Nothing Sells Itself.


Next month I’ll be speaking at Programmatic I/O in New York about selling programmatic technology and audiences.  No, selling programmatic isn’t a typo, nor is it a contradiction in terms like jumbo shrimp or amicable divorce.  I believe the seller has an active role in an automated marketplace.  That the role hasn’t been fully realized yet doesn’t make this any less true.

The person who first said this technology (or algorithm or data set) sells itself was clearly not tasked with selling it.  We must believe in our solution, the logic says, and if it’s good all we should need to do is get it plugged in…get the tags up, get the master services agreement signed. The market will respond appropriately and it will provide, we tell ourselves.  But then, too often, it doesn’t.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Voicera. Are your teams 100% focused?  Do you wish your teams had a 100% accurate Salesforce?  Sign up for Voicera and give them EVA; the Enterprise Voice AI.  Eva listens, takes notes and automatically updates Salesforce!  Act now and get special discounted pricing as a reader of The Drift.  Visit www.voicera.com/upstreamgroup.

This is where the seller makes a difference.  As I’ve previously said in this space, there’s a big difference between selling and simply describing stuff.  So how, then, do technology sellers earn their keep and drive the business forward?

Draw Sharp Contrasts.  Only by understanding the deeper business and audience needs of the client accounts can the seller draw sharp contrasts between the quality and depth of their solution and the rest of the market.  Broad banalities like brand safe and premium don’t get it done.  There’s a lot of crap out there:  if your offering has real value to the advertiser’s business, you have to own that narrative.

Be Radically Curious. Far too many sellers are just happy to be included. They settle for just being in the game, which explains all those non-producing PMP deals and under-producing programmatic streams.  Until something happens, nothing happens. Strong sellers have hard conversations about how things work.  Who do we need additional support from?  How will planning and investment teams express demand?  Any rep who has just one or two points of programmatic contact is vulnerable.  And if you find yourself frequently waiting for stuff to happen, you’re in trouble.

Catalyze Activation. Once a programmatic buyer says yes to a PMP or other automated relationship, their attention and enthusiasm wane noticeably.  Strong sellers push back on what happens next – How do we get set up? Exactly how the money will begin to flow? Who will make the downstream decisions that will affect revenue? – and puts appropriate pressure on the buyer organization to get things going.  Many a promising business relationship ends up stillborn simply because the integration was never prioritized.

Merchandise Your Offering.  Someone once told me that you have to merchandise programmatic inventory and tech.  Indeed.  Just like the person in the supermarket who makes sure their product is at eye-level and supported by in-store signage and coupons, you have to constantly make sure your inventory or solutions are constantly in view of planning and investment teams.  We can’t just be supply sellers…we must also be demand generators.

Nothing sells itself.  And when we count on the technology to do the selling, that’s exactly what we end up with:  Nothing.

Look for me on Monday October 15th at Programmatic I/O in New York.  If you haven’t yet made plans, you can find out more here.


The Presence of Joey G.


It seemed like Joe Gallagher had a million friends.  And logic tells me that, while I was his friend, I was certainly not his best friend.  Yet somehow, he always made me feel like I was.  If you knew Joey G at all, I’m sure you can identify with this feeling.

To those not lucky enough to have bent an elbow or shared a laugh with Joe, he was a presence in our business over the last 20 years, most recently leading sales for Digital Remedy and before that in a half dozen high profile media jobs.  In late July, while on vacation in Wisconsin, Joe was the passenger in a single car accident and died.  Suddenly, shockingly, and – needless to say – far too soon.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Voicera. Are your teams 100% focused?  Do you wish your teams had a 100% accurate Salesforce?  Sign up for Voicera and give them EVA; the Enterprise Voice AI.  Eva listens, takes notes and automatically updates Salesforce!  Act now and get special discounted pricing as a reader of The Drift.  Visit www.voicera.com/upstreamgroup.

