitment to the show. That was impressive, and I would argue that it’s entirely possible this could their best episode ever.
Because you made it, I mean you usually do a great job with the reads, but that was serious.
Paul: Serious. You know, maybe we should do them all this way, because when you speak softly it pulls people in.
Matt: I think everyone just pulled a little closer to the … “What amazing, important, critical technology is he bringing to the table today?”
Paul: Exactly. Well, didn’t want to think that I’m setting up your next segment on funeral discussions here.
Matt: No, no. That was … Well, you said it, not me. So I don’t know how I transition from funerals, but just want to thank again our sponsor, mailtag.io. If you are in sales, if you’re a business development, heck, if you’re just using G-mail and want to have a better sense for how people are interacting with your E-mails, the chance to use this tool, very much appreciate the mailtag team. Hey, if you’re wondering as you send E-mails, potentially over the holidays, are people engaging, are they working, are they not, if someone E-mails you back, or if someone opens or clicks your E-mail next week but doesn’t E-mail back right away because they think you’re on vacation, maybe that’s an opportunity to engage with them. So definitely check those guys out, mailtag.io is the Heinz tag, check out and get a pretty good deal on that.
Well, like I say Paul, we’re here at the end almost of 2018. We’ve got one more episode of Sales Pipeline Radio in the works for next week. We’re going to have TJ Waldorf, he’s the Vice President of Global Marketing for INAP. We’re going to talk about the agony and ecstasy of annual budgeting and planning. This is an episode that we’re actually going to play on the show week. We recorded it earlier today, so that everyone can be off in the week between Christmas and New Years, but you’re definitely going to want to check that one out.
Coming up in January, we’ve got some great guests. We’ve got Scott Ingram talking about lessons from the sales one percent. We’ve got Tiffani Bova, who is going to talk about her new book, Growth IQ. But today we’ve got a little more time here with Matt Gorniak. He’s a co-founder and CRO at G2 Crowd, has been at a number of released aged companies, and a number of companies that have been really sort of at the forefront of the sales and marketing technology world.
And you said something before that break Matt, that there are people that think that Martech is over. I know a lot of people that have very expensive, very extensive marketing technology stacks built that might be alarmed to hear that. So what are you hearing, and what do you think? What’s your opinion?
Matt Gorniak: Yeah. I figured you would take this out of context. No, what I meant to say is in the context of review sites, that’s actually not what I meant. What I’m saying is, people are thinking back to the 6000 logos out there, or vendors, it’s not over. That was going to be my other point. There’s more and more tech coming, to just conclude that point. You know what I mean? It’s getting more and more confusing, that’s what I meant to say.
Matt: Four years ago, it was 1500, now it’s over 7000. We keep thinking we see a lot of consolidation, we see companies getting bought, companies going away, companies merging, but the number keeps going up. I think what’s exciting is that there is more and more technology that can solve a more diverse set of problems, but I do think companies have a hard time trying to decide what they need and why they need it, and I think it’s why sites like G2 Crowd are so important. So I tease a little bit. Next week’s episode Matt, on the agony and ecstasy of budgeting and planning, and in that show that we recorded earlier, we talk a lot about sales and marketing working together. Talk about as you guys grow, as in expectations for growth with your investors continue to grow, how do you work successfully with marketing to plan out the next year so that you can continue to hit your number?
Matt Gorniak: I mean I’m not sure that we do anything magical per say, but I think the important piece is to look at this as one. Now, I’m a big believer that marketing leaders have to have some percentage of sales in them, and vice versa, just to align that. And I think where I see the most this alignment or non-alignment, is basically where sales and marketing kind of could compete. And I think it starts from the top to make sure that it doesn’t happen culturally, if you will, and then own the goals together. And I would say it starts there, and then the culture of working on it together I think is important. So that’s kind of how we do it. It’s one goal to drive Pipeline, it’s not just, “You give me your leads, and I’ll convert them.” I think that creates a lot of, as you scale, it creates a lot of friction.
