The Devil is in the Details: How Big Wins Are Secured By Managing The Minutiae

By now, the tragic Florida condo collapse will be “old” news for the rest of us in the U.S. — but certainly NOT for the local community there and the families who suffered the senseless loss of loved ones. This kind of tragedy is such a shock because we believe that an entire building suddenly collapsing would only happen in poor countries where there is not as many regulations and laws to ensure buildings are created structurally sound and kept up to code — not here in America in a suburb of a major metropolitan city.

But sadly, a LOT of America’s infrastructure is crumbling and in desperate need of repair, and a big reason it gets neglected is the same reason so many business owners wait to upgrade critical computer systems and infrastructure: Nobody likes to spend money and time on mundane necessities and maintenance.

I like watching home makeover shows on HGTV. One of my favorites is “Love It Or List It.” In the show, the homeowner gives designer Hillary Farr a budget and a wish list of things they want changed to make over the home in order to stay in it. The wish list is always bigger than the budget, and the homeowners are ALWAYS annoyed at her for taking away their new bathroom remodel to repair a roof that’s leaking, dry out and waterproof a wet basement, fix faulty electrical work, replace a seriously outdated HVAC system, or repair some other “inside the walls” problem.

Of course, we all know logically that having a roof that doesn’t leak or a basement that doesn’t have mold is FAR more important than how the tile and countertops look in the kitchen, but nobody sees it that way, and nobody is happy spending their budgets on necessities and infrastructure.

Now, To The MARKETING Lesson:

This same rule applies to running a business and implementing a productive marketing plan. Everyone likes to spend money on the flashy, interesting stuff, like a new website or an updated logo, brochure, or van wrap, but they frown and drag their feet on the internal, mundane “infrastructure” stuff that’s required to make things actually work.

I can get people interested in buying a new website face-lift all day long. What I have a hard time selling is the mechanical process of making sure Google Analytics is installed properly, tested, and monitored for the website’s performance on a weekly basis to know if the fancy-schmancy new design is actually paying off or not, tweaking where necessary, and revising copy and design UNTIL it does. I can sell a new Facebook campaign but have a hell of a hard time getting someone to make sure their phone is answered live by a trained person who is scripted, monitored, and managed, then have that lead put into a marketing automation system that will ensure it is captured, cleaned, tracked, and properly followed up on in the short term and long term. Can’t we just run some ads and let the leads go to a form and not give them a phone option? Have the phone call go to voicemail? Have a “Press 1 to …” option? Get the techs to answer it? My answer is always this: NOT if you want to maximize the ROI and productivity of every lead coming into your office.

Everyone wants a cool or clever new campaign from me, but what they don’t want to do is meticulously track statistics on previous campaigns and other KPIs to look at how leads might be falling out of the holes in the bucket BEFORE launching something new, ensuring that old leads were truly followed up on and worked and that all the opportunities were extracted to the fullest.

Everyone wants more appointments, but nobody wants to do the tedious, painful process of setting up an online marketing funnel and marketing automation system to capture the lead and guide the prospect through the process of self-booking. They don’t want to spend time creating the emails, calls, and letters that go to those prospects who fail to complete the booking to get them to book. THAT’S complicated to set up and requires constant attention and management, so nobody wants it. They want the easy button: Can’t we just have a form that emails us the lead? Yes, but I can guarantee you’ll miss some due to spam filters, emails getting “lost” in your overwhelming inbox, human error, etc.

People who are very successful marketers (and entrepreneurs) don’t shy away from the work, complexity, and chaos of the mundane stuff. They listen to phone calls that come into their office to ensure leads are being processed properly; meticulously work on their website weekly, monthly and quarterly to update forms, copy, and offers; and post SEO articles, update their Google My Business, etc. They do a lot of unseen, unexciting, mundane, detailed, nitty-gritty work.

People see successful entrepreneurs and ask them questions about success that are broad and general, like “What’s the No. 1 thing you’re doing to succeed?” Ask a question like that, and you’ll get an overly simplified answer in return. What nobody asks is “Show me the nitty-gritty details of your sales funnel or marketing plan.” They want the simple solution, the simple answer. That’s not how success is achieved. We sweat the small stuff.

Here’s an example: A client called me about a campaign not working as well as he had hoped. The results weren’t zero, but they were low, so I start digging. Where did you get the list? How was it cleaned and qualified specifically? After you mailed and called it, how many were taken out for being out of business, wrong number, bad address, etc.? (It shouldn’t be zero. Either they aren’t cleaning it properly, or they aren’t paying attention to that.) When the appointment setter called, how many calls per prospect? Show me how you’re TRACKING those calls (not just taking the rep’s word for it)? How many times are they getting to the decision-maker on the list? Can you tell me the opening pitch? Where’s the written script you’ve given them to follow? How many of the prospects are converting to an appointment? A callback? What are the specific objections you’re getting? What’s your response to each one? Can you send me five calls where the rep got to the decision-maker and pitched them, and it turned into a “not interested”? Send me five where they booked an appointment. Send me the letter AND the envelope, as it’s been sent, so I can review it.

Those were just a few of the questions asked. I have this conversation over and over again with clients and usually get “I don’t know” or “We’re not tracking that” as the standard answers. Of course, you can’t troubleshoot and fix a process you don’t have, can’t articulate, and aren’t tracking. What did you put into that cake that flopped and tasted horrible? I dunno … I sort of followed the recipe but can’t remember exactly what I did. It might have been two eggs? I think we added baking soda, but I don’t remember exactly how much. The oven should have been to temperature.

With the hundreds of highly successful marketers I’ve worked with, they know the devil is in the details and that true success in marketing (or business) requires a lot of unexciting detail work and analysis that must be done. Harold Geneen, president of ITT Corporation, said, “The highest art of professional management requires the literal ability to ‘smell’ a real fact from all others.” He was famous for managing the details and knowing the numbers. So it goes for ALL great leaders and managers. Sorry, Mr. Blanchard, but your “one-minute management” is only useful for selling books to people who hate details, not for running a growing, successful enterprise. 

The Bottom Line Is That Successful People Are Willing To Do The Tedious Stuff: digging into the notes in inbound leads to see what happened, listening to phone calls our reps are having, writing and revising scripts where needed, training and retraining employees on how to talk to clients, going over the basics again and again. None of it fun, but ALL of it is necessary to secure big wins.

Want to be handed a blueprint for growing a 7-figure net MSP? Then join us for a 2-day special workshop titled 7 Steps To A 7-Figure Earning MSP. Here are the details on how to join us:

There’s no doubt about it: Robin Robins has helped more MSPs and IT services companies to grow and prosper, liberating them from stagnation, frustration, drudgery and low incomes. For over 20 years, Robin has been showing MSPs and IT services firms how to implement marketing plans that attract higher-quality clients, lock in recurring revenue streams and secure high-profit contracts. Her methods have been used by over 10,000 IT services firms around the world, from start-ups to multimillion-dollar MSPs. For more information and a FREE copy of The MSP’s Ultimate Guide To IT Services Marketing And Lead Generation, go to


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