And Why Would I Do That?

by Doug Weaver on October 1, 2014 at 3:14AM

And Why Would I Do ThatAs I’ve walked sales teams through the marketing food chain in recent workshops – from CMO and brand managers to client side advertising and media execs to agency leaders to planning teams – one thing has become apparent:  We have a lot to learn about motivations.  While we are awash in statistics and data and all claim to be the agents delivering the best ROI in the world, we’re flummoxed when people simply don’t end up making the decisions we want them to make…and we have no idea why.

Back in June I wrote about the Aristotelean model of persuasion — the sequential dynamics by which persuasion can be allowed to take place – so I won’t cover that here.  Instead, I want to focus today on why the very specific people we try to sell to either will or won’t end up doing something (making a buy, making a recommendation, creating an exception for us, considering new information and more.)

This week’s Drift if proudly underwritten by REDBOOKS. For ad sales and business development, REDBOOKS is the most effective prospecting and competitive intelligence tool – used by your peer teams at Google, ABC, CBS, Comcast, ESPN, Time, Apple, Adobe and ad-tech companies of all sizes. Real-time, actionable news/alerts, direct contact info + all the context to close sales faster.

First – an aside:  The vast majority of sellers go into the vast majority of calls with no clear idea what they actually want to the other person to do.  When I ask, I hear things like “I want them to understand” or “I want to educate them” or “make them aware” of something.  There must be some gossamer thread that ties these vague, mushy concepts to the ultimate sale, but I can’t see it.  If you don’t know what you want – a decision or action – you almost certainly won’t get it.

The Chief Marketing Officer.  There’s almost always a new CMO. If there isn’t there soon will be.  Average tenure is just a couple of years and they are often tumultuous.  The CMO will make decisions in your favor if they are significant (big deals, big dollars) and if they will help him leave his mark on the business.  He’s like the Hollywood director who thinks of his body of work across many studios and projects.  Keep it interesting, innovative and big. He’s got no time for incremental improvement the slow build.

The Client Advertising or Media Executive.  We see her as the ultimate client, but she in fact has internal clients of her own.  She serves the CMO and her ad or media money rolls up from many individual brands and brand managers. She will make a decision in your favor because it makes her look good to the CMO and brand managers and can be quickly defended based on the numbers.  She has to ultimately worry about whether your plan will work or not.

The Agency Leader or Account Lead.  These folks worry about three things:  Increasing spending by existing clients, preventing those existing clients from straying – either getting a new agency or cutting budgets – and giving their clients innovation and great work while not having to commit much of their own people’s time and energy to it.  Tie your appeal to these points and you’ll have a better chance.

The Media Planner.  Yes, I know many of you want to say “because I got him drunk” or “because he loved the designer Nikes” but there’s a bit more here.  First, understand that there is a limit to the decisions he can even make.  He doesn’t decide strategy, he can’t value the soft qualities of content excellence or brand strength.  He works on an assembly line.  He’ll give you the nod if you keep your request very simple, very clear and costs him no wasted motion or energy.

Make sure you’re assigning the appropriate motivations to the decision maker you’re seeing.  Your life will get a whole lot simpler.

Six Questions for Dave Morgan.

by Doug Weaver on September 23, 2014 at 2:00PM

Morgan - jacket-blue CU - MG_0361 medium close cropOur theme for The Seller Forum on October 28th will be leadership, and a big part of leadership today is disruption: causing it, managing it, preparing for it.  Across his career, keynote interview Dave Morgan has been the disruptor-in-chief for companies focused on ad technology (RealMedia), audience targeting (Tacoda) and now the economics of TV buying (Simulmedia).  Here, some of his abridged thoughts on disruption in our world.

1.      How can you tell that an industry or a sector is ripe for disruption?

The easiest path is to find industries or sectors where emerging technologies are virtually certain to solve big problems or create new value for consumers and major industry or sector participants. By the early 90s, it was pretty obvious that the news, information, advertising and entertainment world would be disrupted by networked digital computing. We didn’t know it would be driven by the Internet. We didn’t know how long it would take to hit each sector of the industry and what the results would be. But, it was obvious that disruption was coming.