Matt: Well, talk about the importance of revenue responsibility, or at least revenue responsibility awareness across the teams. I know members of your team well, and I know they’re not like this at all, but you’ve got some marketers that really sort of act as glorified arts and crafts professionals, and you’ve got others that still appreciate the art and the science of marketing, still appreciate the importance of brand, but are focused on ultimately driving a number that you can buy a beer with. What are some of the keys to making that kind of alignment work when by definitions some of what marketing is doing still doesn’t directly lead to sales and revenue?
Matt Gorniak: I totally agree, and I think at some point a spreadsheet won’t get you there. I do think it starts with very top line alignment between myself, Goddard whose the CEO, and Ryan whose our CMO, and we set that culture and our standing flows down, I think that goes a long way. Then we can spend hours on the process, but I think that’s the pivotal, I think for anyone whose more at work, that doesn’t feel like that, that’s one of the culprits then of levels down it’s becoming, like you said, a pride. And then some parts are disjointed right, but then people always find a way to fine in back to the main mission or not, right, and that’s when the finger pointing starts.
It’s not a perfect process by any means, but I think, like I said, it starts with that vision, if you will.
Matt: Got just a few more minutes here with Matt Gorniak from G2 Crowd, and Matt, you’ve served in a number of different leadership capacities in start-ups over the years. What are some of the things you’ve learned either the hard way, or have just taken at facts to learn that people early in their career, maybe at the beginning of the ark that you’re on, that you wish they would know to increase their success?
Screen Time is an app that comes preloaded on iPhones (or available with a system update) that tracks the time you spend on your phone on specific apps and how many times you pick it up. While Screen Time is specific to iPhone users, there are tons of similar apps available for Android or other operating systems (here are a few).
The app breaks out your screen time between different categories such as social networking, productivity, and other – allowing you to see how much time you spend on different apps. It will also show you the number of times you pick up your phone and the number of notifications you receive (from any app), both averaged by the hour.
Aside from showing you how much time you spend glued to your phone, it also provides some features to help combat this. You can set a downtime schedule where during those hours, only apps that you choose to allow and phone calls will be available, helping you to limit use of your phone. You can also set app limits which allows you to select daily time limits for specific apps. But, don’t worry, if you exceed the limit you aren’t blocked from that app forever, you do have the option to extend it or turn it off.
If your device is used by your kids or other family members, you also have the option to block certain content and set up screen time limits for family members.
I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to see how much time I was spending on my phone, especially on social media and such—it’s quite eye opening. However, it has really made me aware of how much time I spend on my phone and pushes me to put it down more often. Too many times nowadays you can look around and see the majority, if not all, of the people around you on their phones. It could be for work, but, whatever the reason, this app will help you to be more conscious of your screen time and motivate you to spend less time on your phone.
What’s your favorite app to get insights about how you use your device?
“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series.
Every Thursday we feature a B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become OUR standard “How I Work” questions. You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.
Jonathan Smalley is the CEO and Founder of Yaguara, a growth management platform that helps e-commerce teams confidently set and meet organizational goals. We are happy to feature him this week. Here in his own words is how he gets things done.
Number of unread emails right now? In terms of work-related emails, very few. In terms of personal emails, many.
First app checked in the morning? Email
First thing you do when you come into work? Jump into Yaguara. Helps me see where we are with our ongoing goals and what tasks I have for the day.
What is your email management strategy? I use Google Inbox on desktop and my phone. Sadly, it’s going away soon :(. Inbox let’s you pin important emails and then filter your inbox only to what’s been pinned. It’s crucial when you get as many emails a day as I do. My personal emails are just out of control. There is no hope.
Most essential app when traveling? Slack: It’s how I communicate with our team when I’m traveling. Slack makes it easy to leave myself a note or send one to the team when I’m running between meetings.
How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? I’m biased, but using our platform (Yaguara). Because I can see how we are tracking in real-time with Yaguara I know where we are on track and where we need a bit more focus.
What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? Work/life balance is incredibly important and something I’m constantly working on. When I started my first company I was on the go all the time and rarely took time to invest in myself, whether through time off or personal / professional development. It’s easy to feel guilty for taking time for yourself, but if you don’t, it’s hard to grow personally and have the energy to invest in others. Now, I try to take at least half a day every weekend to completely disconnect and go for a hike, cook, play basketball, read a physical book, just do something to focus on something else.
