Friday, July 09, 2004

The 10% Squidge Factor

As noted previously, my firm is advancing the state of PR measurement, with the goal of showing the hard-dollar impact of PR results, as it pertains to Sales.

An interesting conundrum, powered by Human Nature, has sprung up.

To be able to tie PR to Sales, we are going to need the buy-in of the Sales Department: specifically, we'll likely need to motivate tweaks in the Sales process and in sales reporting procedures. That's going to be hard enough. Getting sales guys to go out of their way to do anything outside their road-warrior ethic is notoriously difficult.

The problem is confounded when you examine Human Nature, and in particular the nature of a salesperson. These folks live on commission and personal reputation. It is in their best interest to not only book as many sales as possible, but to also take full credit for each deal. The booking generates revenue, the credit generates an unassailable position within the department... The salesperson becomes untouchable and thus more free to goof off, gain perqs, etc. (You've surely heard a refrain like this before: "That damn Jim - he's a major league pain in the ass, but, what a rainmaker!")

So consider this scenario: the sales rep cold-calls a prospect. The prospect takes the call, and 1/2-way into the pitch, he interrupts the salesman to declare, "Waitaminnit - I know your company! I just read an article about you guys in Computerworld, right? Good stuff. Yeah, I do want to book a meeting. What dates work for your team?"

Now the sales rep is thrilled and as he hangs up the phone he swings his chair around to the online Salesforce Automation system to log the new lead. In the field marked, "Lead Source," is he going to input "Cold Call" or "Public Relations"?

The "Cold Call" option makes him look like a star. "Yessiree, I called 'em up, and they wouldn't go for it at first, but I kept doggin' the guy until he agreed to set up the meeting. In fact, I think I got him pretty excited about us."

The "Public Relations" answer makes him look like a telemarketer. "I cold-called a prospect and he was already good-to-go for a meeting, thanks to that great Computerworld article. Thanks, Marketing guys!"

OK, I admit it. Unless properly motivated, the salesperson is likely going to tap in "Cold Call" vs. "PR". (More on "motivations" in a future post...)

We call that the "10% Squidge Factor" - that is, any factoid we produce is likely to be off by a solid 10%. But then again, even if we are off by that margin, the likelihood is that our results are 10% better than what we are able to report!

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