2.      Many companies who claim to be disruptive and revolutionary turn out to be just iterative and incremental.  Any way to tell the difference up front?

I think that to be truly disruptive or revolutionary, you need to either create something that didn’t exist before to upend a market structure or major market leaders by doing something in an entirely new way.

This week’s Drift if proudly underwritten by REDBOOKS. For ad sales and business development, REDBOOKS is the most effective prospecting and competitive intelligence tool – used by your peer teams at Google, ABC, CBS, Comcast, ESPN, Time, Apple, Adobe and ad-tech companies of all sizes. Real-time, actionable news/alerts, direct contact info + all the context to close sales faster.

3.      Sales and company leaders in the digital and media worlds are having to deal with and plan for disruption all the time.  What have you learned over the years that could help them?

Study your market intensely, from all sides. Put yourself in the shoes of all of the different market participants. Generate a personal point of view on the market, and how it is likely to evolve – or devolve – and make sure that the point of view guides your actions every day.

4.      Is there a personality type or background you try to hire for a disruptive company like Simulmedia?

Yes. We want people who are curious, mission driven and have shown themselves as real risk-takers. We want people who are impatient. If they have been at a large company for more than five years, we tend to avoid them unless they have also demonstrated real success at a true start-up.

5.      How do you sustain a disruptor culture as a company grows?

It is much harder to be disruptive as your company grows its team. You start institutionalizing practices. You have to work really hard to make sure that you are still promoting and rewarding disruptive behavior, though not just for the sake of it. You have to attack you own products, your own processes and push your folks to raise the bar every day.

6.      You’ve said it’s important to have a personal point-of-view on the market.  Explain.

Too many folks in our industry pick jobs based on compensation and titles, not the problems they are solving or the changes that they will make in the market. Developing a personal point of view on the market you work in is a good way to be sure that you’re in the right job, working for the right company, and playing the right part in the market’s development. If you don’t have a personal point of view, you’re no surer of anything in your future than your last paycheck.

If you lead national sales for a team that sells media or marketing services to advertisers and agencies and would like to request an invitation to The Seller Forum (10/27-28, Manhattan) send us a note.   Seating is very limited.

The Half-Baked Pizza.

by Doug Weaver on September 17, 2014 at 2:15PM

Half Baked PizzaLast week I said that sales was not performance art, and that we should instead focus on creating great shared sales experiences with our customers.  Stop focusing on your presentation and instead on how our meeting is going.  And as you engineer your next great shared sales experience, may I suggest what you’ll want to serve?

Skip the elegant meal laid out with care and garnish.  Instead, bring a half-baked pizza.

This week’s Drift if proudly underwritten by REDBOOKS. For ad sales and business development, REDBOOKS is the most effective prospecting and competitive intelligence tool – used by your peer teams at Google, ABC, CBS, Comcast, ESPN, Time, Apple, Adobe and ad-tech companies of all sizes. Real-time, actionable news/alerts, direct contact info + all the context to close sales faster.

In the name of service and professional appearance, marketing and sales people all over our industry spend thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing beautifully-detailed Keynote and PowerPoint presentations and binding together gorgeous handout booklets as “leave-behinds.”  The fonts are all consistent, the graphics crisp, and the ideas and executions and numbers are all exquisitely explained.  This sumptuous spread is laid on the customer’s table with great anticipation and optimism.  Then something curious happens:

Nothing.  The fully-finished, fully illustrated idea not only doesn’t sell; the customer doesn’t even get particularly engaged in the meeting. So what the hell happened here?  And how could it have gone better?

