Don’t fancy reading all this text? Get the video version.

What does this mean?

For a quick explanation of what recording your negatives means, you need only consult your email marketing system. Pretty much all of them record open rates, clickthroughs and engagements, and necessarily that means capturing those moments when people don’t open, click or engage. So whether you like it or not, if you send marketing emails, you’re already recording your negatives.

What’s the problem?

The problem tends to arise in telemarketing, which doesn’t often come packaged as part of a marketing system, so recording negative interactions is a manual process. The result is a tragedy of the commons: from the individual’s point of view there’s no incentive to bother recording who didn’t pick up or who said no. But if everybody thinks this way then you’ve got two problems; one’s fairly small, the other’s huge.

Small problem

Collectively, you have no idea how many times an individual lead has been called and therefore how annoyed they’re getting with you. Ah who cares, you might say – the chances of the new guy being the poor sod who gets through to that person for the hundredth time are low, and even if they do, you’ve trained them to shrug off the shouting. Nonetheless, nobody would argue that solving this problem would be a bad thing.

Huge problem

More importantly, if you don’t record your negatives then it’s impossible for you to measure the performance of that particular channel (we’ll stick with telemarketing for now). Sure, you can measure the number of appointments being generated, but you don’t know a) the number of total calls that have been made, or b) how many unique companies have been called, which means you have no idea whether the quality of leads is getting better or worse.

Say you come in one morning and run your usual reports. To your amazement they reveal that last week your team were 15% more productive than usual – naturally you want to know why. Was it the data, the sunny weather, the epic three-hour motivational speech you gave on Wednesday morning or a blend of all three? You have no record of your negatives, so you’re now at the mercy of the infinite variables of human existence and prevented from capitalising on the real reason for that 15% spike. Understanding its cause could have been of enormous value; instead the spike vanishes as mysteriously as it arrived (or worse, you decide it must have been that motivational speech).

What to do about this

There are two ways to solve these problems.

1. Become a taskmaster (bit of a spoiler – this probably won’t work)
Insist on an unnaturally high level of discipline among your telemarketing team in order that they record every negative. This is extremely difficult for obvious reasons: people are resistant to that sort of thing and it’s very hard to measure, in a timely way, whether or not they’re complying. (External telemarketing agencies tend to already have these processes in place, which is partly why they’re so popular.)

2. Gamify the problem
Instead of trying to enforce discipline, construct a scenario in which the team are individually and publicly rewarded for both high productivity and recording all the data. Awarding points for their call volume and positives/negatives gives them ownership over everything they do and mitigates the extent to which they feel like automatons. More relevantly, it gamifies the company’s need for that same data by incentivising them to record it. This way, everybody wins.

One client of ours who tried and failed at the discipline approach switched earlier this year to using SuMo Achieve and has reported very positive results. The software works as outlined above – it’s a public system of points and rewards that they tell us has motivated the workforce and been of huge benefit to the accuracy of their CRM data.

Then what?

This is a positive story. Recording your failed approaches tells you what’s really working and what’s not, and therefore where to make improvements.

Once you have a system like this in place, you’ll have a much better idea as to the relative quality of your leads over time. Furthermore, from a predictive analytics perspective, anyone like us (any company using data analysis and data mining to try and predict who’s going to respond positively or negatively) can mine that data and draw on its rich supply of information in order to allow you to make progressive, incremental improvements.

Watch the video

Watch Tom Gatten, GrowthIntel’s CEO, discuss the positives of recording your negatives.