Are there any work rituals critical to your success? I get up around 5 everyday and take the first hour or so of the day to get stuff out of the way. I review our performance as a team, I send emails, and plan my day. It helps me feel productive right off the bat and puts me in a positive and organized headspace. I’ve been working with one of our investors / advisors to get better about phone time before sleep. I sleep so much better when I put the phone away at least 30 minutes before I try to sleep and don’t look at it when I wake up during the night. I’ve started putting a note pad next to the bed so I can write notes physically rather than on my phone.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Yaguara (Shameless plug, don’t judge me), Slack, Calendar
What’s your workspace like? Fairly clean. I use an external monitor where I can have two browsers open side-by-side.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Probably forwarding emails. It’s so important focus on what matters most. As a founder it’s so easy to try to do it all, but it’s incredibly important that you focus on the things that you’re best at and delegate the rest.
What are you currently reading? Professionally: “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr. Personally: Rereading “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson and Kierkegaard and Political Theology” by a friend of mine, Silas Morgan
Last thing you do before leaving work? Put in airpods and start Chance The Rapper playlist
Who are some mentors or influences you wish to thank or acknowledge? I am incredibly lucky to currently have several mentors that guide and advise my on everything from fundraising, product direction, relationships, ect. It would take too long to name them all and wrong to isolate just one. One of my biggest influences is my grandfather. He grew up in a really rough situation in the mountains outside of Pittsburgh, he started working on the railroad at a young age, and then was drafted and fought in Korea. When he came back to the states he started doing handy work for local businesses and eventually started his own company that started off as residential electrical work. He grew the company from that to commercial work, construction work, and was an early dealer for Apple back in the day. He has always been incredibly dynamic to often very negative circumstances which allowed him to constantly adapt and be successful.
Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? My wife, Grace. She puts up with so much and is so incredibly supportive. She is the director of design at an agency and even with her limited time she always finds time to give us feedback on what we are doing.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Be yourself. Whether it’s fundraising or building a company. If you are trying to be something you aren’t, you’ll get burned out quickly, and you’ll feel yourself being pulled in multiple directions. It seems so simplistic, but if you can just be yourself, you’ll find the right people to fund, advise, and growth with you.
Name a guilty pleasure TV show: The Office
Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see ____answer these questions. Ben Horowitz
We’ve featured an impressive list of guests and will continue to do so. We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. Check out the full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.
We talk about artificial intelligence. This is where we went from using data quite literally and quite directly to now using information to make conjectures and to create new experiences for customers. I think maybe five years ago, the big buzzword in B2B was maybe “social selling,” “social media.” A couple years later “account based marketing” and then we start talking about AI and I think there has been a lot of interest in artificial intelligence, a lot of discussion. I think inevitably that initial frothing turns into, “Well what exactly is it and how do we use it?” And you guys really have been at Absolutdata at the forefront of this.
I ask Anil to talk about what AI means to him and about some of the practical applications that can help more marketers or more business leaders wrap their arms around how to leverage it. Listen in and/or read below:
Matt: We are excited to have everyone join us again here for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Thank you so much to everyone who is joining us on the live feed. We are here live every Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern, as part of the Funnel Media Radio Network. So thanks for listening to us at work. For those of you that are joining from the Podcast, thank you so much for subscribing. I think our numbers have grown more in the last eight months, Paul, than the first two years and four months. It’s been pretty exciting to watch the hockey stick, and thanks so much everyone, for joining. Very humbled by the audience that we have now. If you like what you’re hearing today, if you’re hearing this for the first time or maybe the second time, you’re wondering what else we’ve been up to, we’re coming up on the beginning of year four of doing Sales Pipeline Radio. You can find every episode, every past episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, every past, present, and future episode of Sales Pipeline Radio-
Paul: I tried to keep them out of the studio but the crowd is just out there, applauding. I’m sorry.
Matt: Nice, I love that you’ve got the sound effect board. That’s fantastic. You can find all those episodes on salespiplineradio.com. Every week we are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in sales and marketing, especially in B to B. Today, it’s no different. Very excited to have with us Anil Kaul, he is the CEO of Absolutdata.