This seller has suffered the unintended consequence of over-presentation.  By crafting it all into a finished presentation, she’s sent the customer a subtle but unmistakable message:  Look what we built… it’s all done and we think it’s perfect…you can either buy it or not buy it, but it will never truly be yours.   Customers don’t want shrink wrapped packages: they want participation.  Don’t feed them a meal; take them to a cooking class.

For years I’ve used the metaphor of the half-baked pizza.  Show up with a pie that’s not fully cooked and a bag of ingredients.  Let the customer add a little pepperoni here, a few peppers there, maybe a little extra cheese.  When you let your customer into the creation process just a little, they feel a sense of ownership that can turn an ambivalent buyer into an intensively loyal advocate.

So stop beating up your marketing team because you don’t think you have enough slides.  Bring in a blueprint, some wire frames.  Show your customer a rough sketch of the house you’d like to build with them and let them move a couple of walls.  You just might be amazed at how much more house they’re willing to buy.

Who Said It Was About You?

by Doug Weaver on September 9, 2014 at 8:25PM

Who Said It Was About YouIf I asked most Drift readers what they do for a living, they’d offer up a job title like chief revenue officer, account executive or regional director.  If pushed for a more concrete job description, eventually most would say they sell advertising, technology or services to marketers and agencies.

But I don’t think that’s what you do at all.  At best, selling describes an outcome, a result of other actions you take every day…at least, if you’re doing it well.  It’s taken me a long time and a lot of observation and introspection to get there, but I think I’ve nailed what great sellers do:  they engineer experiences.  The mediocre ones?  They’re the ones who get all caught up in the performance they’re giving, the lines they recite, and the slides they flip through.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Adroit Digital.  Adroit Digital unlocks the combined power of unique data, media and technology to deliver intelligent performance.  Our programmatic experts leverage our proprietary dataset and media-buying savvy to create results driven programs for modern marketers. Adroit Digital’s experts help agencies and brands craft solutions to the challenges facing today’s multi-channel advertisers.

A sales call isn’t a golf shot or a piano sonata.  But so many of us prepare and act as if it is.  We drill ourselves on our lines, memorize key points, practice the voice-over for the 37 slides we’ll show, test the demo to make sure it purrs like a kitten.  We believe that if we only perform well enough and hit all of our high notes, the power of our words will impress and persuade.

Only it doesn’t work that way.

Now, reframe the sales call as a shared experience.  You and the customer are both living in that moment together, and now it’s your job to engineer that experience… you’re no longer the funniest guy at the party, but rather the host who’s creating an awesome environment for his guests.  What will you do differently?

You’ll attend.   As in, the root verb in attention.  Ironically, attending is also the same as being present.  Get it?

You’ll know something about your guests.  There are no strangers.  You can always know enough to make the other person feel interesting.

You’ll draw people out and make connections.  Use what you know to bring the other person into the experience.  This is the opposite of bludgeoning them with your own story.

You’ll have a plan and watch the clock.  Great hosts pay attention to time and pace.  They know when things are starting to drag, when people start to disconnect.

You’ll rewrite the plan when you need to.  If things are petering out and nobody’s connecting, change the plan.  It’s your plan; you get to do that.

Sales is not performance art.  It’s about creating a fertile space where trust, emotion and opportunity can grow.  Too many of us become tone deaf from listening to the sound of our own performances.  Let it go.  Be interested.  Engineer a great shared experience and watch how everything changes.

Including you.

We’re engineering a great shared experience late next month at The Upstream Seller Forum in New York.  If you run national media sales and want to attend or designate someone who can represent you, just let us know.  Dinner on Monday night October 27th at Del Posto followed by the Forum on Tuesday October 28th at the Hearst Tower. Call Tamara Clarke at 802.985.2500 or Tamara@upstreamgroup.com.

