The Second Deal…First.

The Second Deal FirstConventional wisdom says that prospects who test our products and services grow into great customers later on. But conventional wisdom is always conventional and not always wise. From my experience with sales teams, “test” customers often (a) spend just enough money to fail, (b) suck up a disproportionate share of internal resources, and (c) don’t provide a clear path to future business. And even when there is follow on business, it’s often tied to the low-low rates or miniscule deal size of the test.

I’ve got an overly simple approach to stopping the madness: Sell the second deal first.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Index Exchange, the principled exchange for publishers. The people behind Index engineer the best technology to create a neutral, transparent exchange that enables digital publishers and suppliers to sell their ad impressions in real time, and gives them the data, knowledge and context they need to understand and act.

Too many sellers are suckered into expensive, endless cycles of testing by non-buyers who can’t really deliver the rosy future that’s hinted at. So in order to truly qualify the customer and opportunity, I suggest the seller deliver the following message:

“Let’s set aside the test and assume that we’ll do a great job and deliver very good results. Let’s talk about the commitment to business with us that will follow. Can we agree that deal number two is going to be for a budget of X dollars and will last at least X months?”

If your buyer refuses to discuss the next deal or otherwise hems, haws and dissembles, you will have gotten an important clue. It’s possible that this ‘buyer’ – like so many others – doesn’t have the authority to talk about future commitment: he or she may just be running errands for the real decision maker (…who you need to see before this whole charade goes any further.) It’s also worth considering that the buyer isn’t really a buyer at all – at least not for your product. He or she may just be collecting data from lots of companies which they’ll use to negotiate with the sites they already use or intend to buy from. Your hard work could all be building a performance and pricing baseline.

Don’t think this could happen? Perhaps you’re right. But if your recent sales history is littered with a bunch of sloppy tests that never seemed to go anywhere, they are taxing your business, wasting valuable sales time and crushing the souls of the account management and ops people you need so badly. You have a right to talk about the second deal. It’s up to you whether you go there or not.

Six Questions for Squarespace’s Chris Paul.

Six Questsions for Chris PaulAt the March 2nd Seller Forum we’ll discuss the changing relationship between marketer and publisher. Chris Paul, VP of Media and Acquisition at Squarespace, will play a key role in that discussion. Here he is the latest guest in our “six questions” series.

  1. Aside from TV buying, Squarespace handles its advertising in-house and deals with publishers and media providers directly.  Why?

Short answer – We’re a private technology company and we adopt a “build first” mentality in all things; only buying or partnering when we need to.

Long answer – We’ve recruited a brilliant team of media strategists who understand our customers and prospective customers. They have the command of the media landscape that’s only gained by personal exploration – meetings and media kits won’t cut it.  And they’re enabled by media and ad tech that have democratized the buying process, where speed and accountability outweigh volume discounts.

  1. Yours may not be an approach that’s right for all marketers but certainly for some.  What are the common characteristics for marketers who might be successful following the path taken by Squarespace?

We certainly couldn’t take this approach without direct access to our business performance metrics; substantive data to forecast a measurable return. We obviously don’t limit ourselves to direct response channels or product-driven creative concepts, but even our brand efforts are tracked through to near and long term business growth.  And since we’re releasing product updates throughout the year, we maintain fluid budgets across channels and quarters to allow for reactive or opportunistic investments to promote them.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Index Exchange, the principled exchange for publishers. The people behind Index engineer the best technology to create a neutral, transparent exchange that enables digital publishers and suppliers to sell their ad impressions in real time, and gives them the data, knowledge and context they need to understand and act.

  1. You’ve said “the process doesn’t end with somebody seeing the ad.”  This sounds bigger than just attribution and accountability.  Is it?

It’s actually much more of a creative comment. It’s crucially important for marketers to explore the range of possibilities when communicating in interactive environments – every brand claim should invite a response. If the internet’s taught us anything it’s that the brands who respond, win. The people are commenting, sharing and listening.

  1. If the ‘left brain’ of marketing is data and delivery and the ‘right brain’ is creativity and integration, have you found publishers who bring you ‘the whole brain?’ 