I wanted to find some way of honoring and remembering our friend.  The best way to do that is to talk about the man’s presence, which his absence calls into such stark relief.  Joey G had presence, and he had it in spades.  First, let’s talk about the sport coats — loud, bold and a little off color, much like the man himself.  Joey G talked a little louder, laughed a little harder and hugged a little tighter than one might anticipate.  His jokes and stories were more animated and drawn out than we often see in today’s world of ironic tweets.  And he smiled with his entire face – the happiest most welcoming smile imaginable.  Presence.

But there was another important aspect to the presence of Joey G. He was always present.  It didn’t matter if you hadn’t seen each other in a year or had spoken 30 minutes ago, Joey G was always completely there for you.  Attentive, interested, focused.  When you talked with Joey G, you were the only person in the world in that moment.  He didn’t just listen, he listened generously.  In an age where we’ve all got one eye glued to our phones and are paying half-attention to one another, perhaps the best way to honor Joey G is to follow his example.  We can all decide to listen and be present for those in our lives.  We can decide to put away our phones and truly hear and understand those who are important to us.  And we can live our decisions.

Joe leaves behind his wife, Patty, and three children.  His colleagues at Digital Remedy and the IAB are hosting a tuition fundraiser for Joe’s kids next week at Ben & Jack’s in Manhattan, his favorite haunt. Space is limited at the event, but you can still make a donation to support the family of a great man, a man who was one of our own.   If you’d like to make some other kind of donation to the cause, just email me and I’ll be happy to put you in touch with the right people. 

The last time I got to feel the presence of Joey G was at our Seller Forum event back in June.  We shared a drink and more than a few laughs at the post-Forum networking reception, which we’ll be informally renaming “The Joe Gallagher Happy Hour” in his honor.  Well also be donating part of the proceeds from the event to the scholarship fund.

Joe Gallagher may no longer be with us, but the presence of Joey G can live on through each of us. Just listen a little longer, laugh a little louder, and hug a little tighter.

 


Things No Customer Has Ever Said.


I’ve often threatened to write a book filled with “Things No Customer Has Ever Said.”  In honor of this final short week of summer, here’s a short look at what might be on the first few pages. 

“I just wish there had been more PowerPoint.”

“That was great!  Could you play that sizzle video one more time?”

“So, you’re really that much bigger than your competitors?  Who knew!”

“Wait…don’t leave yet.  I haven’t really committed to anything.”

“Forget what I paid last time…let’s start fresh.”

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Voicera. Are your teams 100% focused?  Do you wish your teams had a 100% accurate Salesforce?  Sign up for Voicera and give them EVA; the Enterprise Voice AI.  Eva listens, takes notes and automatically updates Salesforce!  Act now and get special discounted pricing as a reader of The Drift.  Visit www.voicera.com/upstreamgroup.

“Would you look at all those logos!  Wow, if those companies are buying from you then I’d better get on board too, right?”

“Oh absolutely!  Bring a whole bunch of your managers to the meeting.  It’ll be so much more productive that way.”

“Wait…you mean you’re the leading company in your space?  Heck, I had no idea!  That changes everything!”

“You know, we’re just talking way too much about our issues. This is feeling a little too much about us.”

“Hey Jenny…call everyone in here please.  This guy brought in his general presentation and I don’t want anyone to miss it.”

“I’m sorry, but there just weren’t enough acronyms and buzzwords in this for me.”

“Are you sure those are all the products you have?  I’ve got more time.”

“Would you mind flipping back to that slide with the map of all your offices?  I forgot whether your APAC headquarters was in Singapore or Hong Kong.”

“I’m actually just telling you that we’re waiting on direction.  You actually don’t have a chance in hell to get this but I just hate when things get awkward.”

“I was confused but those cylinders, arrows and triangles really sorted things out for me.  Thanks!”

“Tell me more about your founder!  He sounds like a fascinating guy!”

“You’re launching a new site?  Well by all means come on over!”

“You say your CEO is in town?  Shoot, that hardly ever happens!  Of course I’ll make time on the calendar.”

“Wait…that’s it?  It’s over already?  Are you sure you don’t have a couple more slides?”

We’ve just released the working agenda for our final Seller Forum of 2018.  If you’re a qualified digital media sales leader and would like to attend, request your invitation today.  There are just 12 seats remaining.


Eight Ideas.