Anil, excited to have you here. My first question actually is, as you go through your resume and what you’ve done, you have a PhD in marketing from Cornell University, and you don’t see a lot of doctorates in marketing. So tell me how that came about and what was your dissertation? What did you study?
Anil Kaul: Hi, very happy to be on this show. Yes, well there are a few people like me who like marketing so much that they decided to do a dissertation on it. Marketing is something that always fascinated me and I wanted to understand how could you use data to do better marketing. Because quite a rage these days, but when I was doing my PhD, it wasn’t as much. And I actually focused on how to build pricing strategies with data. So that was what my marketing thesis was all about. But I think more importantly it was just me learning how to use data to make better decisions, whether it’s marketing, sales or any other area.
Matt: I think we take that for granted now. In marketing, the data is so, so important, but back in 1995, especially in B to B, not something that was thought of a lot. Talk a little bit about that journey and how you’ve seen that evolve. I mean you’ve been running Absolutdata for many, many years now and have seen that there, but in your time back and McKinsey and as you’ve gone through your marketing career, talk about the evolution of data from when you started to where we are today.
Anil Kaul: The evolution of data and how it gets used has been super fast learning, and I fortunately have had kind of a front-line view of all of that when I started my career. Data, analytics, used to be something sitting in the back of the office that would be two nerdy guys doing something on a computer and the rest of the people had no idea who they are and what they do. And I think I’ve seen all of that grow, come to the front, and now you have entire companies, entire industries that are getting completely disrupted, changed, transformed because of data and what data enables you to do. So that’s been a very exciting journey.
In fact, when I started my career, that was what I saw and I thought would happen. When I was at McKinsey, I could see very clearly that the work that we were doing there entailed a tremendous amount of data analysis, and a lot of times just bringing data that the clients hadn’t looked at, or sometimes had it but didn’t realize that they had the data. So now that is becoming mainstream today. When I sit in an Uber and somebody asks me what I do and I talk about AI and data analytics, we have a very interesting discussion. That wasn’t the case even five years back, so I think here now, data has become essential to what is happening in marketing and sales, and a lot of other areas of the world as well, so I am super excited to see how this whole journey happens.
Matt: So let’s talk about artificial intelligence. This is where we went from using data quite literally and quite directly to now using information to make conjectures and to create new experiences for customers. I think maybe five years ago, the big buzzword in B to B was maybe “social selling,” “social media.” A couple years later “account based marketing” and then we start talking about AI and I think there has been a lot of interest in artificial intelligence, a lot of discussion. I think inevitably that initial frothing turns into, “Well what exactly is it and how do we use it?” And you guys really have been at Absolutdata at the forefront of this. Talk about what AI means to you and what are some of the practical applications that can help more marketers or more business leaders wrap their arms around how to leverage it.
Anil Kaul: AI is actually something that’s been around for a long time. I personally got introduced to AI in 1992, and I tried using AI at that point of time when I was in my PhD program, I tried using AI in ’97, ’98, when I was at McKinsey. So it’s been around. However, the challenges in the past have been all the things that you needed to come together. Which was lots and lots of data, computing power, and some advances in making the computing cheaper. Those are things that were missing. Today, all those three things have come together and AI is suddenly really powerful.
Now of course the question is what really is AI? So if you think of AI, it’s essentially getting machines to act like humans. And what does that really mean? That basically means three things. First is, machines having the power to visualize and sense. So they can visualize, they can hear, and get meaning out of that. So they can see a picture and say if it’s a cat versus a dog. The second is the ability to understand text, which is where all the analytics comes in. So if I have a paragraph that I have written, AI is then able to understand what is the message that I am trying to convey through that. And the third is ability to make complex decisions. And in complex decisions hardware, you have to weight in a lot of different factors, you have certain rules you follow, there are certain things that we have to be able to achieve. Those are the three things.
So AI is about sensing, about understanding, and then making complex decisions. What happens typically is when you read about AI in the media, the big focus tends to be on the first two pieces, not on the third one. But it’s the third one, the decision-making piece, which is the most applicable area for businesses. That’s if I’m a salesperson, I need a tool that can act like my smart assistant and help me make those decisions. And there’s so much more data available today, there is so much information available today. Somebody needs to go through all that. I can do it if I have the skills, but then I don’t have enough time to do it, right? So it’s the skills and capability and time, all of those things is where AI machines come in handy. My and my sales teams’ life would use it.