That’s very difficult to find, but I don’t blame the publishers. If they can focus on the editorial and audience expertise, I’m happy to keep the analytics internal or in conjunction with our 3rd party ad tech.

  1. What are we talking too much about and what are we not focusing on enough?

Too much about the means (viewability, ad fraud, programmatic, native) and not enough about the ends (attribution, acquisition, loyalty). It’s not to say that the means aren’t worthy of our attention, but they’re too often the centerpiece of the conversation / conference / thought piece without the necessary context for why they matter to our industry.

  1. Finish this sentence:  “As a marketer, I’m most proud of….”

“…the way we tell our brand story with the new creators – the podcasters, the YouTube producers, the bands, the entrepreneurs.”

If you’re a qualified media sales leader and haven’t yet reserved your seat for the Seller Forum, reach out to us now.

The Four P’s of Excellence.

The Four P's of ExcellenceWe naturally exalt success. Another great quarter…another deal won…achieving one more big number after another. But even as we congratulate one another on ‘crushing it,’ we can’t see that it’s crushing us. Success can be thrilling, but in the end it taxes and burns out and disempowers the sellers and organizations we count on.

On Sunday I spoke at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting about what might help our industry achieve the next $50 billion in marketer spending. I focused on creating cultures of sales excellence, and I broke it down to the four characteristics those cultures must include. We all know the four P’s of marketing – price, place, product and promotion; I’m suggesting the four P’s of digital sales excellence:

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Krux. Independent research has named the Krux DMP industry leader in strategy, citing its agility, innovation, and independence. Krux helps marketers, publishers, and agencies deliver more valuable consumer experiences, growing revenue and deepening engagement. More than 160 clients rely on Krux worldwide, achieving 10x or higher ROI. Download the report today to learn more.

Process. Every one of our companies has detailed processes for engineering, workflow, finance and more. But we cling to the idea that sales is somehow different; that just getting in front of the customer and talking is enough. It’s not. Process makes average sellers productive and helps great sellers soar. If you don’t have a uniform process and order to the way your people sell, you are handicapping them.

Practice. I’ve written about this concept before. Culturally, we are an industry that focuses almost exclusively on the games, and almost never on the practices. Sales managers are not patiently walking reps through the structure and content of client conversations in advance. The worst place to hone your skill is in front of the client. It’s what we do when the crowd’s not watching that matters most.

Pathos. This is the Greek word for ‘emotion’ and it’s missing from far too many of our client discussions. Embracing pathos means that we’re speaking to the important business situation facing our customers: the missing customer, the encroaching competitor, the ticking clock. Without an urgent business narrative, our products and stories have no immediacy or weight.

Point-of-View. Culturally, we are all very client centric. We ask our customers what they need and we fill out their RFPs. But in the name or service, we’ve become servants. As sales organizations, we’ve got to start taking positions. What we think and what we want for the customer are the beginning of account leadership. And in wide open era of digital marketing that’s ahead, our customers very much want to be led. If we don’t’ accept the challenge, someone else will.

Process. Practice. Pathos. Point-of-View. Simple, elegant and critical. I believe 2016 must be the year of digital sales excellence if we are ever to approach the levels of success that are ours for the earning.

Vitamins or Painkillers?

Vitamins or PainkillersAmong the digital sellers I train and coach, one of the most common complaints is the lack of urgency and action by seemingly interested customers. The refrain goes like this: After an instructive, engaged sales call, the client gives all the right ‘go’ signals, saying how promising it all is, identifying team members who might be involved in follow up, speaking to next steps. Then the foot-dragging begins. There are other priorities for the tech team…the budget has gone from certain to questionable… or there are just long periods of non-communication or silence.

So what the hell happened? It’s possible that your client was feigning interest or peddling false hope. More likely you were selling vitamins when you should have been selling painkillers.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Krux. Independent research has named the Krux DMP industry leader in strategy, citing its agility, innovation, and independence. Krux helps marketers, publishers, and agencies deliver more valuable consumer experiences, growing revenue and deepening engagement. More than 160 clients rely on Krux worldwide, achieving 10x or higher ROI. Download the report today to learn more.

