Why Do We Do This To Ourselves?

Laptop with overloaded DVD Drive. Isolated on whiteA wave of relief washed over me as I saw The Effective Detective was not carrying some kind of ridiculous prop, and did not have a look on his face indicating that he was about to drop a bombshell. Perhaps, I thought, today may be more of our usual type discussions.

“Ah Watson, so good to see you, we have an interesting quandary to consider today,” The Detective smiled his half-smile, which actually sort of worried me.

I replied, well aware I was going down a path that had been determined for me. “A quandary sir? What might that be pray tell?”

“Watson, is that suspicion I hear in your voice?” The Detective asked. When I didn’t answer immediately, he continued, “relax your mind, Watson, there are no big announcements today, merely a point of interest I have picked up on while developing some software to solve a few of the problems we encounter in marketing,” The Effective almost, but not quite, admonished me.

“I’m relieved to hear that sir, so what is the topic today?” I exhaled with a noticeable sigh.

“Information overload, or rather self-imposed information overload, my dear Watson. I find it amusing that while we all bemoan how much information is being thrown at us on a daily basis, we then turn around and accumulate vast information stores most of which are of dubious value towards meeting our goals, and we clamor to figure out how to gain even more. We complain bitterly that we are drowning in data – when it is being sent to us by others, then we go and place the burden on ourselves. Most curious as well as amusing,” The Detective took his characteristic pause, waiting for a rejoinder from me. Since we were playing our usual game, I decided to jump in whole heartedly.

“Sir, I can’t imagine what you are talking about. I see a general narrowing of information requests. I see very few people who ask for more than a name and an email address on their sign up forms. It would seem that a large percentage of other marketers have picked up on this,” I continued, interrupting The Detective who smiled that half-smile and I realized I had been set up. Again.

“True Watson, but there is one place where it seems retrieving a glut of information is still considered a best practice – a term I despise by the way, but that is a discussion for another day. Look no further than Customer Relation Management or CRM – an overblown term for Contact Management as it relates to the vast majority, where it seems a good review is dependent on how much data you can cram into their databases, and the number of useless features added on for good measure.

“The average small business person generally will have a manageable number of direct relationships, and thus needs to collect and record less information. The fact of the matter is Watson that the primary pieces of information you require when you are chasing after a prospect are their name, their company, phone and email, some notes, and most importantly: what is your next step with them and when it is to be taken? I know this for a fact, since I used to sell – quite successfully I might add, using a box of index cards organized by date with names and phone numbers and handwritten notes,” The Detective finished, slightly out of breath.

“So trying to collect and store all those tiny bits of trivia and probabilities of closing, and classifications of prospects which requires a relatively complex and cumbersome system might actually be detracting from the average person’s sales productivity!” I exclaimed, getting the point.

“Exactly Watson! A lot of us forget to make a phone call or what we said the last time we spoke to someone. That hardly requires a product that fills the screen with slots for useless information, making it that much harder to use – and thus less likely to be used. If one insists on using one of those monstrosities, they should do themselves a favor and focus on those few pieces of critical information and ignore the rest of the screen,” The Detective added.

“Something to truly think about, sir,” was the only rejoinder I could come up with.

“Quite so Watson. Quite so.”