Matt: So we’re talking today with Anil Kaul. He’s the CEO of Absolutdata. Talking a little bit about artificial intelligence and sales and marketing.
Should I be thinking about AI as replacement for people? Should I be thinking about it as a way to make the required people in my business smarter, better, faster, making better decisions? I think as people think about 2019 and think about, “Okay, if I need to think about an investment in artificial intelligence, what does that add, or what does that replace, or reduce?” And it could be multiple of those answers but curious how you think about the ROI or the cost-benefit analysis around that.
Anil Kaul: There is of course a lot of discussion about AI replacing people and people not having any more jobs to do, and I actually don’t agree with that. Because I see AI as a tool that makes people better and more effective, and lets them do the things that they really like and want to do. And I don’t think AI is going to be ready to replace people. In fact, there are quite a few examples where what we have seen is the best AI combined with people is what beats everything. We just go down to a simple AI can’t compete with that. So I think the future is an AI enabled world, more than AI dominated world. So now I think it from a sales perspective. Think of it this way: today, as I said earlier, there is so much information available, there is so much data available. And as a salesperson, my core skillset is not data analysis. My core skillset is not my ability to read these 500 reports that showed up in the morning. My core skill is to take that information and assemble it and move that process.
So the AI is really good at what I, as a salesperson, am not really skilled to do. So AI will understand all this data, understand and tell me for this particular customer, what should my game plan be? What should I do today, what should I do tomorrow, who should I connect with, with what product, with what message, what channel, and then I of course still have to execute on that and do that, and hence I become a lot more effective as a salesperson with that.
And this is where the second part of your questions comes in from an ROI perspective. The ROI of AI is, by the way, very high. Very quickly, very high. And the reason is because it suddenly takes your sales team and literally removes 50, 60 percent of the work that they don’t enjoy doing, that takes the time away from the actual selling, that takes away the time from actually connecting with the customer. And on top of that, provides you information and a very deep understanding of what the customer really wants. From the moment you have that, you can take an average salesperson and turn them into as good as any of your superstar salespeople.
Matt: In addition to that, not only making those sales reps more efficient, there’s a rising tide for everybody. There’s a level of consistency and predictability in performance, in efficiency, that can happen across the board. And it seems to me that’s particularly exciting in selling because you’ve got inherently, even with systems in place, even with a equal number of leads, equal quality of leads, you’ve got different reps that have different abilities, different skillsets, and different levels of performance. And so the ability to create a sustained and higher and more predictable level of selling efficiency and results gets pretty exciting.
Anil Kaul: Let me give you a couple of examples. We have a client that sells industrial supplies. And in the industrial supplies world, whenever you find out that the customer is opening up a new manufacturing client or a factory or a new workshop, that’s good and exciting news because that’s where I’m going to get a lot of sales. What we found through the AI solution was that the best time to call was about 6 to 8 months after the announcement of the particular plant opening. Now, what is happening in the real world? As a salesperson, as soon as I saw that a plant was being opened, I would get on the phone and start connecting with those people. So I was literally wasting 6 months of my time and effort in connecting when the customer wasn’t ready to buy. With AI, you find that out, hey, this is an opportunity. Don’t call them now, call them after 8 months, and by the way, as an AI assistant I will tell you a week in advance, this is the right time to call them. That’s one example of where suddenly AI is now increasing efficiency of any salesperson who’s there.
The second example is for actually a telecom equipment manufacturer here in Chicago. So we took the sales data, applied our AI engine on it, and we were able to generate $180 million worth of leads that were not in their CRM system. And think of it that you have a Lead generation happening without the salesperson having to do a single sweep. Then we were also able to find out about $250 million worth of leads well in advance of what a typical salesperson finds out about. As a salesperson now, my lead pipeline is getting filled on its own without me having to do something about it. That is where we suddenly start seeing the power that AI starts bringing to you as a sales team.