On Training…

by Doug Weaver on September 2, 2014 at 12:16PM

On TrainingMy friend and client John Ruvolo of Martini Media recently posted a manifesto (of sorts) on the status and attitude toward training sales people in our industry.  He invited me to comment and I thought The Drift was the best place to do that.  In his post, John wonders “…why training and development is so universally desired by our sales teams and why it is equally so universally absent from most companies, particularly in our space.”  As someone who’s built a substantial company — Upstream Group — training and equipping digital sellers over the past 18 years, I would say that training is not absent in most companies — but that the approach to it is often flawed.

For starters, there’s the “Training as Content” scenario, in which a company with a weak or non-existent learning and development culture brings in a sales trainer as part of the content for a sales meeting or offsite.  Even if given only a few hours, he or she may do great work but the results are often ephemeral.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Adroit Digital.  Adroit Digital unlocks the combined power of unique data, media and technology to deliver intelligent performance.  Our programmatic experts leverage our proprietary dataset and media-buying savvy to create results driven programs for modern marketers. Adroit Digital’s experts help agencies and brands craft solutions to the challenges facing today’s multi-channel advertisers.

When approached about working with a sales team, I always work to get inside the relationship between management and sales and really understand the deep behavioral change that needs to happen.  Frequently,  discussions about training and development have only centered on fixing some broken quality in the seller –  presentation skills, overcoming objections — and are not  part of a larger plan to invest and grow the individual.  That’s not to say training should just be a warm, fuzzy “Kumbaya” experience either.  That’s why I isolate 5-6 specific actions that sellers can commit to and that managers can manage.  In the end, doing is believing.

To John’s larger point about our industry lacking the stomach for real training budgets, two thoughts:  First, investment flows to the unsolved problem.  If the problem is “we should do some sales training” then very little money is going there.  Reframe this as “we need to shorten our sales cycle” or “we need to change our median order size from X to 3X” and watch the budget tilt in your direction.

Second,  large enterprise training organizations have conditioned us to believe that “training” has to carry a hefty price tag — not to mention internal staffing, expensive compliance software, lots of complexity and days out of the field for your team.  I don’t believe this to be true.  If you believe in training then make it a habit; do a little bit of it yourself on a constant basis.   Even if you don’t think you’re fully qualified or have performance anxiety about it, your effort and commitment will be recognized by your team members.   You develop a closer bond, better communication.  Pretty soon, you’ve quietly developed a learning culture.  Then when you bring in somebody like me, we end up doing incredible, transformative work together.

So, When’d You Get In?

by Doug Weaver on August 26, 2014 at 2:23PM

Cocktail party 2Labor Day marks not only the unofficial end of summer, but the unofficial kickoff of the fall conference season.  So I’m reposting this Drift from February 2012, hoping it will make our time in the ballrooms and corridors just a little more meaningful.

I’ve lost count of the industry conferences, trade shows and networking events I’ve attended over the last 25 years.  But I’m certain I’ve been to more in the last five years than in the first 20.  There are probably not more than 20 days a year when the industry event machine goes dark.  And collectively we spend hundreds of millions to mingle, drink and panel with one another…But  we can all get more for our money with a little advance planning and strategy.  So here’s my list of simple rules and practices to consider as you pack team members off to their next event.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Adroit Digital.  Adroit Digital unlocks the combined power of unique data, media and technology to deliver intelligent performance.  Our programmatic experts leverage our proprietary dataset and media-buying savvy to create results driven programs for modern marketers. Adroit Digital’s experts help agencies and brands craft solutions to the challenges facing today’s multi-channel advertisers.

1. Marketing, Meet Sales. In far too many cases, trade marketing (the folks who buy the sponsorships and tickets) are not well-aligned with sales (the folks who end up attending).  The result is a lot of confusion about who will “represent” the company at this event or that one.   Personalize it:  As you plan your sponsorship and conference schedule, be specific about who will attend and why.

2. Level Set. If your CRO is attending every single event on the calendar, that’s not a good thing.  They’re not all worth the CRO’s time.  Events, like nightclubs, have their own natural crowds. Some are very high level and strategic; others are more tactical and transactional.  Push the event producer for a sense of who’s really attending and what they’re likely to talk about.  Create an internal hierarchy about which events are relevant at which levels.

