If You Only Have a Hammer, Then Everything Looks Like a Nail
If you are a LinkedIn expert, then LinkedIn is the most effective social media platform for almost anything. If you are a headhunter, then all open job positions should be filled through head hunting. If you are an inbound lead generation expert, then all leads should be generated through inbound means. If you are a cold calling expert, all leads should be generated through cold calling.
The expert’s dilemma
It is the dilemma of the expert. They see the world (or reality) through a filter. As they have a very effective hammer they will be looking for nails. If they do not come across many nails, then reality distortion kicks in and more and more objects start looking like nails to them. After all, it is not attractive to have an impressive hammer if no one wants to use nails in their construction. Most constructions will have a need for nails, but not for nails only. Other fixings (and their corresponding tools) are needed as well.
A cure requires a sober diagnosis
As business executives, it is our job to analyze our challenges carefully before we come up with a diagnosis and prescribe the cure. When the diagnosis is wrong then the cure will not work and may even be harmful.
When it comes to revenue generation the best way to come to the right diagnosis is to test a lot of approaches using a scientific approach. The scientific approach just means starting out with a hypothesis and understanding what are the variables we are dealing with.
Example: Does cold calling work?
You want to test cold calling, so you go to a telemarketing agency and ask them to call 1.000 names on a list that you provide.
After a week you get a report telling that they managed to get hold of 100 names and no one was interested. Can you now conclude that cold calling does not work?
No, you cannot make that conclusion. Here we have the variables that you need to test before you can reach any conclusion:
- Were there any differences in response depending on the type of person called?
If you used different criteria for producing the list, then the outcome could be different.
- Were they any differences depending on how the conversation was orchestrated?
If you changed the opening, the pitch, the dialog and the closing then the outcome may be different.
- Were there any differences depending on the value proposition offered?
If you changed the objective of the call then the outcome could be different.
- Were there any differences across the team that performed the calls?
If you screened and selected the people before making the calls, provided more training and closer coaching, then the outcome may be different.
Jumping to conclusions
Business development, marketing, and sales are very difficult disciplines to master and manage. The cause -> outcome relationship can be hard to uncover. But it is mostly because we don’t know how to isolate and test the variables. With increasing competitive pressure, falling gross margins and narrow windows of opportunity the ability to test and measure is becoming more and more crucial.
When Eric Ries published his book The Lean Startup in 2011 he brought all of us in business development, marketing, and sales a new approach. Pretotyping is also a great way to test an assumption (it’s promoted as a tool for testing and maturing products ideas, but it can be used to test any set of assumptions).
Therefore: Be careful when talking to experts before you have a good grasp on the nature of your challenge. Define your assumptions very carefully including how you will measure the cause -> outcome relationship.
Then test and correct, test and correct and test and correct. Accept that this will be the modus operandi for the rest of your life.