Follow the Money

Follow the MoneyIn 1987, I read a book entitled Business Rules of Thumb by Seth Godin. (It appears to be out of print.) I don’t believe it was then, but at some point I learned this business rule of thumb: Follow the Money.

I still use that process for all sorts of things related to business and my personal life.

  • I generally don’t watch football, but when I rarely do, it’s the Patriots. (I do live in New England, after all.) Whenever I turn on CBS at 7:00 pm ET on a Sunday during football season to catch 60 Minutes, I always wind up at about the same point in the game—the beginning of the fourth quarter. Yet CBS, knowing, far in advance, within minutes, when the game will actually end, always promotes 60 Minutes as beginning at 7:00 pm. I asked myself why. Follow the money. Here is my guess: There is a football audience. There is a 60 Minutes audience. There is likely considerable overlap, but there are some who prefer one or another. Is it possible that during that 50 minutes or so that the game is running past the scheduled start time for 60 Minutes that CBS is collecting significantly more ad revenues? They don’t want me to tune in at 7:50. They want me in at 7:00. That’s my theory, anyway. Of course when it comes to TV and football, it’s all about the money.
  • A savvy independent sales rep who read my post on commission-only sales reps sent me a message. Here is an excerpt: “Let’s say a company has incentives around a variety of products or services that provide a greater reward than others in the portfolio. Logically, the sales reps and organizations want to sell those items with the highest margin, so they ‘steer’ (sometimes PUSH) customers to them. The challenge comes when the customer discovers at the time or soon thereafter that the sales rep wasn’t totally in it for them. I’m not suggesting that this happens all the time, but it DOES happen.” This is another example of how “Follow the Money” could help the customer and competitors figure out what’s really going on.
  • Being careful here not to take sides politically, we can sure learn a lot about certain politicians’ platforms by following the money. What companies, individuals, or organizations are financing those campaigns and precisely who will benefit if the candidate wins?
  • As salespeople we learned (hopefully) to find out from whose budget the investment in our product and services comes. Follow the money.
  • I’ve got a few other general rules of thumb that I’ve employed successful in selling and business:
    • We see things not as they are, but as we are.
    • Keep your eye on the ball.
    • Observe without judgment.
    • Worry is a misuse of imagination.
    • It is what it is. (Sounds trite, but after years of thinking about this, it can help overcome a multitude of challenges.)

Do you have any favorite business rules of thumb? What about a good “follow the money” story?

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  1. says

    “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

    ― Stephen Covey

    “He who who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right”

    ― Confucius

  2. John Esposito says

    “75% of the selling is done before the first sales call is made.”

    Meaning, the research one does into a prospective customer’s Goals, Objectives, Opportunities, Problems and Obstacles equips a salesperson with the ability to formulate a plan that ties his/her company’s differentiators to tangible (financial, clinical, etc) benefits for the customer.

    It also makes the salesperson look smart when walking in the door (a nice side-benefit).

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