3. Have a plan. I’ll put it right out there.  The vast majority of sellers show up at resorts and conference centers with no real plan in place.  Get the attendee list in advance.  Figure out the ten people you have to meet and find their photos on line so you have a visual cue.  Reach out in advance to attending buyers and set appointments.  Most of all, know what it is you want out of this particular conference and measure it.  “Was this event a success for us?” is not a rhetorical question.

4. Spread Out. Yes, trade events can be a good time for sellers from different offices to bond with each other and with management.  But when I see sellers from the same teams never leaving each other’s sides for an entire evening — or an entire event — I smell trouble.  Divide, conquer.  If you’re part of all the same conversations, half of you aren’t necessary.

5. Ask Questions that Mean Something. When meeting someone at a trade event, be prepared with a question that will spark a real conversation. “What’s on the agenda you don’t want to miss?”  or “What’s Your Highlight so far?”  Do NOT ask the following:  “So….when’d you get in?”  That’s a non-question:  you don’t really care about the answer, it will produce meaningless data, and they know you didn’t really care to think up anything better.

6. Don’t Close the Bar. Enough said.

7. If you Present, Personalize. Nobody wants to hear the general presentation.  Pick a couple of customers who will be in the room and tell them how you can help them.  The others wont’ be offended: they’ll be intrigued and curious about what you could do for them.

Take a few of these to heart and you’ll be able to answer “What did you learn?” and “Who did you meet?” instead of “When’d you get in?”

Gonna Need a Bigger Box.

by Doug Weaver on August 20, 2014 at 9:28AM

Gonna Need a Bigger BoxYesterday McDonald’s named its first-ever U.S. Vice president of digital.  The new VP, Julie Vander Ploeg, will report to McDonald’s chief digital officer and will lead… “digital strategy efforts on several fronts — such as enhancing our customers’ restaurant experience, more relevant ways to share our story and how customers engage with our brand.”

It’s noteworthy that the word advertising is never mentioned.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first digital advertising buys:  our team at Wired Magazine and its digital cousin Hot Wired were doing deals with agencies like Messner Vetere, Modem Media, Ogilvy and NW Ayer to run ads for brands like Volvo, AT&T and IBM on the new site – the first ever to accept advertising – 468 x 60 pixel banners, no animation, no dynamic serving, no analytics.  Over the subsequent two decades I’ve had a front row seat for the development of our craft, working with hundreds of companies, thousands of digital sellers and every manner of tech, data, service and platform provider.  And I’ve come to a conclusion:  this isn’t really about advertising at all.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Adroit Digital.  Adroit Digital unlocks the combined power of unique data, media and technology to deliver intelligent performance.  Our programmatic experts leverage our proprietary dataset and media-buying savvy to create results driven programs for modern marketers. Adroit Digital’s experts help agencies and brands craft solutions to the challenges facing today’s multi-channel advertisers.

For twenty years we’ve tried to jam the power, creativity and intelligence of “this thing of ours” into the confined space of an advertising business that was already starting to implode way back in the 90s.  The bigger and more multi-dimensional we become (with social, native, data-driven decision making and more) the more anachronistic and restrictive the conventions of advertising become.  Separation of church and state?  Attribution?  The Gross Rating Point?  Don’t get me wrong:  all of these things matter, and they’ll have a bottom line impact on how successfully video advertising dollars migrate from television to other devices and streams.  But all of the wildly successful companies of our era have all realized they are part of something much bigger than the advertising business.

McDonald’s seems to be acknowledging that fact.  Brand engagement and enhancing the customer’s retail experience can’t even be contained by marketing, let alone advertising. And even to share our story is as much about CRM, public relations, social media management and staff training as it is about advertising.

Don’t look now, but it appears we’ve been super-sized.  Gonna need a bigger box.

