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Doug Davidoff

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The 3 Biggest (& Most Common) Mistakes Made With AI

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Mar 1, 2019 12:02:00 PM

AI in MarketingFOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

It was Bill Gates who said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” Nowhere is the outlook more on display that when it comes to the topic of artificial intelligence (AI).

Make no mistake, technology in general and AI specifically are having a major impact on the work growth-focused organizations are taking. AI is absolutely something you should be aware of, and, to some degree, keeping track of. It is not, however, something that should be at the top of any small or mid-market growth company executives attention or worry list.

What Is Artificial Intelligence

Part of the difficulty with addressing AI is that it often means a bunch of different things to different people. What’s more, the term AI is often used to infer things that are not necessarily in place. AI is very confusing to many, so I turned to my friends at HubSpot, who published a nice piece on important definitions surrounding AI. Here are some of the key terms:

Artificial Intelligence: In the most general of terms, artificial intelligence refers to an area of computer science that makes machines do things that would require intelligence if done by a human.

Machine Learning: In short, machine learning is the ability of a program to absorb huge amounts of data and create predictive algorithms.

If you’ve ever heard that AI allows computers to learn over time, you were likely learning about machine learning. Programs with machine learning discover patterns in data sets that help them achieve a goal. As they analyze more data, they adjust their behavior to reach their goal more efficiently.

Deep Learning: On the far end of the AI spectrum, deep learning is a highly advanced subset of machine learning. Deep learning can find super-complex patterns in data sets by using multiple layers of correlations. In the simplest of terms, it does this by mimicking the way neurons are layered in your own brain. That’s why computer scientists refer to this type of machine learning as a “neural network.”

Natural Language Processing: Natural language processing (NLP) can make bots a bit more sophisticated by enabling them to understand text or voice commands. On a basic level, spell check in a Word document or translation services on Google are both examples of NLS. More advanced applications of NLS can learn to pick up on humor or emotion.

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Topics: Lead Nurturing, Marketing, Strategic Planning

The Accountability Game: Creating Clarity & Alignment In Your Business

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 20, 2019 12:00:00 PM

Clarity and Alignment in BusinessI regularly write about a variety of growth-focused strategies, systems, and skills. Yet, while these areas are certainly important, the biggest determinant of success is an organization’s ability to execute. Give me average strategies, systems, and skills with dogged execution and I’ll beat anyone with average execution.

If I could use one predictor to determine how well a company executes, I would very quickly choose accountability. I’ve learned that accountability is a fascinating core component of a company’s culture. While everyone seems to like talking about accountability (and they love to hold others accountable), very few create an effective culture of accountability.

3 Reasons Accountability Efforts Fail

The definition of accountability is quite simple. It means to hold yourself out to account for something. There’s a dramatic Lake Wobegon effect with accountability. While we know accountability is a problem in most organizations, I can’t ever recall a time where someone willingly admitted, “Hey, I’m not accountable here.”

There’s a tremendous amount of effort exerted to create accountability, but few organizations seem to pull it off effectively over an extended period of time. In my experience there are three primary reasons that accountability fails to take hold:

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Topics: Performance

5 Popular Sales Metrics That Destroy Sales Performance

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 8, 2019 4:00:00 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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Topics: Sales Development, Performance, Sales Cycle, Sales

Just Say No To Shitty Emails: 5 Tips To Revitalize Your Emails

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 25, 2019 11:00:00 AM

jsn-emailsWelcome to the first in our series of Just Say No to Shitty Sales & Marketing videos. Today, we're tackling shitty emails. There's probably no tactic that creates more anxiety among marketers, salespeople, and sales executives alike than the topic of email.

Email is a critical linchpin to managing relationships. If we don't have access to our target prospects’ or leads’ inbox, then we're going to be at a significant disadvantage to be able to connect, influence, or generate any type of action. We have to remember that email is a push communication tactic in a pull communication world. We can't do email the way we've always done it.

We have to realize how our target prospects and leads engage with email. How do they manage things so that we can position ourselves to be successful with our email communications?