Matt: Love it. We’ve got Anil Kaul with us today on Sales Pipeline Radio. He’s the CEO of Absolutdata. We’ve got to take a quick break, pay some bills. We’ll be right back with more on artificial intelligence, how to get started, how to get this train rolling to improve your business. We’ll be right back on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: Hey here’s another thought as you head into the holidays and look at the new year coming rapidly at us. Think about it, are you tired of sending sales emails and wondering if they’re ever even opened? Forget about reading them, did anybody even open them? Well if so, you need MailTag. MailTag is a Chrome browser extension for your Gmail that allows you to track your emails in real time. You receive alerts right away on your desktop as soon as an email is opened. And as a special thank you for being a listener of this show, we’ve teamed up with MailTag to provide you guys with a special discount on a future subscription. Think about this, could be something to start the holidays, or something to give one of your employees or friends or vendors. Might be something that would put you on their radar for the next year.
If you’re interested, you can use the promo code “HEINZ”, H-E-I-N-Z, and you can get 50% off for life. Not just for a year, but for life. So be sure and check out mailtag.io to start your completely free 14-day trial. Check it out, see if there’s something you can use, no credit card required. And if it is, use that promo code “HEINZ” and get 50% off for life. That’s just smart for the holidays. From the man who brings us all sorts of smart ideas, Matt Heinz.
Matt: Nah, every once in a while. Thank you, Paul, and thank you so much for our sponsor of Sales Pipeline Radio, mailtag.io. I can’t recommend them enough, and I think oftentimes you think about, “Okay, if I’m in sales, I want to see open rates and click rates and see that activity on my emails.” But if you’re in business development, if you’re trying to get any kind of engagement with a prospect and trying to figure out who to call back, it’s a great tool to use. Yes, Paul.
Paul: You know, I just made that up on the spot but maybe it is a crazy idea to give, let’s say you’ve got a big client or a big vendor and you want to thank them. Don’t just give them a bottle of wine or a gift certificate. Give them the gift they’ll use all year long, maybe forever here.
Matt: It’s the gift that keeps on giving there, Paul. And that’s what we try to do here at Sales Pipeline Radio. Speaking of the gift that keeps on giving, we are here through the end of the year. We are going to pre-record a couple episodes here for the last couple weeks of the year. We’ve got Alex Shootman who is the CEO of Workfront is going to be joining us in a couple weeks. And then in January, we’re going to start off with a bang. We got Scott Ingram. He is the author of “The 1%”. It is the stories and success and best practices from the top 1% of salespeople in the country. And then Tiffany Bova, who is one of the chief evangelist at Salesforce. She’s going to join us as well, and talk about her new book.
But today, we’ve got more time with Anil Kaul. He is the CEO of Absolutdata. We’re talking about artificial intelligence impacting and improving decision making throughout the enterprise. Particularly in sales and marketing. I think one of the challenges with AI in sales and marketing is approachability. I think it feels like a big, intimidating thing. I mean, you’re sharing some success stories that are compelling but might actually be intimidating for folks. What are the best ways for some people to get started with artificial intelligence? If we’re looking at dipping the toe in the water, if that’s even possible at the beginning of 2019, where do you see people most successfully getting started?
Anil Kaul: AI is quite intimidating when you look at AI itself. However, from a used perspective actually it’s not. Let me give you an example of something where you use AI every day and nobody usually is much intimidated about it. GPS. All of us use a GPS for driving. Now behind the GPS is a tremendous amount of data. There is a huge amount of AI that in real time, tells you what route you should be taking as you go from point A to point B. And good AI solutions are built exactly like the GPS. And that’s by the way, what we do at Absolutdata, that’s our focus. Because as a salesperson, I don’t want to give you something where you have to spend hours learning how to use. It should be something that exactly like a GPS, tells you where you are on your sales process and making a sale, and what you should be doing next to get to the end point of signing that account, signing that big sale that you want.
