An op-ed I wrote for VentureBeat:
The line between marketing and sales is getting blurrier by the minute. Sales reps are leveraging new sales acceleration tools like Tout, Yesware, Sidekick, and Outreach, and it feels like a new one comes out every quarter.
These specialized apps have become so sophisticated that they’re enabling sales to run their own campaigns and sidestep marketing automation. They help teams increase response rates through more personalization and control, a 1:1 touch, simple plain text messages, and more follow up vs. blanket general marketing blasts.
Read more …
An op-ed I wrote with Tomasz Tunguz for Techcrunch:
One of the most critical metrics for software companies — but also one of the most difficult to measure — is the lifetime value of their customers (LTV). The lifetime value dictates how a company should spend its marketing and sales dollars.
Unfortunately, many early stage startups struggle to measure LTV, because they haven’t been around very long and, consequently, haven’t seen a large number of customers through their lifespans with the product.
Read more ..
An op-ed I wrote for TechCrunch:
According to industry expert David Raab, almost 70 percent of marketers are either unhappy or only marginally happy with their marketing automation software. According to Bluewolf’s new “State of Salesforce” study, only 7 percent are seeing good, measurable ROI from those investments. There’s a lot of fragmentation and dissatisfaction in this category despite the huge potential benefits of automating marketing.
A key contributor to the current state of marketing automation is the fact that its roots stem from email blasting. As these systems layered in landing pages and forms, web activity data, triggers, etc. over time, they became bloated from trying to do too much and began to over-promise and under-deliver.
Read More …
An op-ed I wrote for TechCrunch:
Today’s B2B sales and marketing folks struggle with the overwhelming number of channels for finding and reaching new leads. The customer “funnel” continues to expand as buyers do more of their own research before raising their hand to connect with a sales rep. But imagine if you could make the funnel taller by identifying leads when they’re just browsing your site and haven’t yet filled out your “contact me” form, or leads who haven’t yet visited but are likely to be a good fit for your product? That’s hard to do with the primitive tools that are available for sales and marketers today, unless you bring together some very rare assets – which just so happen to all exist at LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the only company with fairly clean, accurate details on pretty much every contact that matters in the business world (unfortunately, most other data providers’ contact info contains 80% garbage, and they can’t really improve it without violating CAN-SPAM laws). LinkedIn also reflects the direction sales is heading with strong channels for thought leadership. Via LinkedIn, you can educate and advocate for your customers vs. just selling to them.
Read More …
An op-ed I wrote for VentureBeat on why Salesforce launched Wave and the impact that will have on the analytics industry at large:
At Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco on Monday, Marc Benioff unveiled his company’s much anticipated Wave Analytics Cloud product. Marketed as “analytics for everyone” with a focus on mobility and slick visualizations inspired by video games, Wave aims to bring more analytics to decision makers more quickly.
Wave is great news for Salesforce’s massive customer base. Current customers will gain the ability to easily attain valuable insight via modern dashboards on any device, and to even execute advanced analytical operations on all types of business data. This business-intelligence (BI) approach, which appears to treat customer analytics (sales, customer support, and marketing) as a first-class citizen, is quite a departure from current horizontal BI tools like GoodData, Birst, and Tableau that focus more on performing analytics across a myriad of functions. This Salesforce Analytics Cloud is sure to deliver real business value by offering a platform that’s more specialized for customer needs, which makes sense since most use cases for BI are related to sales and customer analytics.
Why analytics is a great move for Salesforce
Anyone close to Salesforce knows that Analytics Cloud is a huge step beyond the company’s standard reporting capabilities, which have historically been rather limited. Until now, the system really just scratched the surface of a business’ sales data (try to report on something like your sales cycle lengths by lead source over time, and you’ll see what I mean). That said, it was smart of Salesforce to leave analytics up to its AppExchange partners in the beginning, because the company was busy building the SaaS world we all play in today, starting with its customer-relationship management platform. Tackling analytics at that time would have been like running two entirely different companies.