Native vs. Naive.

by Doug Weaver on August 14, 2014 at 8:00AM

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGLots of hate brewing lately for native advertising.  We’ve all seen John Oliver’s hilarious 12 minute rant on his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight.”  More recently, on Digiday, we learn – courtesy of JWT Atlanta’s Todd Copilevitz – that “Native advertising is further proof we’ve lost our way.”

I’m going to shortchange Todd’s otherwise thoughtful commentary by pointing out what I think are its wobbliest pillars.  The first is contained in the headline:  the idea that advertising and media ever really had a “way” to lose in the first place.  The old rules about church and state worked about as well on Madison Avenue as they did in Tudor England.   Advertisers have been trying to crowd the lines and occupy the editorial and entertainment spaces since long before Don Draper was shaking down patrons for change in that Pennsylvania whorehouse of his youth.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Adroit Digital.  Adroit Digital unlocks the combined power of unique data, media and technology to deliver intelligent performance.  Our programmatic experts leverage our proprietary dataset and media-buying savvy to create results driven programs for modern marketers. Adroit Digital’s experts help agencies and brands craft solutions to the challenges facing today’s multi-channel advertisers.

The article also calls for a re-commitment to our various roles in the mix:   advertisers make great brands and products, editors write great articles, while agency creatives pen masterful ad messages. But this agreement that we’d all stay in our lanes and swim our hardest was, in truth, nothing more than a convenience.  That advertising would live in little fenced-off pods and boxes while content would stay outside those lines was simply a delivery arrangement; in the world of TV it’s still a darned good one.  Online we’ve seen the rapid commoditization of those pods and boxes matched by consumers studied willingness to ignore and avoid them.  So the arrangement breaks down more rapidly.  No big surprise.

A third point in the piece is that marketers and agencies are just not doing a good enough job of storytelling.  This is a myth we’ve told ourselves about advertising for generations, and we’ve embellished it with creative award shows and the annual Super Bowl beauty pageant.  There are some ads that are more clever than others, but what it comes down to is just whether they are effective (or not) at doing what they’re supposed to do.  Storytelling is far too big a concept to be contained in banner ads, 30-second spots and full page ads.  Marketers will use every channel available – packaging, publicity, events, public relations, retailer relationships, infomercials and, yes, native advertising.

Todd is right in saying that native isn’t a brand new concept.  But it is a timely acknowledgment and codification of a practice that’s going to be increasingly needed in today’s asymmetrical world of marketing and media.

Flopping Into the Future.

by Doug Weaver on August 5, 2014 at 10:45PM

Flopping Into the FutureIn looking through my business and creative library for ideas for this fall’s Upstream Seller Forum Leadership event, I came across The Imagination Challenge by Alexander Manu, which my good friend John Durham gave me a decade ago.  I immediately recalled one of the great stories of innovation contained in the book.

For a couple of millennia, the high jump had been pretty much executed the same way.  The jumper would approach the bar straight on and then execute a straddle jump, in which the lead leg and arm are thrown over the bar and the back leg and arm follow.  The jump would end with the athlete landing in a shallow sand pit. If you saw film of such a jump today it would look archaic – much like the underhand free-throw or the straight on placekick.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Adroit Digital.  Adroit Digital unlocks the combined power of unique data, media and technology to deliver intelligent performance.  Our programmatic experts leverage our proprietary dataset and media-buying savvy to create results driven programs for modern marketers. Adroit Digital’s experts help agencies and brands craft solutions to the challenges facing today’s multi-channel advertisers.

In the early 60s, foam rubber was developed and, in a nod to athlete safety, sand pits were replaced by foam landing pads in the pit.  To most jumpers, this meant fewer sprained ankles and broken wrists.  But one jumper – Dick Fosbury – took a deeper look at this innovation: he asked, “What is now possible?”  Fosbury realized that the new landing surface would also prevent broken necks, allowing for an entirely different approach to the bar.  Inventing what was then called “the Fosbury Flop” – and what’s now simply “the high jump” – he ran to the bar, turned his back on it, cleared it backward, kicked his trailing legs up, landed on his back and neck in the foam pit – and blew apart two thousand years of a sport’s conventional wisdom.

