Brian Carroll

On Effectiveness: Think more, do less

Are you too busy to think? Many of us feel that way at times. As simple as it seems, finding time to think effectively is vital to developing a solid sales, marketing and lead generation strategy. Without question, our mindsets ultimately influence our strategic choices.

Which is why I think Michael Webb’s post on the subject of thinking differently and banishing waste from sales and marketing is very compelling.

Michael explains that one of the most valuable questions he asks sales and marketing teams is, “What kinds of things clearly add no value to your sales and marketing operations?” Webb has found that people react strongly to this question. He often hears the same feedback over and over. Such as:

  • Time spent on administration, reporting, and menial tasks (leaving little time for customers)
  • Trade shows and events that generate boxes of “leads” not worth calling on
  • Marketing literature that no one reads
  • Wasting time with the wrong prospects

I see these same things too. So, instead of spending time looking at ways we can to create more of the same activity, why not think about how you can focus on what your internal and external customers really care about?

This involves asking provocative questions about the lead generation status quo such as:

  • Will creating more activity for sales people really drive more revenue?
  • Do I really want to know what my sales team is doing (or not doing) with our leads?
  • Where is our sales team getting stuck in advancing our leads?

Also, I think you’ll find this post by Ed Batista on Strategic Quitting relevant. He highlights some thoughts from Seth Godin’s book The Dip and he ties in some ideas from Peter Drucker.

Ed shares these questions, “Where can I deliver excellence? Where should I expect excellence in return? And how can I focus my time and energy to make this as likely as possible? This allows me to do some strategic quitting–or even better, not to start misguided efforts in the first place–and substantially increase the return on my personal investments.”

Some of your lead generation tactics may generate more inquiry activity than others but that doesn’t mean they are more valuable.

For example, I’ve talked with marketers who have analyzed their lead generation results and found tactics that generated the most activity often proved less effective at driving actual ROI, while others that didn’t produce as much activity did. These types of insights and ROI measurements can only be gleaned over the long term but if your status quo is to continue driving more campaign activity; then you may never know the difference.

At some point, if we are willing to stop and examine our decisions and the status quo, we will likely catch ourselves starting more low value activities and quit before we pursue them in the first place. Now, that’s time well spent!

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Lead Generation, Leadership, Marketing Strategy, Sales, Sales Leads



  1. | #1

    Thanks, Brian. Although my post was inspired by my current focus on leadership development and executive coaching, I’ve done a lot of sales and fundraising in the past, and I think Godin’s concept of “strategic quitting” is *directly* relevant to lead generation and your audience here. Great connection.

    Ed

  2. | #2

    Basically, we all have to slow down for a while. Hold our horses. Sometimes though, we get so excited over an idea that we don’t want to “waste” any more time deliberating on it. What really happens is that by the time we realize that our efforts do not really contribute to the overall goal, we would have already “wasted” more time.

  3. | #3

    Brian,

    It’s true that at times most of us find ourselves ‘running’ our business rather than ‘building’ it and as you point out, sometimes we need to focus on actual money-making actions. I’ve been operating an industrial supply marketplace targeted to B2B, naturally and I often find myself just managing the site and going nowhere but when I take a break and really focus my thinking on moving it forward I see a jump in revenues and/or site activity shortly after.

  4. Joshua
    | #4

    It definitely always seems like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done that one would like to or SHOULD do. I know the feeling especially since I work 2 jobs and am trying to find the time to start up my own internet business. Between doing the research and doing various other things, making time for friends and family, and then squeezing in time for my own personal interests…

    James D. Brausch talks about similar situations in which people are divided into 98%ers and 2%ers, and how the 98%ers always complain that there is never enough time to get the things done that they’d like to, yet they find the time to vegetate and further stagnate their lives or their business for that matter. You sometimes have to take risks to gain profit or experience. Or even to fail and learn from what went wrong.

    I think you offer a lot of smart advice that are words for anyone to live by. Hope all continues to go well for you!

  5. Troy Bingham
    | #5

    There is a reason why General Patton didn’t pick up a gun and charge at the front of the line. He was able to sit back on a hill top, observe what was happening and make correct changes. Leaders should be able to take a step back and think. The war is easier to win that way.

  1. | #1