So the AI products have been designed, and by the way there are quite a few of those out there. They make it very easy for the user to use it. That’s the first thing. The second thing is, how do I get started? Now as an organization, I have a very long answer about how to do that. I won’t get into that. I will focus more if you’re a salesperson, there are quite a few tools out there that help you with automating some of the easy tasks that you have to do manually otherwise. For example, we have a tool which captures all the news about a particular account that you have, goes through the new items, and figures out the ones that are relevant to you for your selling. So for example, if you are selling a sales tool to a client to let’s say FedEx, if I’m selling a sales tool, I don’t want to hear about FedEx doing something on their back end, on their freight. I want to focus on the things that are related to it. What this tool does is researches articles and only gives you the ones that are relevant from the sale that you’re going to make’s perspective.
So there are a lot of tools like this that are available that you can sign up, test it. Because most of the time, they are relatively quick to build, they are quick, cheap to test, and you can start learning. As I said, think of AI as your assistant. Think of these tools starting to become your assistants in helping you do some of those tasks and some of those things that you have to do to become more effective as a salesperson.
Matt: Got it. Well we are at the end of 2018. We’re not going to get into prediction time, but I want to go back and say: okay, if we were a year ago, what are some things this year, Anil, that have surprised you in B to B? What are things that you’ve noticed that you didn’t expect that you think might have an impact or have implications for sales and marketing leaders heading into 2019?
Anil Kaul: I think the most surprising thing for me has been how quickly sales and marketing leaders have adapted the idea of getting AI in. It’s smart in most places, however I think in the beginning of the year the big challenge was going to people and saying, “Hey, you should be thinking about AI.” Today, the challenge is not that anymore. It is about how to do it. And I think that’s a very deceptive change, that’s a big change that’s happened in lots of industries, and that I’m very surprised. I thought it would take a couple of years before people would be completely..
If you know me, you know I love food (probably a little too much). But it’s because new flavors, atmospheres, and sometimes even cultural experiences are so easy to find in a simple dinner outing. I truly believe variety is the spice of life, which is a mantra I also apply to restaurants. Of course I have my favorites, but I’m always motivated to add more spots to that category, wherever I may be in the world.
I recently came across an impressive app called The Infatuation… and I completely understand why they named it so. It’s quite likely that after the first time you use this app, you’ll never stop. Here’s some snippets of info to paint a picture of this taste bud-tingling app:
Seller: EATS Athletic Club, LLC (Same developer as Zagat app!)
App Category: Restaurant Reviews & Guides
App Store Rating: 4.9
Tagline: “Your Restaurant Decider”
Goal: “Our mission is very simple: to bring you the most honest and trustworthy opinions on where to eat around the world.”
Who We Are: “Our restaurant reviews and guides are all written by a small group of highly trained, highly opinionated writers and editors. They eat out a lot. More than they probably should.”
How It Works:
“Show Up Unannounced: Our team always dines anonymously under excellent aliases, like Angus Rymer or Christabel Champagne. Well, we clearly can’t use those names anymore, but you get the point.
Pay for everything: We never accept free meals, reservations, compensation, or special treatment of any kind from any restaurants. Everything is paid for via our very own pockets.
Call it like we see it: After a few visits, we’ll write up our thoughts in the form of a review, guide, or listing. Our goal is always to be honest at all costs, and to help you make good decisions about where to spend your money.”
Supports family sharing (up to 6 family members can use the app together from various devices).
Free additional texting service called ‘Text Rex’, which allows you to text a real Infatuation employee to get a real-time restaurant recommendation. No robots allowed!
Provides 2 separate restaurant/travel services—Restaurant Recommendations cities where the app is active, plus “Where to Eat & Drink” Guides for a host of other cities.
Location: Globally hyperlocal in the following cities, with plans to expand:
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
“Where to Eat & Drink” Guide Locations, with plans to expand:
Cape Town, South Africa
Hong Kong, China
Mexico City, Mexico
New Orleans, LA
San Diego, CA
They also have an Instagram account for every city they operate in… if you’re ever in the area, give the Seattle page a follow!
Famous Hashtag: #EEEEEATS
This app is like outsourcing the hard (in this case, probably fun) work to someone else and enjoying all the benefits. As Donna commands, “Treat yo’self.”
I work day to day from a combination of to-do lists and a calendar that together keep me focused. In the midst of a busy workday, I want to know where my time is best spent. If something is on my calendar, it’s there for a reason. And rather than muddle through my inbox aimlessly, responding to other people’s priorities first, I try hard to focus instead on the to-do list of priorities that I’ve pre-determined as critical to my success.