It’s a vacation week, so I’m shooting out a very abbreviated Drift.  For the eighth month, here are eight short ideas.  Happy Summer.

Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.  You have no idea what struggles and demons the other person – or the other company – may be confronting.

A customer will always build something bigger with you than he’ll buy from you. Participation equals ownership.  Let them in.

Don’t sell the drill bit.  Sell the hole.  Stop describing your products and start describing your customer’s life with your products.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Voicera. Are your teams 100% focused?  Do you wish your teams had a 100% accurate Salesforce?  Sign up for Voicera and give them EVA; the Enterprise Voice AI.  Eva listens, takes notes and automatically updates Salesforce!  Act now and get special discounted pricing as a reader of The Drift.  Visit www.voicera.com/upstreamgroup.

No customer has ever said “I just wish there’d been more slides.”   Rethink the nature of your sales calls and how much you really need to “share.”

Own your intent.  If you’re honest with yourself about why you’re making a decision, you’ll almost always make the right one.

Growth starts at the border of your comfort zone.  If you’re not feeling a little weird and uncomfortable, you’re probably just marking time.

Nothing sells itself.  Nothing.  Don’t just be another person who’s out there describing stuff. Your job is to change the outcome…and it’s a noble calling.

Stay…just a little bit longer.  Selling begins just when most reps are packing up to end the call.  The extra question you ask after it all seems done is the one that matters most.

 If you’re a qualified sales leader and would like to attend the Seller Forum on Wednesday October 17th in New York, request your invitation now.  Seating will be limited.


Soft Power.


At the final Seller Forum of 2018, we’ll grapple with a fundamental truth about digital sales success:  As a sales leader you depend on many departments and people that you don’t control.  Whether they directly report to sales or not, the loosely confederated disciplines of account management, operations, creative services, marketing and research can seem – at best – like a thoughtful bureaucracy.  At worst, a self-defeating mob.

So how then do some sales teams enjoy the services of highly-motivated, high-functioning partner departments while others don’t?  Unified reporting structure? Better leadership in those departments? Superior recruiting and hiring practices? Maybe in part.  But the real difference is made through soft power.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Voicera. Are your teams 100% focused?  Do you wish your teams had a 100% accurate Salesforce?  Sign up for Voicera and give them EVA; the Enterprise Voice AI.  Eva listens, takes notes and automatically updates Salesforce!  Act now and get special discounted pricing as a reader of The Drift.  Visit www.voicera.com/upstreamgroup.

Soft power is a term usually associated with international diplomacy – what we do when we’re not sending in the military. It’s how we foster relationships and advance policy goals.  It’s no less real in the business world.  When the sales team is frustrated by the policies or practices of a group or department they rely on, rather than circle the wagons and indulge in blame and outrage, great leaders look inward and ask a crucial question:  What can we do to motivate them to work better with us?  It boils down to a handful of controllable qualities:

Empathy.  Sales people rarely say Tell me about your job.  Instead, we’re always the group that needs something right now… an exception, a better price, faster delivery.  The first manifestation of soft power is empathy.  Once someone feels heard and understood lots of good things can happen.

Early Access. The universal lament of partner departments is not knowing what’s coming until it’s too late.  Talking at all about what’s coming – or even what may be coming – will be a dramatic improvement.  When sellers complain about knowing nothing themselves about client needs till the last minute, this indicates a whole different problem.

Qualify the Work.  Bad sales teams blindly and indifferently hand over every RFP and request as soon as it comes in. Good sales teams make judgments about which part of the request is most urgent and important.  Great sales teams actually triage the requests.  Your AMs and ops people know the difference between an RFP that’s MVP or DOA.  Do you?

Collaboration.  Another thing that salespeople rarely say is So how would you recommend we get this done? Every interaction needn’t become a brainstorm but assigning even a little control – a voice – to those you depend on is good business.  To feel truly involved is to feel truly invested.  And invested people act like owners.

In the long run, soft power works.  And it’s completely controllable.  If you’re not leveraging it, ask yourself…why not?

 If you’re a qualified sales leader and would like to attend the Seller Forum on Wednesday October 17th in New York, request your invitation now.  Seating will be limited.