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Topics: Content, Strategic Planning, Email, Just Say No To Shitty Sales & Marketing

5 Necessary Elements for a Successful Account-Based Marketing Approach

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 18, 2019 4:01:00 PM

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

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

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

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

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Topics: Sales Development, Marketing, Sales

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

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 11, 2019 3:00:00 PM

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

  • The executive in charge of sales revenue, or

  • The executive in charge of training.

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

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

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Topics: Lead Nurturing, Sales Cycle, Sales

5 Strategies to Increase Sales Rep Productivity By a Third (or More)

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 2, 2019 9:00:00 AM

accelerationThis post originally appeared on HubSpot's Sales Blog.

For more than 30 years (yikes!), I’ve been directly involved in selling, managing, and leading salespeople, and providing advisory services to sales organizations. There are two trends that have persisted:

  • The increased prominence and investment in sales technology and sales force automation
  • The consistent decrease in sales rep productivity, or the time salespeople actually spend selling

Recent research from The Aberdeen Group and Docurated indicate good salespeople today spend less than a third of their time selling, while increasingly more time is spent managing various administrative tasks surrounding sales and demand generation.

Whether you’re a salesperson, sales executive or other investor or stakeholder in a growing organization, I’m certain I don’t need to tell you the direct and collateral damage done when salespeople aren’t selling.

Before sharing the key to increasing sales productivity, let’s look at the three root causes for the problem sales organizations have dealt with for decades:

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2018 In Review: 7 Initiatives That Worked & 3 That Didn’t

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 21, 2018 6:00:00 PM

year-endA hat tip to Databox’s head of marketing John Bonini for this post.

I’ll admit it. Just as I was planning to write one of those empty prediction posts calling out what “serious” growth executives would be focused on by the end of 2019, I saw a tweet from John. Its message? “Instead of telling us what’s going to work a year from now, tell us what worked in the last year--we can really learn from that.”

This exercise ended up being both harder and more insightful than I thought it would be. I initially thought I’d sit down and write a post sharing the grand strategies that we implemented, highlighting which ones worked.

However, when I did my “what worked/what didn’t work” analysis, I discovered that what worked didn’t have much to do with any grand strategy. When I look at what really worked in 2018, it was all--with the possible exception of one item--about moving more to the basics and reinforcing things we already knew.

One note: I kept this blog focused on what worked and what didn’t as it relates to our growth efforts, rather than from the perspective of what we’re doing with our clients (though there is certainly some overlap).

What Worked For Us in 2018

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The Three Horizons: An Approach for SMB's to Transform Innovation Into A Competitive Advantage

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 12, 2018 3:07:10 PM

Secret-to-Strong-Revenue-Growth1

The following is an excerpt from The Secret to Strong Revenue Growth, Part 2

What grade would you give your company on your growth efforts? Think about it and give an honest answer.

Did you give yourself a B or higher? Most people I talk to do.

And in some cases, that grade is deserved--but most of the time, it’s not.

Why? Your business is probably doing pretty well right now. Most businesses are, for a number of reasons. After all:

  • We’re in an economy as strong as any in our lifetime.

  • Technology is enabling us to easily and inexpensively do things we could have only dreamed of less than a decade ago.

  • The primary theme of HubSpot’s annual gathering of the world’s best growth executives (Inbound) was #GrowBetter, which indicates most companies are booming.

But now grade yourself compared to your peer companies, which are likely also booming. You’ll find that most companies are not outperforming the average cohort. In short, it’s easy to think you’re doing better than average because you’re doing well.

So what steps can you take to make sure that you’re taking advantage of an economic boom by successfully innovating--but also minimize your risks?

There is a roadmap. Companies that successfully manifest the power of innovation tend to view the world through three time horizons--and you can do the same.

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Topics: Performance, Strategic Planning

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

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Nov 19, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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

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

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

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

  • You’ll gain greater scalability.

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

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

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Topics: Lead Generation, Demand Generation, Marketing, Sales