Often we tell our clients about the terrific solutions that will make them better marketers, save them money, streamline their operations and more. And they are indeed all good, desirable things. Like regular dental checkups or better nutrition or finally cleaning out your attic. They are vitamins. As good as they are for you, nothing awful is going to happen if you wait a few more days or weeks to start taking them. And in the interim someone else comes along with another bottle of vitamins – and hey, those sound pretty great too!

Painkillers are another story. Suffering under a crushing headache, you buy the painkillers NOW – even if you’re paying a huge premium for the little foil packet of ibuprofen at the airport. Pain doesn’t wait; it demands and calls attention to itself. And your solution might actually be a painkiller that your sales and marketing teams have been mislabeling.

The key to selling your service as a painkiller is remarkably simple. First, say a lot less. If you have to spend an hour and dozens of slides to explain it, then any connection to pain and immediacy and urgency is going to get lost under the weight of it all. Second, identify the pain in your client’s life really early in the discussion; like right off the bat.   Third, put a price tag and a clock on the problem you’ve diagnosed and introduce a competitor. For instance:

“Your lack of good data is preventing you from reaching two out of every five qualified customers. We estimate that for every week you wait to improve your visibility you’re surrendering $2 million in sales to competitor X.”

Don’t freak out if you don’t have perfect certainty about your clients pain. They probably don’t either. But if you’re going into meetings not even curious about what hurts, then you’re just out there telling people stuff. And you’ll never sell anything but vitamins.

Special thanks to my friend Joe Pych, CEO of NextMark and Bionic Advertising Systems, who gave me the idea for this post and who shares sales ideas with me all the time.  Also, the idea has appeared on several websites and in many magazines and articles over the year.  I’m just the latest to offer it.

The Least You Could Do.

The Least You Could DoImagine you’ve had a promising first encounter with someone new and you’re wondering whether he or she is ‘relationship material.’ Chemistry is pretty good and it seems like a third or fourth date is certainly warranted. Then comes the question you didn’t expect.

“So I’m curious,” he says. “What’s the least I could do in this relationship and still be your boyfriend?”

Unless you had severe self-image issues, this would certainly be enough to stop you in your tracks – or at least get you to start asking some hard questions about the ‘relationship’ that’s possible here.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Krux. Independent research has named the Krux DMP industry leader in strategy, citing its agility, innovation, and independence. Krux helps marketers, publishers, and agencies deliver more valuable consumer experiences, growing revenue and deepening engagement. More than 160 clients rely on Krux worldwide, achieving 10x or higher ROI. Download the report today to learn more.

But consider how many sales ‘relationships’ start with exactly this kind of exchange. You lay out your capabilities, talk through your idea; there’s a bit of positive affirmation and thoughtful head-nodding across the desk; and then… “So tell me, what’s your minimum to do something like this?” That a buyer would ask the question is somewhat distressing. But the deeper problem is that many sellers have so internalized this thinking that they always seek the minimum as well! It’s like a massive case of Stockholm Syndrome where we’ve come to identify with our captors.

We’ve slowly become the incremental generation. Too many betas and tests, too little commitment. We tend not to take big swings, lest we occasionally miss. Fear and anxiety have begun to erode ambition and vision.

Next time a customer asks about a minimum, start your reply with something like “to do this in a way that will truly help your brand you should budget no less than….” Better yet, connect your solution or idea with an unmet need of the brand you propose to serve. Big issues demand big opportunities; big opportunities require significant investment.

Then look in the mirror and ask who’s really imposing minimum deal sizes on you. As the comic strip character Pogo famously declared, we have met the enemy and he is us.

If you haven’t yet secured your company’s season pass to our 2016 Seller Forum events, there’s less than two weeks left.  The March 2nd Forum is in the works and filling up fast. 

Share with your friends










Submit
Share with your friends










Submit
Share with your friends










Submit
Share with your friends










Submit
Share with your friends










Submit
Share with your friends










Submit
Share with your friends










Submit
Share with your friends










Submit
Share with your friends










Submit
Share with your friends










Submit