### Return on Effort

Most business school programs focus on the financial aspects of an business endeavor, and most specifically tend to focus on one simple parameter: Return-on-Investment, or ROI. Specifically, ROI is determined by calculating the profit (or gain) from any investment or expenditure, subtracting the cost of that investment or expenditure, and dividing the difference by the cost of that investment or expenditure.

While this is a great metric for determining actual expenditures’ returns, it does not really bode well when dealing with intangibles such as services, or activities such as sales, marketing, accounting, etc. A long time ago (30 years ago) I started measuring to a different metric, Return-on-Effort, which took into account how much time, energy, additional assets (such as people), and change any new project will cost and weighed those "costs" against how much easier, faster, or more efficiently you could perform the process by expending that additional effort, to which a formula evolved that will give you a good idea on what ROE is all about.

Of course, you HAVE to quantify what the 'value' of the effort is, and that is the hard part.  A good starting point is to calculate YOUR time and everyone else's at \$1,000 per hour.

When determining how to increase sales, improve market awareness, reduce costs, or go into different markets, keep this Samuel Clemens quote in mind, “If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy man. He will find an easier way to do it.”  The quintessential essence of Return-On-Effort!

### The Moldy Middle

While taking statistics during my quest to get an MBA and while earning my engineering degree, the professors always emphasized the importance of finding the statistical mean of any population by using the Central Mean Theorem (a.k.a the highest point of the Bell Curve).
As an engineer, this was essential in order to maximize throughput, minimize cost and waste, and ultimately make a better, faster, cheaper widget. A funny thing happened on the way to the dark side of marketing. I discovered that the only thing in the middle of the road was quite literally dead road kill.
I do not know if you remember stores like Bradlees, Ames and Service Merchandise (just to name a few), but they all folded because the environment changed and they were caught trying to service the mythological “average customer.”
Part of that change came when Wal-Mart began its juggernaut with the discount department store. Wal-Mart did two things right: 1) Focused on “mobile” consumers, and 2) Focused on offering g…

### Lupercalia and St. Valentine's Day

OK, I just could not resist this: Romance, sex, orgies, wolves, and martyrdom all under one legend. Oh my, what a day we have!!! We might celebrate romance and sweethearts on this day, but boy, the Romans really knew how to party. While history is fun, it is also interesting to know how some things never change (like falling in love and celebrating it!). Happy St. Valentine’s and Lupercalia. May you celebrate it at your heart’s content with someone who has stolen or whom you have given your heart away!  Lupercalia is uniquely Roman. It harkens back to the days when Rome was nothing more than a few shepherds living on a hill known as Palantine and was surrounded by wilderness teeming with wolves. The name comes from lupus, or the latin form of wolf, that celebrates the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus (as they were suckled by a she-wolf).
Another thought is that Lupercus, protector of flocks against wolves, is a likely candidate for the name. In any case, there is no question abou…

### The Saleman's Litmus Test

If your goal is to become a great company or even improve your existing one, every employee in you company should be able to “sell” the product or service that you are merchandising. Since that is usually not the case, you are forced to hire sales people to help implement the objectives laid out by upper management.

A national study indicated that less than 3% of the population has an inherent penchant for sales, and as much as 50% of all salespeople really do not know how to sell. During my 20 odd years in sales, I have hired, worked with, and observed great sales people (yes, both men and women). Being the observant type and believing in best practices, I have complied a listing of questions you should ask any salesperson before you hire them, and should use this Litmus Test to review of your existing sales force to determine whether to keep them or cut them loose.  I hope you find it useful.

Psyching Out the Test: People always try to answer questions the way they think you want th…