What relevance does this story have in our world?  More than you might imagine.  We are constantly confronted by massive innovation:  real-time, data enabled marketing…programmatic audience buying….cheap and plentiful broadband access…social and sharing technologies.  These are the foam rubber of our age.  A great many of us take these innovations in stride, going about the business of what we already know and do.  Some wring their hands or curse the fates for bringing so much unwelcome change.  Other might make some subtle changes or adjustments to the new reality, all with the goal of protecting their own status quo.

Rare, though, is the modern day Fosbury, who looks at the newly disrupted landscape and asks, “What is now possible that wasn’t before?”  Innovation and disruption are not the sole province of the Jobs, Gates, Pages and Brins of the world though.  We can all stand a little reinvention…and we’re all capable of it.  Take the leap.

If you’re a CRO, EVP, SVP or VP in a digital media sales organization and would like an invitation to the fall Upstream Seller Forum in New York on October 28th, drop me a note. We’d love to have you join our unique, peer-to-peer community.

Not So Fast!

by Doug Weaver on July 30, 2014 at 8:56AM

You there!  Yes, you!  DropNot so fast the mouse and back slowly away from the keyboard…hands where I can see ‘em.

Sure, sure…I’ve heard it all before.  You were just going about your business getting ready for one of those “sales calls” that your boss likes so much.  You finally wore down that 29-year-old Media Sup to the point where she agreed to “get the team together” for a sit-down next week.  And now you’re making sure you’re armed to the teeth and ready for battle.  You’re pasting the customer’s logo onto the front of a hefty PowerPoint that has it all:   company intro….partner logos….all your products….case studies….even the obligatory Questions? slide at the end.  You’re even packing up a few gifts to make them all feel engaged and included:  a little swag to grease the skids.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Adroit Digital.  Adroit Digital unlocks the combined power of unique data, media and technology to deliver intelligent performance.  Our programmatic experts leverage our proprietary dataset and media-buying savvy to create results driven programs for modern marketers. Adroit Digital’s experts help agencies and brands craft solutions to the challenges facing today’s multi-channel advertisers.

But I just can’t let you go through with it.  I’ve seen this movie and I know how it ends.  It’s Fatal Attraction and you’re Glenn Close; it’s Thelma and Louise and you’re both of them.  In the name of all that’s holy, stop now and start over again!

Too many of our sales calls end up with both parties simply falling into their assigned roles.  Both the seller and buyer know they have to have a certain number of meetings, and they end up in the business equivalent of a bad blind date.  You share the same space, make polite but disinterested conversation, and part with some vague talk of keeping in touch or sending something.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

What is the meeting going to be about?  If you haven’t proactively identified a business or marketing problem and centered your entire meeting on it, then you’re simply another rep doing another “catch up” call who’s hoping for some of their money.

What exactly to you want to happen?  Write out the words of your closing “ask” before you walk in.  If you don’t know what you want to happen, you’re certainly not going to get it.  The right people might not even be in the room to give it to you.  Any answers that include words like update, education or evangelism are just too soft and meaningless.

What are you telling them that they don’t already know?  If you’re armed only with the information that the buyers themselves have given you, then you end up being another rep who’s describing their own product, rather than one who’s prepared to make something new happen.

Do you really need that PowerPoint?  People really looked forward to seeing PowerPoint decks….in 1995.  If you’re seeking a real, genuine conversation, then a piece of paper with some observations about the account is a better bet.

How will you use the first 90 seconds of your time together?  Sales calls have something in common with fistfights.  How they begin goes a long way in determining how they will end.  Hyper-awareness and presence right at the outset can change the entire character of a call.

If your sales calls are feeling less than fulfilling, look hard at your own approach.  You just may be sleepwalking into mediocrity.  You deserve better.