Stephen Covey Is Gone, and I’m Not Feeling So Good Myself

Dan McDade

I love Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

The book’s subtitle is “Powerful Lessons and Personal Change.” Amen. What I most like about the book is that it is simple. There are 7 habits. They are easy to understand. I am not saying that I am good at all of them, but I understand and appreciate them and try to follow them in my business and personal life.

Unfortunately, some other habits have been picked up by sales and marketing executives that are not simple, easy to understand or worth following. For example:

It makes my head hurt to read about personas. It is especially hard to read articles written by people who teach, even preach, personas and don’t use them.

I suffer from content overload. There are so many blogs, tweets and emails floating around that I long for the day when I can dump my laptop and “smart” phone and go back to a simple flip-phone that makes and receives calls.

Contrary to popular belief, not every senior executive wants to be treated like the human equivalent of a pinball, getting your attention only after they have hit the right bumpers and scored enough points.

I don’t believe that 70% of the buying process is complete before sales needs to get involved. In fact, 71% of buyers want to engage with a sales rep before they develop a shortlist (ITSMA).

Sending more poorly qualified leads to sales faster than ever will not improve results.

Here are some examples of how to apply Dr. Covey’s habits to the world of sales and marketing today:

  • Be proactive: The company suffers when leads sent to sales are junk – and nothing happens. The percent of leads accepted by sales must be measured and you must seek continuous improvement.
  • Begin with the end in mind: If you are running a campaign that has been run before, what were the results and do they justify running the campaign again? If it is a new campaign and it has not been tested, test it.
  • Put first things first: Generating more leads that go nowhere faster is neither urgent nor important.
  • Think win/win: There are few penalties for lack of cooperation. Implement some.
  • Seek first to understand and then be understood: You cannot agree on the definition of a lead unless you have listened to and attempted to understand your counterpart’s ideas and needs.
  • Synergize: Take the silos out of your business. Rally around the prospects and clients.
  • Sharpen the saw: Preserve yourself as an asset. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.

Dr. Covey went on to write another inspiring book, “The 8th Habit:  From Effectiveness to Greatness,” about how to thrive, vs. survive by tapping into higher human motivation. As a fellow book author, let me  add a 9th habit to the list. Question the status quo. Right now so many influencers are tweeting, blogging and otherwise touting bad advice that mediocre results are becoming the standard. You may not need personas. You may not need more content. You may be over-dependent on a black box called marketing automation. You may be entering sales cycles too late to effectively compete. You may be hitting your number, but if sales is not hitting its number you have failed. Remember that the herd mentality generally gets it wrong.

It’s time to question the shepherd.  

Dan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a prospect development firm that helps B2B companies drive revenue by nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they're ready to purchase. Dan’s first book, “The Truth About Leads,” is a practical, easy-to-read book that helps B2B companies focus their lead-generation efforts, align their sales and marketing organizations and drive revenue. He posts regularly at