However, over the past couple years, the data needs of modern sales and marketing leaders have grown dramatically with the rise of big data. Customers are hungry for insight, and have been asking why Salesforce doesn’t offer seamless, built-in, advanced analytics. Most companies just don’t want to move data between multiple services, especially if they have rigorous security policies or huge data sets. In this data-driven environment, Salesforce’s customer satisfaction has become heavily dependent on partners it can’t control, making it increasingly important for the company to shift toward a hands-on approach to analytics and meet customers’ needs directly.
(Read More …)
A guest piece I wrote for TechCrunch on how predictive-first (like “mobile-first”) applications will change the software game:
Over the past several decades, enterprise technology has consistently followed a trail that’s been blazed by top consumer tech brands. This has certainly been true of delivery models – first there were software CDs, then the cloud, and now all kinds of mobile apps. In tandem with this shift, the way we build applications has changed and we’re increasingly learning the benefits of taking a mobile-first approach to software development.
Case in point: Facebook, which of course began as a desktop app, struggled to keep up with emerging mobile-first experiences like Instagram and WhatsApp, and ended up acquiring them for billions of dollars to play catch up.
The Predictive-First Revolution
Recent events like the acquisition of RelateIQ by Salesforce demonstrate that we’re at the beginning of another shift toward a new age of predictive-first applications. The value of data science and predictive analytics has been proven again and again in the consumer landscape by products like Siri, Waze and Pandora.
Big consumer brands are going even deeper, investing in artificial intelligence (AI) models such as “deep learning.” Earlier this year, Google spent $400 million to snap up AI company DeepMind, and just a few weeks ago, Twitter bought another sophisticated machine-learning startup called MadBits. Even Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon, with claims that its “Project Adam” network is faster than the leading AI system, Google Brain, and that its Cortana virtual personal assistant is smarter than Apple’s Siri.
The battle for the best data science is clearly underway. Expect even more data-intelligent applications to emerge beyond the ones you use every day like Google web search. In fact, this shift is long overdue for enterprise software. (Read More)
A guest piece I wrote for The Next Web on 3 Gmail tricks I use that save me literally hours of my life a week:
It’s totally unbearable and massively inefficient to process countless emails every day. And yet, to have any chance of success in today’s information world, you must communicate via email.
As you succeed, you become more networked, and more dependent on others to achieve even bigger milestones. As a result, your email volume just increases, while higher expectations require even faster responses and decision making. It’s a seemingly impossible cycle.
This is especially true for C-level and executive leaders. I was chatting recently with Suresh Khanna, Chief Revenue Officer at AdRoll, and he said it best: “Management is about making decisions – not executing. You need to delegate execution efficiently. You need to listen and keep everyone aligned on the same page.
“So, when it comes to doing this over email, you mainly serve as an email routing and forwarding agent.” (Read More)
A guest article I wrote for VentureBeat today:
Yesterday, Salesforce.com acquired RelateIQ for $390 million. With Dreamforce right around the corner, this was a significant — and smart — move on the part of Salesforce.com to show the industry that it is finally serious about data intelligence, which it completely lacked in its customer-relationship management (CRM) offerings to date … (read more)
A piece I wrote for The Next Web:
The first product manager (PM) is a crucial unicorn hire that no startup should compromise on. The reason is simple – your PM is responsible for managing your team’s most precious resource: time.
Unfortunately, nearly everyone seems to think they’d make a great PM (engineers, consultants, you name it), but the reality is that most folks just can’t hack it. I’ve worked with countless PMs at huge companies like Yahoo and Google, and over the past two months have interviewed over twenty PM candidates.
Out of all these folks, I’ve only encountered two PMs who actually do the job well … (read more).
Just posted a guest article on The Next Web on some of the key startup learnings my team and I have picked up while building up our company Infer. Although our company is emerging and in the enterprise space, I think you’ll find many of these insights to be broadly applicable.