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Efficiency vs. Effectiveness: How to Find the Right Sales and Marketing Tools

Everyone seems to agree that social media has a place in the marketing and sales landscape, but no one seems to agree where. The same often rings true with any new communications tool.

Most companies are eager to adopt the most efficient new tool, but they often fail to realize that as tools become more efficient, they often become less effective. Efficiency is important, but without results it’s irrelevant.

To find the right balance between efficiency and effectiveness, you must start with a clear focus. Before we get into finding that balance, let’s look at some of the many ways we’ve allowed technology to decrease our effectiveness.

How We’ve Sacrificed Our Ability to Connect

The telephone is a powerful tool that allows us to build relationships without geographic boundaries. However, while improving efficiency, we’ve sacrificed body language, which accounts for roughly 50% of human communication.

Email is an even more efficient form of communication, but it removes both body language and tone of voice, which combined, make up around 90% of human communication.

Twitter can convey neither body language nor tone of voice, and what is left is reduced to just a few characters.

Virtually every new communications technology sacrifices some aspect of human connection in the process of improving efficiency. For example, we all know that in person meetings are much more effective than over the phone. Just like over the phone meetings are much more effective than trying to communicate through email.

Efficiency is Not Necessarily Better

Technology allows us to scale our marketing and sales efforts for very low costs, but the assumption that “efficiency is better” could be misguided. Efficiency is only as good as your ability to create results. We might have 100,000 twitter followers but if we can’t create a sale or generate some other valuable outcome, what’s the point?

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

As we’ve demonstrated, there is an inverse relationship between efficiency and effectiveness.

For every business, there is a sweet spot on this line, where the tools they use maximize results while reducing resources.

But no matter what, effectiveness and the ability to create the intended result is still the more important value.

The Efficiency Approach

Most companies build communication strategies using what I call the efficiency approach:

Companies choose the most efficient tools and activities at the most efficient point (Point B on the graph) and then integrate more effective tools and techniques (moving Point A on the graph).

For example, many companies are getting into social media because it’s highly efficient.

The appeal of social is that we can communicate with tens of thousands of people in an instant, but that added efficiency decreases effectiveness. By starting at the most efficient solutions and working toward effectiveness, there is a lot of room for error in finding the right balance.

The Effectiveness Approach

The reverse attitude is something I call the effectiveness approach, which involves building a strategy around the most effective tools (Point A) and moving in the direction of the most efficient (Point B).

The Efficiency Approach

Let’s say the most effective outreach tool for your business is picking up the telephone. You consistently see incredible results, but maybe you don’t have the time to execute at scale. Sure, it’s highly effective but perhaps you can create similar results in a more efficient manner.

With the effectiveness approach, you move down the graph toward finding more efficient solutions. Can you be more efficient while creating a similar result? If so, move on. If not, you’ve found your sweet spot.

Discovering the Sweet Spot

Step 1: Define the intended outcomes of sales and marketing.

What are your ideal results? Perhaps it’s making a sale, getting a web sign up, or getting referrals from current clients.

Step 2: Define the most effective tool – what is your Point A?

Does this activity make sense to your business? If yes, then execute. If no, then move down the line toward more efficient activities and tools.

Step 3: Define the second most effective tool

Does this activity make sense to your business? If yes, then execute. If no, then move down the line toward more efficient activities and tools.

Continue this process until you find the sweet spot.

Remember, effectiveness is the most important value. Start there and work your way toward your answer. I guarantee you’ll find yourself uncovering the sweet spot and creating valuable results for your business.

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