I’ve long been a productivity nut. It started when I read Getting Things Done by David Allen and attended one of his workshops. I don’t use the term “life changing” often but this counted as one of those moments. Since that moment ~14 years ago I’ve developed a detailed system of habits that help me focus – on the right things, minimizing distractions in the moment, hacks for better capturing ideas in the car, etc.
In other words, I’ve invested time in ensuring I make best use of my time day to day.
Unfortunately, it’s really easy to feel busy, check a lot of things off your daily to-do list, and still not accomplish your goals.
You can think of this as the distinction between micro-focus and macro-focus. You may be getting a lot done, but are those tasks leading you towards your larger goals? Are the things you’re getting done focused on a larger goal that really drives your success and happiness?
Verne Harnish offers a nice intersection of micro and macro focus with his “one of five” daily prioritization system. The way I’ve interpreted his strategy is this way: Create a to-do list for today made up of only your top five priorities but be intentional about putting your most important priority at the top of the list. Then do that first.
Whatever you put as your “one of five” is ideally most directly tied to achieving your macro success but is also probably a bit intimidating, something you might otherwise procrastinate on. But I get priorities two through five today, combined, won’t as directly help you achieve success and happiness as that one of five will.
To help me stay macro focused, I develop annual and quarterly goals for the business as well as annual and quarterly goals for myself personally and for our family. I use David Allen’s “Projects” system to track a wide variety of current initiatives in a separate list and review that weekly for next steps. That weekly Projects list is itself focused on those quarterly and annual goals. I do have longer-term (three to five year) goals as well, but my most productive macro focus mechanisms look 3-12 months ahead.
Staying focused on a daily basis is critical. I have to focus intentionally throughout the day vs reacting to what comes at me. But in order to choose the right daily focus areas, I must have determined the right macro focus areas in advance. And knowing those macro focus areas can help you triage and sometimes actually re-direct focus to something inbound that aligns with those longer-term focus areas and goals.
I don’t know anybody (myself included) that is perfect at executing this all of the time. But perfection isn’t the goal. If you could improve your day-to-day focus by just a few percentage points, and make a similar percentage of those daily tasks more focused on your macro goals, I expect it would over time have a massive impact on your momentum and achievement of your higher-level objectives.
Only you can define what success and happiness means for you. But you won’t find either in simply crossing off tasks each day.
I’ve invested a lot of time and energy in my career, throughout my life, trying hard to give back to others. One of my early professional mentors taught me about servant leadership and I strive to live that with my employees, customers, partners, peers, family and others.
But it’s a bad idea to spend all of your energy serving others without prioritizing yourself.
The longer I do this, the older I get and the more mistakes I make, the more I realize I need to prioritize what I want, what I need, first and foremost.
This isn’t a selfish act. When done well, it’s actually the complete opposite.
By defining and prioritizing what I need for myself, I free more of my time and energy to serve others. Even better, when I can find people and priorities that align with my personal interests and objectives, I serve two objectives at the same time.
I’ve had the benefit of defining our company’s initial core values, and obviously having a strong say in how they evolve. But even if you don’t own your company, you can choose to join one that fits your values, that prioritizes what you prioritize.
This includes core values, work ethic, respect for boundaries (including time, weekends, however you and they define it).
Time does fly by quickly but there are plenty of hours in the day to take time for yourself and still serve your team, serve your family, serve your community. The more these priorities align the better, but mindfulness and intentional living can allow you to serve multiple sets of priorities and pulls on your time.
But without defining and prioritizing what you need first, you won’t have nearly the same passion, energy, zeal and productivity for the servant leadership acts you do for others.
If you haven’t done so before, or haven’t done so lately, take some time to write down what’s important to you. What do you value, what do you need, what do you want. Figure out how to define these needs and wants as specifically and measurably as possible.
Once you have them defined, map them against the other priorities in your life, in your day, in your job. Take the time to communicate these personal priorities to those around you – especially your family and possibly your manager as well.
I guarantee there is more synergy than you may think today, more “give” from other priorities than you may expect.
By putting yourself first, time serving others becomes time you relish vs time you resent.