Business Development Ideas #267 – This week: Creativity, Responsibility, Antenna power

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you grow your business in less time with less effort. . . sometime next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • Hatching new ideas leads to higher margins. Knowing this, when solving problems it pays to source ideas from multiple disciplines. Your CPA, ad agency, technology partner, and management consultant think different ways. Use them.
  • Employees are dealing with altered work situations in their own ways. Established employees may be more productive, while new employees struggle to connect. With the other side of the pandemic in sight it’s time to increase communication with your people to hear where they are.
  • Many businesses are seeing client satisfaction scores improve during covid-19, despite limited in person contact. Will it stick? It depends on finding the reason for the improvement. Don’t guess, start asking questions.
  • Understanding the customer experience and marrying it with creativity and data is the secret to a new product launch. The best way to get customer experience is direct from customers. Right now it’s never been easier to connect and listen to them directly. They’re working remote too.

Being Human – Credit where credit’s due

“Statistical formulas don’t know whether they are being used properly, and they don’t warn you when your results are incorrect.” – Deborah J. Rumsey


Attribution is tricky business. While analyzing sales lead generation programs I get to play detective and figure out where business is coming from, where prospects are congregating, and the best way to get in front of them. The lead generation world is full of people selling the ability to use AI or machine learning to predict future leads, but I find my self reminding clients it’s never a clean path. At best it’s a rhyme. It’s a law of big numbers tool versus a specific instance tool. We say, “In general we can expect [X] outcome most of the time,” a lot, but come up with exceptions every day.

I think grand unifying theories are fun, but when it comes to finding more new business they aren’t helpful for directing ad spend. I sit through a presentation where the sales training company digs into the marketing budget and comes to the conclusion the 60% of budget being spend on direct mail was best re-directed to webinars. Their method includes a lot of great looking calculations like:

  • Average Cost Effectiveness for a Lead within a Leadsource = Revenue Contribution Leadsource / Total Cost Leadsource
  • Average Lead Turnover for a Lead within a Leadsource
    = Business Days / Leadsource Closure Speed
  • Average Overall Effectiveness of a Lead within a Leadsource
    = Cost Effectiveness Leadsource * Ave Lead Turnover

Which are all useful, but not if it’s built on shaky data. I told them my story of the car dealership where we did an in depth analysis of their lead sourcing from data in the CRM, but it didn’t match what their customers were telling us about their decision process. The ownership, the brand managers, and the sales managers were all in the room when we described the mismatched story the data was telling us. Five minutes in, one of the sales managers pipes up and let me know the reason “referral” was their #1 lead source is because it is first on the dropdown list in the customer processing software. He thinks most salespeople pick it without ever asking the customer the sourcing question to move on to the rest of their voluminous paperwork.

The owner is visibly upset at hearing this. How do you think you can help us, he asks, but I he knows the answer. I suggest before changing anything with their ad budgets and campaigns, clean up the tracking. If he want to hire me to call all their customers and have them tell me the story of how they ended up at their store, I will. (but it’s their job)

Lead attribution is a tricky thing. It’s best to manage the process at a high level (total spend/total number of new customers = rough cost per acquisition) and do a lot of experiments until you find a lever. It’s not fast, but hey, there’s a reason the tenure on most VP Sales and VP Marketing positions is less than 24 months. It’s easy to jump to the wrong conclusion.

In the end, we’re taking the sales training company’s advice under consideration, but testing more webinars and digging into the mailing process to find what works before turning anything off or shifting budget for good.

Sometimes project #1 is figuring out where you are and what works right now, today.

Random stuff


“Broken! Busted! Everybody has something to repair. Before buying new, let Mighty Putty fix it for you!” – Billy Mays

Camry Antenna Assembly

We’re stuck in a deep freeze, and I’m making a list of projects to tackle. My truck is getting up there in age and I list some fixes in mind. I’ve tackled vehicle related repairs and upgrades for decades. Sometimes the work is successful, sometimes it leads to more problems, but universally it takes a long time and a lot of curse words. Yet I persist.

While taking groceries from the truck to the house I see my neighbor and one such repair jumps back into my head. We used to have a Toyota Camry with a retractable antenna. (it was a long time ago!) These antennas worked well until they didn’t. When it went bad, it would make this grinding noise each time you started the car as the little antenna gear tried to catch. It was a horrible noise and it was the late 90s, so I turned to the internet, learned how to fix it, and shopped on ebay for the solution.

The new antenna unit arrived ready to install. It was made to swap out with the old one. Simple stuff. It looks a little like a fishing pole with a place for line and a place where the antenna stores itself. I follow the instructions and it feels like this will be a short project.

When I unplug the old unit, I sit on the trunk and see where the power supply connects. Holding my replacement antenna I test the connection before installing. Once the unit is connected the antenna starts to extend in my hand. I make an audible sound of delight and watch as the rod silently extends . . .and it keeps extending. . .and extending until this white toothed coil runs out from the unit. The antenna with it’s umbilical cord falls to the driveway. The motor in my hand is still turning. I sit there, dumfounded. How am I going to get it back in?

When I look up, my neighbor is bent over in laughter. She was taking her groceries from her car and watched the whole thing. So embarrassing. Especially when I couldn’t fix it and had to re-order the replacement unit.

I’m going to revise my list.


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